Thursday, July 07, 2011

Is this the best way?

Update: I've altered the title of this blog.  I don't want to add to the accusations against CJ and distress him any more (in the, admittedly remote, possibility of him seeing this.)

Have you seen this?  And the further comment, here?  

Last year John Piper took a well-publicised 8-month break.  The major reason seemed to be family issues - needing time to give to his wife and his children, to repair relationships and build for the future.

Now, CJ is doing something similar.  This time, it's not family issues, but leadership issues.  'Over the last few years some former pastors and leaders in Sovereign Grace have made charges against me and informed me about offenses they have with (sic) me as well as other leaders in Sovereign Grace.  These charges are serious and they have been very grieving to read.  These charges are not related to any immorality or financial impropriety, but... include various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgement and hypocrisy.'

So, a leave of indeterminate length, during which he hopes to pursue reconciliation with those he's offended.  A third-party ministry is being asked to oversee and evaluate, and David Powlison and Mark Dever (both friends of CJ) have been asked to review the charges, and to counsel and correct CJ.

Now, I don't want to minimise sin.  Especially the sin of leaders.  And there's something great about CJ's willingness to listen, to be rebuked, to seek reconciliation.  I'm a fan of his; and of Piper's.  (Be warned: the commentator who always uses the comments section to attack CJ and SGM will have his comment removed. Again.)

But I think this is over-kill.  If anybody's offended, and right to have been offended, apologise.  And move on.  And get on with the work.  If they can't accept it at that point, it becomes their problem.  

Not only is it over-kill; I fear it minimises grace - the very last thing CJ would want.  Christian grace says sins are forgiven by God the moment we confess them, and should be forgiven by others too at the moment of apology.  To turn it into a long process has more in common, I fear, with psycho-babble than grace. An extended leave to sort out our mistakes is an indulgence most Christians, and most pastors, cannot afford.  Don't let Satan cripple your work, guys; time is short.  Get on with it.  You're good at what you do - by God's grace.

What next?  Dever taking extended leave while he repents of finding only 9 marks of a healthy church?  Macarthur taking extended leave while he personally scrubs all his recorded sermons clean of dispensationalism and prepares an extensive series on the Old Testament?  Driscoll taking extended leave as a penance for his appalling sense of humour?

One thing you can be sure of: Begg won't join the bandwagon.  He's a Brit; he'll be getting on with it.

10 comments:

Jonathan Hunt said...

I do think that you are being harsh. They're American. Let them be.

Anonymous said...

I'm American - and I say AMEN- it is time for men to be men and lead- personally I would like him do as you have descibed. However, it is easy to comment from the pub- we don't know the details around the entire situation. Just because he is stepping down for some time doesn't mean his ministry stops.

Gary Benfold said...

When America sneezes, Jonathan, England catches a cold.
But I'm not sure how I'm being harsh.

Mr. Anonymous - I normally delete anonymous comments. But you're obviously so wise (=you agree with me) I'll let it stand this time. But it would be nice if you told us who you are...

Gary Benfold said...

Dear Anonymous(2) - I've deleted your comment, with its reference to the 'documentation' purely because you haven't given your name. It feels like a drive-by shooting, and this is not the place for that. If you want to repost it, with the link again, I'll leave it up - at least for a little while - IF YOU TELL US WHO YOU ARE. Otherwise, forget it.
I haven't checked the 600-pages; I've glanced at a little. Let me say, it seems to me that the accuser is less humble than CJ, and CJ is certainly more patient than I would be with such a critic. I'd say 'I'm sorry if I've offended you but, really - beyond apologising, there's nothing I can do.' I wouldn't enter into reams of correspondence. 'T'aint Biblical.

Phil Arthur said...

An excellent post Gary. Just on a point of clarification, I understand that Alistair Begg took out United States citizenship in 2004.

Is he still a "Brit" in that case, albeit living in America for the long haul? If you take out the citizenship of a new nation, do you renounce your old one?

Warm regards,
Phil Arthur

David Morris said...

Hi Phil,
Brits taking Australian citizenship keep Brit status. My oldest son is seeking US status (through marriage), and I believe he retains his two existing citizenships (or is it three, if you count Yorkshire?....!).
You need to belong where you live, but you can't deny your roots. Its good to enjoy the old country. I'm travelling up to Sheffield tomorrow, and flying back next Sunday night.
Its a very small world these days.
I enjoy these posts Gary.
All blessings to you brethren.
David Morris

Tim Gamston said...

As you know Gary I too am a big fan of CJ. He has done more than most people I know to help me see the preciousness of our saviour. But having read his blog post stating he was taking 'leave of absence' and reading SGM's response, I can't help thinking it reads like a political drama. I am trying to imagine Paul taking a leave of absence because his letter to the Corinthian church had caused them hurt - but my mind can't make the leap! I pray that the issues will be resolved and CJ will be back and blessing us again by showing the wonder of the cross.

Tim Gamston said...

Hi Gary, I am leaving this post again because something went wrong with my account and it won't let anyone access it. You may delete my previous post as the contents are below. Tim

As you know Gary I too am a big fan of CJ. He has done more than most people I know to help me see the preciousness of our saviour. But having read his blog post stating he was taking 'leave of absence' and reading SGM's response, I can't help thinking it reads like a political drama. I am trying to imagine Paul taking a leave of absence because his letter to the Corinthian church had caused them hurt - but my mind can't make the leap! I pray that the issues will be resolved and CJ will be back and blessing us again by showing the wonder of the cross.

Gary Benfold said...

Welcome, Phil, to the world of comments - you've mastered it at last! But I'm sorry it means no more complimentary phone calls...

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