Anatomy of an evangelical scandal

Posted at Berean Research:

Popular radio talk show host Janet Mefferd has put together the common chain of events that more often than not come about after a Big Christian Name finds himself caught up in controversy.  The picture Janet paints is not a pretty one; nevertheless her assessment is dead on. A must read. - Marsha West, Berean Research

In recent years, evangelicalism has experienced what appears to be a dramatic uptick in the number of (what should be) ministry-ending scandals among famous Christian pastors, leaders and celebrities of different sorts. After a while, one can grow incredibly weary of working up fresh outrage over each new fall – not only because the falls seem to be occurring more frequently, but also because the church at large seems to go through a remarkably similar and depressing chain of events each time a scandal hits.

So with that in mind, I decided it might be instructive to compile the common chain of events you can expect to occur – give or take a detail — when the next Big Christian Name scandal breaks. Please note this list is written with no one person or scandal in mind. It is just meant to be a general composite of and commentary on what I’ve observed over many years of watching these kinds of scandals unfold. As we embrace true repentance and grace, may we also make sure we never minimize serious sin among our Christian leaders and heroes. If we do, we only exacerbate the problem – and minimize or even discount the Word of God. “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” (James 3:1)

With that in mind … the anatomy:

1. Big Christian Name commits adultery/spiritually abuses people/secretly goes on Ashley Madison/embezzles/secretly buys his way onto the New York Times bestseller list/solicits prostitutes/commits sexual abuse/ plagiarizes/covers up sexual abuse, et al.

2. Big Christian Name, when finally outed for big-time, ministry-ending sinful conduct, offers public statement, apologizing, quoting Scripture and asking for prayer.

3. Big Christian Name steps down (or “away”) from ministry and goes silent, either for a year or roughly an hour.

4. Big Christian Name’s Rabid Fans engage in social-media “grace and forgiveness” Fest to Big Christian Name, lauding the Name’s “inspiring humility and repentance.”

5. Big Christian Name’s Rabid Fans simultaneously engage in social-media “you’re a graceless Pharisee” Fest to outers and/or critics of Big Christian Name’s sins, denouncing their “graceless judgment and first-stone-throwing.”

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