When Ekklesia Matters

Everybody’s all for “ekklesia” (the Greek word in the New Testament often translated to mean a local “church”).

Folks blog about it, post on Facebook about it, create online groups about it, and write books about it.

Yup. They all love “ekklesia”….

Except when a particular “ekklesia” follows Biblical procedure and issues a pubic warning under the mandate of 1 Tim. 5:19-21 against some leader the “ekklesia” boosters have placed on an untouchable pedestal – but who had been part of that church, only to then immediately leave and refuse to be accountable when it tried to address his issues of abuse and exploitation.

Then, all of a sudden, the “ekklesia” boosters want to substitute their own standards, their own sensibilities, their own private determinations, or some de-facto “statute of limitations” in lieu of what real “ekklesia” did.

This is what’s happening now in reaction to the public warnings of abuse and sexual exploitation by Christian author Frank Viola, which his former church issued and recently were restored by Nathan’s Voice after having been silenced through legal threats.

This is not unique with Frank Viola. I see it all the time as Nathan’s Voice (which I helped found several years ago and is a ministry of some churches I’m affiliated with here in Virginia) works to help victims and stop abusive church leaders.

Often, with such “leaders”, there has been past disciplinary action taken and warnings issued against them by a former church – but they have succeeded in staying one step ahead of exposure as they continue to cover up their disqualifying abuse of those under their care, while continuing to publicly promote themselves and their ministry.

When the warnings of a former church are then brought forward, supporters go into high gear as they attack, dismiss, or otherwise deny the legitimacy of that church’s proper disciplinary actions against their beloved “leader”.

So be it. But a least the facts are out, their protestations notwithstanding.

Despite all the sound and fury, I have yet to hear such deniers explain away the clear, unambiguous mandate of scripture:

Do not accept an accusation against an elder unless it can be confirmed by two or three witnesses. Those guilty of sin must be rebuked before all, as a warning to the rest. Before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, I solemnly charge you to carry out these commands without prejudice or favoritism of any kind. 1 Tim. 5:19-21 (NET)

Eventually, as real ekklesia prevails, the edifice of lies, cover up and deception comes crashing down.

Eventually, through real ekklesia acting as God intended, truth prevails.

~ Jim Wright

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4 responses

  1. The way so many supposed Christians are more prone to circle the wagons and defend a beloved leader than not even when clear sin has not been acknowledged or repented of makes me sick!

    Jesus said that whoever does not hate their wife, brother or sister, their children, their own life and by implication a beloved leader more than they love Him…that they are not worthy of Him. Certainly unworthy of being called by His name.

    What Jesus said goes to the very core in importance.

    Are we disciples of Jesus Christ? Do we follow Him and follow hard after His righteousness. Or we just playing and dabbling in outward religiosity?

    ALL who even desire to live godly never mind do the right thing by God WILL be persecuted.

    Are we willing to do what is right by God and uphold His holy standard of righteousness by standing against sin in the midst of the church?

    No matter what it costs us to do so? No matter what relationships we lose?

    If we aren’t willing can we rightly say we are even Christians? Do we not prove by our unwillingness that we are hypocrites of the highest order?

    Professing faith in God while denying the righteousness of His ways in the next breath.

    I am not advocating that we become sin obsessed or go looking under every rock for sin in the lives of others but where sinful conduct has been clearly engaged in and not repented of, especially in a publicly known leader, we as Christians must act to bring public rebuke and reproof.

    To do less and let sin slide as a Body is a disgrace.

    Carlos

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    • Thanks Susan.

      Today I received an email in response to my unsubscribing from this one leader’s mailing list trying to make the case for their innocence and wanted to add a little more to what I said previously.

      In cases like this accusations and the like will fly all over the place. This person saying this and this person saying that. This other person over here defending said person whose sin has been exposed and this other person over here saying that the first person did not really say this or that or did not understand or whatever.

      It is difficult at times to make heads or tails of who is telling the truth or what the real case is. It can get downright confusing to sort it all out.

      But when we get confused that way and we will…there are a couple of thing to keep in mind I think.

      1. Give due weight to witnesses to the sin that are close to the sin and not to the multitude of opinions that will be raised by persons who were not close to the sin but who may well have a wonderful relationship with the offending leader.

      2. Where is there sin? All kinds of accusations and counter accusations will fly. The only thing that matters is where is the sin? What is the sin? Name it and back it up with multiple witnesses or instances of such. The sin must be clear and it must be named as sin not only by the Body but also by the Word. I personally have been accused of all kinds of things even of being divisive for wanting to discuss head coverings (as just one example). But was I really being divisive for wanting to discuss an issue that might lead to some measure of division? No. That was just a lose accusation. Don’t let lose accusations get the best of you. Look for the sin. Is it sin? If so…then take it into consideration and act accordingly. Otherwise don’t listen to lose accusations that have no basis in actual sin. And I say that not just with respect to the offending brother but also with respect to those who expose their sin and what they are accused of (i.e. of being slanderous or whatever).

      If there is no clear sin then there is nothing to expose and any attempt to expose something that isn’t even there is indeed slanderous. If there is clear sin and of a kind that is unrepented of or unacknowledged and if some attempt was made to bring it up to the offending party in private first without success then exposure is called for and there is nothing slanderous about exposing it.

      Where is the sin? A question that will help alleviate some of the confusion that happens around these sorts of things I think.

      Carlos

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  2. If there remain a significant number of people who any longer would regard popular book authors (those who promote their own books) as “leaders” in the ekklesia, where may these be found?

    For today, it seems that Frank has been set out of the ekklesia for the destruction of his flesh that his spirit may be saved. Almighty God has consolidated the specifications. And this, not so much by the specific action of a local ekklesia, but in compassionate understanding that follows as we confirm through Christ how this man is indeed wandering… not by mandate of moral judgment; not even that he “has his father’s woman” (something more grave than simply a moral issue; i.e., I Corinthians 5). Our sorrow for a little while to watch another man employ the gifting of God to “jump in bed with” various philosophic and religious ideas adverse to Christ. May God cause His discipline to turn the head of Frank Viola and many others known to us.

    All has been taking needful course, and so beyond the scope of parachurch activity (i.e., Nathan’s Voice).

    Ideally, we will be training all our sons and daughters; grandsons and granddaughters to hold Christ as their guard so as not to be drawn to men & women whose vector is death and whose flesh is directing.

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