A Few Questions
Are you familiar with the incidents recorded in Numbers 16, known as Korahís rebellion?† You have never asked me what I meant by your doing the devilís work† Why not?† Are you presuming to know without asking?† Your impetuosity has helped spearhead some ungodly activity; it has encouraged murmuring, fault-finding and backbiting.† The purpose of Matthew 18 is to bring reconciliation--and our purpose is never to move beyond this.† Fixing the church is done by obedience to Christís command (not by procedural processes, informational meetings and politics).† Not only have you sinned against me, you have sinned against the body--with the lofty goal of bringing peace.† It will not come the way you propose--mistrust, suspicion, allegations and unforgiveness are in the driverís seat.† If the purpose is reconciliation, things should go forward; otherwise humble repentance is in order.† You know, but I must remind you--every fact is to be established by 2 or 3 witnesses (facts, not opinions--facts, not some untestible surmise of what I may, or may not have been thinking at the time).† Secondly, you know that those who bear false witness must be willing to bear the penalty (be publicly declared as guilty of false witness and charged with the alleged offense they would have put on someone else).† Thirdly, if they are unforgiving, that must be also added to their guilt.† Just what are the facts about the work of this unauthorized committee and its investigation?† That must be brought out as well.†
Are you aware that there appears to be a theological divide involved here?† Have you considered the ďtheologyĒ of the murmurers? For instance, is there any hatred of authority?† Any contempt of biblical truth and breaking of covenant?† Have you considered well their rejection of biblical modes of church discipline, of dealing with conflict and reconciliation?† Their willingness to step outside biblical guidelines consistently and to operate on the basis of rumor, insinuation and prejudiced data?† The steady assumption that those other than the pastor know how to pastor better than he?† (Even without all the information and the specific charge of oversight?)† On what basis would you have this church established--their rebellion, or Godís direction?--a godly covenant, or personal preference (theologically--the bible is an old book, out-moded, truth is inaccessible and it all boils down to your opinion, or mine and politics who has enough votes).
Do you understand the danger to you of trying to put anyone, particularly a pastor in the fear of man?† By threatening a confrontation with Mike Panosian and his disgruntled followers.† Are you aware that you have done this twice: once with Pastorís Mikeís army and now with three supposed witnesses (who turn out to be only accusers with untestable claims) that motivated you to initiate an inappropriate Matt. 18 process with me?
What is it in you that causes you to advocate for those who posture as victims?† Has it made you more credulous of accusations than you would be otherwise?† Have you been seduced into thinking of yourself as a hero--or are you simply being used by those who lack the courage and principle to do what is right?† Do you want the priesthood for yourself?
What is it in your heart that is seeking expression through your discontents?† Have you ever truly owned our church covenant?† What sense would it make for you to confess that Jesus Christ is your personal Lord and Savior?
Has your studied rejection of biblical truth served you well in your offering spiritual leadership to your family?† How many of them have followed your lead into life-long monogamous marriages?† How many of them have become committed Christians?† Do you think that your professional and personal skepticism has had anything to do with their struggles and dysfunctions?
Do you really believe that anything goes?† That there are no moral standards anymore.† Youíve said often that the bible is an old book, and holding to its standards is old fashioned, out of date.† Does such moral and intellectual appeasement achieve anything other than a false, uneasy and discomforting truce and spiritual capitulation?
What is actually at the root of your offense with me?† Is it not the profound theological differences outlined here?
Have you noticed the spiritual and sexual dysfunction all around you?† Is it rational to blame all the hurt and pain that such dysfunction entails on someone, on anyone who neither caused it, nor was there when all the damage was done in their personal and familial development?
Have you noticed all the anger and unbelief around you?† Have you noticed how outward all this criticism is?† Do you think there just might be a lot of projection going on?† What is it that is trying to work itself out in you and yours?† Why are you so irked by church discipline and attracted to religiosity?† Itís okay to drink a beer, but not okay to fundraise at church--what happened to Christian liberty?
If you were at peace, would third party offenses be very useful to you?† Have you considered how unloving and mistrustful these accusations are--whose heart is being exposed now?
If you have basically been uninvolved in church affairs, whose fault is it really that you donít know whatís going on?† And if your involvement would have helped things be done properly and in decent order, I have two questions: first, if our meetings are open (and they are) why have you entertained accusations that things were done improperly (you donít know, but you could have known)?; second, if we are to have congregational polity, doesnít the congregation have to own the covenant sufficiently to show up?† Is it possible that you suspicions have taken root in your own neglect?† Are you exonerating yourself by finding fault with the me and the churchís leadership (minus your help)?
Do you believe that God is in control?† That even in your opposition to me He is bringing things out of your heart into the light?† What might some of those things be?† Is friendship with the world a problem here?
Is there something about my disability that frightens you?† How would Christ respond to my sickness?† Would He say that Iíve been out of the pulpit six Sundays?† Would He insinuate that I havenít put the concerns of the church first?† You know the stressors Iíve been under, including all this accusation, and you know that such things induce heart conditions.† What have you done to come along side and help me carry the burdens that you have known about?
All of you:
Could the present struggle be about your own walks, your own salvation (which you are to work out with fear and trembling) and not about me and my job performance at all?
Why have we become strangers to each other?† Why have you refused to engage in discipleship?† Why have you held back?
You know that he who does not care for his own family is worse than an unbeliever and you know, because we discussed these things prayerfully and openly, the church decisions to sell the parsonage and to provide a housing allowance.† You have all worked on your own homes, improving them and meeting your familyís needs.† How did my project become such an offense to you?† But, loving me as you are commanded to do, how have you acted so as to ease my burdens?
Has the pulpit not been supplied responsibly in my absences due to health and family reasons?† Did I not discharge my duty well to see that the gospel was preached regularly?† You seemed well enough pleased at the time, but now under the influence of a spirit of accusation all that has become dereliction of duty?† Is this not murmuring?†
I have modeled generosity towards the church, I have taken in homeless people, I have been available 24/7--but, not that I am seeking credit with you at all, have you done the same?† Why not?† Did it once occur to you that if you had come along side me in my efforts to meet my familyís needs I would have been more available to meet the needs of others?† What a hopeless situation youíve created: either you can fault me for meeting my familyís needs, or for not meeting their needs; and the same goes for the church.† It seems to me that there is not, and has not been for a while any basis for pleasing you?† Is that true?† Fair?
This is exceeding grave business that you have entered into.† I pray that you have fasted and prayed yourself because I cannot, and do not believe that God is pleased with either your hearts, or your actions.† For the standards with which you judge is the standard by which you will be judged.† God is not mocked.† Do you love me?† I Corinthians 13 is the standard.† Are you keeping to it?† I do love each one of you and tender these cautions (and rebukes) in the hopes that you will turn, restore fellowship and desist from future sin.