Christians Behaving Badly
If you have eyes to see and ears to hear, one does not have to look very far to locate Christians that are, in the popular vernacular, behaving badly. "Therein," as Shakespeare once penned, "lies the rub."
Because scripture provides believers with a considerable amount of text on the subject of love, grace, and forgiveness, the Christian churches of the world (particularly in America) tend to be uncomfortable with the more daunting scriptural imperatives that require discipline and correction of errant members. In fact, in the overwhelming majority of documented examples of Christians Behaving Badly, the leadership has simply ignored the problem areas and left the resultant mess for someone else.
That "someone else" usually turns out to be society at large - or the secular government. A good example of this abdication of duties is seen in the contrast between the first century church wherein the Apostles appointed men of faith to provide for the needs of the widows and the modern governmental support mechanisms known as Social Security, Aid to Dependent Children, Food Stamps, and so forth.
Things become even more complicated when we enter in to the morally nebulous territory wherein the leaders themselves are behaving badly. Indeed, in vast numbers of such instances, the "bad" behavior isn't some secretive form of sin, but a gross apostasy that is being characterized as godly. For example, at the United Church of Christ in Atlanta, the "reverend" Kelli Martin, a professed Lesbian, is a "pastor" that caters to black queers that consider themselves to be Christians.
Although her aberrant fellowship only draws 70 to 80 people weekly, the "reverend" Kenneth Samuel's nearby Victory Church pulls 6,000 people weekly - even as he preaches "wholehearted acceptance of gays."
Obviously, significant numbers of Christian churches openly decry such outlandish apostasy every week from the pulpit. However, this firm stance against such overtly unscriptural behavior masks a strange inconsistency. While it's still relatively easy to polarize straightforward subjects such as homosexuality due to the obvious scriptural admonitions prohibiting "men with men working that which is unseemly" (Romans 1:17), issues that are far more basic are completely ignored. For example, lying and stealing occurs on a wholesale level within conservative branches of the Christian church on a regular basis, and the concomitant biblically mandated rebuke is almost impossible to find.
It may surprise some to find that plagiarism among Christian pastors, writers, and communicators is at epidemic proportions in some circles, but there is practically no backlash or scriptural reproof ever mustered against the offenders. The fact is, plagiarism is theft - and while "thou shalt not steal" is one of the "big ten," the 11th Commandment is not "thou shalt not lay with thine own sex." I don't say this to justify homosexuality - far from it. The point is, while significant sectors of the Christian church at large are still attempting to stand against this particular sexual sin so clearly spoken of in the Bible, they routinely ignore sinful behavior that is so fundamental that its prohibition is codified in the Ten Commandments.
Furthermore, when a balanced scrutiny urges reproof against lying and stealing (bearing false witness also being addressed in the Ten Commandments), massive rebukes against those that would attempt to expose such misbehavior quickly becomes the order of the day. To put it bluntly, hypocrisy reigns in what laughably passes for "conservative" Christianity.
As a case in point, national Christian leader Hank Hanegraaff of the Christian Research Institute (CRI) in Southern California, the so-called "Bible Answerman," has been widely seen to have plagiarized D. James Kennedy's 1970 book Evangelism Explosion in his 1987 book Personal Witness Training. As these two books seek to provide instruction in evangelistic technique, "witness" these obvious similarities:
This example of plagiarism by Hank Hanegraaff was drawn from the Christian Media published book on Hanegraaff (see more on this subject at the end of this essay). While the original research for this particular example came from a newsletter called On The Edge, other examples of plagiarism from entirely different books allegedly written by Hanegraaff are included in our critical examination of the man in charge of "researching" and evaluating other ministries.
Indeed, when these and other allegations of Hanegraaff's misdeeds were made public, CRI's response was to spend an estimated $400,000 (an estimated 10% of the total CRI budget) in legal fees to suppress the facts that were being made public via a high profile lawsuit. Ultimately, CRI's deep pockets financially crushed the individual that was willing to stand up and tell the truth.
Along the way, Hanegraaff was exposed as lying when he claimed ministerial credentials. Just as the embarrassing truth about Hank's lies were being made public, Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel stepped in and ordained Hank in order to cover up the truth and save the offender any further embarrassment. To this day, the above named parties have never publicly repented of their misdeeds.
These are not isolated examples. For instance, author and pastor David Jeremiah who is nationally known for his radio, TV, and print work is a plagiarist that has not only been exposed, but his publisher has even admitted his thefts - even as they re-released the book in question!
In 1990, David Jeremiah and co-author C C Carlson claimed to have written Escape The Coming Night - a book about the rapture. It was soon discovered that significant portions of the book were plagiarized from best selling author Hal Lindsey's (with co-author C C Carlson) 1973 work There's A New World Coming. After realizing there were at least 47 pages of plagiarized material in the Jeremiah book, his publisher Word Books destroyed the inventory and, in a written statement, actually admitted the theft in late 1998.
It wasn't a year later that Word Books parent company Thomas Nelson (the largest Bible publisher in the world) re-released the stolen material in a new edition without any revisions removing the plagiarized portions of the book! As of this writing, they have refused to respond to any queries regarding the brazen case of plagiarization. Sadly, there are many, many more examples.
The spiritual malaise that permeates the so-called "church" has trickled down to the average believer. Ask any medium to large Christian book store owner about their shoplifting problem and if they're honest, they'll tell you it's significant. This vacuum of morality closely parallels the national problem of dishonesty that trickled down from the White House as the nation endured 8 years of sexual debauchery and other scandals through the agency of Clinocchio and his Jezebellion spouse Hillary. Indeed, the "Christian" Bush regime's whited sepulchre version of morality is directly to blame for the fiscal disasters entailing the cooking of the books at high places like Enron and Worldcom.
The problem is deeper and larger than can be adequately addressed in a brief essay of this nature. We can however, offer a brief analysis. The fact that what passes for the Christian church has refused to even address the problem speaks volumes. Jesus Christ said that believers are "the salt of the earth...but if the salt have lost his savour...it is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill" (Matthew 5:13, Luke 14:34, 35). To put it bluntly, if the preservative itself deteriorates and loses its potency, it has become useless and will be discarded.
Christ also told the parable of the kingdom of God which He said is "like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened" (Matthew 13:33). In every verse where leaven is mentioned, it's a symbol of sin and hypocrisy (I Corinthians 5:8, Luke 12:1). Thus, the parable is telling us the institution of the church is scheduled to slowly deteriorate until it becomes completely "leavened."
It is this ordained condemnation that culminates in the institution called Mystery Babylon - a conglomeration of all incorporated churches that become so thoroughly corrupt that they are beyond reformation. In fact, it is because the construct of the state sanctioned church becomes such a completely "corrupt tree" (Luke 6:43) that God instructs His faithful servants to "come out of her" as opposed to stay and be overcome because of being "unequally yoked" (Revelation 18:4, II Corinthians 6:14).
Thus, as the "Christians" continue to revile and refuse the reproof offered through the agency of God's Word as each claims their preferred institution is the exception to the rule, the Lord's redemptive program continues to unfold. The Good News is the Lord has always promised to preserve a righteous remnant. Zephaniah tells us "The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid" (Zephaniah 3:13)
This "remnant" is seen in Revelation as those which "keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." These have come out from among the professing "believers" that have been transformed into the apostate church - even as the apostates continue to profess themselves as under grace - saying it doesn't really matter that they are Christians Behaving Badly.
The truth is decidedly different, and our time is just about over as "the harvest is the end of the world" and it is near, even at the door.
July 29 2002 -- James Lloyd
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