By Donnie V. Rader
I am a conservative, both religiously and politically. No further explanation is needed as to why I would listen to Rush Limbaugh. He frequently makes points about our government and the political arena that have a parallel application to the church. A few days ago, Rush made the point with which some of us have become all too familiar. He said that the liberal media and the liberal leaders in Washington have an attitude that would not blame the man doing wrong, but the man who identified the wrong. He illustrated by saying that if the current President were to be caught stealing and a conservative accused him of stealing, the media and the other liberals would identify the conservative as a mean-spirited watchdog and ignore the crime of the President. The big sin is not in doing wrong, but in trying to correct the wrongs of others.
For some reason that rings a bell about how things operate among brethren at times.
In Local Church Problems
Too often when some brother or sister is guilty of sin and some faithful brother or sister identifies the problem (Gal. 6:1), the one who makes the accusation becomes the target of rebuke.
This is done even when it is agreed that the one accused has committed sin. However, that sin is ignored and the “evil” that must be dealt with is this “mean-spirited” person who has the audacity to accuse another of sin. I am familiar with a church that withdrew from an admitted fornicator. When action was taken, the crime was not the fornication (in the eyes of some brethren), but it was being so ugly, cruel, and unloving in exercising church discipline according to the perception of the complainers (cf. 1 Cor. 5:1-13).
Those who identify our “sin” as “identifying sin” do so in the name of love. The thought is if we really love the person who sins, we would not deal with his sins. I guess that means that those who point a finger at us for dealing with sins within the local church don’t really love us! Jesus, on the other hand, said, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent” (Rev. 3:19).
The motives for this are parallel to those in the political arena. Sometimes it simply has to do with which “party” you’re in. All too often a local church is severed into two or more parties. If an accusation is made about someone in “our party,” we will defend him and blame the accuser. But, if the same wrong is committed by someone in one of the other parties, we will vigorously demand that his sin be corrected. Thus, a man can be guilty of lying, but if the one who brings the charge (and evidence) is not in his little group, he is the real sinner. As in the political arena, sometime the motive is to “get rid” of someone. It may be the preacher, the elders or some brother we just don’t like. If we can create a feeling that he is “mean-spirited,” maybe he will leave.
Dealing With Error
This same spirit is evident when sound brethren deal with error that has been taught by some brother who gives “uncertain sounds.”
There are times it is necessary to identify both the error and the teachers of that error. Jesus did this (Matt. 16:12) and so did Paul (2 Tim. 2:17-18). However, when that is done, some brethren will be upset not at the error that is taught, but in the fact that someone identified brother as teaching error.
When some brother publicly teaches error on continuous cleansing, unity-in-diversity, divorce and remarriage or the role of women, that error should be exposed, regard-less of who the teacher is (cf. 1 Cor. 4:6). Those who identify the error (in sermons or in print) are sometimes painted as the real danger, even by those who agree that error had been taught! The attention is shifted from the erroneous doctrine to how terrible a fellow the defender of the truth is.
This has and is happening on the current questions of divorce and remarriage and the question of unity-in-diversity. There are those who agree that brother’s teaching is in error, but woe be to the man who responds and identifies brother as a false teacher.
One puzzle I have yet to fully understand is why those who think what others are teaching is false on divorce and remarriage and the question of fellowship (thus agreeing with those of us who have identified those men as teaching error), have no respect for those of us who defend the truth. Rather, they have more respect for those whose teaching we have exposed. Doesn’t that smell a little like what Rush was talking about?
I think Rush had a good point. It’s sad when Limbaugh’s comments about the liberal media has some parallel in the church (cf. Luke 16:8).
Guardian of Truth XLI: 19 p. 21-22
October 2, 1997