Saturday, November 7, 2015

Abusive Churches

There are abusive churches. There are churches whose pastors and leaders are wolves in sheep's clothing. These are men and churches of which the Bible tells us, "Beware of evil workers."

They are real concerns, and it is wise for us to point them out to one another. But what method should we use to determine what is abusive? How do we know whether a church is a good one or one that will hurt us or lead us astray? The answer is and always has been the same: THE WORD OF GOD.
Photo courtesy of Aaron Burden and Unsplash

If the Bible is the Word of God (and it is), and if it is a sufficient guide to the people of God (and it is), then the Bible must be the book by which we determine whom we should follow and whom we should avoid. A well-meaning person with insightful ideas about what constitutes an abusive church may write an interesting article, but if it does not base its points on the Word of God, it should by no means be trusted. 

The Bible, and the Bible alone, is our sole authority for all doctrine and practice. (2 Tim 3:16.) Especially in a day like our own when people have become expert at being offended at anything and everything, we must be careful that any accusation against a church or a church leader is based on abuses that are contrary to the Word of God and not simply displeasing to the carnal mind.

If a person feels hurt or threatened, it may be that a wolf or a dog has accosted them. If a weak brother is offended, it may be that a Christian leader is puffed up with pride, has crossed the bounds of charity, and is harming the people of God. Yet, on the other hand, it is also not uncommon for someone to be offended by a perfectly biblical stand made in love by a man of God. The fact that someone is hurt or offended is not in itself sufficient ground to assume that another party is in error.

It is also possible for a good and godly man to offend someone by his own mistaken notions, by cultural peculiarities, or even by a sin committed in a moment of weakness. These things should not be excused, but they must be dealt with in a biblical manner. We must be careful not to jump to the conclusion that the person who caused the offense is "abusive" and he and/or his church should be shunned.

The Bible tells us many things of which to beware. Let us take heed to the Lord's warnings. If we allow our minds to be renewed by the Word of God, we will not be deceived. Though the world, the flesh, the devil, and the false church all try to abuse us and lead us astray, yet we will cleave to the Lord Jesus and to His word.