Just Another Sin, or Abuse of the Worst Kind?

I just read a great post by evangelical leader, Ed Stetzer, on the Jack Schaap incident. He makes a plea that we stop using the word “adultery” and instead use “abuse.” No matter which state the alleged liaison occurred in, or what the “age of consent” is, a 54 year old senior pastor is abusing a girl of 16 years when this kind of thing happens. I encourage you to read Stetzer’s post: “Call it What It Is: It’s Not Adultery. It’s Abuse.” I agree too, that we need to focus on praying for the victim in this matter.

I’m encouraged by the fact that First Baptist Church of Hammond is not defending Schaap, and has turned him over to the authorities (even if they are assuming no charges will be leveled against him). But some are defending him, or refusing to believe he is guilty. I don’t want to rush to condemn a man, as he is innocent until proven guilty. But the church is saying he has confessed to this dalliance with a 16 year old girl.

I am troubled by the fact that the church at Hammond is not bringing in a 3rd party to investigate the matter. They are using a biased party in David Gibbs. I wish they would follow the lead of ABWE in hiring a third party, like GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), which has no horse in this race, so to speak. This brings to mind my post on the lessons to be learned from Joe Paterno’s case and how Penn State handled it. Fundamental Baptists (and everyone else) need to be completely above board in handling these kinds of situations.

Even more troubling is that some are saying that this is just another sin. We should be careful not to throw a stone, we too are sinners at heart. All of that is true, but we are talking about abuse, not adultery. This is a man in a position of power, abusing his position and taking advantage of an impressionable young girl. Shouldn’t there be more outrage and less sympathy? Sure, Schaap is human and has struggles with sin, and so do we all. Schaap however chose to abuse his authority and confessed to committing this most heinous of sins. For some who pride themselves in speaking so harshly against the sins of the world, homosexuality being chief among them, it is troubling that the moral outrage expressed toward those “out there” becomes so quiet when speaking about sin done by one of our own.

In this somewhat rambling post, I wanted to share a comment that literally floored me. This was given under my post sharing the news of Schaap’s dismissal and lamenting the fact that so often there is not enough mutual accountability (it would seem) in big name IFB churches. The comment below is disturbing and troubling, to say the least. And it is the epitome of defending Schaap, or so it would seem. Before I continue, let me share the comment in full.

What amazes me the most about most of these posts is how little of God’s Word is known by the posters. A New testament church is not run by deacons – deacons (Acts 6) under the direction of the pastor. You people sound like Moses’ older bother and younger sister. God leads the leader and if the leader fouls up, it is God that takes care of that and He doesn’t need half-witted self-professed theologians to take His place in taking care of His man – not deacons, elders, you people need to understand the New Testament Church; you Mr. Burton obviously do not. Abraham (and Sarah) fouled up – it was no small thing. The whole middle East problem came from that, but God took care of Abraham and on more than one occasion, It was true with Moses, David, and all the rest of the sinners in the Bible. God took care of it. I am not justifying what Schaap has done whatever it is. However, I find no biblical precedent for a mis-trained deacon board to take it upon themselves to touch God’s anointed. A spiritual (Gal 6) man may have counseled him to resign and take time to heal in the process of restoration. You people want to stone him to death! Call me, I’ll send all of you without sin a bag of rocks to throw at him! Bunch of stinkin’ hypocrites!

[Written by R.S. Brewer.]

This seems to be a version of a concept that Jack Hyles was known to teach from time to time: the idea that we can earn enough “brownie points” with God that we are so valuable to Him, that He needs us. God needs His man, so He’ll excuse this sin and that because He sees the man really has a heart for God, in spite of the sin. This is very dangerous thinking. The New Testament does not condone this mentality. Read the book of Hebrews. We can’t play with fire, and there are very clear qualifications given for leaders in the New Testament. Furthermore, it is a misunderstanding of church government. The church has responsibility collectively to hold their leaders in check. Such a top-down approach is unBiblical when applied to a church. The Church is not a state, and not the equal of the Israelite theocracy of the Old Testament.

In conclusion, we must ask ourselves: “Is Jack Schaap’s sin just a run-of-the-mill moral failure? Or is it abuse of the worst kind?” We can’t dance around the bush here, we must call it what it is. If new facts come out which exonerate Schaap, then we will stand corrected, but if we take FBC Hammond’s word (and we have no reason not to), than we have to conclude that Schaap is guilty of the most heinous of sins for any pastor to commit, and whether or not he is convicted in a court of law, and whether his actions were technically legal or not, his abuse disqualifies him from holding the office of a pastor, ever again. If this action doesn’t mar the “good report” of those without that a pastor must have, I don’t know what does.

Schaap can still repent, restore his marriage, and live for Jesus. He can have meaningful ministry service in a church, but he should not be a pastor ever again. Let’s be clear on that.

~ Originally posted at Fundamentally Reformed

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