And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.( I Thessalonians 5:12-13)
I am all for respect, especially for those who teach and preach the Word of God. I believe one of the challenges of our age is that we are experiencing an authority crisis. Respect and reverence seem to have gone out the window, in this age where everyone is their own authority, and their own expert on subjects which interest them.
Part of this lack of respect is an expression of the near absence of the ‘fear of the LORD’ in our generation. When that goes, so also goes all legitimate honor and respect. Fathers, Husbands, Mothers, Wives, teachers, Policemen, and Pastors are no longer the subjects of respect as they were in previous times, just for their position’s sake.
On the other hand, one can go too far in the other direction. As a Pastor, I don’t want anyone to be a follower of me, or a devotee. No one should be expected to hang on my every word, and to uncritically accept everything I say or do.
I know I fall short as an example of a man and as a Pastor. I am under no illusion, but must press on. The TRUTH is what matters, we are to be servants of the TRUTH.
We should all strive to strike the balance of the Bereans in the Bible, who respectfully heard Paul preach, but then checked his teaching out by lining it up with the Word of God.
No minister of the Gospel should be considered beyond criticism. Neither Bill Randles, Jacob Prasch, David Nathan, Salvador Hayworth, David Royle, Marco Quintana, and who ever else comes to mind, all should have already accepted from the beginning the warning of James 3:1,
My brethren, be not many (Teachers) masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
In other words to stand up in God’s name and teach is a sacred charge, and we should expect to be scrutinized and to have to receive criticism at times.
What is unhealthy for any minister on any level, is to be surrounded by people who overly defer to us.
In my own experience, just for the slightest and gentlest criticism of a fellow minister’s * rhetoric and demeanor, it was asserted that I had “stabbed him in the back” , betrayed Christ, and was “opening old wounds” upsetting the body of Christ, and am currently a hireling, a compromiser, and a defamer!
People who support this minister have publicly commented on my Life, my marriage, Church troubles, my weight, courage and masculinity; because I have dared to question some of this brother’s ways.
I see Calvary in a new light now, Jesus hung there naked in public, before the cold gaze of the indifferent and of his personal enemies. He did this to save us from ourselves.
I have pretty thick skin, so its not that I am complaining about this treatment, but it does make me question, “What is this strange and intense deference towards this man, which provokes this reaction, such as no other?? Why are people so defensive and volatile about any criticism of him”?
I get it that over the years, this man displays an incredible gift of teaching the Word, and has also shown courage in resisting false teachers and money preacher in this age of apostasy. Many, many people love him for this and rightfully so. All the more reason to truly help him by holding him accountable!
Ironically, this man that people are so defensive of, has no qualms whatsoever about dealing criticism, often towards Christ’s enemies, (but not always) in the most intense terms! He has become famous for his tirades against false teachers, false revivals, false prophets, etc. .
People say things like, “He is not pretty, but he shoots straight!”, or “I like my teaching rough and hard”, one man even told me, “You are a Pastor , and have to be gentle, but Jacob is in the trenches fighting the bad guys, that’s why he has to be so hard”. They make excuses for him such a “He is from the Bronx…He is Jewish”, but is this healthy? Is anyone above any kind of correction?
Have many of us become as parochial and uncritical as the churches we once came out of, looking for truth?
I had similar reaction from many of David Nathan’s friends, when I criticized him.
I, and others, had a problem with some of his outrageous claims, such as “God the Father created Nothing”, and “The Blood of Jesus Christ will not help anyone in the Millennium”. I know, I know, He supposedly explained all of that, and cleared it up.
I have never been satisfied with his explanation, nor has he ever answered the question, “Why would you ever say such a thing in the first place, when you can easily see how volatile such sayings are”.
We did not have a problem with this because we were “On Jacob’s side” or because we have a critical spirit. We weren’t “speaking for Jacob” nor were we persecuting David Nathan!
Whether David did or did not actually teach heresy is secondary to the shouting down and imputation of base motives towards those who wanted to discuss this rationally and in the Spirit.
My point is , this unhealthy deference and misguided loyalty does damage to the cause of discernment itself because it calls into question the motives of those who object to manifestly outrageous doctrinal claims. It has nothing to do with various factions or personalities.
Are we supposed to just shut up the next time someone says something like that? I hope not, because our loyalty to
Jesus trumps our desire not to ‘open up old wounds” .
Criticism of doctrine and teaching should be considered on it’s own merit, and not trying to second guess the motive of the critic. Is what is being said Biblical or not? That is all! Is the fruit of the Spirit on display or not?
- (Jacob Prasch)