Kevin H: Let’s Clean Our Own House First
It’s an issue which had brought about my most active and consistent participation here at the Phoenix Preacher. This story hit home to me because I had personal connections to it. Gospel for Asia (GFA) long had a significant presence in my church. My wife and I had supported GFA for several years. I have friends who also had been supporting GFA.
Thus, when I saw Warren Throckmorton’s first posting about GFA last year, I became concerned. I researched some on my own, including speaking directly with GFA, and as time went on more and more disconcerting information about them kept coming to light. The truth became painfully obvious that GFA was a very corrupt organization, primarily, if not solely due to its top leadership, most especially K.P. Yohannan.
It has been encouraging to see some bloggers, pastors, Christian leaders, and others stand up and say this is not okay and sound the warning about GFA.
What Gayle Erwin did was especially encouraging.
On the other side of the ledger, it has been dismaying to see the response (or lack of response) from others, as has been lamented before on these pages.
The silence has been deafening from Francis Chan, board member of GFA and famous for his call to Christians to live radically for Christ and to reject comfortable Christianity. The “we don’t really know if GFA did anything wrong” response from the camp of Skip Heitzig, former longtime board member of GFA, has been documented here on this blog.
There are plenty of other pastors, Christian leaders, organizations, media outlets, etc. who have had involvement with GFA.
They implicitly support GFA by remaining silent when they know there is something wrong.
The Gospel for Asia story has gotten a good amount of play because of the mountain of incriminating evidence exposed by the relentless work of some like the GFA Diaspora and Michael and most especially, Warren Throckmorton. The proof of definitive and likely wrongdoing by GFA has become very hard to ignore, although some still hold out.
However, I believe the attention given to this story has been more exception than rule.
Maybe it’s just me, but why does it seem that we regularly get more concerned about what’s wrong in the world than we do about what’s wrong in our own house?
We seem to have much greater concern when our country is legalizing gay marriage, than we are about the significant numbers of divorces in the church or about pastors who divorce and re-marry under unbiblical circumstances yet remain in the pastorate. It often seems we’re more troubled with the shenanigans and abuses of power we believe President Obama has committed than we are with the same types of wrongs being carried out by our Christian leaders and organizations and churches. We’re more disturbed by the cultural ambition to enforce “tolerance” and political correctness than we are about the culture of keeping the victims shamed and the tolerance that exists in many situations where church and spiritual abuse occurs.
Even when the problems in our own house are spoken about, there often seems to be a bigger focus on items like theological differences or the latest thing Rick Warren is up to rather than on the gross sin that sometimes exists and is accepted in our own camp. (When I talk about “our house” or “our camp”, I am referring to Christianity in general, and more specifically at least for me, conservative evangelicalism.)
Even with the GFA case, there appeared to be some who were more disturbed by GFA’s theological changes than they were with the financial or spiritual abuses.
So while GFA may be the exception to rule to at least some degree, there are so many other misdeeds that occur in the church and Christian organizations, especially within leadership, where we convey the impression that we just don’t much care. I’m not talking about needing to nitpick at every single existent sin,but rather when a person or organization has become seriously corrupted and potentially disqualified in their behavior and actions.
If objects of our own admiration commit wrongdoing, we will find ways to look the other way.
We must keep our hallowed ones propped up and their reputations are to remain spotlessly clean (and our own by proxy).
Our love for celebrity in this culture does not help us in this matter. However, if someone on the outside, especially if they are the “enemy”, commits the same or similar transgressions – watch out!
Now, maybe I’m wrong in my perceptions that we are often more concerned with the sins outside of our house than within. Others may have different impressions. And I know not everybody is routinely guilty of acting like this.
Nevertheless, this is how I see things.
It is not wrong to be concerned about sin and wrongdoing outside of our house. Many times the misdeeds of the “outsiders” will effect us along with many others. Sometimes it has a direct effect on us.
However, it is a matter of priorities. Let us first be concerned with our own personal sins and problems. And then with those in our own house. And then finally with those who are outside of our brand of Christianity, or who aren’t Christians at all, or of our governmental leaders, or of other cultures, etc.
Let’s first worry about our own house before we worry about the houses of others.