Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. -- Acts 20: 26-30 (ESV)
Mega-church, purpose driven, seeker friendly, young gun pastor Perry Noble has been fired by New Spring Church, which he started in his apartment in 1998. From those beginnings, Noble grew his empire to be the largest and richest church in all of South Carolina. New Spring today boasts 17 campuses and 30,000 weekly attendees. In 2015, the church brought in over 64 million dollars in revenue. Many in churchianity might look at gaudy numbers like that and assume the blessing of God but this is really nothing more than what God told us was going to happen in these end days:
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. -- 2Timothy4: 3-4 (ESV)
30,000 people in South Carolina accumulated for themselves a man who would tell them what their itching ears wanted to hear. Before we get there however, let us pause and recognize that Noble is just a man, who now stands in need of prayer. No one is denying that. His removal was due to "choices he made" due to "alcohol dependence." His statement was correctly couched in humility, although he did blame the stress of trying to grow his church to his goal of 100,000 people. I only point this out because Perry has been taught poorly by Purpose Driven Church theology that he is responsible for the horizontal growth of his church when the Bible makes it clear that is God's responsibility. When you take on responsibilities reserved for God it is of little wonder that you cannot shoulder those duties. It is also worth noting that several years ago Noble admitted that he was medicating for repeated anxiety. Alcohol use is often a tactic for self medication. So we feel bad for Perry Noble today. We empathize as human beings. We also rejoice that the leadership of New Spring appears to have done the right thing because as much as we might feel for Perry Noble, we ought to be more concerned with the 30,000 people who sit under his teaching each week.
And therein lies the rub. Because while we consider the human side of this story we cannot ignore the spiritual side. Perry Noble was a heretic. He was an enemy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Bible makes it very clear that you are either in the business of gathering people unto Christ or scattering them away from him. Perry Noble trafficked in the latter. While we all feel for his plight, we ought to not lose sight of these facts:
1) His theology was horrifically wrong. He recently preached a sermon where he claimed that the Ten Commandments were not really commandments. He then proceeded to rewrite them, to make them more palatable for those seeking God. For example, instead of having no other gods before Him, Perry changed that to "you do not have to live in disappointment." The key verses today is part of the going away speech Paul gave to the elders at the Church at Ephesus. From the first verse we see a very important principle. The only way that a pastor can be faithfully discharging his duties without fear of judgment for them, is to proclaim the entire will of God. The whole counsel of the Lord. That means you do not take the fundamental underpinnings of the moral law and change them to make unbelievers more comfortable. This is beyond heretical -- it is demonic.
2) He had utter disdain for the Word of God. In a different sermon, Noble told his congregation that the people who wanted to go deeper in the Word were the "jackasses" in his church. He did not only shrink from telling them the whole counsel of God; he bragged about it. The key verses see Paul imploring the leaders to pay careful attention to the flock entrusted to them. That God obtained for them with His own blood.
3) He had no reverence for worshipping God. Noble made headlines in 2009 when during his Easter service he had his worship team perform the ACDC rock classic, "Highway to Hell." He would admit later that it was literally to annoy critics that he did so. Years later he would have them perform Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" during worship as well. This is a very disturbing trend across much of the seeker friendly landscape. Not content with creating faux Christian worship music, churches have now veered into mixing completely carnal and secular songs into the portion of the service supposedly reserved for praising and worshipping the Most High God.
4) Noble routinely fleeced his flock for shameful gain. A staunch preacher of the lies if tithing, Noble used to create videos for new believers telling them to "try Jesus out." The tithing challenge was instituted by Perry Noble, where if you were not satisfied with the level of blessing God gave you after 90 days of faithful tithing then the church would refund your money. So you claim the tithe is holy unto the Lord and then you take it back? Jesus is not some used car you need to test drive.
These are just some of the low lights beloved. Noble also supports many other false teachers and even disgraced ones such as Mark Driscoll. So should Christians pray for Perry Noble? Absolutely; but not as we are used to seeing when wolves fall. We do not pray for his return to ministry beloved. We thank God that those who have been sitting under his deception might now hear the real Gospel. Paul warned us in the key verses that fierce wolves would come into the flock and spare no one. They would speak twisted things such as the Ten Commandments were not really commandments and that those people who wanted a deeper revelation of His Word were just jackasses. They would arise to draw disciples after them; even as many as 30,000 in this case. I worry for Perry Noble because we have seen this movie before. He has proven to the Seeker Friendly Industrial Complex that he is a money maker so they have 64 million reasons to provide counsel and over sight during this difficult time. Noble's own statement said that he has already sought the help of spiritual advisors. I would shudder to think of some of the people he has probably sought help from.
So yes we pray that Perry Noble is able to overcome the demons he faces. That he wins in his struggle with alcohol and prescription medications for anxiety. We also should pray that he comes to penitent faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of his sins and the damage he has wrought upon the body of Christ. To pray for just the spiritual side is to deny our humanity but to pray solely for the human side is to deny God.