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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. - Acts 20: 26-28 (ESV)
Pastor Shane Idleman is a regular contributor on Charisma News and this week has penned an opinion article defending Mark Driscoll by attacking those who do not support his return to ministry. As much as he tries to pretend he is neither criticizing not condoning, he makes it abundantly clear where he stands and it is not with the word of God. For while he does not come outright with his support for Driscoll's past, he is willing to minimize it for the sake of his future. As for criticizing, Idleman makes is very clear that he is against anyone questioning pastors. Defending a man who has yet to repent or even apololgize for stealing over $200,000 in tithe monies to cheat the NY Times Bestseller List? Oh that must be considered virtuous. Plagiarized over 10 books? Hey, everyone makes mistakes. Publicly preach that the people you have hurt in ministry are just a "pile of dead bodies?" C'mon, cut the guy some slack. Because if you dare to say anything about the fact that a pastor with this horrific record is trying to start a new church just 16 months after ducking discipline from this debacle in Seattle then you are the one with the "critical spirit"; judgmental attitude"; or "sowing discord." What utter nonsense. Let us reason together beloved and walk through the real judgment being made by Idleman here, one quote at a time.
"An attitude of constant criticism toward Christian leaders often reveals an inner drive to exalt oneself" -- Shane Idleman
There is a psychological term for this and it is called projection. It is where you project your own issues onto others to deflect where the focus should be. What is important to note here is that there is a vast difference between criticism and discernment. If I wrote a devotional about how Joel Osteen dresses funny and smells bad -- that would be criticism. If I point out however that he routinely butchers Romans 4:17 and lies that it says we have the power to speak things into creation -- that is not criticism Shane. It is discernment. If I was to say that I think Mark Driscoll is disqualified from pastoral ministries based upon all biblical qualifications provided in God's Word -- that is not being critical; it is being accurate. The truth here is that Shane Idleman is exalting the pastoral office far higher than God ever intended. He is paying lip service to the sins of Driscoll while beating any sheep who dares to raise their voice and say what God has actually said about what Mark has done.
"Biblical unity encourages us to go directly to the source when possible. Where are getting our information about a person, movement or ministry? Are we going directly to them and or reputable sources or are we looking to smear websites, gossipers and "heresy hunters" for the answers? -- Shane Idleman
The notion that anyone who has been correctly pointing out that Driscoll should not be in ministry should have gone directly to him is absurd and unbiblical. Idleman is trying to leverage Matthew 18 here but does so incorrectly. The verses in Matthew 18 deal specifically with personal sin:
"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. - Matthew 18:15 (ESV)
So if I was one of the dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus for example, I should follow Matthew 18 so I can forgive Mark for what he did. If I am however pointing out how unbiblical, mean spirited and unchristian the comments are I do not need to seek Driscoll out. He has not sinned against me personally. I might add, he would never grant and audience to someone regarding this. But Idleman knows that and is just trying to muddy the water by blaming any criticism as a violation of Matthew 18 even though it is not. Furthermore, Shane tries to play the unity card but does so unbiblically. Unity is found only in doctrine, not singing Kumbaya with disgraced former pastors.
The next thing to address is the red herrings of a "smear website," heresy hunters and gossipers. Idleman is desperate to get the attention off of Mark Driscoll. So he now conflates the notion of gossip, which is wrong, with truth telling, which is of course right. Gossip by definition is idle talk or rumor. When discussing Mark Driscoll there is nothing left in the rumor mill. It is all proven fact. Mark may disagree about how people are reacting to it but he does not deny these are facts. He for example, thinks he was justified in taking the $200,000 + from tithes because his board approved it. I think that is a ridiculous argument and wonder if he has considered trying to stand before Jesus and make the same argument. As for heresy hunters the Bible expressly instructs all ministers to not only preach sound doctrine but to rebuke those who do not. A pastor who refuses to call out false teachings and teachers is actually being disobedient to Scripture. Heresy destroys real Christian unity. Heresy leads millions of people to hell. Why wouldn't any responsible pastor want to hunt it? Lastly, I do not personally know of any websites that are "smear websites." I think Idleman is confusing telling the truth with smears and gossip.
"Ask, "Do I have a critical spirit?" This could translate into a cynical or negative attitude. This is one aspect of Jesus' words, "Judge not, that you not be judged." If you have a judgmental attitude, you've already turned a deaf ear to God's leading. Ironically, I have noticed that those highly educated in biblical doctrine can often be the most critical, cynical and negative." -- Shane Idleman
It sure sounds like Pastor Idleman has a critical spirit towards anyone who wishes to hold Christian leaders accountable. And yes a critical spirit could lead to a cynical or negative attitude if it is not firmly rooted in His Word. The more likely outcome of a biblically motivated critical spirit however is the development of a Berean mindset where doctrine is more important than feelings. As if this were bad enough, Idleman then abuses the judge not verses from the Bible by referring to them wildly out of context:
"Judge not, that you be not judged.For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. - Matthew 7: 1-5 (ESV)
These verses are not about judging people. They are not even about judgment at all. They are about hypocrisy. Verse five gives that away clearly. If this were truly about "not judging" then why does Jesus instruct us to go back and help our brother with that speck in his eye? The truly sad portion of this excerpt from Idleman however is his silly attack upon people who strive for doctrinal knowledge. This is a common attack within the Seeker-Friendly Industrial Complex. Educated and biblically literate sheep are dangerous to false teachers because they eventually realize you are a liar and a charlatan. It is why Perry Noble referred to the people in his church who wish to go deeper in the word as "jackasses." Another mega church pastor referred to them as the excrement in the body of Christ. The reason why people highly educated in doctrine tend to call out falseness is they understand the Bible. They see the real damage being done by wolves and are fiercely protective of the flock instead of the wolves. It is clear that it is Pastor Idleman who has turned a deaf ear to God's leading. He did not like the criticisms coming out about Mark Driscoll opening a new church just 16 months after being disgraced in ministry. So he sat down to take pen to paper in protest and used the Bible to proof text his way to defend the indefensible. Rip judge not out of context? Mangle Matthew 18 along the way? Who cares?
"Ephesians 4: 31-32 states, "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outbursts, and blasphemies, with all malice, be taken away from you. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you." Simply stated, bitterness, negativity, and anger will lead you in the wrong direction." -- Shane Idleman
The next set of verses to be misapplied are from Ephesians. Here we see the Apostle Paul speaking to the church at Ephesus about how we are to treat each other personally. What these verses are not however is an instruction on how to treat wolves. Where is Pastor Idleman's concern for the sheep of the Lord? Where is his concern for the sheep being robbed of over $200,000? Where is his concern for those who were hurt by Pastor Mark being mockingly referred to as a "pile of dead bodies." Where is his concern for the thievery involved with his plagiarism?