Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. - 1Timothy 3:7 (ESV)
We recently wrote about the concept of repentance and forgiveness as related to the case of pastor Greg Locke. Mr. Locke has built his ministry upon the ashes of his first marriage, which he ended so he might marry his church secretary, whom he was having an affair with. According to the bible, Mr. Locke is disqualified from ministry. I did not say so, God did. The responsibility of leading and tending to God's sheep is not a trivial matter and the sin reveals the heart unfortunately. Supporters cried out that he had repented, which they of course did not know. That is ok because that is between him and God and no one should ever root against someone repenting. Of course, Locke has a great deal more to repent of including false teaching and leading the people of God astray. The issue for this discussion however is that repentance does not mean you get your job back. Forgiveness has to do with our walk, not our ministry. This morning came another story, linked above, which allows another look at this ongoing church problem. Here is the entirety of the short article:
"Following revelations that he lied on his resume about his credentials, Willie McLaurin has resigned his position as interim president and CEO of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. In his resignation letter, McLaurin apologized and asked for forgiveness from not only senior officials within the organization, but also members of the entire Southern Baptist Convention. "In a recent resume that I submitted, it included schools that I did not attend or complete the course of study," McLaurin said in the letter that was sent to Executive Committee trustees and staff. "Recently, this was confirmed. "I am submitting to those in Christ who desire to help me undergo a season of restoration and accountability, as led by my pastor and local church," his letter continued. "I apologize to Southern Baptists who have placed their confidence in me and have encouraged me to pursue the role of President and CEO of the SBC. To them, I offer my deepest apologies. Please forgive me for the hurt this has caused." In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Southern Baptist Convention President Bret Barber responded to McLaurin's letter with a graceful heart. "Biblical Christianity offers you one and only one response to that plea, fellow Southern Baptists. Yes, Willie, I forgive you." On his resume, ChurchLeaders.com reported, McLaurin listed false degrees from North Carolina Central University, Duke University Divinity School and Hood Theological Seminary. McLaurin served the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board for 15 years before joining the SBC Executive Committee in 2020." - Charisma News
Just briefly, a few points to consider. The first is we all need to be adults here. Willie McLaurin did not decide to be so humble and contrite on his own. He got caught. Who knows how long he had fudged his credentials. His message was certainly self-effacing, as it should be. While he gets points for that, let us not be confused. We are only having this discussion because he lied and thought he would not get caught but he was. Faced with these realities, he correctly understood that he better apologize and ask forgiveness. While that is noted, it provides no credit for him because the motivation was completely self-preservation.
The second point is the lies. How brazen do you have to be to invent degrees not just from one university but three? Duke Divinity School and Hood Theological Seminary? Really? How little did McLaurin think of the SBC to assume they wouldn't even check? I understand we all sin. I understand we all probably have moments of dishonesty for varied reasons. I get that. This is not that. If he had fudged one degree, while still bad, I don't think I am writing this, but three? What level of pure carnality exists to sit down and lie that profusely on a resume to run the Southern Baptist Convention? Locke lied to his wife, to God and his sheep. McLaurin lied to the entire SBC and the church world. The maliciousness of intent is what is so compelling. This is what I wrote recently about local leaders I know who have built their current ministerial careers on the bones of those they stabbed in the back to achieve. Now they sit in the places of honor, but they built that on dishonor. They enjoy title, respect, and maybe even do some ministerial good but that is irrelevant beloved. God does not ascribe to Machiavellian theology. The ends do not justify the means. I recently read a horrific story about a pastor who killed the daughter of another pastor to prevent her from revealing his abuse. He buried these secrets for over 30 years serving in church. I am sure during that time he may have done some good. Helped some people. Maybe even preached well and saw God save some folks. But it was all built upon lies. God lays out requirements for a reason. That brings us to sunny point number three:
"I am submitting to those in Christ who desire to help me undergo a season of restoration and accountability, as led by my pastor and local church," his letter continued." - Willie McLaurin