Here’s what the Bible says about judging accused church leaders…
Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. ~~~ I Tim. 5:19-20
The Word says not to accept an accusation against a church leader except before two or three witnesses. The little word “before” could be taken to mean that the accusation should be made in front of two or three witnesses or it could mean the accusation should only be received upon the word of two or three witnesses.
This does not mean that we can ignore accusations if the same accusation is not independently made by one or two additional people. At the very least, we should understand it to mean that if an accusation is made against a leader, investigation should be made to see if the accusation can be confirmed by one or two additional witnesses. Investigation must be made.
The law of our land demands that all allegations of abuse must be reported to the authorities. There is no alternative. No church leader in this country has the discretionary authority to choose not to report any allegation of abuse, even if he is completely sure the allegation is false. The Word says we are to be subject to our government authorities. This is non-optional.
If people want to be considered church leaders – this is all leaders, not just pastors, including denominational leaders, seminary leaders, elders, deacons, Sunday School teachers, youth group leaders, etc. – they must also accept this responsibility to investigate accusations made against other church leaders.
If the accusation is confirmed by one or two other witnesses, this passage is very clear about the consequences. Even if the individual is not ultimately convicted in court, if the testimony of these witnesses is credible enough to be validated by additional witnesses, even if it is “technically” not a crime but still violates God’s requirements that a leader be blameless, the accused is to be publically exposed and removed from leadership.
There can be no other conclusion drawn from this passage of Scripture! Remember, the Word says church leaders are supposed to be above reproach – without blame. It doesn’t say “proven guilty in a civil court.”
Again I ask – is this Scripture remotely ambiguous? The church leaders I know of who are at fault in this epidemic of hiding clergy abuse say they believe the Bible is God’s Word and literally true. But they are conveniently overlooking passages they find uncomfortable.
Until these church leaders step up to the standard they say they uphold, it is the responsibility of those in the church who see the problem to continue to expose it.
Filed under: Abusive Leaders, The State of the Church | Tagged: abuse, abuse in the church, abuse of power, authority, church leadership, Clergy Abuse, modern Christianity, spiritual authority, spiritual leaders, spiritual leadership |