Thu, 06/14/2018 - 6:45am



Some Would Argue That a Pastor Is Exempt from Appearing before the Judicial Authority of the Church in Regards to Committing Sin of Any Kind                  

There are two schools of thought as to how the sins of a pastor should be addressed. While it’s obvious that a churches theology will determine their viewpoint on various doctrinal topics what is not always obvious is how the theology of a church is developed. 

     When someone is doing a study on any topic there are two ways to utilize the scriptures in order to formulate a viewpoint.

     One method is to use what is called the dispensational approach. This idea states that time is divided into eras or dispensations. A dispensation is a period of time in which God relates to human beings in different ways under different biblical covenants. The dispensationalist would call the dispensation that we are currently living in, the Church Age. They will say that the formulation for any doctrinal view should be taken by using scriptures which are from the book of Acts, the Epistles, the book of Revelation and in some cases scriptures from the Gospels which pertain to this particular period of time.

     The other method is called the non-dispensational approach. This approach uses all of the scriptures (both the Old and New Testament) to formulate a view on any topic. The non-dispensationalist would say that God’s mindset on any biblical topic has as its basis verses that are found in the Old Testament. Whatever the Old Testament view is on a biblical topic, this will be used to form the basis in interpreting verses that are looked at from the New Testament. 

     With these approaches in mind let’s take a look as to how a pastor’s sin would be handled.


The Non-Dispensational View Concerning Addressing The Sin Of A Pastor

     The non-dispensationalist would use a verse from Psalm 51 in order to address the sin of a pastor.                                                                                                                          

4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight:…

     This verse relates to King David, concerning the incident when he committed adultery with a woman named Bathsheba and had her husband, who was one of the commanders of his army, named Uriah, killed in battle. David was guilty of two offenses, adultery and murder, each of which was ascribed the punishment of death according to the Mosaic Law. Nathan the prophet approached him on behalf of God letting him know that the baby that Bathsheba was carrying, which was his, would die. He also told him that his many wives would be taken away by his neighbors for all Israel to see. At this point in time King David decided to acknowledge and confess his sins to God. God in turn canceled out the punishment of death that he was due.

     In regards to the committing of each of these two egregious sins, David said to God, against thee, and thee only, have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight. According to the non-dispensationalist, if a pastor commits an egregious sin, then this verse in Psalms forms the basis as to how the pastor’s sin should be addressed by the congregation. Like David the pastor’s sin would be considered against God and God alone. Therefore, God will deal with him in His time and in His manner. The congregation’s response should be to pray for the pastor’s recovery in this area.

Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

     Furthermore, any of the other verses in the New Testament that talk about addressing a pastor’s sin would be interpreted according to the verse in Psalms. For example, 1 Timothy 5:19-20 saysthat an accusation should not be received concerning an elder’s sin by one accuser, but before two or three witnesses. How would this verse be interpreted by the non-dispensationalist? The non-dispensationalist would say that what this means is that if someone, who has an accusation against a pastor, tells two or three others about this then they will be rebuked before all. So, according to this view, no church member has the right to address the egregious sin of a pastor in any way, shape, or form.

     What would be the perspective of the dispensationalist?


The Dispensational View Concerning Addressing the Sin of a Pastor

     According to the dispensationalist, if the pastor commits an egregious sin, then it is to be addressed as it would be for any other believer in the church.

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

     If we have been injured in character, person, or property by another believer, in this case the pastor, then we should go to the pastor privately in order to restore, and not tell another person about the offense. If the pastor admits guilt, the matter is resolved (forgiven).

But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. (Matthew 18:15)

     If we have been injured in character, person, or property by the pastor, and the pastor refuses to admit guilt, and there is another eye or ear witness to the offense, then we should go back to the pastor and try to readdress the offense with the witnesses accompanying us. If the pastor admits guilt, then the matter is resolved.

   What if at this juncture the pastor still refuses to acknowledge their offense?

And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: (Matthew 18:17)

   Then the matter should be brought before those in the church, who have been appointed to address these issues.

But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. (2 Corinthians 2:5-6)

     If at the hearing the pastor admits guilt, then those, who have been appointed to hear such matters may impose a censure. Once the allotted time of the censure has been fulfilled the pastor will be reinstated (forgiven).

…but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. (Matthew 18:17)

     If the pastor still refuses to admit wrong, then what? A censure would be issued that removes the pastor from the assembly indefinitely. In this sense there is no forgiveness. 

 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

     Some might say that according to 1 Timothy 5:19-20, an accusation against a pastor cannot occur unless there are at least two or three witnesses. I believe that what is being inferred here is if the pastor has been approached alone by the victim and there is no reconciliation, then another attempt can be made with going back to the pastor with witnesses. If there is still no reconciliation, then the accusation can be made before the judicial committee with two or three witnesses present.

     This topic is an example of why many people believe that the scriptures contradict themselves. One church advocates a doctrinal view on a particular topic and another church advocates an entirely different doctrinal view. The members of one church are told that the members of the other church are being taught false doctrine and therefore they should have no fellowship with them.

     Which approach in dealing with the sin of a pastor is biblically correct? What do you think?

     Should scriptures taken from the Old Testament be used in interpreting New Testament verses as relating to the many biblical topics which are taught by the leadership of the church for the assemblies’ spiritual well-being? Your answer to this question will indicate as to whether your perspective on any biblical topic was derived from a dispensational or non-dispensational approach. In the next and final chapter, we will conclude this study be looking at another instance in which forgiveness was implemented.  



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