Ask Dr. Land: Should Those Who Have Had a Moral Failure Be Restored to the Ministry?
Southern Evangelical Seminary President Dr. Richard Land Addresses This Relevant Question for The Christian Post as He Prepares for Online SES Ethics Class Beginning Today
May 11, 2020
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—It’s happened many times in the past and, unfortunately, will happen many times in the future. A pastor, Christian college leader or ministry director experiences a moral failing that ruins careers and fractures families.
Should they ever be restored to ministry? Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES, www.ses.edu) President and Evangelical leader Dr. Richard Land addresses this pointed and relevant question in his newest weekly “Ask Dr. Land” column in The Christian Post, where he serves as executive editor.
“No,” Land emphasized. “They can be restored to a full and solid relationship with Jesus and with their fellow believers, but being in a position of authority in ministry is a sacred privilege. It is not a right, and being called by God to ministry does not give you the right to continue in it after you have disqualified yourself because of a breach of sacred trust.”
For example, Land points to 1 Corinthians 9:27, where the Apostle Paul says, “but I pummel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
“This is strong language. The verb translated “pummel” is used of a boxer repeatedly punching his opponent. There is no question that Paul is talking about a sin of the flesh,” Land said. “The first priority of those in the Lord’s service must always be to the people they will be ministering to, and will have to give an account to God for their ‘under-shepherdship’, according to Hebrews 13:17. When those who are seen as “pastoral” figures have a moral failing, that is a betrayal of a sacred trust. And unfortunately, the best predictor of future behavior is past performance. Can they be forgiven? Yes. Can they be restored to fellowship with fellow believers? Yes. Can they be restored to a position of sacred trust within a ministry? No. We must remember that the ministry leader’s ultimate responsibility is to protect the flock. Once they betray that trust, they have permanently disqualified themselves.
“If the Apostle Paul could disqualify himself, we can certainly disqualify ourselves.”
This timely discussion relates perfectly to an online class Land will teach at Southern Evangelical Seminary beginning tonight, May 11. His virtual Ethics course continues through May 16 and will delve into controversial issues such as the sanctity of human life, euthanasia, religious freedom and church-state issues from a Christian perspective. Learn more here or visit ses.edu/apply.
SES has announced its 2020 National Conference on Christian Apologetics (NCCA), set for Oct. 16-17 in Charlotte. The seminary will focus on the theme of “Hold Fast” for the 27th annual conference by welcoming some of the nation’s top apologetics speakers. The early bird deadline for tickets is Aug. 1, and SES is offering a free apologetics Bible to early ticketholders.
To interview Dr. Richard Land of Southern Evangelical Seminary, contact Hamilton Strategies, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Jeff Tolson, 610.584.1096, ext. 108, or ext. 102.