We live in a world where the separation between pulpit and pew is very pronounced. There seem to be a huge curtain separating those who sit on the pews in the congregation and the man behind the pulpit. It reminds me of the sacred curtain that divided the Holy of holies from the outer court in the Old testament.The difference though is that in the Old testament, the Ark of the Covenant was what was behind the curtain; today, it is a person. This kind of church culture makes it difficult to accept the fact that the Super star Pastor behind the marble pulpit is just a fallible human being like the rest of the congregation.
As a believer, you need to accept the fact that your Pastor would make mistakes from time to time. Some of his mistake may be character related, some may be theological mistakes. When your Pastor makes a theological mistake, it is important for you as a Christian to have the right attitude about it. You may not have the opportunity to wave your Bible at your Pastor in correction, but you need to make sure you are not swept along with the “pastor is always right” band wagon.
There are a few things to consider and take note of when your Pastor makes a Theological blunder:
- You need to realize that he is not the first high profile minister to make a mistake. It is tempting to try to protect the reputation of your beloved Pastor in your mind by trying your best to make excuses and justification for his theological mistake, especially when you feel a man of his caliber shouldn’t be making such errors. Well, all you need to do is look through History and the Bible to see that your Pastor is not the only high profile person making mistakes around the block. Remember Peter? Yes, Simon Peter, the boisterous Apostle to the Jews; he also made a mistake. I am not talking about his denial of Christ, I am talking about his attitude to the gentiles. In Galatians 2:11-21, we see Paul talking about his rebuke of Cephas (Peter) for making a blunder and even leading Barnabas astray. For your information, your Pastor’s caliber cannot be higher than Peter’s. So if Peter could make mistakes, don’t put it beneath your beloved Pastor to do same. You may not have the opportunity, like Paul, to point out your Pastor’s mistakes to him, but at least you can identify the blunder as what it is – a blunder.
- You need to investigate your heart. There are many Pastors I love and respect. Sometimes when they do or say something weird, I find myself trying to make excuses or reinterpret Scriptures to justify their view. Every time this happens, I ask myself a very simple but important question: “whose integrity is the most important to me? The Bible’s or the Pastor’s?” Beloved, the Bible’s integrity should always be of utmost importance in your mind. Having this attitude removes the unwholesome bias towards man. So, check your heart, identify where your allegiance lies. If you discover that it is not with the integrity of God’s word, you definitely would be in need of a mind adjustment.
- You need to become like the Bereans. In Acts 17:11, we see that “… the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” A good Christian should have an attitude of eagerness for the word, and a readiness to examine the veracity of the Preacher. By the way, your beloved Pastor is not more anointed than Paul the Apostle. If Paul, the guy that wrote two thirds of the New Testament, had his teachings put through rigorous examination, your Pastor should as well. It is this process of rigorous examination that helps you identify the errors that may have been made.
- You need to remember that it is the TRUTH that sets you free, not Pastor’s pedigree. This is just another way of saying value the truth and hold it dearer than you hold the preacher. It is the truth of God’s word, not man’s interpretation of it, that produces freedom. You see, man may wrongly interpret the truth of God’s word. There are many reasons for wrong interpretation. The Pastor may have a bias towards certain beliefs or may just have made a plain old mistake. Whatever the case is, it is important for us as Christians to have a very high view of the truth of God’s word. How do you know when a Pastor has misinterpreted Scriptures? See point 3 above.
- You need to remember that popularity does not equal truth. The fact that a certain belief is popular does not mean it is true. A crowd of people can buy into falsities as well. So do not base your idea of what is true on the number of people saying it or on the popularity and intelligence of the people or person saying it.
- You need to ask yourself the ‘one-off’ question. Is your Pastor’s mistake just a one-off? Or does he have a habit of making these kinds of errors? Does your Pastor have a correct view of the Bible’s integrity? Or does he use the text like candle wax, moulding it to suit his favored interpretation? If your answer to these questions reveal a low view of God’s word on the part of you Pastor, it may be time to make that tough decision.
In conclusion, the Bible admonishes us to “Buy the truth and do not sell it– wisdom, instruction and insight as well” Proverbs 23:23. It is the Word of God that is Truth, not a Pastor. Upgrade your view of God’s word!