Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Consistent Christianity

Hypocrisy. It is a leading cause for those who are not Christians to stay that way. In addition, there are many who call themselves Christian who leave the faith because of the contradictions- real or imagined- in other Christians. There are even many Christians who recognize hypocrisy in others and try hard to avoid the tendency and the violator. It is one of our greatest problems.

Several years ago there were several high-profile cases of hypocrisy in the church. There were allegations and many of them were ultimately proven to be true.
  • Jim Bakker sold more time at his resort than was available and had an affair with a woman who was not his wife.
  • Jimmy Swaggart had mysterious liaisons with a prostitute and then refused the discipline and correction of his denominational leaders.
  • Oral Roberts claimed to have had a vision that he would die if he did not raise a large sum of money for his ministry.
  • Robert Tilton threw prayer requests in the trash after taking the money out of envelopes from supporters.
  • Larry Lea was accused of some shady fundraising to support his ministry and lifestyle.

Those are all terrible accusations, and if true are certainly a black eye on the face of the Christian church. But that's not all. Recent months have only seen an increase in the number of prominent Christian leaders involved in dubious activities.

  • Todd Bentley, a Canadian evangelist leading a celebrated revival in Florida announced that God had led him to leave the revival just before it was revealed that he and his wife would be separating. That came to light just before Bentley's admission of "emotional" infidelity with a female staff member.
  • Ted Haggard solicited gay prostitutes for sex and used drugs with them.
  • Randy and Paula White announced that they were divorcing (apparently for no good reason) just before Paula took a job at a church in another state. Since their announcement the church that they co-pastor in Tampa has filed for bankruptcy.
  • Victoria Osteen, wife of Joel, was accused of assaulting a flight attendant over insignificant issues in a first class cabin. (Osteen was acquitted of the charges.)
  • Thomas Wesley Weeks III, after beating his evangelist wife and being sentenced to community service for that crime, was led hand-cuffed from his church for being delinquent on mortgage payments.

I'm depressed. That is a terrible list. No wonder so many non-Christians are skeptical of the church. We have a checkered history, to say the least. But there is good news. For every Barry Bonds who cheats and alienates others, there is a Cal Ripken who plays by the rules and is very consistent. I am going to do my best to be a Cal Ripken. I am going to be looking for Cal Ripkens all around me.


Anonymous said...

You should remove Victoria Osteen from the list. All of the witnesses (passengers) as well as the captain and two other Continental Airlines gate employees testified that it was the flight attendant who was out of control and that Victoria did not even raise her voice. The flight attendant made up the story. The F.A. had tried the same scam on someone else before.

Anonymous said...

Victoria Osteen was fined $3000 by the Federal Aviation Administration for interfering with a flight crew. She paid the fine.

The Osteen's should have never let this incident go to trial. Joel Osteen should have just cleaned up the spill and apologized to the flight attendant. No one would have ever even heard about it.

A little humility on the part of the Osteens would have made this whole thing disappear.