Sunday, October 09, 2005

Defending OR Extending

As a teenager in the early 1980's my mother enrolled me in a Christian school. At first this strange new world was a mystery to me but then I began to catch on. Soon I realized that even in a Christian environment there was "drama".

Some of you may remember that the TV show Dallas was the big prime time soap opera of that era. I used to kid with my friends that producers could get better ratings with a show like As The Pulpit Turns or All My Flock. It's sad but true that there is drama and, at times, even scandal in the House of God. Why? Because there are people there and people give into temptation, ignore God's Word, act carnal, give into the flesh, and a hundred other reasons.

Writing this will no doubt have me branded, yet again, as a defender of the indefensible but others with a discerning spirit will understand my heart. Dr. Bob Gray and his church in Texas are embroiled in a scandal. Admittedly I do not have all the facts in this case and neither do his critics on the Fundamentalist Fighting Forums. The bottom line is that there are accusations of sexual misconduct between former staff members of Longview Baptist Temple and some young ladies who attended the church and were enrolled in one of the schools operated by the church. One of the key figures is the former principal of the school that enrolled bus kids, Mr. Russell Hirner. Apparently Mr. Hirner engaged in sexual activities with some of the under age teenage female students of the school. It is my understanding that he has admitted to these charges and is serving time in prison.

Some of Dr Gray's critics contend that he did not act fast enough. In fact, they feel he knew about it but swept it under the rug until it became too big to hide.

A law firm has now entered the picture to represent the victims. According to some people neither LBT nor Dr. Gray have any insurance coverage for this kind situation meaning this will go to trial. If the church loses the lawsuit that is said to be worth several million dollars then it is extremely likely that LBT will lose all of its buildings and assets.

No one is arguing that molestation should go unpunished. Hirner is in jail where he belongs. Many churches have policies and proceedures in place to try and avoid these kinds of tragic incidents from happening. Some pastors have told me that when other organizations also have these safe guards in place BUT still have problems it makes one shudder.

My issue has to do with those former TBC students and critics of Dr Bob Gray who are actually rooting, cheering, and hoping for the destruction & down fall of the church and all of its ministries. Why? Is it because they feel that is the best way for the victims to be vindicated? NO. Their motives are as corrupt and vile as the actions of Russell Hirner. They simply hate Bob Gray. They hate what he preaches and how he preaches it. They hate his philosophy of ministry. They hate his views and opinions. They hate him. Period.

Oh, they will attempt to hide behind rhetoric and verses but in the end they hate Bob Gray. They have been waiting for this man they consider to be arrogant and psychologically abusive of people to fall and now they have an issue to run with. They preach Grace but live judgment and condemnation. They preach liberty but live in the captivity of hate and bitterness and unforgiveness.

I do not agree with everything Bob Gray preaches. I do not hold to all of his convictions and views and philosophies. There are things about his approach to the ministry that I would never do BUT I do not want to see his destruction nor that of the Longview Baptist Temple.

When a poster on the FFF named Martin Luther Hyles writes that he can't wait for Bob Gray to be dispatched to hell I don't hear any concern for the victims. I hear a bitter man spewing venom against someone he hates. When Jeri Massi, who has no direct connection to LBT whatsoever, spends a day trying to contact the attorney involved so she can get the low down for her blog article I see hatred in action. Funny, she will contend that she is concerned for the victims and hates the "legalistic" approach of fundamentalists like Gray as choking out God's Grace, yet she never tracks down stories of this kind of behavior in any other camp EXCEPT the Independent Fundamental Baptist camp. I see a hate filled woman with a bias agenda who tramples on the very concept of Grace she claims to defend.

Other FFF posters couldn't wait to pronounce judgment. They love to quote that the righteous are allowed to judge but yet they forget this... "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again...Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. Give and it shall be given unto you...for with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured unto you again." Luke 6:35-38

I am not defending the sin of a child molester. I am not defending poor judgment on the part of church administrators mishandling these kinds of situations. I am defending Bob Gray from those who are seeking his demise simply because they hate him. One graduate of TBC who pastors in Texas wrote on his blog that Dr. Gray has sowed to the wind through the years and will now reap the whirlwind. If that is true then it is God's business to tend to it and not his, not mine, and certainly not the scorners and haters who only wish to see judgment and damnation. According to the verses of Luke 6 if they are not careful they will get to see judgment and damnation ... their own.

So to the man, Bob Gray, that at times I have clashed with I offer my prayers and hope of God's mercy on this litigation he faces. After all, there by Grace of God go you or I. Let's try and remember that before we pass sentence and then cheer about it.