Challenging believers in Jesus to think and act based on Bible truth.

Think and Act 10.15.14 – Responding to the Ernest Angley Scandal

Maybe you’ve read some of the articles this week from the Beacon Journal about Ernest Angley. If you’re unfamiliar, you can read more at ohio.com and look for the Falling from Grace series by Bob Dyer.

I have no desire to comment on every last sordid detail the newspaper is reporting. I’m sure most won’t need help forming opinions about a church involving itself in many aspects of control and manipulation, ruining people’s lives. Instead, my desire is to respond as a pastor of a church like many others.

Within that framework, here are a few thoughts in response:

1. These cases are the EXCEPTION, not the rule.

Christianity in America and world-wide is FULL of God-honoring, grace-applying people who live in obscurity to the vast majority of the world. Cases like Angley’s make headlines. They’re sensational, they’re full of intrigue, the results of the very sin we believe Jesus died to save.

Let me assure you: Christianity is not Ernest Angley or others like him. If you have been hurt by a local church, keep looking. No church is perfect, but many many churches honor God and provide great atmospheres where people can grow in their faith. I know dozens of pastors who selflessly love people in their church. Healing is possible.

2. It’s so important to think!

Even if you are in a healthy church, thinking is so important. I believe God calls us to be under human authority, but I believe that authority is about loving people and desiring that they flourish in their service to Christ.

If you are in a church where someone can’t be questioned, run. If you are in a church that divides families rather than bringing them together, run. So much of what is available thus far in these articles seems like common sense.

I’m convinced that charismatic leaders really can blind people’s ability to think. Loving leaders ENCOURAGE people to think and desire what’s best according to Scripture. Let’s not re-define “control” as someone pointing you to God’s truth when you want to do your own thing. Let’s define control by some of the sick things Angley has admitted in these interviews. And, people going along with what he says without asking basic questions or standing up for basic rights and wrongs.

Think!

3. Ernest Angley will give account.

The articles portray this man as denying these charges. He finds something wrong with everyone making an accusation. I’m not the judge of his church or his heart (thankfully). But Scripture tells us that when you have spiritual authority over people, you will give an account for how you manage that authority.

So those upset at Angley or another church leader who’s harmed them can take comfort. They may escape earthly judgment, but Scripture (see Hebrews 13:17) promises them no such outcome.

4. Pray for people victimized in situations like these. And . . . 

The fallout is not for Ernest Angley. It’s for people who are ruined and whose view of God and spiritual truth are brought to the brink of destruction. Jesus can still reach them (so be it!), but the plain truth tells us that harm caused by leaders like Angley is very difficult to overcome.

It shouldn’t go without saying that we should pray for Angley’s repentance as well. However disgusting that may sound, it is exactly how we are encouraged to pray.

Think. If you are a part of a local church, are you challenged to grow or are you manipulated into following a leader (who is not Jesus)?

Act. Discern. Think. Pray.

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