April 7, 1998
Scandal Reveals Lack of
Pastoral Instruction To National Conscience
By John Anderson
"The visions of
your prophets were false and worthless; they did
not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave
were false and misleading!" (Lam 2:14)
If there is any
Scripture that should give a serious minister of the
Word pause, it is Lamentations 2:14. Here God firmly places the blame
the fall of Jerusalem on the prophets who did not expose the city's sin
in order to head off their coming judgment. Instead they falsely
ultimate deliverance for the city despite the sin of the people. (1)
Exposure of sin is
essential to a morally instructed conscience.
God's indictment of
those professional prophets is withering: Their
were "false" (twice), "worthless" and "misleading."
Why? Because while they preached partial-truth and sunny sermons,
God-ordered judgment was at hand: The army of Babylon was just outside
city, laying siege.
were disastrous. The leaders and people, lulled by
smooth messages, sinned easily, did not repent, and judgment came. This
while Jeremiah, who proclaimed God's truth, was scorned and persecuted
other true prophets like Uriah were executed.(2)
To say that
compromised preaching is traitorous is an understatement.
All this sadly
illustrates one of the biggest problems God has had
the centuries: Getting His preachers to stay true to message-to speak
of His truth. Usually exposing sin and warning of judgment gets dumped.
The lessons of
Lamentations 2:14 should sober us as we view the
mess that is being sordidly exposed in the scandals surrounding the
The sad White House soap opera is revealing our basement-level
We're seeing how sin has been defined down.
matter? Have we really built a great divide
between public and private character? Why is it that the president's
rating has stayed high while his character rating has plummeted? Are we
"adultery"? Why are we confused that any sex by
a married person outside of his or her marriage-oral or otherwise-is
it is sin? Some shrug that if the president's wife doesn't care, we
But what does God say?
What about "truth."
This is the age of "spin," another
name for lying. Truth has become what a lawyer wants it to mean. But
are being sickened by the pervasive "spinning," and they are becoming
We could go on. But
where does God place the responsibility for this
moral confusion? Squarely with us who are in the pulpit. From
2:14-and related Scriptures-we in the pulpit must understand that we
primary accountability before God if we fail clearly and completely to
His Word to His people.
Have we instructed
our nation's conscience from Scripture? So
the conscience is one of the pulpit's primary functions.
Grievously, we have
used our pulpits to proclaim everything from
to self-image to psycho-babble. We've promoted church-growth schemes
entertainment and doctrinal fads. But we have not exposed sin.
We must repent.
Let's stop excusing ourselves. Let's stop putting a
spin on our own failure to fully do God's will in our pulpits. May we
grieved that our neglect is sin; it is treachery - our nation's looming
judgment testifies to that.
The legacy of Mr.
Clinton sadly will be a dirty joke. But that will
nothing compared to the legacy "false," "worthless,"
and "misleading" pulpits will bestow. Unless there is massive
repentance by the pastors of America, our pulpits will leave a nation
ease in its sin and destroyed by sin's consequences.
perspective, one of the most compassionate things a
can do is to expose sin.
However the good
news is that the present moral confusion hands us a
prime opportunity to tell the Truth. Right now there is a cry for
And any pulpit that begins earnestly, clearly and compassionately to
Truth may find an added blessing: It could well become the dynamic
God uses to kindle the revival we all want. God has done so before. Ask
Jonah. Or Jonathan Edwards.
situation was driven home by a Washington, D.C. newspaper
editor who commented on remarks about the President made by a high
preacher on national TV (a man I respect, but in this instance his
grieved me). The editor said: "[This well known preacher's] reluctance
to come down hard on the president's view of Christian morality is
to our age. Dwight L. Moody and Billy Sunday, earlier giants of
cut public sin any slack."
He added: "The
silence of preachers with the duty to denounce the
sin...is deafening..." Then he made the observation that what many
preachers today do say: "It's the meaningless chatter of holy men with
nothing to say to 'a faithless and perverse generation.'"
The results he said
are devastating: "This leaves the field clear
for shameless secular men...to mug facts and maim truth, seducing an
widening pool of patsies."(3)
editor expounded Lamentation 2:14.
MAY WE PRAY: "Oh our Lord, You have
entrusted to us the
grand but awesome responsibility of correctly preaching your Word.
we have been faithful, but many times we have not been. Perhaps we have
cared more for the opinions of men than Your approval, or we have been
with much busyness. But for whatever reason we confess our sin and ask
to forgive us. We want to know You and Your Word. Anoint us again as we
endeavor to proclaim your Truth rightly and fully. And visit us with
(1) Read Jeremiah
28 as one example
(3) Wes Pruden, Washington Times, March 6, 1998