While I was away celebrating 40 years of covenant marriage with the wife of my youth, the blogosphere has been buzzing with the arrest of Pastor Creflo Dollar here in Atlanta,Ga. As a late comer, I would like to address an issue that should deeply trouble all of us who have a heart for righteous judgment.
Creflo Dollar recently and erroneously called for members of Bishop Eddie Long‘s Church to stay with their Pastor even though he had been charged with sexual abuse by three separate men and eventually paid “behind closed doors hush money” to his accusers.
What was Dollars basis for giving such antinomian counsel?
Creflo told his congregation:”That preacher’s still anointed to do what he was called to. He just had a wreck. The blood will take care of his issue just like it will take care of yours,” Dollar stated. “And I just can’t believe that people would leave their preacher because he had a wreck, instead of praying for him.”
With Creflo’s arrest for allegedly choking and physically abusing his young daughter, his congregation appears to be abiding by the “Dollar Doctrine” by giving him an enthusiastic ovation as he took the pulpit on Sunday and congregants were heard yelling: “We love you!” and “We’ve got your back!”
I find this to be a tragically dangerous and woefully inappropriate response on the part of the congregation. Assumed innocence demonstrates naiveté at best.
Here are extracts from Peacemakers regarding two errors that every church should advisedly avoid:
Under-protecting a Leader
The first error is to under-protect the leader who is questioned or accused of wrongdoing. Under-protecting a leader may involve allowing gossip and rumors to spread unchecked, jumping to conclusions about a leader’s guilt, or failing to give him a meaningful opportunity to defend himself. It may also involve expecting or allowing a leader to spend significant amounts of time responding to trivial or unsubstantiated criticisms, often about style rather than substance, voiced by a few dissatisfied people.
These patterns can lead to a “culture of criticism” that will wear down most leaders. When leaders are subjected to ongoing criticism, their credibility is needlessly eroded; this can diminish trust, commitment, and enthusiasm throughout their church or ministry.
Over-protecting a Leader
The second error that many churches and ministries make is to over-protect their leaders. They develop a self-confidence and blind loyalty that compels them to become defensive and automatically “circle the wagons” when a leader is questioned or accused of wrongdoing. They assume the challenge must be unfounded and immediately look for ways to minimize it or explain it away. They may rely on second-hand information or simply accept the leader’s interpretation of his accuser’s words and motives. And sometimes in an effort to justify or protect the leader, they attempt to silence, find fault with, or otherwise discredit or penalize the person who brought the accusation. As Jesus would put it, rather than humbly seeking to discern the “planks” in their leader’s or their own eyes, these leadership teams jump immediately to pointing out the “specks” in the eyes of others (Matt. 7:3-5).
This excessively protective pattern can create a “culture of denial,” where differences and problems are automatically minimized or concealed.