July 3, 2013

The Reformed Traveler: Boz Tchividjian / Thad Norvell / Shepherding Movement and the circling the wagons phenomenon

The Reformed Traveler has found a couple gems and put them together in a nice setting:
From a Pastor’s Heart: Thad Norvell’s Guest Post on G.R.A.C.E ~ and the Perpetual Shepherding/Discipleship Movement

RT makes some great observations about the Shepherding Movement (which is still rampant in far too many churches, including the Sovereign Grace, and other churches that sometimes overemphasize women's submission and male headship)

[NO I am not an egalitarian but the submission model can be abused like anything else.]

There is a brilliant quote in the Norvell article that RT also brings out that explains exactly why every big name evangelical is afraid to critique any other big name evangelical. 
"While the temptations to love being right, to yield to pride, and to tolerate or even celebrate arrogance are always lurking for the Church universal, I believe that they present some unique challenges among a group who assumes a vanguard identity (in this case the preservation and resuscitation of the true Gospel). In other words, in a movement where correcting error is a central task, these temptations loom large. And, when they are indulged, they easily can be mistaken for virtue and become almost self-sustaining.

The cycle goes like this: The urgency of the cause reinforces the importance of being right, which further fuels the notion that the most important people in the cause are those most skilled at being right in front of the most people. And if that is true, then those people must be protected and kept on stage at almost any cost. Question them without an air-tight case of disqualifying sin, and you risk being sacrificed for the greater cause.

It’s all very logical. And it’s very common. It just isn’t biblical."
That is the BEST construction one can put on this type of "circling-the-wagons" behavior.  As human beings we are always consumed with mixed motives at best.  When you look at how public figures get promoted, they do it by networking and being commended by other public figures. 

That's how the system works.   Sure, they do some work too, for which they are commended by other men.  The Bible speaks clearly about being commended by men in Matthew 6 (it doesn't say that commendation for your works, given by men in the church is ok, and commendation by those the world is bad, it just says men, as in, mankind). 

I'm not  saying that the church should never thank those who serve.  But when you make a big deal out of the Christian and his work as opposed to the Christ, you end up inflating egos.  Oh, sure... you might get a little correction now and then.  Minor stuff.  Because our esteemed leader couldn't be "Way off base" or anything.  That's reserved only for underlings and laypeople.

If you could actually quantify such a thing, then any one of these public Christian figures who would dare, especially publicly, deflate their colleague's ego by more than... say... 5 percent (or whatever amount makes the receiver of such rebuke emotionally uncomfortable enough), is automatically rejected and put out of the person's 'accountability circle' and labeled with some name like "bitter" "backbiting" "Critical spirit" or "disgruntled former associate."

This type of insular behavior creates and perpetuates the problem of pastors being uncorrectable by anyone but those who would just essentially inflate their egos more and have something to gain for their own status by spinning for him.  This is not what Martin Luther meant by "putting the best construction on all my neighbor says and does." 

They acknowledge minor skin blemishes and shaving nicks and cover them up with those ridiculous little pieces of tissue,  but don't anyone dare diagnose the person with stage 4 cancer or a festering gangrenous boil!   Just pour on a little more cologne. It's a mutual admiration society.  And it is very $ucce$$ful.