Weeping for the quenchers: R. C. Sproul Jr., James McDonald, and spiritual abuse
While we all know that spiritual abuse has been a plague in the church as long as the Church has existed, it is no less disconcerting when we see it in action. It is even more so when we see that those who should know better continue to harbor and even revere spiritual abusers. At one time this was known as the palliation of sin and is condemned in Romans 1. No longer is that the case and the unmerciful are welcomed with open arms and even given a place of honor in the church.
Sadly, this is what happened in my neck of the woods over the weekend.
R. C. Sproul Jr., the unrepentant and defrocked pastor from Bristol, Tennessee, was the guest preacher at the annual presbytery meeting for the CPC being held in Peoria, Illinois. Sproul was found guilty of spiritual abuse by the RPCGA and was defrocked and stripped of his credentials before the other serious charges of illegally using another church’s tax ID number and serving alcohol to children could be addressed. Welcoming Sproul to his pulpit was James McDonald, himself a former member of the RPCGA who was deposed from the same denomination. Sadly, both of these men are leaders and conference speakers in the homeschooling community where training our children in honesty, integrity, self-control, and godly living is a priority.
Traditionally, the marks of a true church have been considered to be the preaching of the Word, the administering of the sacraments, and church discipline, a view, I am certain is upheld by both Sproul and McDonald, at least in word if not in deed. But Jesus named the real mark of the true church: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 17:21) It brings to mind this poem I read years ago and speaks to the very real fruits of spiritual abuse.
Weep, weep for those
Who do the work of the Lord
with a high look
and a proud heart.
Their voice is lifted up
In the streets, and their cry is heard.
The bruised reed they break
By their great strength, and the smoking flax
Weep not for the quenched
(For their God will hear their cry
And the Lord will come to save them)
But weep, weep for the quenchers.
For when the Day of the Lord
Is come, and the vales sing
And the hills clap their hands
And the light shines
Then their eyes shall be opened
On a waste place,
The smoke of the flax bitter
In their nostrils,
Their feet pierced
By broken reed-stems…
Wood, hay, and stubble,
And no grass springing,
And all the birds flown.
Weep, weep for those
Who have made a desert
In the name of the Lord.
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1.We must acknowledge that we are all sinners. “For we are all become as one that is unclean, and all our righteousnesses are as a polluted garment: and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:6) and “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
2.We are all accountable for our own sins before God. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)
3.There is only one way to be forgiven of these sins and that is through the blood of Jesus Christ. “Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
4.If we confess our sin to the Lord and repent of it (not allow it to rule in our lives) we can be forgiven and be in right standing with God. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousenss.” (1 John 1:9)
5.Genuine salvation will result in living lives of good works but none of those works contribute in any way to our standing before God which is based solely and completely on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. (Hebrews 10:12) and “Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy He saved us by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5) and “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
6.We all, men and women, boys and girls, have direct access to the throne of grace because everyone who is a born-again believer in Jesus Christ is called a “priest and king” in God’s economy. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9)
I believe that many of the false teachings within the patriocentric movement are in direct contrast to these Scriptures and I would encourage each of us to first examine what we believe about Jesus and His work on the cross, its implications and its marvelous power.
Secondly, I would challenge anyone reading here to examine your own heart and ask yourself whether you have been trusting in good works….baptism, homeschooling, church attendance, modest dress, the list goes on and on, or if you have placed ALL your faith and hope in Jesus’ blood and righteousness alone.
And finally, I would challenge you to examine the teachings within your own church system, whether it is Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, etc. Ask yourself what your church teaches about ecclesiastical authority and family authority. Does it line up with the Word of God? It is a top down system that requires certain works in exchange for a relationship with Jesus Christ or do you have the assurance that you are saved for eternity by His death on the cross in your stead? Does it teach that the fruits of the spirit and obedience to all the one anothers is what our lives will demonstrate or is there a list of man made rules?
If you desire to talk with me about this, please send me a note to email@example.com. My desire is that no one who visits this website will leave without knowing the glorious truth that we can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and can enjoy a life filled with His goodness and grace!