Sunday, November 10, 2013

Is there a good way to point out to a pastor that he's being unBiblical?

I expect that anybody who has been in the church long enough has found themselves, sooner or later, in a position where they suspect the pastor (minister, priest, etc) is not teaching quite what you would expect. Maybe he is teaching something that is slightly out of step with the Bible. Maybe he is teaching something that is not quite in line with the church's affiliation. Or maybe both.

I am trying to find the best way to handle such a conversation right now. I'm in a situation where the pastor routinely -- week after week, month after month, at this point year after year -- begins Bible classes by misquoting the Bible. The invocation with which he begins is, "In the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit." That's a fairly obvious misquote of part of the great commission: "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". It's not even possible that he doesn't realize that it's a misquote; he says it correctly during church services or (interestingly enough) when his supervisor is in town. I have found myself wondering: Does he think he's improving on the Bible? If not, why change it? But if so, what exactly is his level of respect for the Bible, and its role as a safeguard for the faith once given?

Why am I still there, if he's misquoting it that blatantly, that regularly? Well, it's not for lack of looking around at other churches to see if there's anything out there that is truer to Christ and his word. In the last few years I've visited three different Lutheran churches, a Methodist church, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Church of Christ, and Baptist at various points. But I have yet to find anywhere where the preacher is any more Biblical than my current pastor. Why have I not yet spoken to him, if it has been going on so long? Because the previous time I tried to speak to him about something -- something far less serious, that didn't anger me at all but I thought was more difficult than necessary and thought could be made simpler -- not only was I not able to persuade him to see another point of view, but the particular thing I brought to his attention was promptly used as a sermon example of people not cooperating with church leadership.(At times like this I'm glad I've guarded my anonymity as a blogger over the years; it does help.)

But I'm curious whether anyone has ever navigated through a conversation like that successfully. And by "successfully" I mean not just without getting excommunicated, preferably even without getting used as a bad example in a sermon, but actually succeeded in getting the pastor (minister, priest, etc) to listen?


Gary said...

I would suggest you do the following:

Contact your local bishop or district president's office and anonymously ask them if your concern is a concern for them. If they aren't concerned about it I suggest you drop it or change churches.

However, if your bishop/president believes the issue is something that must be addressed, find out from them what the process is to have the issue addressed. You can still do this anonymously. Your denomination should have a protocol for parishioners to follow in these situations.

What I would encourage you NOT to do, is to bad mouth your pastor to other parishioners.

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi Gary

It's not that the protocol is so difficult to come by; it's that the quality of the results is in doubt with that approach.

That's why my basic question was if anyone had successfully navigated that before.

For instance, stopping by your blog, it looks like you have at some point decided that what your previous pastor (preacher, etc) was teaching was not Biblical. Did you try to talk to him/them? Did it go well?

I'm trying to see if anybody has successfully navigated that one.

Take care & God bless

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

I have, but there was an associate priest who was on my side, as well as several others in the parish.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Maybe this pastor thinks it his duty to *interpret* a little for his flock. That wouldn't be objectionable to me, if so.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

I have, but there was an associate priest who was on my side, as well as several others in the parish.

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi Anastasia

I know I've limited this post to only one particular thing; it has to give a skewed impression. It's not as if one thing alone has led to so much frustration on my part. The reason I'm focusing on just this one thing is because it seems the one thing where there shouldn't be any dispute at all. Any clergy should respect the Bible enough to stick with it -- and especially any Lutheran clergy, what with our history of calling out Rome for putting church traditions and later theologies above the Bible and all that.

Wouldn't you find it surprising if you went to church this Sunday and heard the invocation like that?

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF