Can I share with you a great nugget Diane Langberg shared with me last week from Ezekiel? It was so good that I thought I’d like to share it here as a little snapshot of our AACC talk yesterday in Nashville.
Background: Diane has been thinking and writing about abuse of power and the impact of Christian leaders feeding on the sheep. Together and individually we have talked with churches about whether pastors who abuse or have significant moral and public falls should be restored to the office they formerly held. If you read the existing literature, authors fall into two camps: yes and never.
Now, consider this text: Ezekiel 44. Verse 10 speaks of the sins of the Levites (church leaders), “who wandered from me after their idols…” These leaders, “must bear the consequences of their sin.” However, verse 11f says, “They may serve in my sanctuary, having charge of the gates of the temple and serving in it; they may slaughter the burnt offerings and sacrifices for the people and serve them. But because they served them in the presence of their idols and made the house of Israel fall into sin, therefore I have sworn with uplifted hand that they must bear the consequences of their sin…They are not to come near to serve me as priests nor come near any of my holy things or my most holy offerings; they must bear the shame of their destestable practices.”
If we apply this to falling after idols in our world, it sounds like the answer is yes there can be restoration to some forms of ministry but not to the most important or highest offices where the person represents the voice of the Lord. Senior pastors who fall from their position may (if repentant) be restored to lower level, nearly lay ministries but must not be returned to the highest offices in the church.
What do you think of this interpretation for today?