Bull has an interesting post on spiritual abuse, which deals with the perspective of the member of a church who suffers under a poor pastoral team. Sadly, this happens, and it is tragic for all.
Another form of spiritual abuse is the false accusation of church leaders by some so-called discernment ministries. Many of them are genuinely concerned about the Body of Christ and accurate doctrine, including accountability and proper use of resources, but there are some who sail very close to the wind of defamation and others who actually seem to be dressed in wolves clothing.
An example of a person who sails very close to the edge, that is often quoted on discernment sites, including this site in the past, is Jacob Prasch of Moriel Ministries, who, despite some interesting articles, on occasion seems to have an issue with accurate fact gathering.
He tends to be extremely wordy, and doesn’t believe in short paragraphs on blogs, so actually wading through his stuff is a nightmare assignment, not just because of the constant discouragement in his work, but because of the mismatching of his claims and associations about various ministries.
For example, in the midst of his accusations he often hits some highly defamatory heights, such as this false accusation of Phil Pringle, in an article called ‘The Mixture”:
This same mixture is why we see so many Christians in churches like Toronto Preacher Phil Pringle’s City Church in Sydney get involved in things like Amway and in pyramiding schemes.
Now in Australia pyramid schemes are highly illegal. To my knowledge Phil Pringle and C3 have never been knowingly involved in a pyramid scheme of any kind, neither have they had a direct involvement with Amway, although there may be members who are involved in Amway, which is a perfectly legitimate business and in no way illegal.
But pyramid schemes have been outlawed in Australia and many other nations. This appears to make his accusation defamatory.
I have listed C3 here because they are coming under some flack here, but the same article contains unsupported accusations against a number of other ministries, including the Alpha Course, Nicky Gumbell, Holy Trinity Brompton, Kensington Temple and others, which are all widely regarded as effectual, godly ministries.
Here’s the other problem with these kinds of claim – they are recycled by other alleged discernment sites, and thus the defamation is spread.
Another problem to add to this is the commentary on the threads which proceed from the accusations in the posts. Here is a completely unfounded comment made by a regular commenter on a blog which has occasionally been associated with Prasch’s work:
C3 pastors are basically semi entrepreneurs, not capable of doing an honest day’s work, who see a franchise oppurtunity that is tailor made to make easy money without control from the C3 system or the government.
This person singles out C3 pastors because he feels he has a history with its founder. But he makes sweeping allegations without a shred of accountability. No evidence. No proof. Just a defamatory remark thrown into a hedonistic mix and permitted by the blog owner.
I add that this is one of the softer imputations levelled by this person on that blog. I will leave other possibly defamatory claims to others to deal with if they choose to. I wanted to give an example of this kind of folly when it is attached to unsubstantiated claims in blog posts.
Most shepherds are hard workers
The truth is, in response the the commenter’s claims, that the vast majority of C3 Pastors, like most other Pentecostal church leaders, are hard-working, conscientious individuals who have given their lives to Christ, heard the call to ministry, and are serving God’s Kingdom and His people to the best of their ability.
Their motivation is not money. They are not primarily entrepreneurs, although many come from a business or entrepreneurial background, which is not wrong or even a disadvantage. They have often left careers in which they were highly successful and could have given them a more comfortable living than pastoring, which, for the vast majority of ministers, is not a vocation which promises above average remuneration, say compared to a school teacher, unless your church is over 500 people.
So making ‘easy money’ in a ‘franchise’ is neither the dream or the outcome for most Pastors. And the idea of a franchise is warped also. It is a vocation, a calling, and an extremely difficult one if you are planting a church from scratch, which involves serving people from many different walks of life at varying levels of spiritual maturity with an array of issues and problems to deal with on a daily basis.
Should blogs be moderated
Having an opinion or even challenging a doctrinal stance is perfectly acceptable on any debating channel, including on blogs. This site is an example of this. But making unsubstantiated defamatory claims against an individual or church group should be seen as unacceptable amongst the brethren.
I am personally against interference with freedom of speech, and, in a global economy, I understand it is very difficult to prosecute liars and cheats who utilise the web for their falsehoods, but there is surely coming a time when people like Prasch and Moriel, which has offices in Australia and UK, will have to be held to account for their baseless accusations.
Blog sources such as WordPress have a policy on non-interferance when it comes to the moderation of their bloggers’s sites, and this is understandable, but we have laws which protect people from lies and deception in the press and media, and it is overdue in the blogosphere, which can go viral in the matter of hours.
Already, in UK, there are moves to make the owners and proprietors of blogs accountable for what they say against ministries and individuals.
Openness of opinion and freedom of news outlets is a healthy thing, but false and defamatory accusations need to be moderated at a higher level. Do we need blog police? Or not? And can a wolf attack a pastor?
Posted by Steve