The article “Jindal defends those who want Obama to fail” on CNN’s website got me to thinking. Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) of Louisiana commented, “It’s OK for Republicans to want President Obama to fail if they think he’s jeopardizing the country…My answer to the question is very simple: ‘Do you want the president to fail?’ It depends on what he is trying to do.”
This isn’t a political post. Jindal’s comments gave me pause and caused me to reflect on the church. Is it right to want some churches to fail, or some movements within the church to fail? I think the answer is yes. As Jindal said, if certain churches or movements are jeopardizing individual’s soul’s, radically compromises the integrity of the church universal, bring disrepute to Christ, then I think it incumbent upon me to wish for, even pray for, their failure.
To me, that makes sense. Yet, I don’t feel like I like it. If you know me, head almost always wins over heart…and it does on this issue as well. (Lynn asked me a while ago if, as a pastor, it bothers me when people leave our church/ministry to go to another. My answer, not if it’s a good church/ministry. It tears me up to see people go to places where Christ isn’t proclaimed (sometimes even denied) and Scripture isn’t upheld.)
The above needs to come with a whole bunch of caveats though (and I’m open to correction on this). First caveat is that I’m not at all thinking of churches or movements with which we might have minor doctrinal differences (issues like baptism, reformed theology, charismatic, etc.) or minor methodological/praxis differences (exclusive psalm singing, purpose driven, seeker sensitive, etc.). What I am thinking of is churches/movements that are totally unfaithful to Scripture, apostate, heretical, immoral, etc.
Second caveat, I don’t always get it right. Some churches/movements might not be as bad as I think. Others may be worse. I need to be very careful here, and seek the guidance of Scripture and of the Spirit.
Third, no church or movement has it all together. Not ECC, not the PCA, and certainly not me as an individual. We are all a mixed bag of sin and grace produced holiness. We are saints and sinners. The visible church will always be, at least this side of Christ’s return, a mixed bag of regenerate saints and and unregenerate sinners. Thus, the visible church is constantly in need or reforming (semper reformandum). This I think should be our initial prayer for every church/movement. First we ask God to do a work in the church, asking him to bring them back to himself and to the truth of the Word, that he would grant repentance.
That being said, I still think there is a time when we pray, humbly with fear and trembling, God, remove their lamp stand. This, to me, seems consistent with the spirit of Revelation 2-3 (a couple of chapters I hope to write extensively on in the next couple of years). God is concerned with people, so will not tolerate churches that misdirect people to the detriment of the souls. He is concerned with his glory and reputation, so he will not tolerate churches that tarnish it. It seems to me that those concerns should fill his people also.