Tag Archives: repentance

What disqualifies a person from leadership? And, can they be restored?

toronto signNow that they’ve taken their lumps—what is the best medicine that could be prescribed for Rob Ford, Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, and Patrick Brazeau?

What disqualifies a person from leadership? Can a fallen leader be restored?

It would seem this is the hot topic in Canada these days. The front pages of our two national newspapers, the National Post and the Globe & Mail, were completely taken up by a massive photo of Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford and stories about the mayor’s acknowledgement that he smoked crack cocaine while in a drunken stupor.

Of course, Rob Ford’s confession makes it obvious by his own acknowledgement that he told the public, his own family, and his closest political allies a pack of lies for a long time.

And then there is the case of the three Canadian Senators, Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, and Patrick duffy cartoonBrazeau, who were all suspended from the Canadian Senate for submitting falsified expense claims. As a direct consequence they have been tossed into seeming political oblivion. Their security passes, government credit cards, Blackberry phones were all immediately cut off and their personal office staff fired. The dishonesty of the three motivated the Senate to act swiftly in order to salvage something of that institution’s tattered reputation.

What disgrace! They are examples of leadership that failed the test. Sure, they disappointed many Canadians, although it must be said that there are many more people who cynically believe all politicians are corrupt, anywise, so what can you expect! Many today do take it for granted that our political wallin cartoonleaders are all crooks and liars. And, consequently, in a perverse sort of way we’re not too offended when we get what we expect. In fact I’ve heard that the popularity approval rating of Mayor Ford in the polls has risen since his dramatic confessions this week.

We all know that our leaders are subject to human frailties. But, really, is it beneficial to the wellbeing of our communities and our nation as a whole to set the bar of what we expect from our leaders so low? Do we really want our leaders “living down” to cynical expectations and so become self-fulfilling prophecies? I don’t think so.

In former times Canadians widely believed and would acknowledge that the Judeo-Christian scriptures set their expectations concerning their own personal behaviour as well as for those in leadership positions. That’s why the city of Toronto was formerly known as “Toronto the good” in years now long past. The bar of the public’s expectations concerning personal conduct was then set much higher.

rob ford foreheadIt is true that according to the teachings of the Bible, God DOES expect A LOT from both the leaders AND the led—from all those who pay Him lip service. Didn’t Rob Ford invoke God’s blessing on the people he’s supposed to be serving during one of his tumultuous press conferences this week?

Nevertheless, despite the blatant hypocrisy common to our secular 21st Century, many still expect senators playing cardsour leaders to carry out their service both faithfully and with dignity. Having the leader of Canada’s largest city confess before millions that he smoked crack while in a drunken stupor, while in the company of a bunch of druggies, is just plain embarrassing. We want our leaders whether in politics, sports, or business to at least put on a public veneer of a good example for our children even if we mostly do think they are all corrupt.

So, what’s the bottom line for our leaders with proven feet of clay? After falling so low, could and should Rob Ford, Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, and Patrick Brazeau still be forgiven and restored to positions of leadership? Could they once again regain our full confidence? It all depends.

King David of ancient Israel, who was himself no stranger to some stupendous moral lapses during the course of his leadership, came to understand this issue thoroughly. He learned what good leadership requires. His dying words are still relevant. David put his epitaph this way:

The Lord’s Spirit spoke through me,
and his word was on my tongue. The God of Israel spoke;
the Rock of Israel said to me: “Whoever rules ·fairly [justly; righteously] over people,
who rules ·with respect for God, is like the morning light at ·dawn,
like a morning without clouds.
He is like sunshine after a rain
that makes the grass ·of the earth sparkle and gleam”….

But all ·evil [worthless; godless] people [both leaders and the led] will be thrown away like thorns that cannot be held in a hand. No one can touch them
 except with a tool of iron or wood.  They will be ·thrown in [consumed by] the fire and burned where they lie (2 Samuel 23:2-4, 6-7 Expanded Version).

Such consequences are indeed far worse than mere public embarrassment and humiliation. Remember, vengeance ONLY belongs to God—something the Toronto city council and the Conservative Party of Canada would do well to remember.

So can such fallen leaders be restored? While public apologies are a good start, more is needed. A real leader like King Dave, for example, is one who learns from his or her mistakes, genuinely repents from the heart of what is morally and ethically wrong and then initiates thorough change in their personal behaviour—and so turns from black to white, death to life, political oblivion to productive leadership, spiritually speaking.  That’s how King David responded to one of the most famous moral lapses of all time when he failed to fulfill his leadership duties before God, his family and the whole nation. You can read about his “news conference,” tears and confessions in Psalm 51.

Perhaps it would be encouraging—or maybe just plain shocking—to realize that even if Rob Ford, Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, and Patrick Brazeau had committed both murder and adultery in the course of their duties, they could be forgiven by no less than God Himself and restored to their positions of leadership—if, and only if they would humbly, totally, and sincerely acknowledge their faults, repent of them all, and then completely change their corrupt behaviour. After all, we all have had feet of clay at one time or another during the course of our years. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is life.

Biblical repentance  means not just saying you’re sorry, but effecting a complete transformation of one’s attitudes and behaviour in those areas in which one committed a sin: i.e. smoking crack cocaine, abusing alcohol, lying, cheating on one’s expenses, threatening others, etc, etc.

Much has changed in the last 3,000 years since the days of King David. But it would appear that human nature is not one of them! Consequently, godly repentance is still the best medicine for the moral and ethical sicknesses that will periodically afflict our souls and the souls of our leaders.

 

Can a new Pope bring repentance to the Church of Rome?

potential popesIn a CBC radio interview I listened with interest to an intelligent, young, American Jesuit seminarian who prayerfully called on whoever might be the new Roman Catholic Pope “to lead us into a new age of integrity and to deliver us from hypocrisy—so that we can really be who we say we are!”

This aspiring priest believes it’s imperative for the Roman Catholic Church to really become faithful to Jesus Christ. To achieve this would require dramatic changes in order to bring that church into conformity with the way of life that the Son of God taught in both word and deed as recorded in the Scriptures.

Mission impossible? Well, that man’s not asking for much, is he? Repentance and change!  Not easy but essential to both experiencing and living authentic Christianity as described in the pages of your Bible. But repentance/change is, after all, the profession of every individual Christian and every group of people who want to be a church “of God” in reality and not merely in self-promoting advertising.

A new pope is going to have his work cut out for him if he wants to bring the Roman Catholic Church to the biblical repentance that would please Christ.  What with seemingly unending bad news arising from its on-going flood of clerical pedophile sex cases, and the Vatican Bank’s (the ironically named Institute for Religious Works) stinky reputation in banking circles as a go-to-place for money laundering by traditionally Catholic Mafioso types.

Also, one can’t neglect to add to this new pope’s to-do-list, actions to get to the bottom of the ongoing allegations of various forms of ecclesiastical corruption that include ugly bureaucratic turf battles among the Curia’s Cardinals, and—surprise, surprise—scandalous allegations that some of the papal staff formerly close to Pope Benedict XVI were embracing homosexual practices more enthusiastically than their vows of celibacy.

Wow, what a revolution of change and repentance would occur in the above situation if a new pope actually took his policy and doctrinal cue from biblical teaching about clerical marriage such as found in 1 Timothy 3:2 in order to get at the root of what’s causing that church to be rife with sexual abuse and perversion. But, don’t hold your breath.cardinals

It’s hardly surprising, then, that Massimo Franco, a columnist for Italy’s leading daily newspaper, Corriere della Sera, describes the Vatican as being utterly dysfunctional in his new book “The Crisis of the Vatican Empire.” No wonder every employee working at the Vatican and all the Cardinals locked up in the Sistine Chapel to elect a new Pope are required to take vows of secrecy. What goes on at the Vatican must stay at the Vatican!

But then, what can you expect from an organization that would not even tolerate an individual’s religious freedom of conscience until the Vatican II Council in the early 1960s. Remember that the Roman Catholic Church has a long and bloody history written by its popes’ decrees. Those men who styled themselves as the successor of the Apostle Peter ordered Crusades to slaughter those they saw as “infidels” whether Muslim, Jew, or especially non-conformist Christian.

It makes you wonder when you compare Christ’s teaching to his disciples to the reality revealed by the Catholic Church’s own history.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” John 13:34-36 English Standard Version

Following the crusades, these same popes also formulated and launched a network of terrorism inquisition2throughout the world, which persisted for almost 600 years and was known as the Inquisition. The Roman popes even authorized various forms of horrific torture by a papal bull entitled Ad Extirpanda in 1254 that would make the CIA’s use of waterboarding for interrogations look like playing tag football. Bloody, harsh, and violent were the Inquisitorial methods! The Roman Catholic Popes employed these tactics in order to enforce their monopoly on power and their domination over the expression of all individual Christians’ faith.

Is there something inherently flawed about the Roman Catholic Papacy—whether we’re talkingpapal crown about the office itself and/or its doctrinal claim to authority over Christianity—so that it can’t be reformed, no matter the initial decent nature of the man who might occupy the so-called “seat of St. Peter”? We all know this saying about the human condition: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Check out this series of four presentations discussing the foundations of church authority. Did Christ give the Apostle Peter and his successors authority as “vicars of Christ”? Does the Pope have the authority “to bind and loose” in all matters of doctrine and tradition? Where did Sunday/Easter worship originate and why? How has Christianity changed from what was practiced by the original Jerusalem Church of God during the first 100 years after the crucifixion of Jesus? All these questions and more are discussed and examined in four in-depth streaming video presentations on this subject.

Just click on: http://cogwebcast.com/sermons/video-archives/a-changed-christianity/

 

Should the Pope repent for his priests’ pedophilia?

Responding to a swelling tide of outrage at the rapes and other sexual abuses perpetrated by many thousands of his pedophile priests, Pope Benedict XVI said at a Vatican mass on April 15, 2010:

Now, under attack from the world which talks to us of our sins, we can see that being able to do penance is a grace and we see how necessary it is to do penance and thus recognize what is wrong in our lives.

Evidently the pope found it too distasteful to explicitly detail the nature of those sins or to admit his own personal decades-long role in enforcing his church’s official Crimen Sollicitationis policy. The Crimen Sollicitationis policy instructed the Catholic hierarchy about how to deal with pedophile priests in Canada, the United States, Ireland, Germany, Italy—where ever in the world the Catholic Church operates. The policy’s main thrust was an effort to protect the Catholic Church’s reputation by covering up and protecting pedophile priests by moving them to new areas whenever a sexual abuse scandal erupted.  Keeping victims quiet was also part of that policy.  This was accomplished by using a variety of means including excommunication threats and hush money.  You can get more information about this by watching a remarkably well-produced BBC documentary called Sex Crimes and the Vatican. Please note, however, that this documentary will both enlighten and disgust you at the same time: http://www.cbc.ca/documentaries/passionateeyeshowcase/

Proverbs 28:13 says:

He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy (NKJV).

It is interesting to note that the Pope called Catholics to do penance rather than calling on them to repentance. “Penance” means according to dictionary.com: 1) punishment undergone in token of penitence for sin; 2) penitential discipline imposed by church authority; 3) a sacrament, as in the Roman Catholic Church, consisting in a confession of sin, made with sorrow and with the intention of amendment, followed by the forgiveness of the sin.

But, according to Harper’s Bible Dictionary “repentance” is a word “covering several biblical ideas that range from regret to changing one’s mind or behavior so as to bring about a moral or ethical conversion.” I think the pope and the rest of the Catholic hierarchy could use a dose of real, heart-felt repentance and ethical conversion rather than merely saying a few dozen extra “Hail Marys” or wearing an itchy hair-shirt or doing without red meat for a month.

Is the Catholic Church’s insistence on making its priests take vows of celibacy at the root of their pedophila plague? More than a few people think so. The Catholic Encyclopedia’s online article on “Celebacy of the Clergy” (at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03481a.htm ) seeks to defend their doctrine. Yet even there they have to admit:

We do not find in the New Testament any indication of celibacy being made compulsory either upon the Apostles or those whom they ordained…

What I find amazing in reading their article is that while they know the original Church of God NEVER required celibacy of ANY or ALL of their bishops/elders and deacons, they—the Roman Catholic Church—think they can use human reason to create allegories or inferences that give them the authority to do the opposite of unambiguously clear Scripture! The Pope feels free to add doctrines and teachings that are, in many respects, burdens—big burdens—to those who follow him.

Matthew 23:4 They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. 5 “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels.

Of course, when Jesus gave the above description, he was referring to the scribes and Pharisees who were the principal leaders interpreting the Old Covenant Scriptures for the Jewish community in Judea. Jesus regularly took them to task for adding all sorts of do’s and don’ts to the written Word of God. Some of them grew to hate Jesus because he was calling them to repentance and to return to the simplicity of the divine intent expressed by the Holy Scriptures.

We know, historically, that the scribes and Pharisees developed and codified their “Oral Law,” which was a complex set of scriptural interpretations, rules, and regulations, that were eventually called the Talmud. This Oral Law or Talmud was intended to be a fence around the written Word of God in order to lead the people of God to more perfectly obey God from the Pharisaical point of view. The Roman Catholic Church has done a similar thing with their Canon Law by adding, for example, a vow of chastity that was never presented as obligatory by the Bible. Isn’t this vow like most of the Catholic Canon Law an unbearable religious “burden” loaded onto the straining backs of both people and priests? Why even the Catholic Encyclopedia’s article admits that the obligatory vow of chastity required for ordination is a “burden”—“You ought anxiously to consider again and again what sort of a burden this is which you are taking upon you.”

It is also interesting to note in context of Matthew 23:5 that the Catholic hierarchy like the ancient Pharisees love their showy religious garb and grand religious processions. Hasn’t the hide-bound, starch-skirted Catholic hierarchy just morphed into the modern gentile equivalent of Jesus’ former unrepentant, myopic, pharisaical opponents?

1 Timothy 4:2-5 NLT 2 These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead. 3 They will say it is wrong to be married… 4 Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. 5 For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.

When God created the first man, He said it was not good for the man to be alone (cf. Genesis 2:18). So, God created the woman and the marriage covenant also in the Beginning.  And the LORD God also said that this was very good. Indeed, He blessed their sexuality and reproduction (cf. Genesis 1:28)!

Any person who wants to approach the throne of the living God must be repentant instead of proud, covering up his sins. And, such a person must be prepared to live by every word that comes from the mouth of God instead of substituting human reason for Holy Scripture. This is an essential point for any person or organization that truly wants to be Christian in fact and not just in name.