More Thoughts for My Freedom Friends
Although we haven’t come to an agreement yet, I think that we are making progress in sorting through the issue of John Price and predator pastors. I’m not so foolish as to think that I can answer every objection, or even give an answer that will put this issue to rest forever. Some of that, and some of our struggles here, will probably never fully be put to rest. After all, we are dealing with some pretty awful things, and we probably have only scratched the surface at this point. So, I’ll not flatter myself that I have all the answers on this issue.
It seems that our last discussion got bogged down a little with whether or not John Price is regenerate, and whether or not he ever was a good pastor (1). First, I would point out that I am no judge of a man’s heart. As God reminded Samuel, man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. Only God knows his heart, as we like to say. But that is also my point. I can’t see his heart. I can only judge by the fruit, which I think is the best way to judge in this case. For clarity’s sake, by fruit I don’t mean people. If I am the fruit of John, then I am not the fruit of God. Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, that which is born of the spirit is spirit. Certainly the seed, tossed into good ground by the vilest of sowers, will still grow up into fruitfulness. But I am not talking about you and me when I say fruit.
When I say fruit, I mean all those fruits of the spirit, those fruits that only the Spirit of God can produce, and that the Spirit only produces in those who have been regenerated. And that is where I struggle. The works of the flesh are very manifest in his life, particularly that work of the flesh called fornication. His lifestyle clearly leads to hell. I have a hard time arguing that a man who lives like the devil is headed for heaven. Maybe he is, but how does one argue that?
Was John ever a good pastor? I have said before that I enjoyed many things from that period of my life. I for one cannot argue that everything was bad. And we certainly could make the case that Price started out right at the very least.
But the fact that John started so well and seemed so right I think is further proof that he was a wolf from the beginning. It reminds me of a passage from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring, when Frodo and his friends questioned whether Strider were truly a friend or not. Frodo said, “You have frightened me several times tonight, but never in the way that servants of the Enemy would, or so I imagine. I think one of his spies would – well, seem fairer and feel fouler, if you understand.” To which Strider replied, “I see… I look foul and feel fair. Is that it? All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost.”
Put another way, when a shepherd first comes along, the sheep might have some struggles, some “personality conflicts” with him. He might seem a little rough. He must discipline the flock. But when the flock submits under his hand, he need only deal with the occasional stray.
A wolf, on the other hand, starts out to gain the trust of the sheep. He flatters and soothes and gains their confidence, and then he begins to devour the sheep. Aesop wrote a fable about this. It seems that a certain wolf, after prowling around a flock of sheep for some time, set out to gain the confidence of the Shepherd. The Shepherd, of course, watched the wolf very carefully, ever suspicious that the wolf would harm one of his lambs. So, the Shepherd was surprised when the wolf actually seemed to be helping him. Through time, the Shepherd grew used to seeing the wolf around, and since the wolf had never done anything wrong, and in fact seemed to have the same care for the sheep as a Shepherd would, the Shepherd forgot how wicked the wolf could be.
One day, the Shepherd asked the wolf to keep watch over the sheep for him while he ran a few errands. But when he came back, and saw how many of his lambs had been killed and carried off, the Shepherd knew how foolish it had been to ever trust a wolf.
I understand why this is troubling. After all, if a man like John could start well, and could earn the trust of many or even most adults, if he could seem so right and yet turn out so wrong, what’s to say that the next pastor we come across won’t do the same thing?
One thing is certain here… we need that wisdom that is from above.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. James 1:5
(1) I use the word “regenerate” here to make a distinction. It is possible to profess faith in Christ and remain unconverted. It is possible to be a Christian but never born “from above”.
Labels: John Price