Joseph Iregbu

Purpose Guy

Can Calling Out Church Leaders Be Good News?

There has been much debate on whether it’s biblically and morally justified for anyone to call out erring Christian leaders.

Truth is there are different camps on this matter.

There are those who condemn calling out altogether as it’s perceived to be diminishing to the gospel appeal to unbelievers and give an indication of disunity in the church.

On the other hand, you have those who affirm it’s needed for the preservation of truth in the body of Christ and the integrity of the gospel, regardless of personalities involved.

Context is critical for righteous judgements

Both arguments have solid biblical merits BUT situational context is critical for us to make righteous judgements.

In Galatians 2:11–14, Paul publicly called out Peter (a much older disciple) for hypocrisy. In Acts 23:3-5, Paul was equally called out for disrespecting the high priest.

Conversely, in 1 Peter 4:8, we learn that love covers a multitude of sins. And Luke 6:37 says “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned…”

The danger of the misapplication of scripture is real. When you consider 1 Peter 4:8, you may think it’s an excuse to overlook sin in the body of Christ.

No, it’s not. And here’s why. The Amplified Bible reads:

“Above all, have fervent and unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins [it overlooks unkindness and unselfishly seeks the best for others]”

The focus of the verse is relational differences amongst believers, not an encouragement to overlook perversion, unrighteousness and wickedness in the body of Christ.

Not all ‘call out’ is righteous

Should we publicly call out all moral failings of Christian leaders? Is every ‘call out’ warranted? Again, context is critical.

Firstly, no man is perfect; both the one called out and those calling others out.

Secondly, no church leader is above the gospel they represent. Scripture bows to no man!

Thirdly, all men (especially pastors) are fallible and are not without the propensity to sin. That’s why we all need God’s grace and mercy.

Having said that, not all ‘call outs’ are warranted, especially when the intention is to humiliate others, promote one’s self or simply expose moral failures just for the sake of it.

Galatians 6:1 is clear that the goal in these moments is to restore the fallen believer (pastor or parishioner), having the consciousness and humility of our own fallibility.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any sin, you who are spiritual [that is, you who are responsive to the guidance of the Spirit] are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness [not with a sense of superiority or self-righteousness], keeping a watchful eye on yourself, so that you are not tempted as well.

So, not all ‘call out’ is righteous.

When and why ‘call outs’ can be good news

But there is a clear reason why the Bible has preserved examples of the correction of erring church leaders (privately and publicly).

We don’t call out fallen soldiers of the gospel who err along their journey but are quick to repent.

Instead, we call out those who remain in their sins and hypocrisies, cover them up while continuing to serve in the holy things of God and show no contrition, especially on matters that have wider spiritual implications for the body of Christ — Psalm 51:17

That’s because when sin is allowed to embed into the fabrics of the church, everyone can become spiritually polluted.

Galatians 5:9 (AMP) A little leaven [a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers] leavens the whole batch [it perverts the concept of faith and misleads the church].

Unfortunately, we have pastors living in both secret and open sins but continue boldly in pulpit ministry without remorse and repentance.

When we really consider that eternity is at stake, it should be a small matter when we are called out for our moral failures.

Peter did not hit back at Paul. Paul did not kick out at those that called him out. They embraced accountability. And we desperately need the same.

Truth is, if we are prompt to repent when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin privately, we may never need to be called out publicly.

When we humble ourselves in repentance, regardless of who does the calling out, we will be ultimately grateful in eternity that God didn’t leave us without rebuke in our secret sins. 

We cannot continue in sin at the expense of grace. When we really pause and think about it, the ‘call out’ is REALLY an act of God’s mercy. And that is good news.

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Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash.

About Joseph Iregbu

From a homeless, near-school-dropout to living a story worth telling. Purpose is my passion. What's your story?

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