If you were the pastor of a large church and responsible for the souls within that congregation (Hebrews 13:7; Jer 50:6; Ezekiel 3:17), would you allow a man who denies the deity of Jesus Christ, denies the accuracy and inspiration of the Bible, denies the resurrection, views the Qur’an as superior to the Bible, believes that God appeared in the person of Master W. Fard Muhammad in July of 1930 and that he was the long awaited Messiah of the Christians and the Mahdi of the Muslims, and believes that Jesus’ body is sealed in a glass tube filled with a liquid and is still in a tomb near Jerusalem to speak to your flock?
What if you are a member of a church and your pastor allowed someone who believed these things to preach from the pulpit? Would you find it necessary to walk away from the church and its leadership?
If you were one of the subordinate leaders at the church, would you tender your resignation and walk away?
A couple of reasons the pulpit pimps are able to run such a successful and profitable game on churches (Black and White) are because the answer to the first question is, all too often, “yes.” And , sadly, the answers to the second and third questions are “no.”
A church in Southeast DC, supported by a friend of mine, is having a youth revival. Yes, I know. The idea of scheduling a revival whether it is for the youth, the aged, the smart, or the stupid is nowhere to be found in Scripture. And yes, it is firmly rooted in tradition. But that’s beside the point.
I explained to my friend that one of the preachers – Akil Dickens – is the youth minister at Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal church. That church (Ebenezer AME) is pastored by Grainger Browning. His lovely wife, Jo Ann, is the co-pastor. (Again, I know. There is no such arrangement within Scripture. But that’s not why I’m writing this.)
If you recall, several years ago, Louis “Calypso Louie” Farrakhan tried to recreate the very profitable Million Man March with the Millions More March. As a part of preparing for and publicizing the event, Calypso Louie preached at Ebenezer AME to a packed out sanctuary. While I would have preferred to use a more neutral word like “spoke”, he did a great deal more than simply speak about the march. I know. I was there in the crowd.
Here’s a portion of the account of his appearance at Ebenezer AME:
The Muslim leader shared his vision, speaking in the crowded sanctuary of Ebenezer AME Church, a guest of Pastor Rev. Grainger Browning, and his wife, Rev. Joann Browning. Popular vocalist Erykah Badu led the singing of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”—the Black National Anthem—as a way, she declared, to help chase any lingering fear from the room.
Grainger introduced him as a very godly man. While behind the pulpit, Calypso Louie denied the deity of Jesus Christ, promoted the Qur’an, knocked Christianity, promoted Mohammed, and generally insulted the people in the sanctuary. How did Grainger come to consider him godly if Grainger knows he believes these things? Giving him the benefit of the doubt, how could Grainger have been dumb enough not to know he believed these things? And we won’t even talk about the mother ship orbiting the Earth.
Sadly, Grainger never stopped him or corrected him. Sadder still, the congregation seemed in complete agreement with him. They enthusiastically peppered his speech with lots shouts of “Praise God” and “Thank you Jesus.”
Akil Dickens sits under the leadership of Grainger Browning – and his lovely wife Jo Ann. I suggested to my friend that anyone who is willing to ignore what Grainger did is not fit to lead or teach the church’s youth. And by “the church” I mean the universal church, the Body of Christ. Grainger – and his lovely wife Jo Ann – clearly demonstrated they should not be the pastor or co-pastor of people seeking the truth of God.
My friend’s response was interesting. He said “Nobody’s perfect. We just need to accentuate the positive.” He even mentioned that he had attended one of the nearby Nation of Islam (NoI) mosques (#4) and was surprised to find that the speaker used the Bible more than he did the Qur’an. Apparently that makes them a little more acceptable in his eyes.
Let me ask you this: Would any of you have a problem if your pastor brought in a Jehovah’s Witness to preach one Friday night? They use the Bible (sort of). Or how about a Mormon? Would that be okay? They use the Bible too. AND they’re very nice people. Does the fact that both groups deny the deity of Jesus Christ matter? Would it be okay as long as the JWs don’t talk about Jesus being the Archangel Michael or the Mormons mention that Adam is our God and Satan is Jesus’ half brother?
My friend still doesn’t understand that issues like this go way beyond expecting perfection from some one. This gets down to being willing and able to defend the foundations of the faith. If you are not willing to stand for those foundations, how will you ever be able to teach them?
Doctrine matters. It is the thing that separates us from non-Christians, be they Mormons, JW’s, Catholics, or Buddhists and Hindus. Grainger had absolutely no business exposing that congregation to that fount of poison and false doctrine known as Calypso Louie. His staff had no business letting him do it. If no one complained, they are complicit in the violation of trust. If they did complain but remained under Grainger, they are still complicit. Either way, they have demonstrated a lack of faithfulness to Christ and have demonstrated that without repentance, they should not be allowed to “minister” to the youth, or anyone else for that matter.
Unfortunately, any insistence on standing for sound doctrine, for faithfulness to the doctrines delivered to us once and for all, will get you accused of being legalistic. Which, of course, is what my friend ended up saying.
People, work to keep the church faithful to Jesus Christ. If it means you don’t get to keep your friends, so be it. If it means you alienate your family, then you have to be willing to pay that price. But as John and Peter said in Acts 4:19-20, we should give heed to God, not men.
Too often, the shepherds are willing to compromise for one reason or another. I cannot judge the motives of Mr. and Mrs. Browning or of Akil Dickens. I can only address their compromise in being willing to associate so closely with a man so clearly hostile to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
That isn’t legalism. It’s faithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ.