Monday’s post has sparked a conversation that is still ongoing about whether or not we should judge somebody who is trying to do what looks like a good thing.
Isn’t it good that somebody is planting a church?
Isn’t it good that people start schools and mission boards?
Isn’t it good that people go out soulwinning or leave gospel tracts strewn about?
Isn’t SFL just full of a bunch of hate and negativity?
The first problem is, of course, that the assumption is being made that all churches and ministries and missions are created equal. Can somehow a fundamentalist preacher who graduates from a fundamentalist school and raises support at fundamentalists churches to plant a new fundamentalist church be free from the taint and corruption of fundamentalism? Does a fig tree produce olives?
Why would it be a good thing to produce yet another church that attempts to isolate itself from all of the rest of Christianity? Patrick Henry’s claim that there are only three Bible-believing churches serving almost a million people in urban Atlanta is patently absurd. If he had said that there are specific neighborhoods that are undeserved and his intention is to go there in association with some existing body and live a missional life of kindness, service, and charity then I doubt that anybody on this blog would have a problem with it — especially if he was willing to work for a living like the rest of us do. But that is not what Patrick’s claim was. Instead he has asserted that there are not enough CHURCHES in a city that is lousy with churches. Unless he’s willfully ignorant of the facts, Patrick either being dishonest or he’s being schismatic. Either one is cause for grave concern.
As for the charge that without personally sitting down and speaking to somebody it’s impossible to know their “heart”, this is simply malarkey. We’ve seen Mr. Henry’s claims in a public forum at a church where he was attempting to raise money. What a person says in private does not negate their public presentation nor does a response to a public declaration first require a private confrontation. Furthermore, he obviously has the blessing of his “home church” in his efforts and therefore an appeal to any kind of church authority is moot — which is the entire point of a one-on-one meeting.
I do not doubt that Patrick Henry is possessed of good intentions but intentions are not magical and they do not guarantee that a person’s goals are good. If by some remote possibility there is a place in Atlanta that needs another church then I can say on good authority that it does not need another man-centered, isolationist, myopic, and anachronistic one. Any church that is conceived by, funded by, and associated with only other fundamentalists could not help but be these things.