Are Abusive Pastors “Saved”?

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31 Responses

  1. Jean says:

    “Is the ability to give a “Christian” sermon and draw a crowd proof of regeneration?”

    If a non-Christian actor could play the role of Abraham, Moses, Peter, Paul or Christ himself, in a movie or play, mouthing the very words of Scripture with skill and conviction, as many skilled actors are capable of, and which I assume everyone here would concede is not only possible but very much the case, then the ability to give a Christian sermon and draw a crowd cannot be proof of the preacher’s regeneration.

    Moreover, the more crowd-pleasing and crowd-drawing a sermon and its preacher are, the more one should see the popularity as a red flag. Unless, of course, the offense of the cross has been removed.

  2. Michael says:


    Good point about the actors…wish I’d thought of that…

  3. Em says:

    Maybe more to the point is not the question, are they saved, but rather who decided the abusive fella was “called” by God to pastor?
    Go sit down and learn and if you have no appetite to do that, join a theater group and prance around there
    just sayin’. ?

  4. Paige says:

    I look forward to the responses and comments on this subject. I’ve given the subject considerable (to put it mildly) thought for nearly two decades.

    A tree is known by its fruit.
    Many will say to Me in that Day, Lord did we not do many mighty works in Your Name? I will say to them, “Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity. I never knew you” Matt 7:23
    “Many false prophets will arise and mislead many” Matt 24:11
    And other numerous similar verses.

    Of course we are all sinners, saved only by Grace, and as you mentioned, we do fail, and the Holy Spirit deals with us and we repent and “bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance”.

    Why on going abuse or ungodly behavior continues “in the Name of the Lord”, in spite of a myriad of prayers offered by victims, is a mystery of celestial proportions. The Bible is full of such stories, which will apparently will be dealt with in Eternity, and we will then understand the big picture. Massive challenge to ones faith.

    Obviously I have no answers. Only Trust. Even that is a Gift.

  5. Steve says:

    Michael, my thoughts go exactly here when I think of my ex CC pastor. To be honest, I’m conflicted on this since it’s impossible to be objective when it’s personal. The best spiritual advice I give myself is to pray for my enemies and wish them no harm. The fact that I can not call them brothers but rather enemies I need to pray for is probably revealing that I don’t believe most of them are saved. But none of us has a vote in the eternal destinany of an abusive pastor. Best we can do is encourage them to resign and hope they repent.

  6. Michael says:


    I wish some of them would prance into a lake… like I said, I’m not nice… 🙂

  7. Michael says:


    I know you “get this” more than most…it is a huge mystery.

  8. Michael says:


    I get it…sometimes the best we can do is to guard our own souls…

  9. Bob Sweat says:

    Many seem to be “saved” from any form of discipline. :>)

  10. Duane Arnold says:

    “Is the ability to give a “Christian” sermon and draw a crowd proof of regeneration?”

    Anyone remember the documentary film, “Marjoe”…

  11. Michael says:


    I do…I think everyone should see that film…

  12. Tim says:

    Interesting…I was just having a conversation with someone about this today, from the vantage point of teachers with false doctrine, rather than abuse. Someone can hold erroneous views about important issues (such as gifts, eschatology, ecclesiology, etc.) and still be saved. Likewise, a person might be able to parrot correct doctrine in a Bible-teaching church, and still be lost or be a false convert, if he/she has no personal faith in Christ.

    I would argue the same to be *potentially* true of the abusive pastor. A man might be engaged in deep sin, and yet still be regenerate. I would not presume to offer that man any assurance of salvation whatsoever due to the lack of fruit in his life, but who can know the heart of a man other than God and the man himself?

  13. Michael says:


    The difference in my mind is that doctrine is disputable…I’m not sure behaviors are…

  14. ( |o )====::: says:

    There’s a simple paradigm, adopt and adhere to Jesus’ values, then, as Jesus younger brother James pointed out, our faith is shown by our “works”, especially our kindness, and treating all others as valued by God, caring for the widows, orphans, travelers and refugees, and being stewards, not usurpers of creation.

    Theological brownie points mean nothing if I am an abusive, manipulative, cruel, self centered arse.

  15. Steve says:

    Tim,. When it comes to some churches I kind of see abuse and various kinds of false doctrine like modalism being seen together. It makes me wonder.

  16. Steph says:

    My personal thought/question about this matter:

    When hundreds of people leave one CC church in Boston….and they all say that’s there’s something majorly wrong there…..and there continue to be hugely questionable decisions made by the pastors….are the leaders saved……or is the 1/4 of the church that left wrong?

    Really, was CC this bad from the beginning or did it go off the rails somewhere?

  17. Michael says:


    I don’t have any info on Boston…feel free to email me.

  18. bob1 says:

    When I was younger I used to believe that doctrine and abuse were strongly related.

    I don’t anymore. There are no 100% guarantees, sad to say.God seems
    to allow a lot of bad behavior among church folks. The only conviction
    I have is that accountability is key– and not just one way, but reciprocally.

    The other thing I’m in favor of is doing some solid psychological training with prospective pastors.

    But nothing’s fail proof.

  19. Ann Marie says:

    I sat with my closest friends/family tonight discussing this topic and these questions. We all believe that being saved, forgiven for your sins,born again is between you and God. That only God truly knows your heart. Pastors/priests that abuse sexually, spiritually and or emotionally are very cognitive of their actions and just like everyone should feel remorse, repent, and atone as defined as meaning reparation,compensation or amends for an offense or a crime one has committed. They should immediately stop being in a pastoral role. I personally feel without doing so cheapens Grace. If these pastors/priests show no or little conscience, no remorse, no calling of the Holy Spirit, don’t repent and continue to work in the field as a pastor/priest they are evil. In our secular world, they are considered a psychopath and in some cases of sexual abuse a pedophile, these true medical diagnoses have no cure in our world. And yes you can be forgiven by God for these sins, but clinically there is no cure. Sadly both the world of Grace and our secular world of mental disorders seem to be far too common in church leadership these days.

  20. ShortStuff says:

    Is it true that Bill Johnson of Bethel has apparently talked a family into or was talked into trying to resurrect a dead little girl and has amassed a small fortune through Gofundme?

    If this is true then what does the fruit tell you? Is that the fruit of the Spirit?

  21. Babylon's Dread says:

    ShortStuff – that version of what happened at Bethel has more flaws than the congressional debate over … well just about anything. It is a shaped version of whatever happened but that is how we communicate these days.

    Speaking of shaped – the clickbait title is a perfect illustration of communication impossibility. First, we don’t know what abusive means as it has to be shaped by victims for it to be valid. The revelation has to come from below … you know that.

    Second, the use of “saved” in that form means we don’t have a clue what we are being asked. So what does saved mean in parenthesis? I think we all assume it means they believe and have received the Spirit thereby are regenerate. The parenthesis is a deconstruction signal.

    Third, I would say that abused is in the eye of the beholder. Every person I say no to feels abused. I have a list of those who would sign the petition to remove the evil monster from his perch.

    Now you gave a huge disclaimer in your fill in statement. So I have to say that results vary. Some are and some aren’t ecclesiola en ecclesia.

    Finally, I am looking at the difference in people who have mental health problems and those who have personality disorders. Many of the beasts we hate are the latter. Therapists tell us the former is treatable and the latter is merely manageable. That is to say the latter are unlikely to change.

    Lots of the latter in leadership positions from Priest to President. Guilty all.

    Impeachment Dread

  22. Nathan Priddis says:

    I would say that “saved” is a concept that is largely evolved from North American Protestantism, and is essentially a modern invention.

    It is vague, and therefore the identity of who is saved is vague as well.

  23. Babylon's Dread says:

    I agree the term is vague and there is much to consider as to the Biblical meaning. However, having blogged with Michael a long time I am pretty sure he is using the classical meaning of a regenerate person. Saved in the street vernacular of evangelicals means a person whose faith connection to Jesus manifests in new creation.

    Michael is saying that these abusive pastors who wield control and harm upon people offer no evidence of new creation. IMO

  24. Michael says: correct in all that he has asserted.

  25. Ann Marie says:

    Question Do you think some churches believed “saved” is also”healed” or “cured”? Surely God can and sometimes intervenes and heals but sometimes He does not. So do churches see saved under the same definition as healed and is healed the same as cured? All these songs we hear like Jesus He can move a mountain, Our God is mighty to save…. I can see how some may think “saved” is under the same spectrum as heal?

  26. Michael says:


    There is so much to unpack here…
    Christians who are not clergy assume that the clergy are regenerate…that someone or someones have vetted them properly and thus they have a spiritual claim to their position.

    Therefore, even when the clergy are corrupt or abusive, the people find a way to justify them, if the clergy is popular or successful enough.
    That has become a load of happy horse manure.

    What we have are a bunch of clergy who have personality disorders putting people with similar disorders in places of authority.

    Even when criminal or anti social behavior is a fact they can and do say that they have been healed through the waters of baptism or regeneration.

    Like the rest of our institutions the church may be too badly broken here to fix.

  27. Nathan Priddis says:

    This is unique Michael.
    ..”There is so much to unpack here…
    Christians who are not clergy assume that the clergy are regenerate…that someone or someones have vetted them properly and thus they have a spiritual claim to their position.

    I would say a very big Amen. Followed by an by an acknowledgement that an obvious therefore, must follow your paragraph.
    1. Wolves, are by nature, individuals self identifying with Christ.
    2. And, are contained within the corporate Body.
    3. And, logicaly can argue they have a valid claim on a share in the Kingdom.
    I expect such a one to continue this claim in this life, and the next. To date, no claims to the Kingdom have been adjudicated. I would say the claim of an obvious wolf, is as valid as mine. But, I do not hear of Christians expressing the concept of “claim” in reference to our faith, and the afterlife.

    Did you mean to express that concept, or am I misinterpreting your thought?

  28. Michael says:


    Not necessarily.
    We do know that the wheat and tares grow up together.
    However, just like many media outlets have taken sides in our political schism in order to profit from it without true ideological convictions, many narcissists find positions of authority in the church to profit from it without any spiritual convictions.

    I’m in the process of reconfiguring my thoughts on the eschaton and after life…I will simply say that many of these people are not in relationship with Christ if we look at the (fruit) evidence.

  29. Steve says:

    …I will simply say that many of these people are not in relationship with Christ if we look at the (fruit) evidence.
    Amen, and I will reiterate this for the record. Fruit has nothing to do with numbers and your ability to draw a crowd. In other words, no one should give a hoot how big your church is or the size of your budget.

  30. Someone says:

    In the actions that cause one to lose their faith, does that weigh more heavily?

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