The Wicked Often Hide Behind a Mask of Theological Acumen – Watch Out for Them

Mat 23:23-24  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.  (24)  You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

I have seen a very common pattern of how the wicked disguise themselves as fine saints, eminent examples of holiness, shepherds who we must go to in order to be fed, etc. It is so common in fact that I can issue this warning:

When a professing Christian, a supposed pastor, a church leader or theologian type writes lengthy articles filled with detail, evidences an academic air focusing on debate to prove their own theological point, beware. The devil himself is quite a theologian. He is quite capable, as are his servants, of writing intricate and convincing theological tomes that will receive praise and recognition from those who admire a form of godliness without the power.

For example, we saw in the past couple of years the wicked support of the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches in America (ARBCA) of their up and coming star, Tom Chantry. Their support of him was evil because they covered up his crimes of child molestation while he was a pastor in one of their churches. They still want to defend him even though he is now convicted and serving a long prison sentence.

I point to Chantry as an example because he could, they say, “really preach a wonderful sermon.” In addition, he wrote articles that were gobbled up by people whose religion seems to consist of small points which they blow up into supposedly vital doctrinal positions. The mint and dill and cumin tithing stuff Jesus spoke of. All the while, sitting around in their parlors, mixing it up with the big names in their circles, they completely ignore the heart of the gospel – justice, mercy and faithfulness.

I came across another example recently. A big name in Presbyterian circles for many years, a virtual factory of theological position papers, an apparent champion of truth to whom many flocked for “answers.” His ministry was in fact devoid of mercy. Still he was acclaimed by many and endorsed by even bigger names than his in Christian circles.

Well, guess what? It turns out that he was a wicked, evil, and even criminal man who, behind the scenes, was using the flock for his own wolfish appetites.

Some of you may be able to describe the pattern I am speaking of more clearly than I am able to and I welcome your insights. What I am trying to put before you with clarity is that when we see someone who focuses their “Christianity” on debating and arguing for intricate details of theology and Bible doctrine, who crank out papers for the academics to applaud, but whose life and ministry is a void of the real application of biblical truth, lacking the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, a hunger and thirst for righteousness, a hunger for justice for the oppressed, then you can know that you are seeing a person who does not know Christ and is out to enslave Christ’s people.

STOP exalting and promoting these people! To do so is to be duped by them and play right into the strategems of the devil.

10 thoughts on “The Wicked Often Hide Behind a Mask of Theological Acumen – Watch Out for Them

  1. no one down here

    This is the one extremely troubling thing. I don’t have first hand personal knowledge of charismatic preachers or evangelists who are anything but godly. I mean, you hear about them, but I don’t have any as personal acquaintances (that I know about).

    Here, then, is the strange irony that I have seen.

    Average looking fellow, quite intelligent, dresses well, talks well, appears kind and solicitous. Gentlemanly. Christian. Goes to the right school, attends a fine appearing church. Ministers in church, is seen, but not ostensibly so. If you talk with him personally, you come away feeling that he is sharp and well-spoken. He knows the Scriptures inside and out. He ends up in a position that lends itself to people coming to him for advice. Over and again, he helps people with Scripture-based counsel. No one would ever suspect that this decent, soft-spoken fellow is actually the worst kind of abuser behind closed doors. No one would ever know. No one would ever believe the vile language spewed or the constant lies, big and small. No one would ever know that his family lived in daily fear of incurring his flaming wrath. No one would know how many times his wife cried in the pillow. He even could come across as truly humble if it seemed necessary, admitting just the right amount of uncertainty or mistake or … but always depending on God for answers and solutions and basing every decision on Scripture. Supposedly. No one would believe the times that Scriptures were taken out of context or used in an abusive way.

    If you take the perspective that the man is regenerate, there is no answer to how this situation could happen. The two concepts cannot be reconciled. If you take the perspective that the man is regenerate, and you attempt to actually counsel him, you are going to be duped. When the man starts saying that he is sorry, and he is not going to do that anymore, and he looks and sounds so good… see above. He has been looking and sounding like all that and them some all along. Nothing makes sense if you take the perspective that this is an overall godly man that “fell a little.” Because THAT doesn’t even make sense.

    If you believe Scripture when it says the one that He foreknew, He predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ and also called and justified and glorified that same person, you have to know that it is not possible for a regenerate man to “fall into” gross abuse. If you believe Scripture when it talks over and over again about the sanctification process and being holy, you cannot accept that a man like the above is regenerate.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. stormy

    Two experiences come to mind—

    First was with a former missionary and female friend who attends a bible church.
    She insisted it was wrong for women to teach bible studies to mixed gender groups. That women should be submissive and not speak up at in church. She insisted I was wrong as well as my entire church that allowed women bible study teachers.

    For days she emailed me her intellectual high minded, theological arguments with words nobody understands. Quoted scriptures and even got so mad that she was going to write to my pastor to complain.

    I remained calm and said very little as she grew increasingly angry, lofty and intellectual with her arguments.

    She pulled out multiple translations, tried to revert to the original language, used tons of lofty arguments that made my head spin.

    I ended the conversation with we would have to agree to disagree and tried to focus on what we did agree upon which were the fundamentals of Christianity like “you must be born again” She would have none of it.

    Her being right meant more to her than our years long friendship. It showed she was never really a friend and never cared about me. She cared about winning. We are no longer friends.

    My second example came from the leader, paid minister and missionary in my college para church organization. He was also a member of a bible church.

    I was stranded at college alone for the weekend. I had no money for food. I prayed and asked God to help me to eat. I was sad, lonely and hungry. For some reason I changed into some old jeans. In my jeans pocket was a 20 dollar bill that allowed me to eat that night.

    I shared this testimony of Gods provision with the minister thinking he would rejoice with me in Gods goodness and provision.

    He did not rejoice with me. He poo-pooed my testimony and disregarded it as coincidence.

    Why in the world would a guy like that be a minister. He pretends he believes in Gods goodness, provision and that God is alive and answers prayers. Yet when it happened he dismissed it.?

    This was the same staff minister that placed the domestic abuser into a leadership position which allowed him to abuse me. I was fooled by the abusers favor with the big shot minister —man of God. The abuser having favor with the paid staff members gave him credibility that he didn’t deserve. It was the abusers fake credibility given to him by the leaders in this organization that contributed to me to being a victim of the abusers gaslighting, lying, smear campaigning threats of physical abuse and verbal abuse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. R

      Would you all pray for me? I’m not in a classic abuse situation, but I’m married to a man who does fit the description of this post, and he is a very hard man to be married to even though it doesn’t rise to the level of abuse. I need wisdom that I don’t have.

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      1. Jeff Crippen

        Will do R. I have known many such people in churches who all claimed to be Christians. Over the years I realized the reason they were so hard to be around is that they weren’t Christians at all. Over time a truly regenerate person loves more, grows, and repents of their sin. If I don’t see those traits in someone I challenge their claim to know Christ. Not telling you to do so with your husband but just sharing my thoughts.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. R

          I’m starting to think this is what’s going on with him. But I’m still confused about how to live with some of the things that are happening. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself. But that’s not the same thing as abuse. I somehow have to figure out how to live with it.

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  3. Jennifer

    Yes, I have experience with the pastor/abuser who hides behind his intellectual giftings and accomplishments. We all loved and respected Pastor X. It gave us great comfort to be under the ministry of such a learned man. Oh, there were issues . . . like the women who came to me concerned that they couldn’t understand his sermons. But come to think of it, there were several men who were abusers in the congregation. Could it be that they were there to keep their wives from spiritual growth?
    And Pastor X became very unapproachable. If he did entertain your questions, you were made to feel really stupid for asking. There was little genuine pastoral care for your heart and soul. He became hyper-critical of differing ministries and their leaders. (And we became that way as well. What foolish pride.) We could systematically pick a part any group that didn’t march in lockstep with our church. Then he changed his preaching style. Yelling and shaming from the pulpit. We all just took it. This must be the way it should be because Pastor X couldn’t be wrong. He is so smart. Until . . . the day the police drove up and took his computer. You fill in the rest.

    As I write this my emotions are so mixed. The hurt and betrayal is so deep. You see the sarcasm and pain in the above paragraph. I feel like we perpetuated the abuse by sitting by and doing nothing. At the end, so many things didn’t feel right, but we always blamed ourselves. And here’s the irony of it all . . . we have moved and are in a new church. Pastor Y is brilliant. Teaches several seminary classes on the side. And now. . . a few older ladies have confided in me that they don’t feel loved and cared for. (Heavy sigh) Their minds are fed, but their souls are dry. I realize there is no perfect church and a good pastor needs both heart and mind to wrestle and preach the Word correctly.
    But I feel so uneasy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jeff Crippen

      Jennifer- i know that betrayal well. So sorry you experienced it. For myself, I never trust these kind who thrive on “ministry” and have multiple irons in the fire – teaching seminary, writing books, etc. that is abnormal and almost always driven by sinful pride.

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  4. frankiesmith2064

    An example comes to mind of a woman’s retreat speaker, bible study leader, church planter, Christian blogger, pastors daughter who is held up as the best of the best in Christianity.

    Her website, which she used to book speaking engagements, is filled with accolades written by pastors. (Her fathers friends) that compare her to the leading women of faith with world wide ministries and million dollar book deals.

    Her social media posts are filled with praises for the beautiful people (socially connected) and huge church related organizations that she supports. She works full time in ministry.

    I was shocked when she doesn’t remember who I am. After being acquainted with this woman for 15 plus years she refuses to acknowledge me.

    I’ve been in her living room, spoken to her on the phone, attended the same church, lived nearby and more. Weve traveled in the same circles for years.

    Yet she Passes me on the street —five feet away and she won’t look up to nod hello. This has happened multiple times so it’s not just her having a bad day. It’s so repetitive that it’s obvious. I also want to emphasize there has been nothing I said or did to cause this. Nor has anyone in my family done anything. There’s no reason besides arrogance and self absorption. I’m not important because I’m not well connected. She can’t further her kingdom by knowing me, for that reason I’m ignored. I’m not hated by her I’m just invisible.

    The kicker happened as we were walking down the street and her and her husband drove by. From behind they thought we were someone else. As they got closer to us they slowed down as if to stop to say hello. When they realized we weren’t who they thought we were. They quickly looked the other way and sped by not a nod or wave. It’s embarrassing for them as her and her husband teach bible studies and are viewed as pillars of the community.

    Her blog posts instruct women on how to be the hands and feet of Jesus. She teaches women how to be good mothers. She somehow is held up and markets herself as the go to chick for Christian maturity, but I see the truth. She is anything but a pillar of the church. She has not been a good representative of the love of Jesus to me in fact it’s the exact opposite.

    My maturity in Christ is growing thanks to Pastor Crippens help in articulating what is an epidemic in churches today. Non regenerate people serving as leaders.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rachael

    This reminds me of the time when I was 16. I was emotional abused by my dad throughout my childhood and I finally got the courage to tell one of my youth pastors that I trusted about it. His response was “your dad has a lot of biblical knowledge” as if this somehow precluded him from abusing me. I never told anyone at church again.

    Liked by 1 person

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