When pastors and media play God, something is seriously wrong with them

Last week Pastor Gregg Schoof, an American Christian missionary was deported from Rwanda. He had broken the law. He probably did not qualify to be called pastor as he had shown more disdain for his supposed flock than any pastoral care.

And missionary? We have enough local pastors and more to spare and send out as missionaries to other lands rapidly becoming heathen. That should have been that. No story.

But his cause was picked up by some in the western media that made him appear a victim in the old fashioned Christian way. If something really serious had happened to him, say a heart attack (not improbable given his manner) they might have raised him to the status of a martyr.

But poor fellow, he will never be one. Martyrs are made of humbler stuff. If he carries on like he has done, he might not even see the heaven he promises his listeners. He could end up in the other place instead.

But I am not qualified in these matters and cannot judge or condemn him, or wish the most horrible things happen to him. Isn’t the good Christian message to forbear in these circumstances for vengeance belongs to the Lord? So I will content myself with mere commentary.

The good Schoof might be excused. He is not alone. He is only one in a long line of people throughout history who take it upon themselves to save others from themselves. Some are well-intentioned but misguided. Others, the majority, have questionable, even base, motives.

You can understand what this means. You can only save others because they are in mortal danger from which you, by virtue of some higher knowledge or other superior qualities, are safe.

You must be better or more fortunate than they are. You must know better than they do and so are able to show them the right way.

And so it is your Christian obligation to keep them away from the abyss into which they are fast falling and lead them away from the peril of eternal perdition. You alone have the means, the wisdom and connection with God to ensure that.

In other words, you must be superior to your flock and make sure that thery know that you are, and refuse to countenance any challenge to that view of yourself.

The Schoofs of this world, just like many others before them, have come here on a mission to save us from certain damnation. In his case, he has come to save us from hell which our government is sending us into.

He has come to speak against a government that, in his words, “has taken a stand against God with its heathen practices”. Or he has come to keep us safe from women who are the source of all evil as a fellow pastor had the audacity to claim on Amazing Grace, a radio station Schoof owned, which mercifully has had its licence revoked before it could spread more poison.  

Now, only some types of people are capable of elevating themselves to a position above the rest and saying things of that nature.

One, they must be cranks and lunatics. Jesus Christ picked all manner of people to be his disciples, but I don’t remember crazies among them. He must have had a good reason.

Allowing people with unhinged minds to others to God is the surest way to doomsday before the one predicted arrives.

Two, they must be bigoted and arrogant, consumed by their own importance and contemptuous of others. These are not Christian virtues to follow, but vices to be avoided.

The Christianity many of us were brought up in emphasised humility and modesty. Scriptures are full of lessons on these essential Christian traits. My favourite one is the parable of the Pharisee and publican (Luke 18: 9-14).

The same scriptures teach us not to rash to judge others and condemn them. They teach about guests’ respect for their hosts. Christ was very particular about this and his disciples made it central to their teaching in the early days of the church.

Three, they must simply be ignorant and are therefore unqualified and lack authority to teach others. Which is why Christ put those he intended to carry on his work through a period of discipleship where they learnt from the master. An ignorant preacher is certain to lead the faithful astray and to damnation.

In none of these categories of people would you find a real pastor, selfless missionary, or a true servant of God and his people. You are likely to find instead self-seekers, bigots and charlatans, and those we can happily do without in this country.

They are not the sort of people who will teach us about God. We know about him. He is our own and lives here, although he sometimes takes inexplicable leave of absence at moments when we need him most.

It may be worth our while to give Pastor Schoof some good Christian advice. Scriptures teach us to examine our conscience before we set out to correct others. We are advised: first get rid of the log in your eye before trying to remove the speck in your neighbour’s eye

And to his backers in the media similar advice: don’t rush to praise the aggressor and condemn the aggrieved, or give a platform to convicts to spew venom on the innocent.

Both of you, stop playing God.

The views expressed in this  article are of the author.

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