Monday, April 04, 2005

Judge Greer's Pastor Pulls the Plug

The man many feel is responsible for the death of Terri Schiavo has now himself been cut off from "life support." Judge George Greer recently withdrew from membership at the Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater at the urging of the new pastor William Rice. Pastor Rice, who has been pastor at the church for five months, wrote: "it might be easier for all of us" if Greer left. Rice then added, "But you must know that in all likelihood it is this case which will define your career and this case that you will remember in the waning days of life. I hope you can find a way to side with the angels and become an answer to the prayers of thousands." Judge Greer then responded with a letter severing his relationship with the church.

While Pastor Rice has been the subject of much criticism, I want to applaud his actions, as well as, the action of the Calvary Baptist Church. In our evening Bible Study at Church, I have been looking at I Corthinians and last night we dealt with the issue of church discipline. This is a topic greatly ignored by many in today's "consumer-driven" church market. In order to compete with others churches for members, many pastors and church boards choose to look the other way when sin enters the church. Fear of losing people or money has caused us to neglect what is not primarily a means of punishment, but of restoration. Paul orders the Church in Corinth to turn the offender over to Satan - not for his harm, but for his good. "When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord." (I Corinthians 5:4,5) Temporal discomfort is to be preferred to eternal condemnation.

And guess what it works. In II Corinthians 2:6-8 , Paul can now write: "The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him." The repentant sinner is restored with much joy and love.

Perhaps, as Pastor Rice has said, Judge Greer, who call himself a conservative Christian, will after considering his actions seek forgiveness from God and the Schiavo family. I know for sure God will do so and I pray that the Schindlers will as well.

Until then, this matter should give the Church pause and cause us to rethink how we administer one of the key marks of the church - discipline. We must remember that the Church is not to be known by how much it is liked, but by how much it is holy.

For some further thoughts check out the blogs:

These are Pastor's Rice own words on the matter from the Florida Baptist Witness.

Another blogger has said, if we had more pastors like William Rice, we would have fewer judges like George Greer.

One more by Michael Gaynor - "Pastor Rice, YES! Judge Greer, NO!"

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