I’m not sure if Perry Noble and Newspring church still consider themselves SBC or not, but they have parted ways.
Perry Noble has either resigned or been removed as pastor because of a problem with alcohol abuse that is ongoing and evidently has become severe. Ed Stetzer has an article at Christianity Today that was released this morning.
I’ve never been much of a fan of Perry Noble, but I think we all have to say that one more black eye for the evangelical church is something that is going to hurt us all – at least in the public perspective. That church is likely to suffer the kind of fate that Mars Hill did when Driscoll had his issues – a church built on a personality is going to suffer when that personality falls.
A few perspectives.
1. It’s a whole new world, isn’t it?
Alcoholic (semi-)Baptist pastors – that ain’t your grandpa’s issue. Moral failings. Financial misdeeds. But alcoholism? No way.
2. This is a consequence of growing use of alcohol.
Now, before you moderationists rise up, I do not agree with those who believe the Bible condemns all use of alcohol. I don’t use it – never have. No, Jesus didn’t turn the water to grape juice. But when people begin to use alcohol “moderately” some are going to begin to use alcohol immoderately! That’s why I don’t use it (that, and I’d get fired – plus, the stuff smells like urine!). But if 100 people in my church drink a glass of wine with dinner, a percentage of those is going to become problem drinkers. One? Two? Ten? I don’t know. But it’s one of the best arguments for abstinence. I will never be an alcoholic if I don’t drink my first drink.
I don’t think the guy who has a glass of wine with dinner is sinning, but neither is the guy who picks up a rattlesnake by the tail. Both of them have a chance of getting bit.
The more Christians use alcohol moderately, the more drunkenness we will see.
3. Both sides in the alcohol debate agree on this one.
No one defends drunkenness. Remember that. The moderationist does not defend drinking to excess. His view of drunkenness is the same as the abstentionist’s.
4. This is a tragedy – pray.
Seems trite, but it’s true. This is sad. A lot of people lost their pastor. Yes, many of us think he had bigger problems than his alcohol use, but this is not the time or the place. Maybe it’s not the time or the place to try to make hay on the moderationist/abstentionist debate. This is not the time to heap condemnation on Noble’s style or leadership.
Be sad. Pray for that church. Learn from it.
As a young lady in my church said this morning, “This is a messed up world.”