I’ve talked to a number of people throughout the years who have left the Christian faith because of a pastor or priest who said or did things that were wrong. Some of the wrongs were egregious in nature and some of the wrongs were more of the pastor’s or priest’s personality. Some of the wrongs happened when they were young and some when they were much older.
Generally, by the time I talk with them, they are not only disillusioned but most are bitter. I do not discount the hurt that these people felt and still feel. I am saddened by what they have gone through. At the same time, I am also saddened that they have misplaced their faith.
Your Christian faith should never rest on a pastor or priest. If it does, you are in a dangerous place.
Your Christian faith should never rest on a pastor or priest. If it does, you are in a dangerous place. While a pastor or priest are held to a higher standard (James 3:1, 1 Timothy 3), each pastor or priest, as godly as they might be, are fallen in sin and saved by grace just like the rest of Christians. You will be let down at some time or another and therefore your faith will crumble. You must place your faith God and His Word.
Martin Luther, in his sermon, “The Gospel for the Early Christmas Service (Luke 2:15-20)” wrote,
“Those who believe the message on account of the one preaching it aren’t believing the Word. Neither do they believe in God through the Word. Instead, they believe in the preacher. As a result, their faith doesn’t endure.
Those who believe the Word overlook the one who is preaching it. They don’t honor the Word because of the person. On the contrary, they honor the person because of the Word. They never place the person higher than the Word. If the preacher is ruined, falls from faith, or begins preaching a different message, the believers would rather let go of the preacher than give up the Word. They would stick with the Word regardless of the person involved or the situation.
Human faith is always attached to the person. It believes, trusts, and honors the Word because of the one who speaks it. On the other hand, genuine faith clings to the Word, which is God himself.
This is the true difference between genuine and human faith. Human faith is always attached to the person. It believes, trusts, and honors the Word because of the one who speaks it. On the other hand, genuine faith clings to the Word, which is God himself. Genuine faith believes, trusts, and honors the Word because of what it is, not who said it. Faith so strongly senses that the Word is true that no one can tear it away – not even the same preacher who first brought it.”
Where does your faith rest?