After sixteen years attending a small southern Indiana church, and having known and loved the pastor for so long, what should I do when I find out he is not perfect? During the entire time he has served as Pastor, I have never found a single flaw in his theology. Then it happened. During Sunday School today, Pastor, while explaining the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; and Luke 21), presented an interpretation that I felt was inaccurate. Inwardly, my reaction was to scream "Nooooo," and attempt to straighten him out. Instead, I sat silently in shock. Here is what has crossed my mind since.
One reason I did not respond during the class, was my concern for his credibility, and for the disruptive confusion my response would have caused. God is not the author of confusion, nor does He approve of His children rebuking an elder, especially in public. Had He denied the Trinity, the substitutionary death of Christ for us, the Resurrection, etc., I would not have hesitated, but he was simply teaching a biblical interpretation that is not essential to the faith, and that is widely debated among many sincere, respected Theologians. Perhaps no other area of Bible interpretation is so widely viewed as Eschatology. And while I find it very difficult to believe it possible that others would fail to see it as I do, I would not deny that they were my brothers.
Another reason I did not react is that it has taken me nearly forty years to arrive at my current understanding of prophecy, and I am sure I have not arrived at the absolute truth yet. Heaven forbid, but I could be the one who is wrong. So, since it is not an essential doctrine, I could be wrong, and my "correction and disruption" were certainly not of the Lord, I was silent.
Because I have always had O.C.D. (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), it was very difficult for me to contain myself. I guess what helped me most was years of being taught by the Lord that Christian unity was paramount in loving the brethren and reaching the lost for Christ (John 17:21-23). I am not saying one should compromise on the foundational truths of the faith, but when it comes to such things as Tongues, the frequency of celebrating the Lord's Supper, the mode of believer's baptism, the order of service, the type of music, the understanding of prophecy, etc., we should make every effort to maintain fellowship. I like the old "Barney Fife Rule" which had to do with Sheriff Andy giving Barney only one bullet because he was trigger-happy, and would more likely shoot himself in the foot than he would shoot a criminal. Andy's philosophy was that if he only had one, he would be very careful how he used it. Life as a Christian is a lot like that. If we are going to take a stand over areas of disagreement, we had better be sure we choose the right "fight." We had better make sure that our stand is worth the risk of broken fellowship and possible church division. That being said, I believe that I should share my thoughts with my pastor in private, and pray that we come to a mutual understanding. If we cannot, then I will accept it. I will continue to support him and love him as I have always been led to do.