In the debate about “restoration of fallen pastors” or leaders there is a clear divide between those that are heavy handed with truth, and those who would prefer a more grace-filled process. The legalistic truth camp is quick to cite chapter and verse using a literal hermeneutic, but neglectful of the overarching message of grace the Gospel communicates (let alone the same hermeneutical interpretation they apply to their ‘truth’ passages…).
The truth camp will say that we (the grace-process side) can’t have it both ways. I agree with them, you cannot have it both ways…however to condemn a leader out of ministry for their sins, when they have repented is nothing more than self righteous judgment that does not hammers truth, but does not evidence grace. High profile or not, leaders are entitled to private lives. At the same time, what occurs in secret does impact what we see in public. The Scripture is clear that “our sin will find us out.”
As the body of Christ we must develop a practical theology of restoration that aims to redeem the fallen. Historically the organized church has faltered onto a legalistic interpretation of Scripture that is heavy on Truth, yet inconsistent in the application of grace. It would serve us all well to construct a model that speaks to a balanced approach of grace and truth that communicates to the watching world that the church is a hospital for the broken and a relevant place to find healing. Collectively we must re-write the tone that the church as a whole is known for “shooting it’s wounded.”