When Good Men Fall

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Over the past few years, I have witnessed the fall of several colleagues, some of which have had catastrophic consequences, two of whom are still serving prison sentences. In most cases, I never saw it coming. It occurs to me as I have reflected on this over the past few days that each one has had a deleterious effect upon me. Not least is the creeping cynicism that accompanies it. Some of these men embraced a strict view of holiness with stringent ethical demands: I can recall one preaching the most moving sermon on the demands of holiness which had the effect of making me engage in some serious self-examination. As I further reflect on it, these thoughts come to mind:

1. The warning of the apostle in 1 Cor. 10:12, "let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall." It is all too possible to find relief in another's fall in order in some twisted way either to congratulate oneself of pretentious holiness, or (and perhaps more alarmingly) to justify one own lesser sins after the fashion that if he can do such and such mine do not appear that bad. There is no end to the casuistry of excusability on our part and somewhere, Satan's minions are having a party.

2. With each fall comes a tidal wave of cynicism as far as the world is concerned. Every word we utter is couched in the mistrust of Pharisaical hypocrisy as far as the world is concerned: trenchant declarations that homosexual behavior is sin implies/presumes closet embracement.

3. The call for "forgiveness" of (in this case) the accuser once more raises the dilution of what forgiveness means (and, I suspect, the dilution of the ethical behavior behind it). Forgiving the unrepentant is not a biblical concept as far as I can see, but it has become the standard evangelical mantra.
Posted November 6, 2006 @ 4:29 PM by Derek Thomas
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