Why not just forgive them and forget about it?

One frequently asked question is, “Why not just forgive Andrew Evans and Brian Houston and the others and forget about it?”

The question is posed by two groups of people: Ordinary Christians who see no value in continuing to tell an unpopular truth, and experienced Spiritual Abusers who have used this technique to control gullible Christians for years.

The question is worth answering publicly. There are four aspects that apply in this case.

1. Biblical forgiveness comes with a pre-condition.

Pentecostals have long quoted Acts 2:38 without listening to the words: And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

There is no biblical forgiveness without repentance, no matter what the soft-hearted religious types say. Jesus said, Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish (Luke 13:3).

I have a responsibility before God to hold these men accountable for their sin and to insist that they repent publicly. Without such repentance, Andrew Evans, Brian Houston and the others face a lost eternity. (Their positions of public leadership make it unlikely that God will permit the kind of secret, death-bed repentance they hope to engineer.)

2. Disputes between brothers can be solved, subject to the same pre-condition.

Jesus laid down a crystal-clear rule governing the resolution of disputes between brothers:
  Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and IF HE REPENTS, forgive him (Luke 17:3).

No repentance, no forgiveness — there is no confusion in Scripture.

3. Abuse of the responsibilities of spiritual leadership, without genuine repentance, abrogates forgiveness.

After King Saul had refused to obey God's command (1 Samuel 15:9), built a monument for himself (1 Samuel 15: 12), lied about his rebellious behaviour (1 Samuel 15:13) and blamed his failures on the people (1 Samuel 15:21), he demanded that the prophet Samuel forgive him, “and return with me, that I may worship the Lord” (1 Samuel 15:25).

Samuel refused to be deceived by Saul’s religious posturing and said, “I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you” (1 Samuel 15:26).

So much for the shallow demand that Christians forgive Spiritual Abusers without evidence of genuine repentance on their part.

4. Why not just forget about it?

I have an abiding responsibility to warn other potential victims about the true character of Andrew Evans, Brian Houston and the others.

Obviously there is a limit to how much I can do in this regard, but the least I can do is accept the challenge of one of Andrew Evans’ many lawyers — Grant Mitchell — to publish the facts on the Internet.

[ It is appropriate that this explanation appear in December 1997, marking the first anniversary of the establishment of this web site, and celebrating visits by some 6,500 people in its first year. ]

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Last update: 24 December 1997