Wednesday 31 August 2016

The David defense

Remember the "David Defense"? King David was a jerk, a murderer, an adulterer and occasionally not at all right in the head. Cruel, sadistic, and yet he was "a man after God's own heart." If David could be such a person, well, the least we could do is overlook modern ministerial peccadilloes (cue in those rumours about Garner Ted and airline stewardesses, and later Herb and Dorothy).

You'd have thought the enlightened pastors of Joe Tkach's GCI would know to steer well clear of that sort of thing these days, restricting themselves to indecipherable "Trinitarian theology" and making vacuous statements of the kind Ted Johnston does. Apparently not. Not in Eau Claire, Wisconsin anyway.

"Pastor" Roger Galstad wrote on this very topic for the local paper, the Leader Telegraph, in July.

Rog sets out the obvious dilemma. Solution: "David sinned big, and he repented even bigger."


The David stories are part of the national epic of ancient Israel, cobbled together out of disparate sources. Archaeology confirms that major parts of the Davidic kingdom tales are highly fictionalized. The writers of this not-so-historical material weren't greatly interested in either historical accuracy or ethical excellence. Rog seems totally oblivious to all this, biblical background seems to totally evade him. Rog is an unreconstructed literalist. Does he really think David wrote Psalm 51 (hint, check a good commentary).

It's all a bit of surprise in that Roger was awarded a Ph.D in religious studies in 2012. You'd think he'd know this stuff. Mind you, the institution (Trinity College, Newburgh, IN) is described as "a conservative evangelical Bible college", mainly offers distance degrees (including their prestigious Ph.D) and is - surprise - unaccredited.

But putting scholarship issues aside, this is just the old self-serving argument dredged up from decades past. "Mr. Ted Armstrong may have done some things which he now regrets, but he's repented and you need to forget it." Then Ted would write articles in the Good News warning of the danger of spreading wicked rumours, just in case we hadn't got the message.

Until, that is, the next time Ted had zipper failure. But no worries, Ted repented again, and again. He was a compulsive repenter. I recollect a sermon he gave in his CGI days where, having just finished writing Peter's Story he proclaimed loudly that he had burned out the very last of his sinful egotism and self obsession.

Turned out he hadn't, as anyone with half a brain could have known just by listening to such a ludicrous statement.

And Roger hasn't moved beyond these kindergarten apologetics?

You may be able to take the preacher out of Armstrongism, but it seems you can't always take Armstrongism out of the preacher.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well here's the deal: David may well have been able to be king (and in some countries, having a mistress is sort of a requirement for some politicians if they want to be elected), but for a minister, Biblical standards are much more strict: They must have a good reputation of those that are without.

Which just about wipes out the current ministers of the Armstrongist churches of God. Certainly, someone arrested for being drunk and resisting arrest, anyone convicted of Income Tax evasion or even someone who committed adultery on his wife while she was dying of cancer is not something that can be overlooked. In fact, the UCG won't allow that last one to be a minister in their ranks.

Being a false prophet certainly permanently disqualifies someone from being a Christian minister, ever.

Standards for king, president, prime minister or corporate CEO are much lower. In fact, these days, it's amazing that out of 300 million+ people, the presidential prospects are nothing short of appalling, but that's the way it is.

But then, standards for the ministry are much higher for obvious reasons.

Unless you want to totally ignore Scripture just because someone is charismatic.

If that's the kind of pastor you want, that's fine, but just remember that you are stone cold nuts.