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Volume 7, Issue 2: Ex Libris


Can Fallen Pastors Be Restored?
John Armstrong; Chicago: Moody Press, 1995
Reviewed by Douglas Wilson

John Armstrong has provided the church with a valuable service, and will probably get in at least some trouble for it. He has written an important book on Christian ethics in the ministry, and has done so without any modern psychological varnish or flimflam. To paraphrase Livy, the church is in such a condition that we can abide neither our vices, nor their cure. Because Armstrong cogently argues for a biblical "cure" in a real problem area, he will possibly be dismissed by some as a pestilent fellow. But this book deserves a wide reading; it is a powerful book.

The problem is adultery on the part of pastors, and Armstrong meticulously examines the standard responses of evangelical churches to the problem of pastoral immorality. One position is that a pastor who falls into adultery may be restored to ministry immediately , provided there is repentance. As examples in the book demonstrate, this is not a hypothetical position. Another position, more common with evangelical churches, is to restore a fallen pastor to ministry after 1 to 3 years. This gives time for counseling, restoration of family, etc . Armstrong examines these positions carefully, and then sets forward a third, more biblical, option. The position is that a pastor who betrays his wife and family in this way, who has been false to his ordination vows in such a grievous sin, is disqualified from ministry permanently .
Is sexual sin worse than other sin? Armstrong shows that all sins are not created equal. Does forgiveness equal qualification for the ministry? This book demonstrates that it does not. What has the position of the historic church been on this? One chapter is devoted to a survey of responses to this problem throughout church history. If we take a "hard line" in order to protect the office of pastor, how may we minister to a fallen pastor as a person ? Throughout, the author shows true compassion to those who have betrayed the dignity of their calling. Careful exegesis and scholarship characterize the book. With regard to the biblical issues involved, Armstrong is not sharing his opinions with us; he takes us to the Scriptures.
The problem of pastoral immorality is a very real one in conservative churches. The book should be widely read for that reason alone. But the second reason this book is important involves the larger concept of qualification for the ministry. The issues raised in this book go far beyond the question of sexual immorality among pastors. Is the ministry a profession, with ethical professional guidelines determined by the members of that profession? Or is the ministry to be in submission to the standards set down in Scripture? The issue is an explosive one. If there is to be reformation in the church, it is an issue which cannot be sidestepped.

Fingerprints of Creation (Video: 34 minutes)
Cleveland: American Portrait Films, 1994
Reviewed by Wes Struble

"Radiogenic methods of dating have been applied very successfully in unraveling the history of batholiths. The Sierra Nevada and adjacent ranges in California and Nevada may be cited. Five intrusive epochs occurred between Middle Triassic and Late Cretaceous. Each epoch lasted between 10 to 15 million years, and took place at intervals of about 30 million years."1 The above quote from a typical college-level geology text provides an example of the generally accepted view of the time necessary to emplace large bodies of granitic rock. These large bodies of granite, typically tens of miles wide, hundreds of miles long, and thousands of feet thick, are thought to take millions of years to emplace and cool to a crystalline solid. Dr. Robert Gentry has discovered a phenomenon that appears to put this accepted theory of granite emplacement and crystallization into serious doubt.

The video presentation centers on the discovery of radiohalosscars left in solid rock after radioactive elements decay. Dr. Gentry has studied these halos extensively and has discovered radiohalos in granites that originate with polonium. Polonium is only known to exist as one of the last few radioactive elements produced in the uranium-to-lead decay chain. There are three known isotopes of polonium and all have very short half lives: Po-210 at 136 days, Po-214 at 10 -6 seconds, and Po-218 at 3.0 minutes. How can radiohalos from an element with such a short half life exist in rocks that accepted theory states took millions of years to solidify? Dr. Gentry's answer is that they cannot. He suggests that the only way polonium halos could exist in the granites is for these rocks to have been formed instantly in a solid state.
The video is well done. Dr. Gentry's research and results are very convincing and have stood the test of peer review for the past twenty-five years. Dr. Gentry's use of the scientific method is presented with helpful animation and live footage. On the other hand, later treatment of the topic of field relations between the granite rocks and other rock formations is weak. Contact and regional metamorphism relationships are not addressed in enough detail to explain possible inconsistencies and deformation of adjacent rock formations is not addressed. Possible explanations to account for these inconsistencies are not offered. These tend to detract from the overall impact of the presentation.
I would recommend this video presentation to anyone who is interested in good science. Dr. Gentry has done his homework, and it will profit many to see his results and consider the implications.

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