Over the past week I’ve had two rather disturbing encounters – disturbing because of the way they illustrate the problem the modern church has with accepting its responsibilities.
One encounter was on Nick Peters’ blog, where a commenter reacted to his posting declaring that apologetics should be a mandate for pastors. This oblivious soul declared that by declaring such a mandate, we impinged upon the “liberty” of pastors, who should feel free to explore apologetics as an option, but not be required of them.
The second encounter was with a book. I’ve been researching the relationship between the Nazis and Christianity for a TektonTV series of late, and it’s been a fascinating exploration. However, I was disgusted to find that a book had been published on the subject by Erwin Lutzer, senior pastor at Moody Bible Church in Chicago.
I’ll be blunt as usual: Lutzer has absolutely no business writing such a book. He is not knowledgeable in that subject area. Nor is he competent to research the subject, and his bibliography shows this: The newest edition – published this year – makes no reference to one of the most critical and comprehensive volumes on the subject of Nazism and Christianity (The Holy Reich). The few respectable books used are badly out of date (e.g., Shirer’s 1960 history), and Lutzer also makes use of questionable sources like Dusty Slkar’s item on Hitler and the occult, and (cough) Dave Hunt.
To make matters worse, Lutzer’s book won an ECPA Gold Medallion Award for excellence (!) and Ravi Zacaharias wrote a foreword. This, in spite of the fact that it was clearly amateurishly done, as reflects Lutzer’s non-expertise on the subject (and I’ll add just in case it’s true, that of any ghost writer he may or may not have used), and at times is more like a sermon than a serious history.
This is not the first time Lutzer has put out a book on a subject that is truly none of his business. I also recall he did the same for The DaVinci Code. There may well be others.
In light of this, I have to ask: Do pastors really need to be given the “liberty” to NOT be responsible generators of information?
As I told the person on Nick’s blog, all of this talk about “liberty” for pastors would be fine – if (among other things) they also agreed to not meddle in subjects they have no business meddling in. As it is, Luzter was clearly authoring this book not because he had any idea what he was talking about, but because a book by Erwin Lutzer, star pastor, sells well.
The sad fact is that many Christians do come to their pastors for advice on all sorts of things a typical pastor knows nothing about. In turn, some pastors either think they know the answer, but don’t (as with Lutzer), and continue to spread false or incomplete information. That in turn spirals downward to a time when those who first queried of them find out their pastor was talking out of his hat, and then we have the standard crisis of confidence in authority figures…and on it goes.
Pastors like Luzter do not need “liberty”. They need accountability.