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photo above: Trappist Fr. Thomas Merton, one of the most influential Catholic authors of the 20th century, is pictured in an undated photo. (CNS photo/Merton Legacy Trust and the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University) See “True Self” below.
WN: Dean Davey sadly has snubbed his nose at accountability and acting honourably in response to his adultery and consequent breakdown of two marriages, impacting seven kids. The greatest loss? Dean misses discovering in himself what Thomas Merton repeatedly called the “True Self“–the only authentic self for anyone!
an excerpt from my reflection:
In response and conclusion, I offer a few considerations:
- Breaking church marriage promises and spinning related webs of deceit are a big deal for anyone claiming to follow The Way of the One who is also The Truth.
- Church discipline however is not about vindictiveness nor retribution. Though sadly it too often is and has been—with devastating consequences littering church history.
- Churches and their agencies should do far more due diligence about any former church/agency leader looking for work. “Are there unresolved skeletons in the closet?” should be a close-to-first concern. Ecclesia caveat – let the church beware, should be a primary watchword in all hirings.
- Church discipline should be about accountability, peacemaking and restoration – and huge celebration of such! The first principle of biblical ecclesiology in Matthew 18 is peacemaking, “where two or three are gathered together” in Jesus’ name for that purpose (with the contextual promise of Jesus’ presence (implied) to abet reconciliation). This is the church’s primary ministry. In John 17 church unity is the only evangelistic strategy given by Jesus. In Luke 15 there is repeated celebration of restoration, which is the essence of biblical justice. (My website has much on this. See here and the page below it here.)
- Church discipline is also about consistency of the wider church in response to known wrongdoing. Hence this article. The former pastor was still offering to volunteer coach for a long time, etc. at his kids’ Christian school, as if nothing had happened. Does the church have any business endorsing him in church leadership of any kind until he has done the difficult work of confession, repentance, showing accountability, pursuing reconciliation/amends-making and committing to “go and sin no more”? In his case, dozens of people were involved. He has a long road ahead before the wider church anywhere should again embrace him as a sinner saved by grace.
- All must acknowledge: “There but for the grace of God go I…”—indeed (Galatians 6:1 & 2)!
- Dean above all misses out on experiencing deep grace after going down a difficult road of truly meaningful salvation. There is no joy or consolation otherwise.
One of former Pastor Dean’s kids commented early on about this new family reality: “I don’t get it. When I do something wrong, I’m supposed to admit it, stop the behaviour, say I’m sorry, and make it right.”
Add (in this instance, since it was so public) public commitment to never do it again, and Amen! My former friend, you trained your kids well. Go and do likewise. Then but not before (theologically and psychologically impossible!), [Go] and share your master’s happiness!’
Please click on: “No Big Deal!”