Well-known theologian John Piper shared his opinion about disqualification for pastor and elders, especially focusing on the sin of adultery.
In a recent episode of "Ask Pastor John" posted on Desiring God, the Reformed Baptist pastor received one listener's question about hiring one church full-time staff after he was caught in adultery and repented asking for forgiveness. "Is repentance enough to make this man a leader in another church? And, more generally, what sins - if any - disqualify a pastor for life?" She asked.
Pastor John firstly admitted that he doesn't believe there is one agreement over this kind of issue, however, he believes the Bible definitely gives some pointers. He divided this into two groups: The one who says "You will never touch this flock again. This flock is too precious, and the Gospel is too precious for the way you have dishonored it." And the other who says "No, no, we must exult in God's patience and compassion and forgiveness. And even this restored pastor can model that."
And then he shared his opinion with four biblical viewpoints asking the churches to pray and study their way through the Scripture.
First, Fortify your emotional back bone. The pastor emphasized the criterial for eldership and pastoral position. "1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 teach us that some men are suitable, and others are not for the role of pastor. There is qualification, which means you can be "a completely forgiven sinner," walking in a way that is pleasing to God, and "not be qualified to be an elder or in a leadership position".
Second, Understand the key difference between forgiveness and restoration. He explained that forgiveness is based on the blood of Christ and can be granted and received instantaneously upon genuine repentance. However, being trusted is based not merely on the blood of Christ; it is based also on proven trustworthiness in life. "She may - I pray she would - have the grace to forgive him if he is repentant," "But the restoration of trust - with her, with others, with a church - may take years. And he should be in no hurry to expect it or demand it." He added.
Third, Grasp the depth of the offense on Christ's gospel and his church. John Piper clearly distinguished between "sins before conversion" and "sins after conversion". According to him, the sin of adultery after conversion is multilayered and a way more serious.
"Before conversion, we were all in spiritual darkness; we were acting according to our nature." "And when a pastor commits adultery - a pastor now, not just a believer - he's sinning not only against God, not only against his wife, not only against the light of the biblical witness of the new creation in Christ; he is also sinning against the glory of the gospel ministry, and he is sinning against the trust of a people of God, and against the reputation of the gospel in the community."
Lastly, step away and humbly receive discipline. Finally, Pastor John pointed out some pastors and ministry leaders who have quickly put themselves back and forward in ministry. "What I've seen is this: men who have lived in deception and immorality and hypocrisy for a significant time, and then are caught, have hardened their hearts and dulled their capacities to repent for so long, that their ability to see things for what they really are is profoundly impaired."
"A man who commits adultery in the ministry should immediately resign and look for other work," He claimed it strongly. "If he returns to ministry it should be after a long time of humble, contented acceptance of a new way of life outside the official ministry of the church."