Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Accountability? Puhleaze. No Legalism Tolerated Here.

Accountability is a rare thing in our increasingly apostate day. It is an all too ignored work of community among people who are supposed to be committed to integrity in their public and private relationships. At it's core, accountability is the personal obligation or willingness to be answerable and accept responsibility for one's personal actions to the point of sanction and discipline in cases of moral or personal failure. This is easily apparent when you see how children are to be accountable to parents, students to teachers, public servants to the public trust and cashiers to the banks they work for .. all of course in a perfect world.

The ongoing mundanity of the end times apostasy has so thoroughly infected the minds of men, the spirit of the culture and fallen humanity itself that accountability for one's actions is one of the innumerable virtues of responsible lifestyle that have been effectively nullified in our day. To be seen as someone actually making someone accountable for what they do is subtly cast by the rebellious spirit of the age as an act of violation, an outrage against one's personal freedom, and even one of the most heinous of hate crimes in a politically correct pluralistic society. Nobody wants to be seen as "bigoted" or "intolerant" .. or, in religious contexts, as "quenching the spirit" or "touching the anointed."

For this reason, the toxicity of cultism's poisonous influence that squelches dissent and silences questions about something that is not just questionable but dangerous is able to insidiously work deep into the hearts and lives of those it enslaves. The power of cultism to deceive, defile and destroy is magnifed a hundred fold when cult members are systematically and ruthlessly conditioned to view their leaders as figures beyond accountability to anyone. If you alone hear from God and then speak directly for Him, how dare that be questioned? When such leaders become imparted with that kind of lofty and untouchable regard, they cease being anyone who can be called on the carpet or made accountable for their teaching, practice and lifestyle demands.

So when you see accountability handled carelessly, shoddily or incompletely in a situation in which a leader or authority figure is removed from their position either at their own hand or that of others, you'd better believe that's a real red flag. And it happens all the time in life all around us .. and the church is no different. In fact, it turbocharges the conviction that people can do what they want and get away with it in churches of all flavors as long as they are in charge, command the purse strings and the loyalty, and can muster up a modicum of contrition for any "misunderstandings" or "mistakes".

Such is the case of Dino Rizzo. He was, at one time, considered one of the many rising stars of evangelicalism at a megachurch organization he created in Louisiana, a well known megachurch pastor who knew how to make church "exciting" and "relevant". That is until it was discovered that, when in a supposedly "depleted" state, Rizzo entered into what has been called an "inappropriate friendship" with one Kaycee Smith, a video staff member at the church he pastored. The leadership in the organization he started,
the ARC (Association of Related Churches), stepped in to ostensibly shepherd the church through the shock and disruption it encountered as Rizzo left the pastorate in July 2012 for a time of "restoration".

in August, 2013, Chris Hodges, the pastor who assumed the reigns of Rizzo's church introduced him back at the church as a new associate pastor and called him an inspiration ..14 months later. This came about because of the belief at ARC that Rizzo was indeed "restored" and that, after a year away from active ministry, he could again enter ministry in a "supervised" role not only at the church but with the ARC itself, "in providing pastoral care for the hundreds of church planters that have planted through the ARC."

Throughout all of this time, according to the statement at the link above, a "list of personal benchmarks" was something that  "Dino was asked to fulfill (and) was thirty-one items long."  It was said that "over the past year, he and Delynn have accomplished each one of them."

I would hope so. I am a believer in restoration and rejoice to see how God's grace can touch fallen people and make them new again. That's what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is about. And yet, the factor of accountability still remains. Accountability makes it possible for the those who fail in life in some way or another to rise above and move ahead .. it's when what they supposedly have done is accounted for and action they take to demonstrate real repentance, sanctification and re-consecration to faith and then ministry itself.

So when I asked in the comments section 5 months ago in the same thread above what those 31 items were, no response was given. None. Nada. Zilch. Zero. 5 other people recognized the value of the question, but not the ARC.

This is almost the same kind of dissimulation heard from another Louisiana boy, one Jimmy Swaggart, who claimed to have made himself accountable to other preachers and ministers during his all too public deconstruction in 1988 and 1991 but who never identified them or mentioned any details of what he supposedly did.

It is also eerily similar to the kind of organizational chaos that elders at the now defunct Mars Hill megachurch organization are now confessing to, as ones who helped empower the authoritarianism of now disgraced megachurch "pastor" Mark Driscoll whose supposed passion for "the Kingdom of God" was more an insatiable and naked grab for power. The abusive "accountability" heaped on two elders there in an attempt to make them submit to Driscoll's consolidation of absolutist authority there was part of their sin, even as they resisted the groupthink pressure. It is a good illustration of how "accountability" in this context is simply abusive manipulation painted as holy discipline.If this dynamic could be extended to high level dissenting elders in their group, there's no doubt other more insidious and anonymous forms of spiritual abuse likely have occurred. Oh, wait ... there IS no doubt ...

As I have always taught, the essence behind cultism is the endless struggle for the unscrupulous for power and authority, for the ability to draw away leaders after their own desires (Acts 20:30). Religious abuse is always the result.

And the band played on.