When Christian Leaders Fall – MBFLP 231

What do we do when Christian leaders fall?

What to you do when prominent Christian leaders walk away from the faith? How do you think this through, and how do you talk about it to your kids?

In the past month, author and former pastor Joshua Harris announced the end of his twenty-year marriage, and almost “by the way,” renounced the Christian faith he preached for longer than that. It’s a tragedy for his personally, his family, and for many who have read his books or heard him teach. But it’s also a tragedy for Christ’s church, and it will have an impact on your own family to some extent or another.

This episode, we look at Harris’s departure from the faith and how we should think and respond when a Christian leader has a public fall – and how we need to talk about it with our family!

Who is this? 

If you’re new to homeschooling, ,you may not have heard of Joshua Harris. He is the son of Gregg and Sono Harris, two of the earliest leaders of the modern Christian homeschool movement. In 1997 their son Josh, then 19, wrote a book called I Kissed Dating Goodbye where he questioned the wisdom and morality of modern dating culture and proposed a very formal, parent-led courtship process. The book sold over 1.2 million copies and influenced thousands of families in the evangelical community. Other books on relationships followed, and for several years Harris was pastor of a megachurch in Maryland. A few years ago, he stepped down from the pastorate to pursue formal theology studies, and he also retracted his earlier thinking on courtship, apologizing for the hurt his earlier teaching had caused.

More could be said but the gist of it is, Harris came from an influential family in the homeschooling movement. He was embraced and celebrated within the movement from a young age, and he had an outsized influence in the community as a young adult. Now in his early forties, he has stepped back from the things he once believed and taught. Whatever we think about his teaching (then or now), we need to consider the broader impact of his new direction.

How should we respond when a Christian leader leaves the faith?

 

Some issues we address

  • As Christians, how should we think about and respond to this kind of news?
  • How is seen by the world outside the church?
  • Does it affect what we think of their writing, teaching, or music?
  • What are some personal implications for one who falls away?
  • How can we avoid following a popular teacher into a deadly error?
  • How we should explain this to our kids–and why it’s important that we do
  • Most importantly, where are we focusing our hope and our faith?

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