I have been criticized and attacked for my articles regarding my former friend, Dr. Bob Gray, and his arrest on multiple charges of child molestation. According to my informants, rumors regarding Gray have been circulating for many years. It’s been reported to me that several Baptist leaders took the position that the rumors were “all lies.” I have enormous respect for those men but how do they know “it was all lies.”? Were they convinced of Gray’s innocence because of the admiration they had for Gray (that most all of us had), were they lied to, or was it the “good ole boys’ club” mentality that kept them from looking into the rumors? If you disagree with me in every other point, at least agree that Christians are obligated to “prove all things.” Moreover, while this is a disgusting mess, it appears to be far worse than I am reporting! Far worse!
Furthermore, we need to define “cover-up” as it relates to Trinity Baptist’s discipline of Bob Gray. By cover-up, I mean to keep from the membership and others facts that they had a right and a need to know. Every student of Scripture knows that church discipline is required; however, good people may disagree on how it is handled. If a man has an affair and the pastor manages to keep the family together after the husband has confessed to his wife, has broken off the relationship, and is going through a process of counseling leading to restoration; then there is no reason to go public by confession in a church service unless the person is in leadership and even then it is not necessary to go into the details. However, if the sin is known throughout the membership then public confession is necessary. The confession should be of the same scope and intensity of the public knowledge. An adult man who seduces a teenage girl should not get away with, “I’ve made a mistake,” or “I’ve done wrong.”
It is possible that Trinity Baptist leadership thought that it was right to conceal the sin from those who should have known and thereby limit the harm to innocent people. However, in this case involving sexual child abuse, church leaders were required to report it to authorities. Obviously, they were wrong in trying to conceal the sin since many innocent people were harmed by the original sin of Gray and harmed by the inept mishandling of the “discipline.”
Since it is impossible to know anyone’s heart, we should not be too hard on the motives; however, we must question and criticize their decision to limit the exposure keeping in mind that a local church can do what it chooses to do even to disregard and disobey the Bible formula of discipline. In that case, the rest of us have a right, even a responsibility to point out the church’s failure just as Paul withstood and corrected Peter and as Gal. 6:1 instructs us to get involved with an erring brother. James 5:19; II Thes. 3:15; II Tim. 2:25 all instruct us to get involved with helping sinning brothers. I am doing that on these pages. What Trinity members do is their decision.
It is not disloyal to tell a friend what rumors are circulating and expect a reply. In fact, Christians are required to search out such things so we can make a decision about cooperation and fellowship with him, the possibility of church discipline (within that person’s church), or to mark such people and avoid him if he refuses to confess and forsake the sin that has been exposed. Contrary to what mushy evangelicals, soft fundamentalists, and unbelievers in the pulpit tell us, we are definitely to make judgments and “prove all things.” While it is unpleasant, we must be confrontational when necessary. It goes without saying (and often without practice) that we must be loving and never self righteous as we try to follow the Bible.
A writer from Germany, who worked closely with Gray, charged: “You list some guidelines at the end of your article in which you advise not to receive an accusation against an elder unless there are witnesses. Incredibly, in the same article you treat Dr. Gray as if he were already tried and found guilty.” He then mentioned that there was not one shred of physical evidence and not one witness to the alleged events. “Furthermore, all this before the trial even starts!” Sounds bad but is it really? What the writer refuses to realize is that Gray had already been “disciplined” by his church and had admitted that he “French kissed” some girls in his office! Kissing little school girls is a not a fringe benefit of the pastorate!
What more do we need to make a sane, sensible, and Scriptural decision in this matter? What physical evidence do we need? In fact, what physical evidence could be possible except maybe some pictures! Now that is not going to happen, after all Gray may be a child molester (according to his own admission of “French kissing”) but there has been no mention of photographs. And while the legal proceedings must take place, they will not impact his guilt or his innocence! They will only determine how much time he spends in prison—or other legal consequences. I hope if Gray is found “not guilty” that Independent Baptists and others will not welcome him back with open arms, but will require of him according to Biblical standards of discipline and restoration. If he is found not guilty (which doesn’t mean he is innocent) he should restrict any preaching to the city mission or street preaching. But never to Christian school students and never in a church pulpit!
To bolster his defense of Gray, my critic said, “Furthermore, when a judge sets bail for only $25,000 in a federal case of this nature, it states de facto that the judge does not believe the prosecution has any case at all.” The writer is wrong. It might mean (and no doubt does) that the judge knows Gray is 80 years old and was represented in court as being decrepit (in my opinion an attorney’s ploy). Furthermore, Gray has numerous ties to the Jacksonville area so it is unlikely he is going to flee to the North Carolina mountains and hide out for a few months. The judge apparently did not believe Gray was in danger of fleeing, consequently the low bail.
My critic then writes that Gray did not “run away” to Germany but has always talked of going there as a missionary. I know that is true. Bob and I talked about it when we did services for him in the early 1990s. However, that does not disprove that he in fact was fleeing exposure as a child molester. My critic suggests that he cannot prove Gray’s innocence any more than I can prove his guilt. But I don’t need to prove his guilt if he confessed sinning against the victims, against God, and against His church. Trinity Baptist has already apologized to some of the victims for Gray’s “indiscretion!”
My critic then said he hoped that I would never suffer the same fate as Gray in being accused of something when I am innocent yet not being able to prove my innocence. Well, the fact is I have been there! In fact, most preachers I know have been accused of things wrongly. It goes with the territory; however, if I ever discover the talebearer preacher who started the rumor about me, I will demand a hearing at his church to prove my innocence and establish his guilt as a gossip, liar, and talebearer. A good pastor/friend of mine had the courage to call me and ask about a rumor he had heard about me. He is now a very good friend because he contacted me. He had every right, even the responsibility, to confront me since I was asking him for help with a foreign mission’s trip.
Then my critic declared that I owed God an apology and needed to repent of taking a position against Gray and standing with his accusers. That is a serious charge and consequently made me look deeper into the Gray issue to support the position I have taken. As I write this, I do so with my granddaughters in mind. Furthermore, I sadly admit that almost all the people involved in this cover-up have been long-time friends of mine. This is the most distasteful mess I have been involved with, but it is time for those Baptists who profess to believe and preach the Bible to step up to the plate and declare that sinning celebrity preachers will not be handed a “get out of jail card” and receive $200.00 for passing Go. If they confess and forsake their sin, they should be received, and rehabilitated, restored, but not returned to the pulpit. If they hunker down and refuse to confess and repent (as most do), they should be marked men, shunned by decent people. Regardless, they should face whatever legal consequences that follow.
In ancient Rome, one witness could charge a plebian (common citizen) of a crime; however, a member of the senate (a patrician) had to have two accusers. The thought was that those in places of great responsibility of authority were more vulnerable to false charges, hence requiring two accusers for the sake of justice. I think that is reasonable in the case of a pastor who is in the business of correcting others, because he would have more enemies who might resort to false accusations. I will try to be sensitive to that principle. I Tim. 5:19 commands me: “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.”
Jude commands us to contend for the faith “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” This present generation abhors all confrontations and considers those who try to be true to Scripture as being “judgmental,” “unkind,” “pugnacious,” “unloving,” “unchristian,” “mean-spirited,” “uncompassionate,” “legalistic,” and even “Fundamentalists” (gasp!).
I think it was Dr. David Cloud who sent me a quote that is germane at this time. It is by James Henley Thornwell, a principled Presbyterian preacher who fought against the inroads of unbelief in Presbyterian circles in the 1800s. He was also president of what is today the University of South Carolina; however, I’m convinced that most people at that university would run from this statement as if their hair were on fire! Things do change, don’t they!
Thornwell said: “To employ soft words and honeyed phrases in discussing questions of everlasting importance; to deal with errors that strike at the foundations of all human hope as if they were harmless and venial mistakes; to bless where God disapproves, and to make apologies where He calls us to stand up like men and assert, though it may be the aptest method of securing popular applause in a sophistical age, is cruelty to man and treachery to Heaven. Those who on such subjects attach more importance to the rules of courtesy than they do to the measures of truth do not defend the citadel, but betray it into the hands of its enemies. Love for Christ, and for the souls for whom He died, will be the exact measure of our zeal in exposing the dangers by which men’s souls are ensnared” (quoted in a sermon by George Sayles Bishop, author of The Doctrines of Grace and Kindred Themes, 1910). Are Independent Baptist pastors willing to live by that principle? If not, they should be out selling cars. For that matter, any variety of pastor.
Paul tells us in Phil. 1:9-10 to be informed and make judgments: “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.” I want to be true to that Scripture in this matter.
Paul commands in 1 Thess. 5:21 “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” Christians must “prove” all things. They must not defend evil whoever the perpetrator may be. Sin must be dealt with. The Seventh Century churches were very severe in their discipline. “Whosoever was 3 days together from church without urgent necessity was to be excommunicated.” All right, maybe that was a little extreme; but you can see how far our churches have fallen when most churches have people on the roll that are thieves, liars, tale bearers, adulterers, sodomites, gluttons, boozers, child molesters, as well as those who seldom attend church!
When church leaders perceive that a member is walking in a sinful, offensive way, Matthew 18:15-17 tells us to go to that person with the expectation of helping him or her repent and turn from their sin. If he repents then we have gained a brother. If he does not repent then the offended person or pastor is to take two or three others to seek repentance and reconciliation. If the offender continues to resist then verse 17 commands us to “tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”
Paul gives us further instructions in II Thes. 3:14: “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.” Note that offending church members should be “ashamed.”
When the early church disciplined Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:11 says “And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.” Proper church discipline will result in shame, fear, and regret and hopefully repentance. In the case of Ananias and Sapphira, it resulted in death; a little more permanent than shame, fear, or regret.
The redeeming features of this mess are that thousands of preachers and laymen will see that any of us are capable of horrific sins and a church’s responsibility is to follow the Bible in trying to set things right. Then, when proper church discipline is exercised, great fear will come upon the church. Younger people will think: “If I get into sin, I will be held accountable.” But we are not holding many people accountable today, and we have convinced ourselves that our noble motives of “protecting the church,” and “the cause of Christ,” and “not embarrassing the friends and relatives of the offending person” are legitimate. They are not, and informed preachers know they are not!
So, the question: Did Trinity Baptist leadership (staff and laymen) follow Biblical instructions in handling the Gray matter? You decide.
First Coast News in Jacksonville interviewed 37-year-old Denise Green who accused Gray of French kissing her periodically for a three-year period starting when she was in the third grade! She reported the abuse to her father (a deacon at Trinity) shortly after she graduated from Trinity in 1987. According to Denise, her father and Tom Messer and Dr. Gray sat down and “daddy confronted him about it and he acknowledged, ‘Yes, it happened.’ ”
In the same article published May 22, 2006, it is asserted that an alleged victim sent First Coast News a letter from Pastor Messer on church stationary “with a hand-written note.” First Coast News affirms that they compared the signature with “other legal documents signed by Messer.” According to the report, “The letter sent to the alleged victims indicates the church, in 1992 and 1997, dealt with the issue of Dr. Gray’s relationships with children and brought church discipline action and instituted accountability for him.” I have seen a copy of that letter where Messer tells the victim that he regrets the situation and where he apologized to her “for the wrong” done her. He also wrote a four-line note to the left of his signature where he told her “My heart is burdened for you….” and he was sorry for her heartache. So, obviously these are not untrue accusations.
George Wells grew up at Trinity Baptist Church and attended their school from Kindergarten until his graduation in 1986. In 1992, Gray was accused of molesting a family friend of Wells‘, along with others. Wells declares that Pastor Tom Messer sat in the Wells’ home (along with the minister to the deaf) and discussed Gray’s molestation of children. According to Wells, Messer admitted that Gray had been “horribly abused as a child.” Messer allegedly said, “Gray is a pedophile but we should have mercy on him.” At that meeting Messer promised to handle the matter “through church discipline.” According to Wells and others, Gray was brought before the church and admitted to one “indiscretion,” that was not sexual or immoral in nature. The “confession” was followed by a standing ovation for Gray with about 98% of the congregation standing!
However, there is more to the story. One of the victims’ mother was at the Wells’ home where the above meeting took place. The victim is a North Carolina pastor’s wife who told me that she revealed her story to her mother when she was 21 years old. She told me that from the time she was in the second to sixth grade at the Trinity school, she would often be taken to Gray’s office where he put her on his lap and kissed her open-mouthed on her neck and face as he talked about her parents’ divorce. When she finally told her story as an adult, she was taken to an office and sat down then Bob Gray walked in and sat beside her. Can you imagine how uncomfortable she felt? Then Tom Messer came in and she told her story. Tom asked her if she thought Gray’s actions amounted to sexual molestation, and she said, “No, but it was at least an inappropriate indiscretion.” She thought, as many would, that since there was no fondling then his actions did not reach the threshold of sexual molestation. The “fixers” had what they wanted: It was an “indiscretion” and not sexual or immoral! So, now they could do their “church discipline thing” and put all this behind them.
The pastor’s wife called Christian Law Association in May of 2006 and spoke to David Gibbs III and told him that she had heard that he wanted to know the truth of this matter and she would be glad to sit down with Gibbs, Messer, Gray, and the Deacon Board and tell what Gray had done to her. She has not heard from him since.
My informants allege that at this time it was decided that Gray would go to Germany as a missionary and Trinity Baptist would continue to support him $500 per week, personal benefits, keep up the parsonage to be ready for return trips, and “silence.” That seemed to make everyone, if not happy, at least satisfied. It seemed to be a good deal: The church would be spared further embarrassment (and possible legal difficulties) and Gray would be “off the hook” and free to continue his “ministry.” The penalty for many years of child molestation: he could no longer preach at Trinity! Wow! The leaders at Trinity are really tough birds to deal with! No doubt Gray thought that “penalty” was better than sitting in a prison cell. However, when Gray returned for his many visits back to the states and was at Trinity, the pastor often praised him from the pulpit as a “godly” man, according to my informants.
At a deacon’s meeting in May or June of 1997, it is alleged that Pastor Tom Messer told the board that Gray had admitted to him and Attorney David Gibbs that he (Gray) had kissed about six girls and he would be back in town in a few weeks to meet with the board. That meeting took place in June or July and Gray confessed to “sinning against the church and sinning against families in the church.” He asked for forgiveness. That was it. No details, no nitty gritty. A deacon stood and said that forgiveness was fine and good but what about the lie told the church in 1992. Gray said that he would do whatever Messer wanted him to do. Tom shook his head and Attorney David Gibbs spoke up and said, “no public announcement was necessary at this time.” I am afraid my old friend Gibbs was speaking as an attorney not a Biblical advisor.
The one deacon left the church, according to my reports, the only one who did so. I’m also informed that no vote was taken during this meeting. The discipline meted out to Gray for child molestation and lying: he would not preach at Trinity again and lose all titles and honors.
I received an e-mail from a couple, both former members of Trinity and he was an official at Trinity Christian Academy. The wife worked on and off for the ministry for many years. This couple resigned when Pastor Messer refused to address the Gray problem. Tom Messer worked at one time as coach at the Trinity school and worked for the husband. They told me that a person very close to Messer said that Messer would “never make a rebuke/statement because he had been told by Attorney David Gibbs that the ministry had to be protected. If there has to be a choice between the ministry and the victims, the ministry should be chosen first.” If that is true (and the couple says they can prove all their allegations) then David Gibbs is wrong, very wrong. I agree about the importance of a ministry especially a large and influential ministry; however, Bible truth is far more precious than a particular ministry. How can there be any discussion as to what has priority, a particular ministry or Bible principle?
I find it incredible that a church that makes a major point of being a “Bible preaching” church and adhering to the KJV would denigrate, deny, and disregard very clear teachings in that Bible! What a farce to stand in a pulpit holding up the Bible and loudly proclaim one’s allegiance to the inspired, preserved Word of God then proceed to reject that Book’s teaching about church discipline! It is incredible that preachers lead men to the water of life and too often end up muddying those waters by not following the Bible plan or ungodly living. Most of us who are trying, but often failing, to honor Christ must not fall into the trap of saying, “Well, we all sin so let’s move on. Let God take care of it.” However, God has commanded the local church to take care of it so that others may learn from the discipline, keep the church pure, and help the offender. Not to do so is wicked rebellion against a holy God.
The couple asks, “Where is the backbone and integrity of these men? Where are the few godly men that are willing to stand up, put all on the line, and speak out publicly against what has been done against these kids, their families, and those of us who sacrificed and worked so hard for so many years and who were betrayed by Tom Messer and the leadership?” Good question.
Gray’s victims kept waiting for some kind of justice but stayed in the background until they heard that Gray was going to speak to the Trinity College graduates in 2006. It was said that he would not be “preaching” but only “speaking” to them! The victims demanded that Pastor Messer finally handle the situation. The victims were also appalled that the church bought Gray a new $222,000.00 house! Bob had recently moved into the new house in May when he was arrested. He had been tipped off and moved his plane reservation to Germany up a week to “get out of Dodge” before the “marshal” arrived! In fact, he was packing his car trunk when he was arrested. He felt the “call” to Germany but never made it. The long arm of the law (and God) had him by the collar.
An evangelist, who had family at Trinity, wrote me stating he called Tom Messer in 2001 about rumors he had been hearing during his revival meetings regarding Gray. He quoted Messer as saying, he “believed that Gray had done everything that they had asked him” (counseling wise) and that he felt that he was all right now but “still could not be in the presence of little girls by himself.” The evangelist was allegedly told that Gray was no longer pastor emeritus (not a scriptural position anyway) nor college chancellor. He was also told that the mission board that sent Gray to Germany was not informed nor were the churches who supported him! That is reprehensible in my opinion. If I were pastor of one of Gray’s supporting churches, I would be after someone with a hatchet to get me a scalp!
On July 7, 2006, I wrote Pastor Messer saying, “If Bob is guilty he should face it, confess it, and take his punishment and if the church made major mistakes in the disciplinary action then you and the church should confess it. Such confession would be unprecedented to my knowledge….It is impossible for me not to come across as judgmental; however, let me assure you that I want the best for you, Bob, the church and Christians everywhere.” He replied in a kind but non-committal way thanking me for my concern and prayers. I still want the best for him, and the “best” is to come clean in this matter.
informants declare that Messer was involved in the cover-up and suggest that he was “handed the pastorate on a silver platter” after he was involved in the cover-up in 1991 and 1992. They tell me that the church vote on Messer was done twice with no other candidate considered. The first vote was only 57% for Tom as pastor. There was no report given to the church on the percentage of the second vote! I was recently told that the college students were permitted to vote the second time! The members were told by the church leadership that Tom had been elected! This is incredible and more incredibly, why didn’t some church member stand and ask for the count! This is an indication of the intimidation that is common in Baptist churches. To even ask the question is seen as an attack on the ministry!
The former members report that Messer had Gray come to the pulpit to pray from time to time over the following five years after the fiasco disciplinary hearing in 1992. During those times when Gray was visiting the church, (while back from Germany) Messer allegedly “praised him fulsomely” from the pulpit more than once.
My informants wrote: “We had another meeting with Tom in 1997 and realized he had lied to us in 1992 and continued to lie, or refuse to answer, many of our questions.” After 25 years of service, the couple resigned and walked out without a salary, no retirement, and no job with a child entering college!
The couple (whose names are available for the asking) has not been on a vendetta; however, they are very concerned about the truth being told and did speak or write to people, as God impressed them when Trinity or Gray or Messer came up in conversation. They told me, “We have written letters, one specifically to Dino Pedrone as president of FACCS (Florida Association of Christian Colleges and Schools), for him to take a stand publicly against Trinity or at the very least to not have any teachers from there to speak at the Christian school convention. I am afraid to say we have not gotten much response, except from one mission board in Chattanooga. They did investigate and asked Bob Gray to resign from their board. Dino Pedrone did not even give us the courtesy of a response; these people will not even investigate both sides.” The Chattanooga mission board was the International Board of Jewish Missions.
I wrote the President of Baptist Missions to Forgotten Peoples and asked the following five questions: 1. Was Dr. Gray one of the founders of the board? 2. Did he go to Germany under the auspices of your board? 3. Were you and other board members aware of his problem with little girls? 4. If he represented your board and you knew of his sin, how could you permit him to represent you? Was it right to expose him to hundreds of innocent and uninformed pastors? 5. Has Dr. Gray been censored or terminated by the board if in fact he was with your group? I have not heard from him as of today. While it is not conclusive, it is almost impossible to believe that the board members, (friends of Gray) had not heard the rumors especially since the board is located in Jacksonville! We now know that BMFP was the board that sent Gray to Germany.
I was informed that Pastor George Grace of New York State spoke at Trinity Baptist College in May (since Bob Gray was “disinvited”) and Grace spent 5-10 minutes “praising Bob Gray.” (Two minutes would be sufficient in my opinion.) Of course, that is Standard Operating Procedure where the guest speaker honors the pastor/president who built the institution. I would have done the same thing to express my appreciation for the invitation and to honor a great leader. However, I would have thrown a fit after I learned of the molestation charges. How could college leaders put Grace or anyone in such a position?
Church leaders must understand that God is not pleased by our crowds, cockiness, campuses, converts, or cash, but by our commonness, conduct, cleanness, courage, character, and commitment. He demands faithfulness to His truth. There are no exceptions for celebrity preachers, eloquent attorneys, lay leaders, or anyone else. Paul reminds us in II Tim. 4 to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” I’m afraid a huge number of Independent Baptists have slipped from the truth of dealing with sin and have now turned to fables, while all the time clutching and defending the Bible they profess to believe, preach, and follow! How sad! How sinful!
All of us were appalled at how Bill Clinton parsed words to cover his sins but we defend Baptist preachers when they do the same thing to cover their personal sins or to cover up for others’ wicked, compromising activities. But then, “the ministry must be saved.” (Why must it be?) And the “cause of Christ will suffer,” but we do more harm to that cause when we fail to handle sins according to His directions. Moreover, I think Christ can take care of His own cause and reputation.
Dr. Tom Messer released a statement on Oct. 1, 2006 admitting: “The news reports and the criminal charges contain more information and far more serious allegations than we had prior to Dr. Gray’s arrest.” That should put to rest the charges that others and I have “jumped too quickly” in this matter. Furthermore, Tom stated: “we have received a preliminary verbal report from the independent investigators. More than 40 interviews of church leadership, current and former church members and staff, and family members of those believed to have been wronged by Dr. Gray have been conducted. Our attorneys have found no indication of a cover-up, either deliberate or unintentional. I mention this because of rumors that have circulated that have accused me and or church leadership of not acting ethically or legally on the information that was available to us.” However, there is a difference is legal culpability and non-legal culpability.
Of course, I don’t know the motives of the church leadership but my readers can determine if the church followed Scriptural procedures in the Gray matter. Moreover, of course, since we are all members of the same family, I only want the best for Trinity and its leadership. However, many Baptist pastors could be put in a similar position tomorrow, and they should learn from this debacle: Deal with sin in a Biblical fashion with the desire to help the erring person (pastor or layman), minister to any victims, and to be a warning to the rest of us to keep ourselves pure.
I recently spoke to the pastor (I’ll call him Dr. Smith) of a large North Carolina church about his knowledge of the Bob Gray matter. He had been hearing rumors for a long time about Gray and finally called Gray about the rumors after his arrest in May. Gray did not clearly admit all the accusations but did say, “Oh, Bro. Smith, it’s been about 35 years ago. It’s awful to bring reproach on the Lord’s name.” The pastor called him a few weeks later and Gray said, “It’s terrible how people can take the Bible and tell so many lies.” “Dr. Smith” could see that Gray had changed his story to make himself look less guilty. Another North Carolina pastor went to see “Dr. Smith” and assured him that Gray was a child molester because he wife was one of the victims! This pastor is a graduate of Trinity Baptist College and his wife is telling her story on the NBC affiliate in Jacksonville television expose in a few days along with other victims.
Prov. 17:15 reminds us, “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.” Those people who have come to the defense of an admitted child molester and who have cast slings and arrows at those of us who demand accountability, fairness, contrition, confession, and even compensation (for victims) are an “abomination of the LORD.” If my granddaughter had been molested by Gray after his exposure as a child molester, then you can bet the farm that I would be demanding that church leadership heads roll since their disobedience to God would have facilitated her molestation. In that light, it might be considered appropriate justice if the defenders of a molester of little girls (or boys) should share Bob Gray’s cell.
My assessment in light of the above information: To be true to Scripture and faithful to all that is decent and right, Tom Messer should resign the church; all the deacons who were in office during the “church discipline” episode should resign; the president of BMFP should resign if he knew of the Gray rumors and discipline; the leaders of FACCS should resign if they were aware of the discipline; the officers of Southwide should all resign if they knew the truth; and David Gibbs should apologize to all of us if he counseled church leaders to not apologize to the victims. Their actions should be preceded by genuine contrition and confession of horrible personal sins. Finally, the church should offer some kind of financial settlement to the victims to ameliorate and compensate for their years of fear, guilt, anxiety, and other emotional and spiritual problems. I was not born yesterday so I know how I will be perceived for this stand: a self-righteous busybody interjecting himself into the business of a local church. So be it.
In light of the above, I have some questions that deserve, even demand, answers:
Did the mission board that sent out Gray know of the rumors that were swirling around the nation and especially in Jacksonville?
If so, has the Baptist Missions to Forgotten Peoples apologized to independent Baptist churches for not informing them of Gray’s problems?
Why didn’t Tom Messer inform the mission board of the church discipline and warn them of the possible negative consequences if they sponsored Gray in Germany?
Why didn’t some layman stand up and ask for, then demand, the count at the second vote for Messer as pastor?
How can FACCS leaders justify using Gray, Messer, and church staff in their conventions knowing of the very minimal “church discipline”?
How could many pastors have Gray preach for them in their churches and conferences when they had heard that he had molested little girls?
Surely the leaders of Southwide Baptist Fellowship, being insiders, had heard the Gray rumors, yet they invited him to preach to hundreds of other preachers. How can that be justified?
Maybe Dr. Bouler and other leaders had not heard the rumors and of the church discipline, although that possibility is incredulous, but why did Tom Messer not warn them that having Gray to preach at Southwide could result in catastrophic consequences?
Pastor, do you guard against even providing a foundation for a false accusation against your church’s ministry? Do you deal with “sin in the camp” or is it “buried in the tent!” (Or swept under the rug)?
Can you laymen envision the possibility of facing your pastor with some accusations against him? If not, you are spineless and will share some of the guilt if the charges are true. And if you love your pastor, you will want to put the accusations to rest. You owe it to him.
Does your pastor know that if he is guilty of such sins, he can be forgive by God and the church, but he has lost his privilege, at least, to ever pastor again?
How long has it been since anyone was disciplined in your church? Moreover, remember that if the sin of the layman or pastor was public then the discipline must be public. If a couple has problems and they get right with each other then it is not wise or necessary to go public.
How involved was attorney David Gibbs in the original cover-up? Did he, in fact, suggest that no confession of cover-up be made? Is it possible that church leaders decided that there was no cover-up since the people who “needed to know” were informed, consequently no deceit or concealment?
Does Gibbs (and CLA) take the position that a ministry has priority over clear Scriptural teaching?
Could the motive for wanting Messer as pastor have been that church leaders did not want to bring in someone new who might “stir the pot” even more?
Why do churches have thousands of members on the roll but hundreds sitting in the pews? Isn’t it time for a house cleaning?
Finally, pastors of Independent Baptist Churches must stand up to the plate and be vigilant in carrying out proper church discipline without leading a witch-hunt.