Tuesday, October 20, 2009

When One Minister Opposes Another

John answered, "Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us." But Jesus said to him, "Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you." (Luke 9:49-50 ESV)
Sometimes the worst critics of a minister are other ministers! It happened in John Wesley's life. He, his brother, Charles, and George Whitefield were charged with fanning the flames of "enthusiasm"—emotional outbursts, sometimes extreme, from the British populace. Such things were frowned upon by the proper Anglican Church. Consider this entry from Wesley's Journal, dated Wednesday, September 21, 1757:
After an hour with a few friends in Truro, I rode forward to Grampound, a mean, inconsiderable, dirty village. However, it is a borough town. Between twelve and one I began preaching in a meadow, to a numerous congregation. While we were singing, I observed a person in black on the far side of the meadow, who said, "'Come down; you have no business there." Some boys who were on a wall, taking it for granted that he spoke to them, got down in all haste. I went on, and he walked away. I afterward understood that he was the minister and the Mayor of Grampound. Soon after, two constables came and said, "Sir, the mayor says you shall not preach within his borough." I answered, "The mayor has no authority to hinder me. But it is a point not worth contesting." So I went about a musket-shot farther and left the borough to Mr. Mayor's disposal.
Why the minister/mayor of Grampound opposed Wesley the Journal does not reveal. For whatever reason Wesley was rebuked and he thought it not worth the fight to stay.

This is shaky ground; on the one hand a minister has an obligation to protect the flock from danger, heresy and discord. On the other hand he must be careful not to quench the Spirit. It isn't always the easiest thing to discern or a preacher may be sure he is protecting his flock when, in fact, he is attempting to stop a move of God unaware.

Let us who have ears to hear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. We wouldn't want to end up opposing another John Wesley.