The Christocentric Principle in action

Series: Jesus the interpreter of scripture
The Question of Leadership Failure
How is the church supposed to treat leaders who fall from grace?

Over the last several years we have had quite a few dramatic examples of church leadership failure. Because of their public profiles most of us were aware of what happened to the Todd Bentleys of the Christian world. We also know a bit about what happened to them after their fall from grace.

A few years ago a fairly well known pastor in my area was found guilty of marital infidelity, for the second time. He was immediately fired as Pastor and asked to leave the congregation. I heard about what had happened but I had no contact with him until a couple of years later when he phoned me. “May I and my family come and worship at your church on Sunday?” he asked. “Of course”, I responded, “Why ever not. I would love to see you.” The line went silent for a long moment and when he spoke again there was a distinct choke in his voice. “Well last week I tried to attend a service at another church in the area. The pastor met me at the door and asked me to leave.”

This dear man and his family started attending our local church regularly and it wasn’t long before I received a delegation of several ministers in the area who wanted me to jointly sign a letter with them addressed to the ‘sinner’. The aim of the letter was to inform him that he was not welcome in the area and would not, under any circumstances, be allowed to assume any leadership position in any church at any time in the future. What would Jesus have said to these self-righteous men I wonder?

How is the church supposed to treat leaders who fall from grace? Stone them, ban them, or seek to restore them? 
We don’t even need to ask the hypothetical question “what would Jesus do?” He actually had to deal with leadership failure, so we know what he actually did do. Simon Peter was the designated leader of the church even before it was called a church. Peter enjoyed a special position of privilege. He witnessed the transfiguration, arranged the Last Supper, and attended Jesus in Gethsemane. Yet, at the crucial moment, he suffered moral failure and denied Jesus, not once, but three times. The man my fellow pastors wanted to ban for life had failed morally twice; Peter failed three times. The errant pastor betrayed his wife; Peter betrayed his lord. Which was worse do you suppose?

We know how Peter’s story ends. Jesus did not consign him to ignominy and permanent redundancy. Instead He ensured that Peter was repentant and had truly learned his lesson, and then Jesus reinstated him as the leader of the church. Application of the Christocentric Principle must therefore lead us to the conclusion that erring yet repentant church leaders should be confronted, corrected, rehabilitated and then… reinstated. But what does the church usually do to its wounded leaders? … it usually shoots them – metaphorically of course and with ‘I say this in love’ bullets.

In my next few posts I will be giving some examples of how to apply the CP to specific issues.

Other posts in this series:  
A Divine Endorsement
The Christocentric Principle
The Key Further Revealed
The Key Revealed 
Seeking the Key
Jesus the Interpreter of Scripture

Christopher Peppler

Christopher Peppler



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

follow me on

Recent posts

Weekly Highlights

About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.