Church, Theology

Paul Scanlon & Carl Lentz: world-class leadership or social media cowardice?


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I think we’re all familiar with the reality of binary breakdown served-up ignominiously – and cold – by social media: the risk of our behaving differently with people online compared to how we would do face to face in ‘real life’. (We all get it wrong sometimes.)*

This short blog this morning poses one simple question relating to this reality in the world of social media and that specifically concerns two prominent “world-class” Christian leaders who, combined, are responsible for millions of people. Apparently these guys are only ever to be graced with unequivocal, whole-hearted agreement and never, ever challenged. Otherwise you and I are walking on the very, very thin ice of Christian ‘dishonour’.

My question for you and me today (and them) is simply ‘is this acceptable Christian leadership?’:

Paul Scanlon – as I explained in my recent article Does God Like Evangelism? , I have just been blocked on Instagram by my former pastor of nearly a decade having respectfully disagreed with his recent post on “evangelism”. What’s occurring? Well, firstly, I’d asked a valid question, along with others, but was then ignored and subsequently mocked in further Instagram posts. I objected to Paul’s flagrant disregard for our respectful challenge finding it unacceptable that a “world-class” leader would be ignorant and dismissive (or incapable) of answering basic questions about basic biblical matters. A “world-class” Christian leader demanding 100% honour and respect while refusing to extend basic courtesy and honour to those he seeks to “grow”?

Carl Lentz – Six months ago I expressed my disagreement with Carl’s psychobabble and public comments about abortion…also without reply. (Read what he said and didn’t say here) Then, just last night, all guns blazing, Carl sent me a barrage of tweets accusing me, among other things, of being a social media troll of Christian leaders! *(What I will say here is that I retract the part of my November 7th tweet that claims that leaders don’t choke. I accept this was wrong and apologise to Carl – and every other leader – for saying that. Of course leaders choke from time to time, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences and neither does it condone pretending there hasn’t been a failure of leadership).

But does my disagreement with Carl’s public stance on abortion – again, that influences millions of people around the world – really reduce me to being a troll of Christian leaders? Or does it just mean that I have the balls to challenge globally influential leaders when they drop theirs publicly and in such a way that contradicts Scripture?

Both Paul Scanlon and Carl Lentz have carried and are carrying responsibility that I may never understand and therefore I salute them. I love them as brothers and admire and respect them to varying extents.

But I strongly oppose their conduct on social media in these two recent instances as being both biblically misleading to large swathes of saved/unsaved people but also dishonouring of those, like me, who have engaged with them on social media.

Finally, given that we’re talking about the colossally important issues of evangelism and abortion, in full view of those weak in faith as well as those utterly lost of no faith at all, I repeat my question: is this acceptable Christian leadership? 

Or is it in fact that both Paul and Carl need to review their conduct over these recent exchanges, step back and hold their hands up?

As I said to Carl last night, I would still love to do a brief webcast interview with him if he’d honour our convo and the original challenge that he initially seemed to be up for:

What do you think?

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