Accountability

By Thomas Williamson

 


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Miller Time: The End of the World on October 22, 1844!
One People of God, or Two?
Prophecies of Book of Revelation Fulfilled in 18th Century America?
Are We Living in the Laodicean Age?
God's Land Grant to the Jewish People - Conditional or Unconditional?
Essays In Old Testament Prophecy
Should We Promote the "Left Behind" Theology
Temple in Jerusalem With Animal Sacrifices—Next Event on the Prophetic Calendar?
Between Iraq and a Hard Place - A 21ST Century Commentary on Isaiah, Chapters 13 to 23
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Got Perpetuity?
Daniel's Prophecy of the 70 Weeks
Is John’s Baptism for Today?
 Who Really Owns the Land of Palestine?
Will There Be a Great Falling Away?
A 21st Century Commentary on Galatians
Iraq in the Bible
Edom in Bible Prophecy
Did the Lord's Churches Baptize by Immersion Before the 17th Century?
What is the Role of the Jews in this Dispensation?
Future Schlock:
A Historical Perspective
To Whom Does the Land of Palestine Belong?
Promise Keepers
One Church Dictatorship Revisited
Resolution to Stand Against Promise Keepers
Is Repentance for Today?
Experiencing the Teaching of Henry Blackaby
Protestantism & Catholicism Declared Separate Religions
Accountability
The Case for Closed Communion
Will Christ Return by the Year 2000?
Have You Received the Baptism With the Holy Ghost?
The Universal Church Theory
Weighed in the Balances and Found Wanting
Revised 2005
Touch Not The Lord's Anointed
Is the Command For Today?
What the Roman Catholic Church Teaches

 

In 1970 five prominent charismatic leaders, Derek Prince, Don Basham, Bob Mumford, Charles Simpson and Ern Baxter, electrified the Christian world by announcing that they had entered into a covenant of accountability with each other. To avoid falling into temptation, they were going to meet regularly and hold each other accountable for their Christian walk and life decisions.

This new movement, called "discipleship" or "shepherding", attracted thousands of followers, who willingly submitted themselves to be accountable to their spiritual leaders in all matters, including finances, dating and marriage, career choices, and where they lived and attended church.

Human nature being what it is, thousands of lives were ruined as their spiritual leaders took advantage of them, forcing their hapless "disciples" to give up their Christian liberty and power of decision-making, subordinating their personalities and talents for the good of the larger group.

In 1985 the famous five founders of this movement announced that their covenant of accountability was not working out and they were breaking it up. They have been apologizing for the abuses of this movement ever since.

However, the concept of accountability keeps popping up in various circles, under new guises. Some men's movements are urging their followers to meet in small groups for the purpose of holding each other accountable. There is no shortage of would-be "disciplers" circulating in some churches and Christian movements, looking for spineless "schmoes" who are willing to be "discipled" and let someone tell them what to do with their lives.

Before we jump on the accountability bandwagon, let's stop and see what the Bible has to say about all this.

First of all, are we accountable to our leaders and fellow Christian concerning our personal finances? The Bible answer to this question is NO! In Luke 12:13-14, the Lord Jesus was invited to step into an inheritance dispute and He declined to do so. Then in Luke 12:15 Jesus identified the motive of those who try to tell others what to do with their money--it is covetousness!

When overpioused Christians try to tell you what to do with your money, it is time to hold on to your wallet and head for the nearest exit. No Christian has the authority to tell us what to do with our money. The Apostle Peter disclaimed any authority over his members' finances and property, Acts 5:4. We do have a duty to tithe to the local church, as affirmed by Jesus in Mt. 23:23 and by Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:13-14, and this should be preached today. But even here, our accountability is before God, not some nosy Christian.

There are some who would like to hold fellow Christians accountable for whom they choose to marry, but the Bible does not grant this type of authority to anyone except the parents of the child who is getting married, 1 Corinthians 7:36-38. Paul told widows that they could freely choose their marriage partner, 1 Cor. 7:39. Moses gave the same advice to the daughters of Zelophehad, Numbers 36:6.

Should Christians allow someone else to hold them accountable for major life decisions, such as career, where to live, etc.? Here again, the bible does not give anyone that kind of authority over us. The Apostle Paul suggested to Apollos that he go to Corinth in 1 Cor. 16:12. Apollos replied that he did not feel like going, and that was the end of it. Paul accepted the fact that Apollos had the liberty to exercise his own decision-making power, and he did not rebuke Apollos or try to make him accountable.

The whole emphasis of the teaching of the New Testament is on Christian liberty and the freedom of the Christian, not accountability. Christian liberty is one of the main themes of Galatians, where Paul rebuked the Apostle Peter for trying to tell the Gentiles how to live (Gal. 2:14) and advised Christians to "Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free," Gal. 5:1. Paul advised the Corinthians not to submit themselves to abusive "disciplers," 2 Cor. 11:19-20.

There are many people who want to gain control of their fellow Christians so they can straighten them out, but most of the time we have no scriptural basis for trying to make the other guy live the way we do. In Romans 14:3 Paul forbids us to judge each other over matters of diet and then goes on to defend the great principle of Christian liberty, saying, "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him to stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." (Rom. 14:4-5)

The woods are full of people who do not want to let their fellow Christians be fully persuaded in their own minds regarding nonessential matters, things that are not sin, personal decisions that god has given each of us the liberty to decide for ourselves. Those who submit to such bossy, domineering types will find that, in most cases, they can never grovel and submit completely enough to satisfy their masters and be accepted as spiritually mature. They are trapped in a course of study from which they can never graduate, taught by teachers who treat them like kindergarten children. Once their devotion and financial resources have been sucked dry, they are often unceremoniously booted out of the religious society to which they devoted everything.

As Baptists, we are people of the Book, followers of that the Bible teaches. Therefore, we should reject these notions of accountability, discipleship and shepherding that are being hatched in charismatic and interdenominational circles.

We believe in accountability to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, to the commandments of the Word of God, and to the church discipline process of the local New Testament Missionary Baptist church. But we reject the lordship of mere humans trying to Lord it over their disciples, 1 Pet. 5:3. We are not libertines who will let our people commit any sin without rebuke, nor are we harsh, judgmental types who will condemn people for things that are not sin while trying to control their entire lives. We must offer the right balance of church discipline and Christian liberty to refugees from the liberal churches where "anything goes," as well as those fleeing the cult-like authoritarian churches where vulnerable believers are "discipled" and forced to give up their liberty and individuality.

 

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