For most of his career, Joshua Harris was the kind of evangelical pastor who chuckled at the joke that “seminary” should really be called “cemetery.”
The son of a national home-schooling leader — home-schooled himself — Harris by his mid-20s had become a prominent pastor as well as a best-selling author on religion and sex, despite having no formal theological training. He immediately became a darling of a movement that took off in the 1990s called nondenominationalism, largely made up of conservative evangelicals who view religious institutions and denominations as often lifeless and unopen to God’s spirit.
And for 17 years, Harris preached the power of outsiderdom as pastor of Covenant Life, a 3,000-member church in Gaithersburg that is well-known — and sometimes controversial — on the national nondenominational scene.
That is, until Sunday, when the 40-year-old announced that he is leaving to go to seminary, saying he needs formal education and training and more exposure and connection to other parts of Christianity.
“That, my friends, is a crazy, backwards life!” Harris said in his sermon about his career.
In an interview, Harris said the isolation of Covenant Life, and of a small cluster of churches of which it was a part, may have fed leadership mistakes, including the decision of pastors — himself among them — to handle a child sexual abuse case internally instead of going to police.
SOURCE: Michelle Boorstein
The Washington Post