Alcohol Abuse, Perry Noble, and the Church’s Response—What Now?

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By now, you’ve probably read that Perry Noble is no longer the pastor at NewSpring Church.

The Greenville Online newspaper explained:

The Rev. Perry Noble, who started NewSpring Church nearly 20 years ago, is no longer its senior pastor.

Early in Sunday’s 9:15 a.m. service, Executive Pastor Shane Duffey announced that Noble had been removed as pastor on July 1, after the NewSpring board of directors had “made a difficult and painful decision” to make a change.

Duffey said the termination by the state’s largest and richest church came after Noble “had made unfortunate choices,” and that the board members had confronted Noble on numerous occasions regarding his use of alcohol.

I don’t know what the “unfortunate choices” are and won’t speculate. I grew up around alcoholism, and there were plenty of those unfortunate choices. But, I do want to stop and think about the one detail that NewSpring has been clear about: alcohol issues and pastoral ministry.

First, the view of many Christians has changed toward alcohol. A few years ago I sharedan interview with an anonymous pastor about this very topic. Here are some excerpts:

It appears that views of alcohol are changing among some evangelicals.

Now, many conservative evangelicals have been moderationists for a long time—so an anti-alcohol sentiment is not universal among evangelicals. Sometimes observers will see “Northern Evangelicalism” as moderationist, with “Southern Evangelicalism” being abstentionists, and there is a good amount of truth in that geographic reality. However, it is still a bit more complicated since Wesleyans, for example, are concentrated up North, and you cannot be a covenant member of a Wesleyan church if you use alcohol as a beverage.

But, with that new openness comes an old danger— alcohol abuse and alcoholism. And, I don’t believe that those newly discovering this liberty toward alcohol are prepared for this new danger.

It’s not a secret that I don’t drink beverage alcohol. Part of that comes from a heritage of alcoholism that inspires this post. I’ve seen it up close and know alcoholism’s destructive power—yet, many evangelicals have not. But, more evangelicals may be exposed to the destructiveness of alcoholism if acceptance grows.

In other words, Lutherans and Anglicans are more accustomed to dealing with the dangers of alcohol addiction, some evangelicals are not. But, if this trend continues, they are going to have to be. If you go to a recovery group meeting, you would not be surprised to see a Lutheran in a collar; you’d be very surprised to see an evangelical pastor in skinny jeans.

In a few years it may no longer be surprising.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Christianity Today
Ed Stetzer