MASTER'S SEMINARY JOURNAL

BOOK REVIEW

Can Fallen Pastors Be Restored?


By John H. Armstrong
Chicago : Moody (1995). 205 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Alex Montoya
6.2 (Fall 1995) : 233-234

Here is a book that jumps into the thick of the battle. It addresses a problem that either the church refuses to face or when it does face it, it elects the easier way out. Can Fallen Pastors Be Restored? confronts the problem of sexual misconduct among pastors and Christian leaders and the church's response to it. John Armstrong, former pastor and director of Reformation and Revival Ministries, Inc., states,

Although no one seriously doubts that sexual sin has always been a problem among ministers, the extent of the present problem has made it a major, fast spreading, and almost incurable cancer in the body of Christ. What little research data presently exist bear out this observation (18).

The book is not about the problem of sexual misconduct but about the church's handling of the problem. Here is a useful tool for the church on what to do if the pastor or Christian leader falls into immorality or is accused of some sexual misconduct.

 The twelve chapters range from exposing the present-day problem of immorality in the American pulpit to explaining the major point of the book: that a fallen minister should not be restored back into his pulpit, although he must be restored back to the Lord, his family, and to the fellowship of the church. The case against restoring the pastor back to the pulpit is made by

  1. Showing the unique and awful sinfulness of immorality with an exposition of 1 Cor 6:18.
  2. Explaining from the Pastoral Epistles the biblical qualifications for a minister.
  3. Making a strong case from 1 Cor 9:27 on the matter of disqualification and apostasy.
  4. Reviewing church history to show that immorality in the past almost always led to disqualification from ministry.

Dr. Armstrong presents a strong case for not restoring a pastor back into the ministry. He delivers a stinging indictment against certain ministries and churches which restore men back to their pulpits in a matter of months. He also answers their rationale for their actions.

All in all, this is a helpful volume and its strongest appeal is John Armstrong's high view of the Christian ministry. Holiness is not to be compromised. In a day of compromise and lowering of standards, it is encouraging to see someone taking an unpopular stand against moral decline.