Can Fallen Ministers Be Restored? -- By: Clifford Rapp, Jr.

Journal: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal
Volume: CTSJ 08:3 (Jul 2002)
Article: Can Fallen Ministers Be Restored?
Author: Clifford Rapp, Jr.


Can Fallen Ministers Be Restored?

Clifford Rapp, Jr.*

[*Editor’s note: Clifford Rapp earned his B.A. degree from Biola University and a Th.M. degree in Old Testament Literature and Exegesis from Dallas Theological Seminary. He was formerly a professor of Old Testament and general biblical studies at Chafer Theological Seminary. Cliff also pastors Clovis Free Methodist Church, Clovis, CA. His email address is blest2bless@msn.com.]

Introduction

October 1, 1999, brought great sorrow into my life. Word came that a colleague and friend of 23 years had confessed to “unauthorized borrowing” of church funds. He had resigned and surrendered his ordination credentials. It was the first of several sleepless nights that October of dealing with this unwelcome news.

While wondering what would happen to my friend, writing a paper on what the Bible says about restoring fallen ministers seemed therapeutic. This process was helpful both for me and for the committee working toward restoration of the fallen pastor.

After having attempted to determine a biblical process for restoring fallen ministers, a restlessness still lingered. The study had assumed the possibility of restoring some, but not all, fallen ministers, but is this a safe assumption? Many leading evangelicals think that fallen ministers can be forgiven but not restored to ministry. Those who think that a fallen minister can be restored disagree about the extent of the restoration. Some argue for full restoration, while others see only a lesser or limited ministry as a possibility. Can fallen ministers properly be restored? Can they be fully restored? It was not initially clear where the Bible would lead me, for every discussion of this topic refers to Scripture.

I came to view full restoration as a biblical possibility. This article does not attempt to answer every issue raised by those who have a different opinion. My study of the Bible led me to nine lines of evidence favoring full restoration. This article reorganizes

the data into four arguments against the background of the current debate.1

The first part of this article presents a case for the restoration of fallen ministers by discussing four propositions. The first deals with the interpretation and application of Scripture. The second examines the nature of forgiveness, and the third the matter of God’s calling to ministry. The fourth focuses on the greatness of our Father’s grace to us sinners. Despite seeking to answer topics raised by the general debate, this article occasionally addresses specific argument...

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