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How Should A Person Respond to False Accusations?

Friday, November 03, 2006

(In a way, this reminds me of some things that were raised on a previous post about The Rights of the Victims and the Accused that I wrote back in January.)

Most of us have heard about the accusations that have been made against Ted Haggard. I imagine that, in time, we will know the truth regarding these accusations and I tend to think the best way for those not involved in a situation to respond is with a "wait and see" attitude. Over the years, there have been plenty of times in which false accusations have been made. And, over the years, there have been plenty of times when true accusations have been made - including accusations that shocked people.

Now, I am not a fan of Mr. Haggard or of the NAE (I think the inclusivism of the NAE waters down the Gospel, among other things), but I don't think this is the time to deal with those issues - especially if one wants to use this still unproven accusation as a club.

My question, however, stems from the response to this situation.

Well-known blogger Phil Johnson has written an article entitled, "Thoughts on Today's Scandal".

While I actually agree with Phil on much of what he says in this article, I do have a question - not necessarily even a disagreement - about his first point.

Phil states,

If he really didn't do it, he should not have resigned. If the accusations against him were totally false, there was no reason whatsoever to resign—in fact, that would be a totally wrongheaded and completely counterproductive thing to do


The question that has been bugging me is "How do we respond to something like this?"

Let me lay out a couple of parameters and then I would love to have some input on this.

1. Assume this accusation is againts you or against your Pastor.
2. Assume this accusation is totally baseless and untrue.
3. Assume that there is some type of constituency involved that is also being harmed by the mere accusation (e.g. a church, Christian college, etc.)


On the one hand, there is definitely a view out there that to resign or step down is essentially an admittance of guilt. This seems to be the view that Phil is taking here. When I watched Countdown with Keith Olberman (sp?) this morning, (something I have seen maybe three times in my life), he seemed to taking the same view - as have many of the headlines I have seen online.

On the other hand, if you do not resign, the organization you are part of generally gets accused of being involved in a cover-up, etc. It seems that, in general, when there are accusations against police for false shootings, etc., the general policy is usually that the officers in question are placed on some type of "administrative leave" while the investigation is ongoing. If I understand what happened here, it seems like the person in question did not actually resign his church, but temporarily stepped down while the allegations could be investigated.

So, what is the right response? Is there a third response? How would you recommend handling something like this? Assuming (for the sake of discussion) that an accusation like this was made purely for political motives or due to some personal animosity (it would not be the first time), how does this affect the concept of "blameless" and "of good report of them which are without"? (I am not saying it should affect this, I am just asking the questions).

I would love to hear the thoughts of those who are wiser than I on this topic.

Just my questions,

Frank

3 comments:

Don Johnson said...

Hey frank, the comments are working on your site.

Well, I tend to agree with Phil Johnson on this one point, at the local church level. If there is no truth to it, there is no reason to step down.

The NAE resignation is fine. It is not a church, it is a national organization, and it is a very temporary office. It just makes sense to get out of that and let them get on with their business.

The local church situation is where the spiritual examination should take place and appears to be taking place. Fox News is reporting some comments put out by the acting pastor (apparently to the church people) admitting some unspecified guilt. Dumb move. What should have been said is that the matter is under investigation, and leave it at that. When the time comes, the church will be informed, there is no point in stirring up speculation (any more than it already is).

FWIW

Regards,
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Don Johnson said...

Wow, more stuff coming out today. Phil Johnson is dead on. Just forget all I said above. If you aren't guilty, don't resign.

If you are guilty, full confession and ignore the painful consequences would be the way to go. Stop the lies.

Regards,
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Frank Sansone said...

Don,

FWIW, I agree with you as far as the way this is being handled. "Them that sin before all, rebuke before all." Expose the sin and be clear of it and don't muddy the waters by having a vague admission of some of the allegations without specifying what allegations are true, etc. Come clean and repent.

I guess it is hard to answer this question in a vaccuum, especially since I have asked it within a certain context. My question, however, that I am hoping to get feedback from is not about this particular case as much as it is the about what to do in the case where there really is a false accusation - which you have also answered.

I was hoping to get a little more "back and forth" here to see what both views would give as to why a particular decision about they way to handle this is best, but so far I have not got any of the "and forth." (:)). Maybe that is because no one thinks that a "adminitrative leave" or "temporary resignation" while the charges are investigated is the right move.

I have some additional thoughts, but it is 2:14 a.m. and I must return to bed.

Thanks, Don, for your input.

In Christ,

Frank Sansone