by Theological Commission
In the type of social media age in which we live, scandal seems to become the rule not the exception. While some controversies are indeed contrived, so much of what has remained hidden in the past has become open for all to see. In the 2003 edition of Integrity, Dr. Steve Ashby gives a poignant meditation on what it means for Christians to be people of integrity:
“In 1986-87 I was working at Liberty University when the story was breaking about Jim Bakker and the PTL scandal. I remember one particular Sunday evening when Jerry Falwell got up and said, “We as a Christian community have a huge image problem.” As I sat there I thought, “What we’ve got is not an image problem; it’s an integrity problem.” Image is how people perceive you from without. Integrity has to do with what you are within. The real issue is the issue of being. It is an issue with God, but it is also an issue with the world. Scandals have done damage to Christians’ credibility, but not primarily because of a tarnished image. Rather, credibility has suffered because people have rightly recognized that we are not what we have professed to be in far too many instances. Further, those of us who are laboring in relative obscurity must not take repose with the thought that, ‘1 function on a local level in a small denomination having never experienced even the fifteen minutes of fame we hear about so often.” In fact, each of us knows that the horrific tales of scandal are not limited to TV Evangelists and others whose names cross the Associated Press wire. They happen at the local level and in Free Will Baptist circles, just as they do with other groups. The truth is that Christians’ credibility has suffered. Why? Because human beings are the only beings for whom being is an issue. It does not matter to the cows in the field or the dogs in the street or the cats in the alley if they have a different partner every single night. But it matters to the world whether Christians are who they say they are. And it matters to God that we be who we say we are.”
Stephen M. Ashby, “Prolegomena to Christian Apologetics,” Integrity (2003): 103-120.