I had known Roddy for years; he had given true direction and support in the early years of my Christian life. Over the years, when problems arose in the church, he seemed to have clear discernment to clear the fog of confusion and bring peace in the storm.
Now I was beginning to notice things about Roddy that shook my confidence in him. He seemed to assume that he was always right and had no need to consult the congregation or the other ministers before making decisions.
I made a special point once of asking him about the time he announced the decision the congregation was about to make before we had even discussed it. He laughed it off. Then he told me that other ministers did not listen to the people as they should, so people from all over called him because he would listen to them. That seemed odd. From what I was seeing, it did not seem that Roddy listened to anything that did not glorify Roddy.
Is there anything more painful than watching a beloved member of the body of Christ slide into apostasy? That is what happened to Roddy. He was used mightily by the Holy Spirit in his ministry and when personal idiosyncrasies manifested themselves we all shrugged them off. In time, his ministry became ever more of Roddy and less of the Holy Spirit. Discerning when the Holy Spirit finally departed was difficult, as Roddy retained all his charm and confidence. He was eventually excommunicated, yet insisted all the while that he had a direct line to God and those who didn’t believe him were deceived.
We have made many attempts to help Roddy. He weaves and twists the words that we say into something completely different from what we intended. He has become a comforter of those who believe themselves misunderstood and mistreated, and denies many fundamental truths he once taught so clearly.
“And their word will eat as doth a canker” (2 Timothy 2:17). Canker is an old English word meaning something that causes rot or decay or that destroys by a gradual eating away. In this passage it is a translation of the Greek word gangraina, from which comes the English word gangrene. False and deceptive teaching is like gangrene in the body of Christ. The poison flows through the blood stream and will infect the whole body if the infected limb is not cut off.
There is this one difference between gangrene in our physical body and gangrene in the body of Christ. If our leg needs to be amputated because of gangrene, we will be without that leg for the rest of our life. However, in the spiritual body, there is always the possibility that the amputated member can come to Christ for cleansing and healing and then be attached once more to the body. There will be no scar as a result of that re-attachment to continually remind the body of the former corruption of that member. That is the hope that we still have for Roddy, the reason that we still try to deal with him in love and compassion.
Please note that Roddy is a fictional name and the details presented here are a composite of several individuals I have known over the years.