Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here? Part 1

One recurring theme that continued to resurface in our time at BGBC was the "sin of Korah".  I've heard this used a number of times when congregants asked questions or shared concerns with the pastor.   It was brought up again recently in communication with someone privately and also in the blog’s comment section.    It’s time we paid a visit to Korah!

Why does Chuck refer to people as being a spiritual descendant of Korah, having the sin of Korah, or having Korah-like behavior?  

How can a name that sounds so pretty be so bad?    Let's see!

Here are some of the recent blog comments regarding Korah:

I SEE WAY TOO MUCH KORAH-LIKE BEHAVIOR HERE!!!!! LOL...couldn't help myself!

 In one of my weaker spiritual moments, I posted this response:

Did you really say Korah? HAHAHAHAHAHA

You are inkorahgible!

incorrigible = habitual, confirmed, hardened, dyed-in-the-wool, incurable, chronic, irredeemable, hopeless, beyond hope; impenitent, unrepentant, unapologetic, unashamed; bad, naughty, terrible.

Isn't the definition of incorrigible interesting when thinking about the story of Korah in the Bible?  

One of the comments referred to blog comments on Chuck O’Neal’s blog in which he warned a passing commenter:

You are in danger of being a spiritual descendant of Korah. I am reminded of a similar conversation Moses once had (no, I don’t think I’m Moses):
Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; 2 and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. 3 They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "YOU TAKE TOO MUCH UPON YOURSELVES, FOR ALL THE CONGREGATION IS HOLY, EVERY ONE OF THEM, AND THE LORD IS AMONG THEM. WHY THEN DO YOU EXALT YOURSELVES ABOVE THE ASSEMBLY OF THE LORD?"

Editorial note:  I kept the original form of the above quote intact (all caps) to ensure a true representation of Chuck O'Neal's words.   I assure you the Bible does not have bad netiquette.  Keep in mind, it is common knowledge that all caps is shouting.  He is coming across in an authoritarian fashion. 

2nd editorial note: I find it very interesting that Chuck assumes an authority position and rebukes the commenter in his response.   Who gave him that authority?  He is not even this man's pastor.  The commenter is a mere stranger!    Who does that?! 

Another comment on my blog:

OK...this is tooo weird. What is up with this Korah talk? Beside telling Jason (in the blog post) he was "in danger of being a spiritual descendant of Korah", I have a copy of a letter where he called someone Korah-like, and have heard of him using that term to describe one other family. So is someone Korah-like if they have a different opinion from Chuck O'Neal? Or if they question him? I happen to wholeheartedly agree with Jason's comment so am I now Korah-like?

It sure does sound like Chuck thinks he has the same authority as Moses.....just sayin...

Okay, so just who is Korah and why is Chuck accusing people of being a spiritual descendant of Korah or being Korah-like, or having the sin of Korah? 
Korah was a rebellious Levite who, with a number of other Israelite families, took exception to Moses' leadership in the wilderness, and conspired to overthrow him and usurp his authority. (see Numbers 16)

Read more:

In the above description of Korah, you see a leader and underlings who were trying to usurp Moses' leadership.  Now keep in mind all that we have discussed earlier.  While this leadership/underling setup occurred in the early Church, are pastors to maintain an authority position over congregants in the New Testament?  No, they are not.   Read here:  Pastors as Rulers - What Does the Bible Say? 

It sure sounds to me as if Chuck is saying the commenter is usurping the authority of Chuck’s “counsel”.   Are we in Old Testament times?  I think not.

Phil Harrelson in his very excellent series on spiritual abuse mentions how pastors can use scripture inappropriately in addressing rebellion in a spiritual abusive environment:

In the environment where spiritual abuse predominates there are frequent references in the public setting of preaching and in the private times of counseling that commonly brings up subjects like rebellion, accusations of causing dissension, and other methods of emotional intimidation. He will emphasize his own personal “anointing” and calling in an exclusive manner which serves in a way that dictates more than it serves. Frequently he will state that you cannot touch God’s anointed. He will call to mind biblical references of Korah, Dathan, Abiram, Absalom, and even Judas as a measure of control that heaps on guilt and further empowers the leader.   

to be continued . . . 

Admin note:  This is a 4-part series:

Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 1
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 2
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 3
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here, Part 4


  1. Very interesting subject.

    Here is what John MacArthur says about pastoral authority:

    "There is no such thing as personal authority. I have no authority. There is no authority granted to me in my office as a pastor. There is no authority granted to me as a senior pastor. I don't have any authority at all apart from the word of God. I cannot speak commandingly; I cannot speak authoritatively outside the boundaries of Scripture.

    Because I am the pastor of the church doesn't mean that I have any right to command that anything be done on a practical level or that any particular decision be made with regard to some purchase or some future direction or whatever. I can commend some view to the people as an opinion based upon my information, my understanding, my experience or my wisdom - whatever it's worth. But I cannot speak with authority.

    Such an imagined authority is false and foolish, non-existent and a proud illusion."

    Go here to read the entire sermon:

    Chuck O'Neal associates himself with Pastor John MacArthur, going to the Shepherds Conference year after year and linking 'Grace to You' on BGBC's website. However, if you listen carefully to Chuck's sermons and examine the practice of his life, you will see hypocrisy and pride dominate his life. This is the reason so many end up leaving BGBC.

    What kind of fruit is this:

    * suing fellow christians
    * teaching people to shun others

    Galations 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

  2. I contrast the Moses-Korah story with that of the early church:

    Acts 6:2 So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. NASB

    The apostles were able to cede the distribution of funds & worldly provisions to others so that they could teach. They did not micromanage every facet of believers lives. They did make sure that new believers received sound teaching and mentoring before they left them to spread the gospel (I did not see this kind of discipleship at BGBC either). Just saying, distribution of duties is not always a negative thing.

    1. Good points! It seems the pattern in the Bible is to build a foundation and then release to evangelize. There was not a whole lot of releasing going on. How many times was the pulpit shared with someone else?


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