Most of you know about Pastor Kyle Lake's death during a recent baptismal service. A few are making the charge that Lake's death was God's judgment against him for his theology (Kyle was a part of the emerging church). I am not interested in driving more traffic to those sites which, in this case, are revealing puerile theology and haughty words. So, they don't get a link here. Thankfully, others who remain very critical of the emergent church have shown more grace. There has also been some dialogue about this already at Reformissionary. What I want to do here is make one simple point. Biblically, God's judgment and discipline come against injustice, unrighteousness, hypocrisy, and the neglect of God himself, not a bad statement of faith, and not against error in our doctrine. Stick with me for a minute. Consider Sodom and Gomorrah's judgment. God's wrath came against them because of wickedness, not bad doctrine. Or think of the city of Nineveh. Judgment was coming upon them for evil and violence, not heresy. But more to the point, consider the nation of Israel. When God brought judgment upon his people, it was not because of bad doctrine but because they abandoned him and/or because of bad living. Superficial/hypocritical faith, husbands who did not love their wives, the oppression of the poor, pride and arrogance, immorality and perversion, breaking the Sabbath, stealing, and idolatry - these are the things that have moved God to judge his people with catastrophe (Is. 1 is a good place to start, or check out the book of Malachi. After that scroll through all the Prophets). Ananias and Sapphira were judged for lying to the Holy Spirit, many of the Corinthians were judged by God because they behaved shamefully at the Lord's Table. It's pretty plain, judgment/discipline comes against God's people for who they are, what they are doing - not merely for corruption in doctrine.
Some have charged Kyle with being a false teacher. Is this true? I don't know, since I have tno read his books or listened to many of his sermons. But keep in mind the condemnation of false teachers in Scripture is not simply because they have bad theology, but because their heresy leads people away from the Kingdom of God. False teachers are not teachers who have imperfect theology. Teaching error does not qualify someone as a "false teacher." False teachers teach a false Gospel, and making that charge against someone is serious (while often very important).
For the few who believe God has judged Kyle for his doctrinal error, would you say the same about the death of Adrian Rogers, also a man used by God in powerful ways despite some bad theology? Adrian died today, and I believe he is in Paradise with Abraham, Edwards, Dagg - and Kyle - because of Jesus Christ.
Also, this issue is not wrapped up in the decree of God. I believe that God has "foreordained whatsoever comes to pass," that our birth, death, and everything in-between happens as God planned it. Kyle's death, and my death were carved in stone before "the first day." The issue is wrapped up in how God disciplines his children, and for what.
Look, doctrine matters. It matters because it is how we express our understanding of God, and is hopefully the thrust of our teaching. It should emerge from sola scriptura. We must take care that our theology is both accurate, and one that conforms to godliness.
For those of us who believe our doctrine is very tight, I hope we are just as careful with our actions and attitudes - things for which God has shown throughout the history of redemption he is willing to discipline us.