When Jesus spoke of Nathanael he said, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!" (Jn. 1:47). When I see CJ Mahaney I say to myself, "Now here is a man in whom there is no pretense." It is not surprising that CJ would be asked to give us perhaps the most important message of the conference, "Watch your Life and Doctrine." Using Paul's admonition to Timothy, which is worth our memorizing and meditation daily, CJ reminded us, "Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers" (1Tim. 4:16). The tendency for me and for most of the pastors at the T4G Conference is to spend most of our time diligently giving clarity and insight into our doctrines. We have been reminded over and over through the years of the importance of sound doctrine and confession. In a world where truth is compromised and dogma is denied, as ministers of Christ we are rightly called to give attention to sound doctrine. And we do. However, admittedly this attention is often pursued to the neglect of the attention that needs to be given to our faithful practice and living of doctrine. This was brought clear to me even more as I read a recent article in Essence Magazine (I do not recommend the reading of this magazine. It has little to no redeeming value, except to know what ungodliness is manifesting itself among Black America) on Hezekiah Walker entitled Hezekiah's Healing.
As I read the complete article on Hezekiah Walker and how his life in ministry has been a constant navigation between the so-called sacred and secular, between the holy and the hip-hop, I was reminded that among prominent African-American pastors the neglect is both in life and doctrine. We have made the ministry such a clamorous life that men and women gravitate to it not considering the cost of studying sound doctrine and the sacrifice of faithful living. Men like Walker seem to want to walk among this world's entertainment elite and to be counted among them. The result is often wrecked spirituality, unsavory innuendo, strange bedfellows (no pun intended) and sometimes false accusations. This is quite sobering to me as I remember CJ quoting Spurgeon, "Our character must be more persuasive than our speech." As Reformed pastors and teachers, we must realize that the truth of the doctrines we preach are all the more penetrating when they are backed by lives lived faithfully according to those doctrines before our wives, children, and church.
Nevertheless, Hezekiah Walker will be back. Whether the accusations are true or not; whether he and his wife reconcile or not; the church will welcome his doctrine and his life eventhough he apparently has not watched either. This actually says more about the church than it says about him, and it says a lot about him. Nevertheless, let us with sober intoxication drink from the cistern of humility and give diligence to our proclamation and practice that the truth of God is not blasphemed.