A Witness in the Third Step of Matthew 18...Tell it to the Church July 2000
Dr. Charles Stanley is now divorced
We pray for Dr. Stanley's repentance

"Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them." Ephesian 5:6-11

There is a time to "tell it to the Church" Matthew 18...primarily for the true Church to help in the repentance and reconciliation.  There are those examples in the Bible where individuals are named and in some cases their sin so that other True Believers would treat them Biblically.  Our site is a testimony as a witness and a call to repentance and a "tell it to the Church" as well as witness to the non-believer of God's house being cleansed...

Also, it's important to say Dr. Stanley's sin and that of the elders and board of In Touch, was quite public and remains so-before we sought to minister and care for them...though we had previous contact before this happened years ago.  1 Corinthians 5 is an example.

It is with great sadness and shame on Christ's name that I heard Dr. Charles Stanley is now divorced after seven years of separation from his wife.

It appears to me the following, after my calls.

The Elders of First Baptist Church of Atlanta and the Directors of the In Touch ministry failed to honor God's Word for over seven years that an Elder/Pastor/Teacher, and his wife-if married, should be above reproach, otherwise should be removed from the ministry until such time they are restored. 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. This failure brings critical concern over any Elder's actions, choices and testimonies concerning the facts and disposition.

The Elders and congregation failed a Church Discipline process (Matthew 18) to help restore one or both to Biblical fidelity and or declared one or both to be treated as a non-believer, and report such to the Christian Community. In Touch 800-789-1473, First Baptist Church of Atlanta 770-234-8300 only state they stand behind Dr. Stanley and that Dr. Stanley tried all he could to save his marriage (which is not true since Dr. Stanley did not follow God's Word and step down and give full attention to this matter) and that it was Dr. Stanley's wife who filed for divorce.

God's Word in 1 Corinthians 6 gives freedom (though not command) for a believer to go to court against a "non-believer" so to state the wife filed for the divorce is not a clear enough statement and seems used to discredit the wife. I often have cases of abusive husbands who profess to be Christians who think to force their wife to file for divorce for protection is a way to shame her.  That is why it's the community of believers responsibility to establish the facts and accurately communicate the truth of God's Word's and application.

They all need our prayers and encouragement to return to God's ways.and in the mean time, I must encourage all to having nothing to do with either of these ministries until there is repentance, confession and fidelity to all of God's Word.

In our reproof of Dr. Stanley and his church, several wrote asking where I get the authority to do such a thing. Ok they weren't that nice or Biblical but I think the sermon REPROOF A CHRISTIAN DUTY by Charles G. Finney will give us a more Biblical perspective. And let us all remember God's Word..."But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars - their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." Revelations 21:8 (niv)

REPROOF A CHRISTIAN DUTY by Charles G. Finney : http://www.peacemakers.net/unity/cfreproof.htm


1. Though I did call and speak both to First Baptist Church of Atlanta and In Touch ministries (as stated in Matthew 18:15) this was not necessary as per 1 Corinthians 5 where the witness was already in the public eye and Paul went immediately to the correction-this also would have been acceptable.but I chose to seek a more immediate account directly from each. Neither witnesses gave a Biblical witness.

2. Concerning the use of Charles Finney: Some are convinced Finney was a heretic because of doctrinal error in justification and wants us warned to not trust Finney.I say don't trust me, Finney, Calvin, Luther etc. Study God's Word. The materials I have on our sites reflect what we've come to believe God's Word says.

3. The basis of being above reproach is for God's glory! In fact our whole life is to be to God's Glory. Therefore, though we may love Stanley, though he may be a great preacher/teacher, currently he is NOT above reproach and to obey scripture in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 3, he should step down. We've become so arrogant that we think God needs us to carry out HIS will/plan. He needs us as much as he needs rocks to cry out (Luke 19:40) and donkey's to speak (Numbers 22:28). Who are we to think we know better than God. Just follow God's Word. I'm fairly sure God knew this would happen faithfulness -- much more than "ministry".

4. In one application Stanley's divorce is not the specific issue. He could be Biblically clear of any wrong doing.and still to Glorify God, must step down.

5. Some took offense at my abuse reference.You're right, I should have used sinned against since a secular term abuse is so limiting as to the nature wrong doing that often takes place in our hearts and marriages. If you've been married, believe me you've sinned against your spouse-after all aren't we sinners saved by grace. But not all sins lead to divorce. Isn't it curious that Stanley-Elder/teacher 1 Timothy 5:20 has no sins to confess publically? Another unbiblical stance by Stanley, elders/deacons/trustees...

6. As 1 Corinthains 7 mentions, if one spouse is a non-believer (and/or treated as a non-believer) and wishes a divorce the Christian is to grant the divorce. But since the witnessing of the Elders/Deacons and Trustees are unbiblical in their scope, that is enough to satisfy the not above reproach test-for them all-they are all in violation of these passages.

7. If I may add my opinion is worthless and so is yours. Unless God sought your counsel (Job 38) as to where to hang the stars, we have no opinion. "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15.

Thou Shalt NOT Bare False Witness Against Thy Neighbor

Charles Stanley, wife divorce;
Atlanta church affirms pastor

Baptist Press
Wednesday, May 31, 2000
ATLANTA Charles Stanley and his wife, Anna, have divorced. According to an official of First Baptist Church, Atlanta, Stanley will remain as senior pastor.

Stanley, 67, told the congregation in a service May 21. Following his report, Gerald Spicer, church administrator, told the congregation Stanley would remain as senior pastor. The congregation rose in applause.

According to the May 23 edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Anna Stanley filed a petition as "A.J. Stanley" requesting a divorce from "C.F. Stanley" on Feb. 16 charging their marriage of 44 years was "irretrievably broken." An Atlanta judge signed the final decree May 11 following the execution of a property agreement by the Stanleys April 5.

The Stanley's troubled marriage was made public in the 1990s and caused some struggles in the church because of an unwritten policy that First Baptist not allow divorced men to serve as ministers or deacons.

Stanley told the congregation in 1995, "If my wife divorces me, I would resign immediately."

"We hate it that things like this happen, but our church is moving right along," said the vice chairman of the church's deacons, Jerry Beal, according to the Atlanta newspaper. "He is our pastor, and he will remain our pastor."

Pastor of the Atlanta church since 1972, Stanley is a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and his In Touch television ministry is seen and heard around the world.

According to the Atlanta newspaper, SBC President Paige Patterson said he is "deeply sympathetic with the sorrow I know all of the Stanley family must feel over this. It ought to be a wakeup call for America that if something like this can happen to the Stanley family, it shows how much society has lost its bearings."

Charles Colson calls for Charles Stanley's resignation
 Prison Fellowship founder devoted his June 13 2000, "Breakpoint" radio commentary to calling Charles Stanley to step down as pastor of Atlanta's First Baptist Church. "I'm certain there's a role for Charles Stanley in the Christian world, but he needs first a time for personal repentance and healing," Colson said. "Biblical standards for pastors are very high, and rightly so. Given the already high divorce rate among Baptists, the last thing we need to do is to give one of our own leaders a pass, no matter how much we may respect him." The commentary has been republished all over the Web, from Beliefnet to World magazine's site. World also runs an excellent news item on Colson's declaration and the Stanley divorce, quoting Colson as saying he'll apologize for not contacting Stanley before the broadcast and for not making clear that it was Stanley's wife who sued for divorce. World also notes that some radio stations refused to air that day's "Breakpoint," but that others dropped Stanley's "InTouch" radio programs.

A High-Profile Divorce
The Cost of Biblical Faithfulness
By Charles W. Colson

In 1995, Charles Stanley, pastor of Atlanta's First Baptist Church and one of America's best-known preachers, announced that he and his wife of 44 years had separated. He told his congregation that, if the separation turned to divorce, he would resign immediately.

Well, a few weeks ago, the other shoe dropped. Stanley announced that the divorce was final, a great personal tragedy. But instead of resigning as he promised five years ago, Stanley vowed to stay on as senior pastor. He characterized it as being "faithful to God's call."

I have deep respect and affection for Charles Stanley, and I know that God has used him to reach many people for Christ. I also know full well that, despite their best efforts, Christian marriages sometimes fail, resulting in great pain for those involved. I pray I'm not being self-righteous or too harsh, but I must say what I believe. Sadly, I think Stanley has made a mistake, that he should keep his promise, and that he should resign.

What makes this all the more galling is the justification the church's administrative pastor used in speaking to the congregation. Rev. Gearl Spicer said, "It is my biblical, spiritual, and personal conviction that God has positioned Dr. Stanley in a place where his personal pain has validated his ability to minister to all of us." In other words, Stanley's divorce enables him to be a better shepherd of his flock?

This is pure Clinton-speak. Those of us who criticized the President for quibbling over words to defend his sordid behavior have to be even-handed. And what was wrong for Mr. Clinton is certainly wrong for the pastor of one America's leading churches.

I was particularly saddened to learn that the good people of Stanley's congregation actually applauded after Spicer put the spin on it. Have our churches become so accustomed to moral failure that we applaud it? If this is the test of being a good shepherd, should we also endorse pedophiles as pastors so they can better empathize with people who commit child abuse? How far do you carry this preposterous argument?

Stanley's decision places his fellow Baptists in a difficult position. In 1998, the General Convention called on states to revoke "no fault" divorce laws. Yet now a former president of the Convention is using these very same laws to secure a divorce without consequences.

If Charles Stanley can do this, then how can Southern Baptists presume to speak to their neighbors about marital fidelity?

The effects of this case, you see, go far beyond the situation in Atlanta. There's already great resistance to Christian moral teaching, and a case like this makes it much tougher for us.

I'm certain there's a role for Charles Stanley in the Christian world, but he needs first a time for personal repentance and healing. Biblical standards for pastors are very high, and rightly so. Given the already high divorce rate among Baptists, the last thing we need to do is to give one of our own leaders a pass, no matter how much we may respect him.

I believe Charles Stanley is a good and faithful servant who will reconsider his decision and, with the encouragement of the church deacons, do the right thing -- which means putting the integrity of the message first, even at his own personal cost.

June 13, 2000
No. 000613
© 2000 Breakpoint. 

Divorce policy shows irony
The sad irony resides in the fact that God, in Pastor Stanley's case, apparently transcended scripture and made an exception.

The irony is glaring in the juxtaposition of Charles Stanley's divorce and the divorce policy set forth by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) for new Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) chaplains (June 10 BR, printed edition). However, Stanley can continue as a non-scriptural divorced pastor because God has assured him that he is where God wants him to be. He remains committed to his call.
On the other hand, divorced SBC chaplains will not be appointed or endorsed for mission service unless their divorce meets biblical criteria for divorce, which seems to be sexual unfaithfulness and desertion. The NAMB guidelines are for those in pastoral roles, not other ministry positions.

The sad irony resides in the fact that God, in Pastor Stanley's case, apparently transcended scripture and made an exception. Can God do that? It seems for Pastor Stanley that God can and does act with compassion, not rule, and mercy, not law. Therein is the hope for all.

Luther G. Brewer
Cary, N.C.