Monday, April 8, 2013

25 years ago: The Assemblies of God defrocks Jimmy Swaggart

Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?
Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?
For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.
Romans 2:22-24

Now the overseer must be above reproach...temperate, self-controlled, respectable...
...He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap.
I Timothy 3:1,7 (NIV)

...but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Hebrews 13:4b

On April 8, 1988, 47 days after Rev. Jimmy Swaggart had addressed an audience of 6,000 at his Family Worship Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and had resigned from his ministry, admitting an unspecified sin and asking forgiveness, the Assemblies of God defrocked Mr. Swaggart, and he resigned from the church.

On February 22--the day after Mr. Swaggart's resignation--leaders of the Family Worship Center had barred Rev. Swaggart from the pulpit for three months and imposed a two-year period of rehabilitation after seeing photographic evidence that the Assemblies of God pastor had been less than faithful in living up to his marriage vows.

Mr. Swaggart had loudly (and correctly) denounced the sin of televangelist Jim Bakker when his ministry had been brought down in a sex scandal the previous year. Mr. Swaggart had also accused fellow Assemblies of God pastor Marvin Gorman of adultery. Mr. Gorman had responded by hiring a private detective, who obtained photographs of Mr. Swaggart at a motel in New Orleans frequently used by prostitutes. Mr. Gorman handed the evidence over to Assemblies of God leaders.

The AoG had suspended Mr. Swaggart from preaching for a year, but he refused to accept the punishment, arguing that it would cripple his ministry and his Bible college. Obviously, Mr. Swaggart didn’t think that the standards laid down in the Bible applied to him, so he took his balls and went home.

Mr. Swaggart decided to continue in the ministry, becoming a non-denominational Pentecostal pastor and turning Family Worship Center into a non-denominational church. He was caught with another prostitute in 1991, and stepped down from his leadership position temporarily. In 2013, Family Worship Center is still in business, with Jimmy Swaggart's name prominently displayed at the top of the home page.

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