After South Carolina Pastor Perry Noble apologized to his congregation for criticizing those seeking more discipleship, a Christian apologist and radio host said a simple apology isn't enough. He suggested that Noble go on a "Repentance Tour."
Chris Rosebrough, host of Fighting for the Faith, noted on his program that the public apology was a step in the right direction, but he also doesn't think Noble should stop there.
"I personally think that at this point the magnitude of the error disqualifies Perry Noble from being a mentor to pastors," he said. Because Noble made those statements at a leadership conference for pastors, Rosebrough said he has to do more to undo the damage of those statements than just apologize to his congregation.
The controversial comments were made at a 2009 conference called Unleash, an annual leadership event conducted by Noble's church, NewSpring.
During his session, Noble told pastors that "the person that always screams I want to go deeper" is "the jackass in the church."
"I tell people, you're only as deep as the last person you served," the megachurch pastor stated then. "Deep? Most Christians, John Maxwell said it, are educated way beyond their level of obedience anyway.
"What you're really saying is you want me to stand on the stage and confuse the heck out of you so you don't have to apply what I teach on Sundays."
According to Rosebrough, Noble apologized for the 2009 comments earlier this month. He said, "I need to repent of my perceived disliking of discipleship – notice I said perceived. I want to say I'm sorry and ask for your forgiveness."
Noble explained that he had always placed more significance on evangelism because of an incident that happened early on in his ministry. A woman came up to him after he preached a sermon on reaching everyone in their town and told him that the church didn't want to grow, it was more focused on making disciples.
The young pastor became angry with this woman's response and said it made him think that in church culture it was either evangelism or discipleship. "So for years I preached evangelism," Noble said.
And while he said that evangelism is biblical, and Christians are called to reach the world, he has realized that it's not either-or, it's both-and when it comes to evangelism and discipleship.
He told his congregation that it's not a bad thing to want to go deeper, because those who "go deeper, also go wider in [their] walk with Christ. So as you go deeper this way your arms open up and you want to reach more people for the kingdom. You cannot go deeper and not love the people that Jesus actually died for. So this church is passionate about evangelism, but also passionate about discipleship."
Rosebrough believes that Noble needs to make it clear to every pastor who he's been in contact with that he was "flat out dead wrong, and if they followed your advice and treated people in their congregations as 'jackasses' because they wanted to go deeper, it is not right. Saying sorry to the congregation is just the tip of the iceberg."
NewSpring Church declined to comment.