Strict//EN" ""> EAGLES' REST: <s>Rendering Unto Caesar</s>

Friday, December 05, 2008

Rendering Unto Caesar

Jesus said something pretty neat when the Pharisees tried to snare him with their question about paying taxes. He did that coin trick thing and then said they were to render unto Caesar, that which was Caesar's, and unto God, that which was God's.

I wonder if that applies to rendering a thief .. and embezzler .. to the Criminal Justice System of our country. Do you suppose we're to render a thief to them, if he's stolen from us?

I remember a well-known TV Preacher who told a story of being asked by a member of his church, to pray with her about her starting to tithe. He said "I will NOT!!".

Surprised, she asked why.

He replied "If you're not tithing, God says you're ROBBING HIM .. and I'm not about to close my eyes and bow my head standing next to a THIEF."

Well, that's a bit strong, and perhaps it was an instance of "ministerial speaking" .. a term which always strikes me as ironic .. but it does convey a point.

So .. I was really shocked when I heard about the Gray Harvey case. Not only have I been active in churches for 45 years or so, in the SBC for 27+ years, but I spent 50 years in the Property & Casualty Insurance business, which is the line of business that covers stuff like employees stealing. So I know a bit about that.

For one thing, I doubt that the SBC insured employee theft. If they had, they would have been reimbursed for Mr. Harvey's theft, and I figure the insurance company would either have collected from the malefactor, or prosecuted. I DON'T figure they'd have let it die a natural, peaceful death.

The second thing I know is that most employee dishonesty policies have some sort of clause in them, which limits or eliminates any coverage for someone who's been convicted of stealing from an employer, someone who has ever had a claim paid on their behalf, or various other terminologies.

The guy who trained me up in that insurance discipline referred to it as the "Once a Thief, Always a Thief" clause.

Bottom line: Since Mr. Harvey admitted taking the money, in his contract to repay, there's a very serious possibility that the Starfish Agency's insurance may not cover what Mr. Harvey stole there. And, as I know what the profit margins are in a P&C agency, I figure there's no way they can ever repay the losses out of their own pocket. In my mind, there's a good possibility that the agency owner will have to sell it to pay off the debts. And, undoubtedly, the "book of business" would have lost value; perhaps a lot.

Tragedy upon tragedy. And in MY mind, it all came about because the IMB Trustees .. and Officers .. decided to:

A) Trust the word of an admitted thief that he'd repay hundreds of thousands of dollars to them. WHAT ON EARTH DID THEY EXPECT? That they'd keep it quiet so nobody else would know he was a thief .. so some unsuspecting employer would give him a job .. where his skillset was apparently in BOOKKEEPING (!!!) ... so he could make an HONEST living and pay them back? What kind of IDIOTIC thinking is THAT???

Which confirms, referring to the IMB BoT/Management, the saying on one of my favorite "Despair.Com" posters ...

"None Of Us Is As Dumb As ALL Of Us".

B) NOT render unto Caesar ... the government ... what was Caesar's to prosecute according to the law.... It seems to me they violated some scripture there; isn't the failure to report such a one tantamount to withholding from Caesar, that which ought to be rendered?

And THAT is the same BoT that didn't want Wade Burleson to talk about what he'd seen, that he objected to. Apparently the objectionable things ran far beyond the qualifications for being an IMB missionary.

If I was somebody like Sam Walton, and this sort of shenanigans had gone on in MY company, I'd fire the lot of them. But we're not supposed to compare how businesses are run, to the Lord's work.

Even when the businessmen are doing it a lot better and more honestly than the SBC.


When I first saw about this on Wade Burleson's blog, it was stated that there were three reasons why it wasn't prudent to make the whole thing public, which would be the result of prosecuting Mr. Harvey. Quoting Wade's blog:

"First, it would possibly compromise our missionaries if prosecution occurred in the country where Gray lived when he took Lottie Moon and Cooperative Program monies. Second, we were about to begin the 2005 Lottie Moon emphasis, and negative publicity would hurt the offering. And, finally, an agreement had been reached that Gray Harvey would repay the IMB."

In order:

Compromise our missionaries in the country where Gray lived. He was an accountant in Istanbul. Is that a dangerous area for missionaries? Were others really in danger, if they'd taken him to court there? If they had to take him to court there? I really don't understand.

Compromising the Lottie Moon Offering, etc:

WHAT!?!?!? Don't these people realize that The Lottie Moon Offering and/or the CP are NOT their source of supply? Those dollars are all from money given to GOD (or else all that preaching about "render unto God..." is so much rhetoric). It's GOD we're supposed to please, not the churches! Apparently the IMB Trustees and Management People didn't trust GOD to supply their needs if they did the right thing. I could understand their actions a lot better, but I know that I, for one, TOLD THEM that in the 2006 Convention (with quivering voice and shaking knees); and I figure I must have uneathed the proverbial buried turnip, judging by the number of pastors who affirmed, to me personally, what I'd said. I cannot IMAGINE that the IMB does not know that God is their source of supply.

Finally, they had an agreement that he would repay them. So crime is ok as long as you pay it back. Or agree to. I don't know how long it was until he defaulted and they took the agreement to court to get a judgment against him .. could it be that he stuck with it just long enough to let some statutue of limitation, if there was one, expire? But trusting an admitted thief to repay? The longer I think about that, the more it smacks of terribly poor judgment on the part of the people who are supposed to be providing wise leadership and direction to the IMB.


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At 2:51 PM, December 07, 2008, Blogger gwfrink3 said...

You raise serious, very important questions. Principal among them for me is the management issue, although over at Baptist Planet somewhat broader questions are raised about whether this tale is even more tangled than thus far greets the eye.

At 8:51 AM, December 13, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe there's an article in this week's Alabama Baptist newspaper about this. You may want to check that out if you haven't already.


At 10:36 AM, December 13, 2008, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Hi Melanie,

Saw that article; it'd already been all over the Mobile Press Register, (as I recall), as well as the Associated Baptist Press (which is run by the Baptist General Convention of Texas).

Interestingly, not one word from the SBC's own Baptist Press.


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