Well-Intentioned Dragons (Book Review) – Part 4

Continuing from Part 3; and this is the final post of this part 4 series.

Though I have already addressed many positive aspects of this book (e.g., Parts 1-3), let me now address some of the negatives.

First, failing to identify sin as sin (p. 33). For instance, undermining the pastor is not only morally and ethically wrong, but it is being divisive and helps gossipers even more. When there is a failure to obey the leader(s) with the attitude of joy, not only this would be unprofitable for the disobedient but it is also a sin (Hebrews 13:17).

Also, not only there is a failure to identify sin as sin, but it fails to provide biblical remedies in solving sins in the body. For instance:

The problem is that most church members imagine themselves as basically “nice,” willing to bend to keep the peace. This gives lots of leverage, sometimes complete control, to those hard-nosed people willing to make a public scene. The group usually gives them extra space, which translates into power – power to veto programs, to overrule pastors, to alter the direction of the church (p. 67).

Another negative aspect is citing questionable quotes such as one by Reinhold Niebuhr, “You may be able to compel people to maintain certain minimum standards by stressing duty, but the highest moral and spiritual achievements depend not upon a push but a pull. People must be charmed into righteousness” (p. 63). Where in Scripture does it ever imply that people must be charmed into righteousness?

Overall, the book reads like a personal journal entries of many pastors that I know (including myself). Hence the book is more of descriptions than prescriptions, thus it comes short of delivering the subtitle “ministering to problem people in the church.”


One thought on “Well-Intentioned Dragons (Book Review) – Part 4

  1. Hi Jim,

    I just re-read the end of the book, and I thought there were a few helpful “prescriptions”…

    In chapter 8, regarding confrontation, he suggested practical and gracious ways to biblically confront someone in sin. (See pages 127-128).

    Chapter 9, “When There’s No Resolution”, he prescribed the following actions:

    1. Give it time to heal – patience
    2. Keep perspective – God is sovereign
    3. Learn forgiveness

    This last prescription is forgiveness, even if the person’s repentance “leaves something to be desired.” (p. 143)

    He shared the story of the man who basically embezzled $182,000 from the church, gambling it away. The pastor forgave the offender, and did what he could to publicly restore the man and minister to him, without ostracizing him.

    “Forgiveness is not giving in and agreeing with them… forgiveness needn’t sacrifice truth. Forgiveness is not giving them our complete trust… nor is forgiveness forgetting.”

    “Forgiveness… is a new beginning, starting at the present moment, the present situation. You don’t start where you wish you were but at the place where you are. Together you begin again.”

    “True forgiveness, even when forgiving a dragon, is saying, ‘I don’t completely understand you. I can’t excuse what’s happened, and I can’t forget what you’ve done. But here’s my hand. I want to be your friend again. I still want to work with you. Let’s begin over.”

    “That offer must always be on the table, and frequently spoken, even while the dragon is refusing to reconcile. God is in the business of new beginnings. To be about our Father’s business means we must be, too.”

    Lord, help us all practice forgiveness – knowing how greatly we have been forgiven!

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