A pastor's response to Tony Evans' and Robert Morris' moral failings

(Photo: Unsplash/Josh Applegate)

I feel so much grief about The Christian Post's recent articles about Pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church and Pastor Tony Evans. I attended Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) in the mid 90s and have been a pastor now at Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs for the past 27 years.

Two years ago, I released a book with Vide Press called The Good Pastor, which was primarily endorsed by Dr John Hannah of DTS. When I was a student there, Dr Hannah would say, "You want to be great for God?" I would sit up in my chair and utter under my breath, "Yes!" He would then say, "Don't quit, don't fornicate, and you will be the only one left and you will be great." I sat back in my chair and said to myself, "Is that really it? Is that really all there is to being great for God?"

Sadly, it turns out Dr Hannah was right. Seven years ago, I believe the Lord spoke a prophetic word to me about a particular pastor. I attempted to reach out to that pastor and sadly it ended with his elders threatening me. At that same time in 2017, the Lord Jesus also said to me, "A network of pastors will fall." And sadly, that has been the case, especially since the pandemic. I am beginning to wonder if there will be anyone left after this season of purging that God is taking His church through.

Many of these stories are very similar in nature. They typically involve sin from years ago with an non-disclosure agreement (NDA) or the attempt of an NDA attached to them. Maybe you are unfamiliar with NDAs. Here is an article I wrote on them a few years ago.

In the process of getting The Good Pastor book published, I reached out to Dr Evans because he was the first African American to receive his doctorate from DTS, he used to speak at the chapel when I was a student there in the 90s and I loved his teaching style and his tenacity to stand strong on the Word of God. Sadly, he declined my request to endorse The Good Pastor book.

Recently he stepped back from pastoring Oak Cliff Bible Church due to sin that occurred years ago. He refuses to go into detail about the nature of the sin, but did say that he did not commit a crime. His cryptic approach to the public confession of his sin has sent the Christian community into a tailspin of speculation and many wonder if he was forced to confess or, at best, why now? Unfortunately, it is unknown and appears it will remain so.

Dr Evans' confession at 74 is a sobering reminder that the Enemy is no respecter of age, career, years of service, titles, degrees, or size of ministry. The Enemy is seeking to devour all pastors and church leaders. He wants to steal, kill, and destroy every one of them, including you and me.

Paul reminds us in Galatians 6:1: "Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted."

Sobering reminder!

Then a few days later Pastor Robert Morris from Gateway Church confessed to "inappropriate sexual behaviour with a young lady" more than 35 years ago, after a woman accused him of molesting her when she was 12. Unfortunately, the Gateway elder board chose at the time to deal with it privately and, after a couple of years, restore him to pastoral ministry.

We all know we are broken (at least I hope you do) and in need of a Saviour, and that Jesus is the only answer. The "amount" of time that has passed and, in this case, 35 years, is irrelevant to God. The actions were offensive to God and I believe the way they were handled both then and now is offensive to God.

Morris' accuser has alleged that she was asked to sign an NDA. Gateway has not addressed this claim but as a pastor myself, I stand against churches using NDAs to silence victims of misconduct. They are not the answer but only compound the problem, delay the healing, and complicate the future with the past. I do not believe God is okay with this practice in His churches and it is my prayer that churches that have used NDAs publicly repent of it and vow never to do it again. 

Lord, as a pastor and leader for your church, I say, "Forgive us Lord and purify us, the leaders of your church. We are the shepherds of your sheep. Don't let us brush it off or sadly we will fall into a greater grievance in the days ahead."