Bad Accountants

William’s accountant retired, so he met with the new accountant who would be his replacement.

When William met with the new accountant, he brought his accounts. “So here are my receipts, and here are the new memberships in my organization along with the membership dues,” William told his new accountant.

“Looking at what you gave me, your organization looks like a pyramid scheme,” replied the accountant. “That’s against the law.”

“I know it’s not ideal, but I’m only doing it for a couple more years to save up for my children’s education. Then I’ll stop and go legit,” William replied.

The accountant was clearly concerned with what he was learning. “That’s absolutely not acceptable. It is clearly against the law and it must stop immediately. These payments must be returned to your clients immediately.”

William became upset. “Stop being so judgmental!” he retorted, “You’re not a judge; you can’t tell me what to do! Anyway, your predecessor never had a problem with it. He understood that I need the money more than these incompetent clients.”

“The law is clear on this matter. I have a hard time believing that my predecessor would allow such a crime.”

“I can go down the street to a dozen other accountants who will have no problem with this. I know other entrepreneurs doing the same thing as me. Why do you have to make me feel so bad? You’re a jerk! It’s only your interpretation of the law!”

The accountant calmly responded, “No, the law is clear. No accountant should allow you to do this. For your sake, so you don’t do jail time, and also for my sake since I’ve sworn to abide by the law I cannot allow this.”

“Fine! I’ll take my business where I’m welcome.”

The above conversation probably doesn’t take place at accountants’ offices too often, but it takes place in pastors’ offices all the time. Is it because we tend to fear the sword that God has given the governing authorities more than we fear God Himself? Even the godless world would in general agree that William is wrong and his accountant should not participate in his breaking of the law. Why is it that so many think it is okay to openly live in rebellion against the Law of God and that God will just turn a blind eye?

The discussion in pastor’s offices of sin is not necessarily fraud, but one of countless sins in which people seem to think they can live without repentance (very often sins against the Sixth Commandment). “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (I Cor. 6:9-10)

Too many pastors are faithless and don’t call sinners to repentance, but rather give approval to those who practice all manner of unrighteousness (Rom. 1:32). Instead of exhorting sinners to turn away from sin, faithless pastors encourage them to be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:13). “It’s only for six more months, when they’re getting married,” “They already have a child together, so it is for the best,” and similar statements are all just excuses for sin. Such faithless pastors are bad accountants that lead their clients astray, into lawlessness, and the danger of incarceration (eternal chains). They risk their own judgment as well and removal from office where those charged with supervision are faithful to their tasks.

I know of no great schism in the world of accountants because accountants tend to agree on what the law says about pyramid schemes. Yet some pastors raise themselves against the clear word of Scripture. They are deceived and think that the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who practice homosexuality, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. These pastors demonstrate that they believe this by not calling sinners to repentance and by communing them. Excommunicated by faithful pastors, such impenitent sinners are still welcomed into other parishes without reconciliation. This faithlessness hardens the impenitent in their sins and encourages others to fall into sin and impenitence. This faithlessness causes division in the church and leads people to hell.

Even the pagan world would not expect the new accountant to allow William to continue stealing just because it was for a limited time. Let us repent while it is still say, and lament with Johann Gerhard:

“My neighbor dies a physical death, and I mourn and groan day and night, though physical death brings no harm to the godly person because it provides a transition to the heavenly kingdom. My neighbor dies a spiritual death by committing mortal sins, and I watch my neighbor die without concern. I am not grieved at all, though sin is the true death of the soul through which comes the inestimable loss of divine grace and eternal life. My neighbor offends the king, and I seek my neighbor’s reconciliation by every means available. My neighbor offends the King of kings, who is able to dispatch soul and body to hell (Matthew 10:28), and I look on without concern. I do not consider this offense of the King to be an immeasurable evil. My neighbor stumbles on a stone, and I quickly prevent the fall or help my neighbor up from the fall. My neighbour stumbles on the Cornerstone of our salvation (Psalm 118:22), and I show careless neglect. Void of concern and attentiveness I ought to have, I do not lift up my neighbor again. My sins are many and weighty, but still I am not afraid to participate in someone else’s sins.” (Meditations on Divine Mercy, 43)


About Pastor Johannes Nieminen

Pastor Johannes (John) Nieminen serves St Andrew's Lutheran Church in the Atlantic provinces of Canada, with Divine Service held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Middleton, Nova Scotia, Charlottetown, PE, and other locations on occasion. He attended Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary in St Catharines, Ontario, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree in 2014. He is married to Lydia and they have been blessed with three children: Ethan, Summerlee, and Jacob.


Bad Accountants — 9 Comments

  1. Well said, Pr. Nieminen.

    The answer to your “why?” of course, is unbelief. How can the individual or the organization treat either the Law or the Gospel with disdain? By unbelief in the One who spoke both into existence, and who will come again to judge both the living and the dead.

  2. Thanks for a much needed post. What I wonder about is when a pastor is faithful and exhorts the elders to excommunicate one who is unrepentant (after following the steps in Mt. 18) they refuse to carry it out? What’s a faithful pastor to do?

  3. And sometimes (at all times) a pastor must act in accordance with the Word of God even if it be in opposition to bylaws and boards for the salvation of souls, yet all the while he himself must rely on the very works of Christ in the execution of the office in which he occupies.

    Not always very clear and easy for sure.

  4. …and somewhere in a far corner of the synod an orthodox congregation is drafting call papers….

    God provides.

  5. God provides.

    Quote from my elder who had been a Baptist deacon for 20 years: “God’s will would be done if it wasn’t for folks.”

    Lots of former pastors are still waiting. Many have found other occupations. Keep them all in your prayers and actions.

  6. @Richard Lewer #7

    Lots of former pastors are still waiting.

    Some of the bravest ones are building confessional mission congregations in liberal districts. Or rebuilding, where District hoped the congregation would die.

    Some have accepted calls to congregations on the skids before they came (unknown to them), survived a closing … one more thing on their hearts (and their records)… and have gone on from there, finally, to something viable.

    God provides… Crosses, too.

  7. How does God glean? By the truth of the mystery of the cross of Christ Jesus.
    No one does by his/her fallen nature the will of God. By faith in God’s promise of the free forgivness of our sins in Christ we now have a new nature and we are daily being reconciled to God moment by moment through this faith in and on account of the Word Himself.
    One is not justified before God because they do His will or do not.
    In the above example a Pastor must be faithful to the Word but is not justified before God because he exercises great patience, forbearance, and good judgement with the people he serves. He is not under God’s wrath if he acts rashly or blunders in his office because the wrath of God has been turned away from him in Christ alone. He remains before God innocent. Yet people will suffer there is no question. It just proves out that a man in the ministry needs salvation just as much as to those whom he preaches it to.

    As Helen rightly points out, crosses are ours to bear in this life, but God does not abandon us. He is faithful to His promises and provides, just not always the way we would like to see it done. “For we walk by faith and not by sight”.
    A pastor may desire to preach but God may have different plan for them or send them in another direction.
    May God continue to do for us all as He promises and lead us in His tender mercies and the way of righteousness.

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