PASTORAL COUNSELORS

Back In Court?

A California appeals court has opened the door for a new trial in a lawsuit filed against John MacArthur, a well-known Christian author and pastor; his church; and three of his church staff members.

In a 2-to-1 ruling, the appeals court upheld a motion for a new trial filed by Walter and Maria Nally. They have charged that incompetent counseling received at MacArthur’s Grace Community Church contributed to the suicide of their son, Kenneth, in 1979.

The suit, filed in 1980, was dismissed the following year by a California superior court judge. In 1984, a California appeals court overturned the lower court ruling. But in May 1985, a superior court judge dismissed the suit, saying a ruling for the Nallys would have a “chilling effect on the exercise of freedom of religion.”

The Nallys then filed a motion for a new trial, which was upheld in September by a state appeals court. In a 70-page opinion, Justice Earl Johnson said the case “has little or nothing to say about the liability of clergymen for the negligent performance of their ordinary ministerial duties or even their counseling duties except when they enter into a counseling relationship with suicidal individuals.…”

LUTHERANS

Few Protest Merger

The American Lutheran Church (ALC) reports that only 13 of its congregations have pulled out in protest over the church’s coming merger with two other Lutheran bodies. However, as many as 50 other congregations have taken the first step toward leaving the denomination.

The dissident congregations say the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, set to come into existence January 1, does not hold to the authority of Scripture and will allow too little congregational ...

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