In mid-September, Gordon MacDonald told his congregation, Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts, that he, Tony Campolo, and one other minister had been asked by President Clinton to form an "accountability circle." Their task as spiritual advisers is to help the President follow up on his tearful request for forgiveness at the September 11 White House breakfast for religious leaders (see "Clinton Seeks Pastoral Counsel, p. 18).

MacDonald's sermon and Campolo's subsequent press release led to calls to CT from journalists at the New York Times, Time magazine, three network news organizations, and other media outlets. They had never heard of accountability groups, and they wanted both to learn more about them and to ask what we think of this group of spiritual advisers solicited by and for the President.

Whatever his motivations, we commend the President on taking this step. We also recommend to all our readers that they should get involved in a group that will hold them accountable morally and spiritually, whether or not they are presently in a personal crisis.

Beyond remorse

The President's asking several prominent ministers to walk him through this period of repentance and restitution is a far more important element of what the Old Testament prophets called "turning" than were Clinton's dramatic lip-biting and tearful eyes. But what now? What will this group hope to accomplish with the President?

One reporter asked CT if there were specific steps in an accountability and restoration process. We were happy to summarize for him the seven points from an article written 11 years ago by former CT editor Kenneth S. Kantzer (Nov. 20, 1987, pp. 19-22).

The first step is remorse, wrote Kantzer. The second step, true confession, is wisely ...

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