“King” Eddie Long and his Faithful Rabbi

I’ll try to make this brief. You’ll read the entire post before commenting.
Oh yes you will. 

Most of us have seen the video of Eddie Long being “crowned king” at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church this past Sunday by Rabbi Ralph Messer. If you missed it, click here.

At first glance, I said “this is some foolishness. Might as well call him Baal.”

But after watching the video three times, making note of what the Rabbi spoke, there are some things to consider.

Now, you have to understand that in the Jewish faith, they believe the Torah (the first five books of the bible) through and through. They understand God’s law, they believe that it works, and they understand the power of their words. There is probably no other group of people who know their religion and see it work in their favor more than the Jews.

Like many others, I got to feeling some kind of way when the Rabbi called Long a “king” and elevated him in the air like King Xerxes from the film 300. Cinematically, it painted an ugly, pompous picture of an embattled preacher. Visually, it was not a good look. AT ALL.

There are some things that need to be established before I go on into my stance on this thing:

1. Receiving a tallit (prayer shawl), scroll, and a Aaronic, Abrahamic, or other blessing is VERY biblical. No question.

2. Elevating a man to a “king” has some spiritual truths as we are all made in God’s image and reign as Jesus does, SPIRITUALLY. Yep.

What I think has us all upset about what we saw on that video was the literal elevation of Eddie Long by four men while his congregants cheered him on victoriously. What we saw was a man who has spent many years laden in scandal — from money to sex with young men — you name it. What we saw with our natural eyes was a man who really doesn’t deserve the praise and accolades and blessing the Rabbi was speaking over his life. We don’t want him to win. We don’t want him to rule. We don’t want him to be king of anything because the collective we says he doesn’t deserve it.

What the Rabbi did for Eddie Long Sunday, however,  was give him a spiritual ranking in his own “house” or church (since it doesn’t seem like he’s actually stepping out of the pulpit anytime soon) and, as the Rabbi said, “This will arouse the realm of death or the realm of life.” The Rabbi understood the power of his words, and in many ways, set some positive things in motion for Long, New Birth, and their congregants.

Side note:

Did you know the Greek word for “king” as used in Revelation 17:14 is BASILEUS, the same name many organizations give their presidents (think Divine 9)? “King”, as defined in that same scripture (where Jesus is named King of kings and Lord of lords), is leader of the people, prince, commander, lord of the land, king

Okay, I’m back.

Spiritually speaking, there was nothing “wrong” with what the Rabbi did or said… except the raising of that chair.

The danger in the literal elevation of Long in that seat is that the young, impressionable spirits of those in the sanctuary or even those watching across the world (you know the video made it on Huffington Post, right?) can’t decipher between a physical act being representation of a spiritual occurence. Some aren’t wise enough to know that praise for a person, treating them like a god (with an intentional lowercase “g”) is not God’s will for us. (Exodus 20:3) This is probably what bothers me (if anything) the most about what we saw.

Here’s the definitive:

Even deeper than the disdain some of us have for Long is the realization that we don’t really believe in the law of grace and mercy. We (especially the Christ believing folk) don’t think redemption is available for folks like Long. Maybe if he played football, did a jail stint, and had the highest rushing yards for a quarterback…?

We will probably never know what Long did with those men behind closed doors (I have my own speculations). And once I get out of my feelings and personal dislike for shady people whose disobedience can shake the very core of someone’s beliefs, if Long repented to God for his sins and TURNED AWAY from that sinful life, he is now in right standing with God, redeemed, and made an heir to the throne.

True story.

“Repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.” — Acts 26:20

Repentance is best defined as “a change of mind that leads to a change of actionSource (Matt. 3:8)

At the end of the video, the Rabbi said, “It’s a new start! It’s a new birth!” (pun intended, I’m sure). This, my friends is what relationship with Christ is all about.

We mess up. Real big. Luckily just never in the public eye, however, we mess up nonetheless.

But if we repent, change our minds that change our actions, God is faithful and just to forgive us. (1 John 1:9).

Does this mean I’m rockin’ New Birth gear and buy CDs of the sermon? No. Have no intentions to. But I do understand the spiritual implications of repentance and forgiveness.

Whether we like it or not, Long is entitled to it, just like you and I are.

When I was someone’s mistress, God forgave me.
When I was sleeping around, God forgave me.
When I was getting high, stupid drunk, God forgave me.
When I was stealing clothes out the mall (and never got caught), God forgave me.
When I was cheating the system in more ways than one, God forgave me.
When I was lying through my teeth to get by, God forgave me.
When I cussed that girl out real, real good and boasted when I was done, God forgave me.

[anybody wanna add their sins here? Oh.]

This is no defense. This is just perspective (a spiritual one) on King Eddie Long and his faithful Rabbi.

Staying grounded and forever repenting,

Alisha L.


34 thoughts on ““King” Eddie Long and his Faithful Rabbi

  1. Kimerlin LaShawn Spencer says:

    Well written Alisha! I agree that he is entitled to repentance and forgiveness, as we all are, and that no sin is greater than the next. If he truly went before God, confessed his sins, asked for forgiveness and made up his heart/mind to not practice the deceit and sin that has shamed him publicly and privately then this is a new “birth” or fresh start for him. However, personally, you won’t find me in his congregation because although I am able to forgive him I cannot and will not willingly risk being deceived by being under his leadership. If he had the audacity to secretly do the things hes alleged of doing for years, not officially make a public confession/apology all while “leading” a body of believers to Christ…then I can’t even say I respect him as a Pastor because he has become a stumbling block for many and that is not what God has us here to do. Yes we have and do sin as humans (christian or not), but he didn’t even acknowledge or admit his actions, instead its like he gets to bypass that part and move on to new victories. I believe if your exposed publicly, you should address the situation publicly as well as privately before God.

  2. gemmieboo says:

    i hear you on all of this. i do believe that if–and i do mean IF–Long repented and submitted himself before God, he is forgiven in the sight of God.

    yet, in my opinion, Long has done NOTHING to ask forgiveness from his congregation or the public. is he obligated to? no. but for me, i cannot and will not support anything he’s involved in. and what i have a bigger problem with is other leaders, influential leads, who think its OK to take the approach “we all make mistakes, lets just move on”. while we do all make mistakes, and not always in the public eye, we do often have to answer for those mistakes to more than just God.

    all that to say, i want no parts of Long or his church/followers. but may God have mercy on his soul.

    • Alisha L. Gordon says:

      I’d have to agree with you — I think that’s what everyone is seeking, some kind of public apology or admittance that your behaviors have been subpar. He doesn’t even have to go as far as saying if there was any wrongdoing, but I think as a leader, transparency is a must! The bible says that it’s through the word of our testimony lives are changed. If you’re not willing to be open about your shortcomings, how then, can you really be effective in the body of Christ?

    • Jamie Brown says:

      I find it very interesting that although people “say” that grace and mercy is great for themselves, they never want to see others operating in grace. We (mostly Americans) believe that if you’ve made it to the public eye, you should put yourself on blast and apologize to people when God doesn’t put that requirement on you or anyone else. Yes, we all make mistakes…blah blah blah. But none of us have the right to judge.

      What you should support is the Kingdom. You should support the word of God being taught to others and people coming into the Kingdom (getting saved and meeting Jesus), because that’s what matters. Ironically, the admission of one’s sins often draws others to the Lord. It’s amazing to me, that Biblically (aside from Jesus) how God never used any perfect person. Never.

      • gemmieboo says:

        we all have every right to make character judgments of leaders (esp those in the church). God gave us the freedom of choice for a reason–to exercise it, one way or another. i take who i let feed my spirit and soul VERY seriously. if i smell something foul or feel uneasy about some one’s spiritual guidance, i walk away and take my tithes with me somewhere else. why? because NOT ALL MEN ARE TRUE PROPHETS OR PREACHERS OF GOD’S WORD. and God gave me the gift of discernment to make choices about how and who i worship with.

        off top, i rebuke any person–esp a person who claims to be a God anointed leader–who uses “everyone makes mistakes” as an excuse to act a fool in the name of the Lord. this man wasnt accused of cheating of committing sins that only effected himself or a small circle of ppl. he was accused of MOLESTING young men under the guise of mentorship in his church–which affects his ENTIRE congregation. but yet you dont think its necessary for this man to address that and apologize to the very who supported his ministry and may have hurt with these accusations? cmon now. thats egregious.

        i can just as easily support kingdom building, soul saving, and Jesus teachings by not choosing to support the likes of Eddie Long who has now shown ME that he is worthy of my support. period.

      • tdlove says:

        “You should support the word of God being taught to others and people coming into the Kingdom (getting saved and meeting Jesus), because that’s what matters.”

        I wish I could bold “because that’s what matters.” …because that is truly what matters and it seems like that is what is missing here.

        Instead what we are seeing is the uplifting of this man. Instead of him quietly going about his business… preaching and teaching the word of God, we see this HUGE ceremony.. not of ‘redemption and forgiveness’ but of glorification designed to guilt the masses into forgiveness.

        I forgive Long for his sins..but these further actions aren’t redemptive. He is not acting in the best interest of his church. This doesn’t uplift GOD or put his church in a good light. He is all about making sure that it is okay for him to still be in the spotlight. As a consequence, he is making a fool out of his followers, his wife and his family.

  3. hp says:

    Grace, mercy & forgiveness are amazing gifts…may God bless us all with the compassion we need to walk as He has called us to live.

    • Alisha L. Gordon says:

      Thank you for posting this! I was DEFINITELY interested in knowing how the Jewish community felt about this! Thank you for sharing.

  4. Jovian Zayne says:

    Still wrapping my head around how I feel about what happened that faithful ‘crowning’ night.. but want you to know that I read your piece and enjoyed your perspective. Forgiveness and love is certainly the essence of Christ’s message and life.

    • Alisha L. Gordon says:

      Thanks Jovi. It’s a delicate balance, for sure. We should walk in forgiveness but I think the collective “we” simply wants to see Long be human, humble, and own up to his behavior.

  5. Cindy says:

    Wow!! Great job Alisha. One of my FB friends was just asking for someone to make some sense out of what happened at New Birth Sunday. I didn’t have the words/knowledge. You did an excellent job. BTW–i saw your link on another friends page. I am sooooo following you. Blessings on ya lady,

  6. Akela Louise says:

    Totally agree with your perspective on Grace and Mercy. And whether we want to admit it or not -God’s view and redemption of Long has NOTHING to do with a public apology to us or anyone else. God is God because he is God. And if ANYTHING he did depended on humans- we’d all be in Hell-real talk.

    However, I didn’t agree with what I saw-simply because it was a show. We are no longer in the old Testament-we have moved from the law to Faith! Meaning, it’s no longer about types and shadows-God-Jesus Christ, has been revealed! Therefore, if we want to claim our kingship and reign, we can only do so through the working of the Holy Spirit, Faith in God’s grace which identifies us, and the bearing of GOOD fruit. I’m not saying that Bishop Long does not have the right to his kingship-we all do; I’m saying if you’re a king-REIGN! He’s not doing that by being wrapped in laws, being hoisted in a chair, or being proclaimed so by thousands of people. And he’s definitely not doing that by being found in scandal after scandal. Our reign is recognized and inexplicably tied to the fruit we produce; Bishop Long has a lot of planting to do.

  7. Kat says:

    Wonderful! Lovely writing and an amazing analysis! And I’ll co-sign 90% of your sins and add another 5-6 of my own! God Bless you for the amazing gift he has given you! – Thanks for sharing again on FB!

  8. Marcus G. Halley, M.Div. says:

    My issue with this entire debacle is that the “rabbi” completely misused and misinterpreted scripture in order to further fool the people of God. As a New Testament Biblical Scholar, I had to seek some Hebrew Bible Biblical Scholarship to help me understand the complete jackassery that went on. Here is Wil Gafney,Ph.D.’s article (Associate Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia in Pennsylvania)


    The population that is left in this church are those who refused to see the writing on the wall (or saw it and ignored it) around the sexual misconduct and egregious financial excess and mismanagement and have stayed, and continued to drink the Kool-Aid. I am all for forgiveness; however, I am also for accountability. As a clergy-person myself, scandals ANYWHERE in the church affect my credibility, and since I live in Atlanta, Georgia, I have seen first hand the affect this scandal has had on other members of clergy and their credibility. He needs to step down – period. If he was in a denomination or church that had some sort of structures of accountability (Presbytery, Diocese, LEGITIMATE episcopacy) he would’ve been removed. People continue to be hurt, fooled, and destroyed while this mess goes on. I continue to pray for the church – that we would stop MISusing the Bible to cover our own selves when we need to be held accountable for what God has entrusted us with.

    • Alisha L. Gordon says:

      Thank you for your post! You and a few other Jewish ministers and parishioners have said the same thing about Messer. There’s so many things wrongs with what occurred, but I’ll stick to the idea of grace and mercy. He (and we) need it. I just wish Long would just own up to things!

    • gemmieboo says:

      i love this entire comment!! esp….

      “I am all for forgiveness; however, I am also for accountability… People continue to be hurt, fooled, and destroyed while this mess goes on. I continue to pray for the church – that we would stop MISusing the Bible to cover our own selves when we need to be held accountable for what God has entrusted us with.”

  9. Sam.I.Am says:

    girl you better PREACH! I love the ending and the confession of sins/forgiveness. I found the site through a google search and now Im hooked 🙂

  10. just a servant says:

    Greetings! I loved your post. I am all for grace and mercy and for me it’s not about Bishop Long ‘fessing up’ to the masses. It’s about him understanding that the sheep God entrusted to him need to see the power of redemption at work. If you act as if you’re being falsely accused and everyone is out to get you, what you are actually doing is making the people who are your congregants believe the things that they struggle with ,you don’t struggle with. They never get to see that God’s grace and mercy extends to the gifts He has given you for His glory despite your falliable humaness. They never get to see Him forgive you yet still use you because of what He has purposed you to do in His name. So the congregants struggle with and hide their humaness all the while feeling bad inside trying to live up to a perfection standard that they believe will make God happy with them because you haven’t showed them anything different and they struggle to live up to the impossible. So their gifts, talents, and abilities struggle to grow and if they are babes sometimes this hinders their perception of what their faith can utimately become.

  11. Abeliever says:

    A lot of people take the”judging” scripture out of context. We are to judge those by the Word of God and not allow your brother or sister to continue in sin. The same measure we judge we have to make sure our lives line up to the word…We are not the ultimate judge. God will have grace and mercy on whom He chooses. I pray that the body of Christ stays united and focus on one man…Jesus…

  12. Daki says:

    Thanks for posting this Alisha, and truly breaking it ALL the way down.

    I don’t have a church home, and not sure if I want one (just being real) but I do have a strong personal relationship with God. I’m also not a big supporter of Eddie Long (even before the scandal), and I’ve been to his church a few times…can’t put my finger on it, it’s just something about him (IMO).

    But I do wholeheartedly agree with your position on grace and mercy. And though, people long for a public testimony I would also add that we don’t create the timeline for someone’s testimony (nor the place or audience). Also despite what I personally think (and what many others may speculate) there is a chance that he was innocent of those accusations (and yes, I saw the picture too). And while testimonies are good and helpful to us, and others, it isn’t a requirement of repentance (according to the Bible at least).

    With all the said, the literally elevation of him did strike me as weird. So I’m glad you took my “gut reaction”, and put it in an analytical/spiritual perspective for us all. As always, great job!

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