“Endorsement-Creep” is not someone who endorses creepy things, nor is it a person who has some creepy fascination with endorsing people or things.
Don’t Endorse Evil
In general, Christians understand that we should be careful of what we endorse. The Scripture is abundantly clear.
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
If we endorse something that is evil, we are calling evil good. This isn’t a hard concept. As we apply it faithfully, it will affect our ministry, business practices, political views, and how we conduct family and personal relationships (we may have positive relationships with those who are doing evil, but never in a way that condones / endorses the evil).
Caution in Endorsing Elders
Less obvious to many, but still important, is the need for caution in whom you endorse, especially in ministry terms.
I Timothy 5:19-22
19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.
22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.
This is talking about a church’s response to elders / pastors who sin. Verse 22 goes on to discuss the laying on of hands, the act by which a church commissions someone (I Timothy 4:14, Acts 6:6, Acts 13:3) for a task which God had given (Acts 13:2, I Timothy 1:12, II Timothy 1:6). The laying on of hands is a recognition of God’s choice of this person for the task. Here, it is referring to the task of serving as an elder.
Paul tells Timothy not to be hasty in endorsing a man as an elder. (This is consistent with the earlier instruction in chapter three that those in leadership are not to be novices, and that a man should first be “proved.”)
Endorsements Can “Creep”
Note what follows — a warning that by hasty endorsements you can take part in the sins of others, and fail to keep yourself pure. When you endorse a man as a servant of Christ, your endorsement can creep into things you wouldn’t want to endorse. The things he does, says, and endorses, when we endorse him we give our credibility to those things to some extent, to some extent we take part in them, for good or ill.
That doesn’t mean we should never endorse men, but it does mean we should be careful about it — exactly as Paul says.
We won’t have just anyone in to preach. To put a man in the pulpit of our church is to say we believe his ministry is good and appropriate. That’s a serious matter. We don’t want to get caught in endorsement-creep, to endorse someone who endorses error. We might endorse part of his work, for truth is truth, God loves truth, and so should we, but we must be careful before endorsing, or implying that we endorse, the man and his ministry.
This verse is talking about ministry, but the principle applies generally. Endorsements can creep, so don’t be hasty with them — you can end up compromising your own purity.
We want to be nice, we want to be friendly. Those are not bad desires — they flow from Biblical principles. But those desires, when twisted by a proud desire to be liked, can oppose the Biblical principles of truth and purity. Thus, in our desire to be liked, we may say nice things and give endorsements that we shouldn’t.
Any thinking Christian understands the need to be careful of what we endorse. We also need to be careful of whom (people and institutions) we endorse. Some are so quick to “lay on hands” that they must have spiritual repetitive stress syndrome. Anyone labeled “Christian” gets their endorsement — “We are all brothers in Christ, after all!”
We may be brothers in Christ, but the Scriptures tell us to exercise caution. Take the time to be sure. Not every believer is supposed to be an elder, and not everyone accepted somewhere as an elder should have our endorsement — even if he is a Christian, even if he has some valuable things to say.
Endorsement-creep can make us “partakers of other men’s sins.” We all have enough sins of our own without doing that.