09 September 2007

A Brief Monday

by Frank Turk

Phil's out of pocket for couple of days as he finishes up a project at work, and while he says he has a hamper full of stuff he could post, he's willing to admit that when he does post, he is addicted to the comments thread. Who isn't, really?

But that said, or confessed, I'm filling in today for a brief post.

I'm reading the pastoral letters of Paul with my Community Life group, and we're talking about the parallels between 1 Tim and Titus right now. What I like about these two letters together is that they show us a different perspective on the church than the "church" letters like Ephesians, Galatians, 1+2 Corinthians and so on. Those other letter show us how the church -- all the people in the church, all the called-out-ones -- should view itself. The pastorals show us how a pastor or elder should view the church.

That seems like a pretty big "duh", I am sure. They are, after all, the "pastorals" -- they are written from Paul to his pastoral disciples whom he calls (in one way or another) his true children in the faith. But one of the things Paul makes clear is that a pastor has different concerns for the church than Manny Baptist or Moe Presbyterian because he is gifted in a different way than they are.

This is the important part of this brief blog post, so pay attention.

See: Paul's not shy to say that it takes many gifts to have a body which is growing up in maturity, right? or that the church will never stop the process of growing up in maturity until Christ returns and we are made like him, yes? Many gifts -- one spirit. But when he lines out the qualifications for elders in the church (both to Titus and to Timothy), he makes it clear that along with character an elder/overseer must have the gift of teaching.

Elders are not the welcoming committee; they aren't the ones who necessarily are the first ones to meet people in the church. But they are the ones who are willing and able to teach what is right and to identify and rebuke false teaching. Their perspective on the church ought to be that they are guiding all the other gifted people to mutual maturity, and that those who are not going to be guided in and up need to be guided (quickly, clearly, with gusto) out.

It's pretty striking how Paul doesn't say, "you know: it's a journey and we're all sort of screwed up, so who's to say if we're making a mistake about this doctrine or that one. Be kind to your web footed friends, for a duck may be somebody's, um, pastor?" He says instead that those who stray from the teaching are making a shipwreck of their faith.

That is the definition of pastoral concern: keeping people off the rocks which will leave them shipwrecked. Let's be thankful today that there are still men today who are gifted by God to still think of the church in this way.







33 comments:

DJP said...

...he's willing to admit that when he does post, he is addicted to the comments thread. Who isn't, really?

I'm not.

< twitch, twitch >
 

Brad Leber said...

Well said Frank.

Heb 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit {to them,} for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. 18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.

Have you prayed for your Pastors this week?

david rudd said...

those who are not going to be guided in and up need to be guided (quickly, clearly, with gusto) out.

i'd like to see you flesh this out. it's an area i have a lot of tension in...

how does a pastor balance the desire to build into the lives of the "less agreeable" while still protecting the well-being of the other "sheep"?

particularly, i'm curious as to what type of behavior you were thinking about when you wrote this statement.

"Quoter" said...

"It is because so many untaught men, unregenerate men, now occupy the pulpits that "another gospel" (Gal. 1:6) is being so widely and generally disseminated. Multitudes who have neither "tasted that the Lord is gracious" nor have "the fear of the Lord" in them have, from various motives and considerations, invaded the sacred calling of the ministry, and out of the abundance of their corrupt hearts they speak. Being blind themselves, they lead the blind into the ditch. Having no love for the Shepherd they have none for the sheep, being but "hirelings." They are themselves "of the world" and therefore "the world heareth them" (1 John 4:5), for they preach that which is acceptable unto fallen human nature, and as like attracts like, they gather around themselves a company of admirers who flatter and support them. They will bring in just enough of God’s Truth to deceive the unwary and give the appearance of orthodoxy to their message, but not sufficient of the Truth, especially the searching portions thereof, to render their hearers uncomfortable by destroying their false peace. They will name Christ but not preach Him, mention the Gospel but not expound it".

AW Pink

Kristine said...

Amen.

Johnny Dialectic said...

I find your post to be an act of violence. That's what teaching is, after all, and it gets much worse when a so-called teacher gets up and preaches to a captive audience. Paul himself must have been a very violent man.

In church, it's always better not to teach. One should have conversation, or else provide a smorgasbord of bromides for people to choose from, such as "Have a better attitude" and "Smile more."

This is how church is done now. Paul was writing for his particular culture, people who didn't have the self-awareness we have today.

John H said...

those who are not going to be guided in and up need to be guided (quickly, clearly, with gusto) out

Could you explain what you mean by that? At first glance, it sounds more like the "up or out" career structure at somewhere like McKinsey's, rather than following the example of the One who does not break bruised reeds or snuff out smouldering wicks.

I'm sure that isn't what you mean, but I'd be grateful for your clarification. ISTM that the people who get "guided (quickly, clearly, with gusto) out" of the church in the NT are those who refuse to repent of scandalously sinful behaviour, rather than those who just fail to make sufficiently rapid progress towards maturity.

Libbie said...

F5

F5

F5

What?

Sewing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sewing said...

John H: I would hope and presume that your last paragraph is what Frank meant.

***

Hah, we were talking about some of these very ideas in our discipleship class yesterday!

I know that Mennonites came out of a very different neck of the Reformation woods than Lutherans, Calvinists, and even Methodists and Cranmerist Anglicans; and that their Anabaptist predecessors made a scandalous mess of things in Munster; but in their expulsion-driven wanderings across Europe to Russia (much like the Ashkenazi Jews!) and their eventual settling in agricultural communities in Russia, they formed a strong sense of community identity, and ancestral tradition (that is subordinate to Scripture). As a consequence, the church I attend is, thank the Lord, elder-led, with Stalinist persecution within a couple of generations' memory of many of the elders and pastors.

As it happens, many Mennonite denominations and congregations seem to be drifting away in fits and starts from Christ-centeredness today—subject to the same winds of latter-day neo-evangelicalism that are wafting across the Church in general—but there are a few that through the wisdom of their elders have stayed on the narrow path. All the pastoral staff at our church seem to have a mandate from the elders to stick to Biblical teaching.

Is there any possibility, also, that Calvinism helps to keep pastors humble? I mean, if they truly embrace the idea that we are all sinners without hope of redemption except by the gracious mercy of God, then, one would pray, they're at less risk of letting it get to their heads.

Sewing said...

The last paragraph of my comment seems a bit hubristic on second reading. That's not to say that non-Calvinists cannot be godly people—indeed, there are probably many non-Calvinists who are godlier than many who espouse Reformed theology—but advancing the idea of "total depravity" might help to keep folks honest.

Sewing said...

So F5 is reload. Here I was, doing Ctrl-R. Why press two keys when only one will do!?

centuri0n said...

| how does a pastor balance the desire
| to build into the lives of the "less
| agreeable" while still protecting the
| well-being of the other "sheep"?

"Less agreeable" is hardly what we're talking about. It's not what Paul is talking about, anyway. We're talking about people who really don’t want to receive doctrine as it has been taught (via Scripture, which will of course bring on the obligatory, "how can I read Scripture" brigade) and who are inventing, as Paul says, myths which divert people away from healthy doctrine.

| particularly, i'm curious as to what
| type of behavior you were thinking
| about when you wrote this statement.

I was thinking about the behaviors Paul was thinking about when he wrote Titus and 1 Timothy. Because I am sure you have read those letters, there's no need to say more than that – which is what I said in my original post.

SolaMeanie said...

I really think many churches are seriously lacking in biblical eldership. I have seen men on elder boards who don't have a clue theologically, and it's sad. It makes me wonder what part of "able to teach" don't they understand?

If we have biblically qualified elders in place, the chances that a rogue pastor can come in and sow poisonous doctrine are greatly lessened.

centuri0n said...

| Could you explain what you mean by
| that? At first glance, it sounds more
| like the "up or out" career structure at
| somewhere like McKinsey's, rather
| than following the example of the
| One who does not break bruised reeds
| or snuff out smouldering wicks.

Take that up with Paul. He didn’t seem to tell Timothy & Titus to fail to quench out a smoldering ember.

| I'm sure that isn't what you mean, but
| I'd be grateful for your clarification.
| ISTM that the people who get "guided
| (quickly, clearly, with gusto) out" of
| the church in the NT are those who
| refuse to repent of scandalously sinful
| behaviour, rather than those who just
| fail to make sufficiently rapid
| progress towards maturity.

This is not about "failing to make sufficiently-rapid progress toward maturity": this is about men who are walking away from orthodoxy for their own reasons, especially those who would be teachers.

My opinion is that a rigorous reading of 1 Tim and Titus will change your mind about what a pastor looks like.

John H said...

Frank: I hadn't realised you were talking about pastors, as opposed to church members more generally. Thanks for clarifying that point.

stratagem said...

What we need is a new preacher who is more in tune with the pomo thinking of today. Let's call him -
'Charles Haddon Spurious'

Mr. Spurious might say something like this:

"That may have been good for Paul's time, but now it's all about the effeminate, castrated, be-nice-to-people gospel. Your qualification as an elder is determined by how tolerant you are of "diverse" beliefs and spiritually-independent rebels."

"Quoter" said...

"Tolerance is a virtue for those who have no convictions".

G.K. Chesterton

agonizomai said...

This is what a pastor looks like. He looks like Jesus.

And to the extent that Jesus is seen in Him he will be that person who is gentle with the tender hearted, longsuffering towards the genuine - even when they are wrong - and vitriolic towards those who are stiff necked, hypocritical and intransigent, and who lead others astray while refusing to be helped themselves.

The pastor, like Jesus, will be full to overflowing with the Word of God, and it will issue naturally from His mouth and be evidenced in his life. He will understand what God has spoken about Himself in Jesus Christ because he will understand the written testimony that the Holy Spirit made sure would be recorded for us to know. And he will guard and proclaim these things jealously for the sake of Jesus' little ones, lest any be caused to stumble.

david rudd said...

thanks, Frank.

i would suggest that your words are an interpretation (as opposed to a quote) of Paul; i was hoping to hear more of your own thoughts.

i have no disagreement with you or paul on this issue. i was simply wondering if you personally had any thoughts on how that might look today.

sorry if you took it as a critique. it was an agreement, looking for more. of course, if you would prefer to not expand, that's fine as well.

thanks.

DJP said...

"Quote" would be the verb, "quotation" the noun.

Thank you. You may proceed.

David Rudd said...

thanks, dan.

i'll try to do better!

DJP said...

lol

lordodamanor said...

quote That would be a noun also meaning the same thing as quotation.

Thankyou Cent for pointing out that there is particular application of Scripture as well as general adomonitions. We use "Study to show yourself a workman appoved of God, needing not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth," as an admonition to all believers, yet it has particular meaning for the leadership. Thanks, because many do not see how paritcular calling folds into election, or how there is a difference between pastors and deacons and the rest of the flock. Not that there is not equality in Christ, but there is particularity in giftings and callings which make for a particular character and function.

Thankyou agonizomai for pointing out that Jesus as a pastor was in his right mind and that being meek and mild riding on the foal of an ass is an out of balance picture without the making of whips and driving out self-interest in the church.

Charles E. Whisnant said...

"Their perspective on the church ought to be that they are guiding all the other gifted people to mutual maturity."

Also to have the gift with the ability of bring about the implementation of what they are teaching. There are good teachers who do not that ability to bring other gifted people to mutual maturity. Or would you say, those who are good teachers have the ability to bring people to mutual maturity.

Can a preacher teach or preach a good message on Sunday, but not have the ability outside the pulpit to bring people to mutual maturity?

Who has the responsibility to bring the elders to mutual maturity?

Charles

centuri0n said...

David Rudd:

You should consider what the sentence "The pastorals show us how a pastor or elder should view the church" means before you say something olike you just said. It makes it seem like you didn't really read my post.

centuri0n said...

Charles:

You have never read the book of 1 Timothy, have you? Be honest.

If you have, you haven't finished it.

david rudd said...

???

Frank,

I'm really befuddled here? I guess I don't understand what you're taking issue with?

Maybe I'm not communicating well.

I AGREE WITH YOUR POST. I'm just curious as to how you might see the following statement being worked out practically...

those who are not going to be guided in and up need to be guided (quickly, clearly, with gusto) out

sorry if I'm being obtuse... i really don't comprehend your point.

Daryl said...

David,

Just a couple thoughts on the sentence you're stuck on, if I may (even if I may not...:))

"those who are not going to be guided in and up need to be guided (quickly, clearly, with gusto) out"

My take on Frank's statement is this:

The leaders (elders) need to teach the teachable, that much is clear. However, the question is what to do with the unteachable. It seems to me that those are the ones who bring about the most damage to a church. The misguided and teachable can be corrected, but what of the misguided (or purposefully off track) unteachable?

If one of the roles of the eldership is to protect the flock, then those doing damage need to be corrected or removed. If an elder/pastor is unwilling to remove (or push out or marginalize in some way) those causing harm to the flock, how can he consider himself a good shepherd?

How much stronger could the church be if the leadership would deal as effectively with trouble as they do with inquisitiveness.

Charles E. Whisnant said...

Centurion
You are correct, I only finished chapter one in the series of messages taught on I Timothy, 32 messages.

You had a good article, and you are correct as well.

bi0dr0ne said...

This comment string sounds like a broken record

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

"These are my principles...but if you don't like them, I have others." (Marx)

Groucho, that is.

NWProdigal said...

Wow! The truth!

I've only recently discovered you fellas, but you have certainly got me re-appraising my views of "reformed Calvnists". I love to see the "ROCK of offense" preached so un-apologetically.

I appreciate agonizomai's comment, too!

Keep it up!