29 January 2009

Let me introduce you to you

by Frank Turk

So you're saying to yourself, "cent -- don't be like this. Pastors have it hard enough, and the people who go after them are worse than wicked."

Oh wait -- no: most of you are saying something like, "I sure wish my pastor was reading this," or, "I sure hope my ex-pastor is reading this -- maybe it'll drive some sense into his fool head."

Which isn't very nice -- and it probably isn't very wise, either. See: in the whole NT where we draw our practical theology of church (our presbyterian brothers and sisters draw a lot of their presuppositions about the church from the OT -- but don't let me get distracted here), we don't see Paul and Peter telling a lot of people to flee the church because of lousy pastors, do we?

What we see instead is Paul saying stuff like this:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, to Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
or this:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
or most robustly like this:
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;

To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
There's a lot to go after there, but I'm only going after the underlined parts to start.

Paul calls these guys, in various ways, "my true child in the faith".

As I read that, I find myself thinking, "dude -- how would it feel to have someone introduce you as, 'my true child in the faith'? How would it feel if Paul introduced you as 'my true child in the faith'?"

On the one hand, it would have to be ridiculously rewarding -- and at the same time, immensely humbling, like a rolling pin on my stupid ambitions and my scale of what's important. If Paul knew me, and when Paul spoke of me he said, "hey -- that Frank? he's my true child in the faith," I'd tell him to stop calling me that -- because it would be too much to bear. I personally am not worthy to be the heir to the legacy that Paul left for the church, but to receive it and honor it would be a huge reward in and of itself.

I was once introduced to a room full of people as "a good and faithful man," and I nearly couldn't go on -- because in that context (which was a church context), those words meant something more than merely a compliment. It means that somehow, my faith shows up. Other people see it. And that's nothing compared to being called by Paul, the apostle, "my true child in the faith."

So as I begin pointing out what Paul said to these two men -- his true children in the faith -- consider that in Paul's view, it is men like these who are worthy of his legacy. What Paul charges them with is the charge he makes to the true sons in faith to pass on.

Begin reading this stuff by asking yourself, "Would Paul call me his 'true child'? Would anybody say that about me?" That's what you should be aspiring to, and if you're not ... well, we're not to those parts of these letters yet. But before we get there, I think this is enough to start with: a pastor is someone who Paul would call a "true child in the faith".

BTW, as we do this, you should start making your list for this series. Split a sheet of paper in half, and on the right side list all the things you think -- you, walking around, not poking through these letters -- a pastor should be. Then on the left you can write down the things Paul says a pastor should be. We can compare lists at the end.







33 comments:

CAUGHTNOTTAUGHT said...

When I read this it made me think about what family really means. http://caughtnottaught.blogspot.com/2008/10/titus-14.html

ED...

Scott Shaffer said...

But before we get there, I think this is enough to start with: a pastor is someone who Paul would call a "true child in the faith".

Do you think this is true for all pastors all the time?

jeff said...

Our pastor has been teaching through I and II Timothy in Sunday School Class for about 2 months now. I look forward to Franks' posts on these books. God bless.

w.rust said...

Wow, I don't really know where to begin... I came to faith (12 years ago) in a church where the pastor taught the gospel, but also taught a lot of error about baptism (that it actually saves you). As a new believer I was being taught error, but by the grace of God finally was able to question the problems about the pastor's teaching. We could agree about what Scripture said, so I left.

Next church I attended, was very friendly and very large. It wasn't until a few years later that I finally realized that it was completely saturated with Robert Schuller-like teaching, and I discovered what the "seeker sensitive" movement was all about (I finally read the "40 days" book) and left there because they were totally sold on the teachings of Rick Warren.

It wasn't until my 3rd church that I heard expositional preaching from the pulpit and finally started getting meat that I realized that I was where I was supposed to be.

I am very convicted by your statements because I'm sure I wasn't as able as Paul to frame my arguments to these mislead pastors. There were hard feelings at both churches that I left. Leaving a church for doctrinal reasons is like saying "you are all wrong, so I'm outta here!". It's a very tough thing to go through.

Bill

Frank Turk said...

Scott:

I think, as we read these three letters, we will see that it is Paul's intention that this be true.

Keep in mind that each of these posts is a blog entry and not a book in and of itself. However, I would posit to you that in this greeting to his disciples who were pastors, Paul is lining out a thesis statement of sorts for what it means to be the one who does the things Paul tells tese men to do.

Frank Turk said...

Bill --

There is no question that it is hard to leave for doctrinal reasons. I have empathy for you.

Let's be clear about something before I ask this question: I think that leaving a church because, in the end, they have made a terminal error in doctrine, is right. Leaving a church because they preach a prosperity gospel, or because they are forming a bunkered cult, or what have you, is right -- because they are, frankly, not a church anymore. They meet in a church building, but they are not a church.

But I think there is something which every single "right-minded" Christian has to grapple with: the clear admonition that those who are untried in the faith are not qualified to lead. You know -- "He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil."

Here's my question: should a believer who has just recently discovered some particular and important truth about our faith -- for example, that baptism does not itself save but that the beleiver ought to be baptized -- have any biblical warrant to demand that the elder(s) of his church submit to him via what he perceives as the clear teaching of Scripture?

I ask because one of us Pyros attends a Presbyterian church where infants are baptized, the word is preached, and the elders conduct discipline. Should that Pyro -- who is a mature man in faith -- demand the elders over him conform to his mature views, or else he's going to leave?

I think something that I struggle to condone is the broader fact of your story -- and the literally-dozens of stories I have read like it before -- that somehow you came to faith in a church teaching that error.

Would you call your faith fraudulent until you understood that baptism wasn't part of what saved you? Were you then not saved in the Schulleresque church, either? And not in the Warrenesque church?

I think you heard the Gospel (by your account) in the Church of Christ-esque church. If you did, what did you mean by leaving?

And before this meta blows up into a hater-fest -- because, you know, I'm a hater -- what I am not telling Bill here is that he's completely unjustified. What I am telling everyone else is that at some place our theology of the church ought to be as good as our theology of salvation.

Ecclesiology is not a second-rate science, and it's not the hobby of the person with faith. It is the practical application of the Gospel, and it is at least as-serious a matter as whether or not the Bible is opened from the pulpit every Sunday.

donsands said...

"by the command of God our Savior;"

I wonder was Paul thinking of Christ as he wrote thes 7 words?

Nice post. Church is a messy, messy business. May your upcoming teachings help us cope with the messiness, and mature in His grace and love.

Strong Tower said...

"I ask because one of us Pyros attends a Presbyterian church where infants are baptized, the word is preached, and the elders conduct discipline. Should that Pyro -- who is a mature man in faith -- demand the elders over him conform to his mature views, or else he's going to leave?"

I feel your pain. I sit among several baptist families in a PCA Church. I'm a credo, some others are credo, but I don't come on with, wouldn't you like to be a credo too. There are others there that are former credo, one coming from the same SBC church I had to leave, there is one Elder who has voiced questions concerning the Covenantal signature. It is no essential which is affecting the understanding of the DoG in other areas, so I make no big deal of it. The former credo teaches adult bible study and I can wait till the next baptism series.

But to the point. I emphasized the "my true son" passages, too, as the punctuation mark of what it means to be a father in the faith. Really, as you indicate, Paul is not teaching children, but pastors who he expects to cut themselves after the same pattern that he was, repeatedly admonishing both T's to follow closely his doctrine and life.

This gets back to a primary essence of what constitutes a church. In efforts to reinvigorate the Great Commission, there is an underlying theme in Tom Ascol's writing, "regenerate membership." I mention this because in Timothy and Titus we see the fundamental relationships embedded in disicpleship. Paul doesn't discriminate, rather, he includes both sexes and all ages, statures and stations in life, drawing them into fellowship around the fundamental form of his relationship to these "his true sons in the faith".

I don't like the word connections when it is used in advertising the benefits of church membership, but I do like it when it comes to what the mission of the church is. True discipleship is connected, and should be in such a way that it is not abortive by either the begotten or the begetter.

But committments are so restrictive, arent' they? Yes, there are abusive parents, and children, poor doctrine, etc.. What Paul is appealing to is the ideal. So should we, and expect that we will encounter sinners like ourselves. That does not eliminate the fact that the relationships within the fellowship of the saints need to be ones of connectedness. So we might want to reexamine what it means to adopt and be adopted, as it touches upon membership.

Sorry for the length cent. It's your dime, not mine, but you know me...

David Rudd said...

frank,

i imagine you'll address this some when you get to the parts about appointing elders, but...

is there a sense in which Timothy and Titus were "pastors", but in a different way than most pastors are "pastors" today?

(particularly in that their role in specific churches seemed a bit more temporary than what we deal with today)

this doesn't impact the character of the men, but does it impact the reading of these epistles?

Johnny T. Helms said...

It isn't asking too much of a local pastor that he be the man of God that accords with the word of God; it is indeed a lot to expect. In fact, before any congregation calls a pastor they must be sure that he is indeed a God-called and gifted man. And rather than lambasting him the way so many church members are prone to do over trivial and non-essential matters and even over matters of doctrine once they have called him, those church folk are to be equally godly by treating him as the word of God demands.

"Remember those who have the rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you" (Hebs. 13:7, 17).

I have recently concluded, based on personal experience, that any church that is without a pastor for whatever reason, call a godly intentional interim who will instruct the church on the Biblical treatment of its next pastor, providing that he will be a God-called man of God. It could make a tremendous difference in the members of that church in their relationship with their Lord (who is, after all, still head of His church) and equip them with the tools they must have in order to call a true man of God as their next pastor.

Maybe it would cut down on backdoor traffic as well.

Frank Turk said...

Johnny:

That's a great bandwagon, and I will get on it with you. I think this would be especially useful for churches with a long history of short-term pastors -- men who stay for 5 years or less.

Johnny T. Helms said...

Frank,

Thank you.

With an estimated 1500 pastors leaving the ministy each month (that does seem extremely high, doesn't it?) and many churches losing godly men after only a few months, the body of Christ is in desperate need of Biblical counsel as to the right relationship bewteen pastor and church.

Some will listen, in fact, I believe many will listen and repent of their abuses.

My first church was liberal to the extreme, but after a year or so of uncompromising preaching of the gospel and the word of God they began turning away from their errors. I saw several liberal deacons come to the Lord and members repenting and calling upon the name of the Lord. And related to these changes in that church, I was encouraged to leave after being there five and a half years.

The "power family" left early after I arrived and refused to be their "boy." When they returned after 4 years or so, the husband said when he came in he saw people there he had never seen before and he wanted things "back the way they were before." Well, he got his wish. Back down to less than 30.

And this is what the church must learn; there are no "power people" in the church save Jesus Christ.

Frank Turk said...

You should have told Blake Carrington this:

"I am sure that's true -- let me introduce you to this fellow named Jesus of Nazareth."

You probably won't have lasted any longer than you did, but sometimes God allows, I am sure, that we can enjoy preaching the Gospel.

w.rust said...

Frank,

You wrote:
"I think you heard the Gospel (by your account) in the Church of Christ-esque church. If you did, what did you mean by leaving?"

In both cases, we met with the leadership several times and asked many questions. In the end, there were just too many cases of Scripture being quoted out of context to justify their teachings. In both cases my wife and I felt we had to leave - actually both times we felt a strong compulsion to leave. As a newer believer, I really felt the need for a solid Biblical grounding. We wanted teaching from the pulpit, not spiritualized stories, and not pop-psychology. What we meant by leaving was that were hungry for good teaching, and that we weren't finding it where we were. Now that we've grown a bit, we feel better equipped to protect ourselves from error.

I am convicted in that I could have been more loving in my leaving or found some words that could have conviced them to change, but that's not how it happened.

Frank Turk said...

Bill:

First of all, I apologize for making an anecdote and an example out of you -- please don't take any of this thread personally and it is not intended personally.

But here's the thing -- you have said both of the items in bold, below, and they are statements almost everyone who reads this blog can empathize with and remember saying in one form or another:

"I am convicted in that I could have been more loving in my leaving or found some words that could have conviced them to change, but that's not how it happened."

and

"What we meant by leaving was that were hungry for good teaching, and that we weren't finding it where we were. Now that we've grown a bit, we feel better equipped to protect ourselves from error."

The first thing there is really, really fine work in your conscience -- the knowledge that, even if you were "right" you were also "not perfect" (which is to say "wrong enough to have done better"). Amen. That's proof enough that you are actually under the conviction of the Holy Spirit as far as I'm concerned.

But think about how that good work of conscience speaks to that second statement in bold. Knowing you were "hungry for good teaching" is not the same thing as "being able to tell which is which". And the primary manifestation of that is what your own conscience tells you about how you handled the events.

Now, that said: you're not even hardly alone in this boat. All of us have been there in one way or another. Some of us are there right now.

Look: whatever they were teaching was enough to get you to conviction of sin and repentance, yes? That's pretty good. And in the hint that your conscience is giving you -- as it has given all of us who have been through this at least once -- we can find the clue to what the "right way" to handle the disagreement ought to be. And that clue points us back to Scripture.

We really do owe those who are in the pulpit more than a fair hearing. Even if they are really bad, they are given by a God a responsibility for us, and we have a responsibility to them. When we have fulfilled our part, we can then find out whether they can fulfill their part.

I haven't written these answers to condemn you, Bill -- please don't read them that way. I think you have looked at what you did and have understood some of it. I think what you understand is a good lesson for all of us regarding our local churches.

Chris said...

Frank: Again, I can understand sticking it out if we are talking about disagreement over legitimate doctrinal issues, historical or current, as I said in my previous comments--that you didn't buy :^)--but once again I need to reiterate the fact that the postmodern/emergent downgrade, as you know, is such a sweeping wave of heresy, with so many manifestations, that there should be no compromising with it...or with a pastor who, as I see it, has abandoned his post as a faithful shepherd over the flock. In fact, from what I've seen, those who take this route begin saying that those who are faithful shepherds, and who care about truth, are the ones in error. You said that we need to look at how Paul describes what pastors should be, and I agree, but in the case I've been trying to explain, I think it is necessary to not look at Paul's criterion for pastors but rather for false teachers. From all I've seen and read, I believe any man (or woman, sadly) who calls himself (or herself, sadly) a "pastor" and knowingly has any involvement with the postmodern, emergent downgrade and its lies is a false teacher...and from such a church true christians should flee.

Stefan said...

I should be—and am—grateful that I have never had the experience of spending time in a dysfunctional church. I say this not to gloat, but y'all scare me every time you relate your experiences in such places. I shudder at the prospect of ever being put in such a situation myself.

Lord, protect the pastors and elders all across our continent who tremble at your Word and who faithfully care for the flocks entrusted to them.

Chris said...

Stefan:

I'm so glad to hear you've not experienced such places, as it is a terribly discouraging experience indeed. For example, how does one submit to the authority of the leadership and/or the pastor of a church, as God's Word instructs, that is "led" by postmoderns who despise authority and/or the very existence of leadership in the first place under a guise of faux humility and hippieesque egalitarianism? What a gross and complex ball of wax the postmodern church is becoming... capable of "deceiving even the elect".

Chris said...

But, as I mentioned, I have every reason to rejoice over God's abundant sovereignty and wisdom in His leading my family and I to a church with a high view of God and a low view of man--one that I believe is as close as one can be to heaven here on earth (which is a statement that I heard our beloved pastor make about the church and I very much agree!)

Frank Turk said...

Chris:

I am sure you attended these churches.

Tell me how you were serving in these churches.

Frank Turk said...

BTW, we have departed from the topic of the post. Sorry 'bout that all.

Dan: I have derailed my own meta. Perhaps I need counseling.

Chris said...

Frank: Thank's for taking the slight derailing on account of my comments; I didn't realize we were doing that, but looking at it once again, I can see we did.

Well, acts of service at these churches collectively--beyond tithing of course--included things like joining up with a group of folks to build a house down in Baja, serving at a food bank, making the decision to be independent sponsor of a pastor in India who had a loose affiliation with one of them and came to speak one Sunday (he was not officially supported by that church), and providing transporation to church for a man living in a halfway house. To be quite honest, I've never had to list my works like this and it feels a bit odd to do so.

Concerning the term "service," it was very much a buzz word at one of the churches I mentioned (where we were the longest of the three), as a number of people were running around using the word service, or "serve" frequently. It has a bad taste in my mouth because of the context in which it was so frequently used and substituted for correct doctrine, truth, a high view of God, and/or the Lordship of Christ. I know service is a wonderful word and/or activity; indeed, it is a solidly biblical activity and I welcome much more service in and through the church we are a part of now...because I have a certainty that service does not replace truth, but compliments it. On this note, it is important to remember that lots of pagans are quite service-oriented as well; the dividing line between the humanitarian do-gooders or the works-righteousness religious do-gooders and those in Christ who live selflesly....is Christ, who is truth and must first be worshipped as lord in truth right?

At that church where lots of activity was ablaze regarding service, among people who had no regard for correctness and true doctrine, it made me think of of all those Jesus describes in Matthew who will say "Lord, Lord..." on that day when He says "depart". When serious issues of truth and doctrine were challenged or questioned, it was as if the questions were never asked (because I was never given an answer) and I was immediately encouraged by the asistant to "get more involved and serve"...why? So that I might just forget about the importance of truth like they have?

Frank Turk said...

Chris:

As I read what you wrote here, it seems to me that you joined in the activities, but you don't seem to have joined any activities which would have assisted in leading.

You participated in the "outreach", we might say, but did you assist or seek to assist in the "in-reach"? (For example, serving in any of the tasks that help administrate or operate the church -- which can range from teaching Sunday school to working in the 4 walls of the building on a work day)

DJP said...

FrankDan: I have derailed my own meta.

First laugh of the day

Now I really shouldn't take it personally.

christianlady said...

We sort of took a different tack. We decided when our church was showing signs of being Warrenesque and had emergent influences, that we had to leave. We didn't really plan to do much of anything with this knowledge, not challenge or anything. We had recalled a member a few years back being voted out because of his lack of love in confrontation. We also knew an elder and wife had left after two years of trying to redirect the church. We knew the battle was not ours, or so we thought. We were requested by a pastor to write a letter, as well as an elder because we didn't just leave completely in silence. We wrote our letter, but in it stated we already had left not that we were staying. We didn't list demands, just evidence of problems. The lead pastor was first of all denying any of the things we claimed to be so (though a pastor on staff actually confirmed at least part of what we said). Our general feeling was that we had no authority to demand change. We merely pointed out the problems. Why did we leave? Because we have children we are responsible for and the oldest was about to be "youth." We didn't want to deal with seperating him from the youth (since they would do things like go to the latest Heath Ledger movie, and were being led by men who introduced Rob Bell's Noomas). Had we been a couple without children, we would likely have done what some of our friends have opted to do. Stay and serve in children's ministry. They inject the gospel everywhere they can. It is not our contentiont that our former church doesn't present the gospel, just that they also present another gospel right along with it. A "means to an end" sort of gospel. A "spiritual formation" in the way of moving closer to contemplative prayer gospel. A social works gospel. With the mix and confusion, our intention was to protect our children. What we missed out on, possibly being thrown out for our continual nagging. I mean, what is a man or woman of God to do in a church in error? If they choose to stay, they must speak the truth in love? It's so hard when the churches are turning ever so slightly away (it's kind of like being a "little pregnant"). Standing up gets you slapped, but though the pastor has a certain authority, someone has to say something sometimes. And besides, the church didn't save me. I was saved by faith and God's grace through Christ Jesus. (please correct me if I'm wrong here)

Chris said...

Actually, I was pursuing interest in these things (leading the small group, as a couple of people in our group told me I should), albeit careful towards God, myself, and others not to be driven by an ambition to lead (for the sake of leading) or become puffed up. However, I also noticed that being in any such position of leading, or even serving administratively (inreach), was conditional upon my demonstrating consistency with the whole emergent/pomo deal going-on beneath the surface. In other words, emergents like to talk about those "gatekeeper" types in churches (true believers who care about truth) they need to get around as they import their postmodern package into an unsuspecting congregation; well, what I noticed, when the leadership is emergent-leaning, they became the gatekeepers, granting admission into the inner circles to those who are deemed cool enough, "open" enough (to "change"), artistic enough or--as I saw it--nihilistic and downtrodden enough to be the "new kind of Christian" they wanted people to be.

Now that we are at a church that embraces truth, I am excited to see where and how God will use me/us there. As I mentioned, it is essential for Christians in a church to ssubmit to leadership, which can only happen when leadership sees itself as such.

Frank Turk said...

Chris --

So your report is that they would not let you serve is a way which would allow you some fellow-worker time with those who were leading and administrating the church, yes?

Chris said...

I'm sorry, but I may have misunderstood your question. Are you asking me if they would let me work with them?

Chris said...

Or, are you asking if I felt I needed to agree entirely with fellow workers before I could work with them?

I think you were asking this question, so I'll answer it first. Again, the landscape has changed. I mean, a few decades ago, this conversation would go much differently because person X would be saying they would/could not stay at a church or serve with their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ because of this doctrinal disagreement or that. I would be right in there with you saying "I don't buy it" because we are commanded by Paul and by our Lord to work together for the Gospel in a spirit of love. However, even back then, the same person telling person X to stick it out and stay would never tell such a person to do so if that church, say, denied the Trinity. Right? Well, postmodern/emergent landscape is so splintered and menasticized into such small bits of heresy--like cancer--that it is not as easy to pinpoint a single error like the example above. Nonetheless, we know the implications--both from our own observation and from the insights by those worthy theologians far above our caliber--just how dangerous and anti-Christian postmodernism is. It is essentially a huge bag of leven! For the same reason I will not work alongside folks at an LDS building, I cannot do so at a church that is immersed in such leven--which is not the same as having a mere disagreement over a point of doctrine.

Van said...

Many of us appear to have left a church under less that savory conditions at least once. It can be very difficult and painful to make the decision to leave, and sometimes it is the biblically correct decision. In the case of the letters to Timothy and Titus however, Paul doesn't seem to be advocating leaving because of doctrinal differences. He wrote Timothy and urged him to "remain on at Ephesus, in order that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines... rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. (1Tim 1:3-3 NASB) He wrote his other "true son in the faith" and reminded him that the reason he was in Crete was so he might "set in order what remains, and appoint elders" (Tit 1:5 NASB), because there were " many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach" (Tit 1:10-11 NASB). It appears that Paul considered Timothy and Titus to be mature christian men, men to whom he had passed on his spiritual heritage, their faith. As such, they were expected to love the body of Christ so much that they would be willing to endure hardship to proclaim the truth, especially when the truth was not popular.

I also left a church under very painful circumstances. Like Bill, I did the best I knew how, but recognize that there were several meetings between myself and the church leadership that I could have handled with much more grace. I still pray for these men, speak to them when I meet them on the street, and do my best to treat them like "taxpayers and Gentiles", men who need to hear the truth of the gospel.

When we entered into our doctrinal disagreement though, I already had a certain standing with them, because I had taught Sunday school for several years, led the sr. high youth for several more years, was a member of the church board for five plus years, was leading a small group Bible study, and had known and worked beside most of them for almost my whole life. (I was in my early thirties at the time.) I humbly asked them how their teaching accorded with the Bible and brought God glory, and allowed the Holy Spirit to convict their hearts. Unfortunately when the word of God pricked their hearts I became in their eyes a target instead of one who came along beside to pick them up when they fell.

Some of my best friends today are people that loved me enough to remind me that I am not above the law of God. I am very grateful for friends that gently asked if I was engaging in particular sins, thereby holding me accountable to my profession of faith. I learned as a young christian the value of scripture as reproof and rebuke... but also instruction in righteousness.

As to Frank's question, would Paul call me his child in the faith, there is hope. He also called the Corinthian church his spiritual children, even as he corrected them. Like the Corinthian church, I have hope that even if I am an immature Christian, there are those who care enough to confront sin in such a way that I can grow to maturity.

Chris said...

Van:

Excellent comments. Thank you for sharing your experience, and for your God-honoring honesty. As my previous comments indicated, I can relate to the painful dillemma in which you found yourself...and you seem to have been much more involved with the church you left than I was. Now, concerning the mandate to stay at a church with false teaching, using the scriptural references you provided, I found myself saying that I could have applied them and done that if I were single--be a doctrinal gatekeeper of sorts. However, I believe the context changes when we have families involved, as husbands are called to protect our wives and children from both physical AND spiritual danger. I know the passages you cite here give no specific indicators as to the men Paul addresses being single or family men, but I believe it makes a difference as we apply it to our lives. Again, not to sound like a broken record (in light of my previous comments to Frank), but the nature of the spiritual danger--indeed, our reason to leave or not to leave--is more complicated if it involves postmodern relativism and an assault on the very concept of truth than, say, a disagreement over infant baptism or a singular doctrinal difference. BTW: your comments read as coming from one who is very mature in the faith.

Van said...

Chris:

Frank wrote an excellent piece regarding children Saturday, October 13, 2007. http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2007/10/how-to-feed-children.html

As a man whose only child is just ten weeks from conception, I cannot rely on experience at all, I can only look for answers from the Bible. In Deut. 6:5-7 God commands the men of Israel to love Him, to meditate on His words, and to teach the words of God to their sons pretty much all the time and as part of daily life. I have found nothing in the NT that remotely contradicts the principle that God expects fathers to be primarily responsible for the spiritual teaching of their children. Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus seem to reflect his acting as a father by instructing them in the word of God. Yes, they most definitely appear to be mature children at the time the letters to them were written. However, I can think of another example of a son who was not kept apart from sinful man, but was instead sent to live among them. The Son of God came and spent time among sinful men, but was without sin... probably because His Father had taught Him completely and perfectly.

Like you I am very concerned with the spiritual upbringing of my child. My prayer is that he/she will never know the heartache caused by teachers that have drifted from the truth. However, even if poor teaching of any kind sneaks into the church we are members of, I want to teach my child what it means to contend for the gospel. I have personally observed teens learn to study the Bible, to apply what they read to their life, and then be able to determine false teaching by comparing what the teacher said to the Bible. My prayer is that your children and mine be likewise equipped to defend their faith in the face of postmodern, gnostic, or any other doctrine of demons. May God bless you as you act as doctrinal gatekeeper for them. The best part... even when I (or any of us) screw it up, God's grace is sufficient!

Chris said...

Amen--well said. Agreed.