08 April 2009

Establish Elders [3]

by Frank Turk



This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you - if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
I am sure I have about 3,000 words on what I am about to say next, but I'm going to say only this and leave the rest to the meta:

Notice that Paul here instructs Titus to appoint elders in every town and not watchbloggers. That is: the focal point and center of discernment ought to be in the local church. If your counter-concern is that local churches today lack discernment (and this may be a valid concern), I suggest that the place to fix that is in the place God ordained and not everywhere else but that place.

There is plenty of nuance lacking in this post. We can work all of it out in the meta.






121 comments:

Frank Turk said...

So let my first comment be this:

People who are not qualified to be elders in their local church -- specifically, people who cannot find a local church to which they belong and are thereby held accountable -- are by definition not qualified to be a source of discernment.

If you are reading this, and you are an elder in your local church, and you are sharing your God-given wisdom -- which includes larger commentary on the world of the church -- this post is probably not about you.

What Paul is instructing Titus to do here is what we ought to expect from our pastors, and we ought to work to help them do and be this.

DJP said...

So you tell me whether this irreparably "franks" your meta:

Paul tells pastor Titus to appoint pastors. This follows the practice of apostle/pastor Paul, who "appointed elders for them in every church" (Act 14:23).

Given that, and given your point that really only elders are qualified to "judge" elders... how does that reflect on the common church practice of picking a pastor by majority-vote? Of pulpit committees comprised largely or even solely of non-pastors? Of no further qualification requirement for the final decision than that the voter had at one time become a member of the church, which in most churches can be done without possessing a muon of understanding as to the Biblical teaching about pastoral ministry or ecclesiology?

IOW, leadership is selected by people with no necessarily qualification to lead, nor even training or education in what it takes or even means to be a church leader.

How does this relate to that?

Danny Spence said...

My situation is that the church i used to attend started getting into the whole purpose driven, Rob Bell, say a prayer and *poof* your saved, and then I found that my co-workers and friends were into Granger, and Willow Creek, and NewSpring. There were so many times I listened to an invitation from the pulpit that grieved me so much, that I went out and started a blog to try and reach some of those people with some warnings about some of these things, and I received some good information from some watchdog sites. While my friends won't traffic those sites, they might traffic my blog and be warned where the elders of their home church are just sitting there. Do I have a responsibility to speak up? I am not an elder, so should I stop trying to expose Rob Bell to my youth pastor?
--Danny

Van said...

It is quite easy to point out what others are doing wrong. It is a much different thing to put the trustworthy word as taught into practice, and then instruct those who are contradicting the word. We see kids defending their actions with "He hit me first!"... and watchbloggers attacking others for perceived wrong doing, instead of first submitting to the authority of God via His word and the local assembly. Correction should primarily happen locally... Paul and John both applied correction from a distance via a letter, but both were apostles, and both not only pointed out the error, but taught the truth.

An observation of mine is that if you point out a problem to those in authority without being willing to participate in the solution (regardless if it is your solution or theirs) then you are a part of the problem itself... because you just made it bigger/more obvious.

Ben said...

Frank (and other Pyros),

Please know, I'm not at all unsympathetic to the work you do here. But I would benefit to hear your explanation of the difference between "watchblogging" and what you all do here. Is the difference qualitative or quantitative? Do you see a difference between posts along the lines of "Look what ______________ just said!" and those that critique trends in various movements (with specific citations, of course)?

The Squirrel said...

I think Dan makes an excellent point. When a church, any church, chooses its leadership based on popularity, politics, or polls instead of on Biblical standards, there's a problem. In too many churchs, we face the same problem that Israel faced 2000 years ago, when the office of high priest was bought and sold.

Yes, the problem is in the local church, and that is the place to fix it. But how?

~Squirrel

DJP said...

Ben — I'll offer the start of a response. My betters here (Frank and Phil) of course should weigh in, and may of course have different perspectives.

I mostly read "watchblogging" used by (A) people whose heterodoxy exposes them to unwelcome but needed critique, and (B) what I've come to think of as "raised-pinkie" bloggers who are inclined to be too delicate even to interact critically with heresy in their own meta's, let alone elsewhere.

Moral and spiritual discernment is a duty shared by all Christians in general (Matthew 7:1-6, 15-20; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1-6; etc.), and pastors in particular (cf. 1 Timothy 1:3-7; Titus 1:8-16, etc.).

You asked.

SolaMom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frank Turk said...

DJP --

This relates directly to that. Since you asked, I think that the most serious indictment of the local church in our age is that it has neglected the charge for it to build its own future leaders -- local leaders for the local church.

The only mitigator here is that Paul actually sends Titus to Crete -- he apparently didn't raise him up from Crete. But the difference between being sent by one qualified to send you and being elected seem obvious to me.

I think it's a great point which we will get to later in this series.

Meredith said...

Dan,

I am confused... does this phrase by Paul (This is why I left you... to appoint elders) mean that the congregational polity of my SBC church gets it wrong in regard to "calling" a pastor?

Please help

DJP said...

Um, so... you're asking me to say something that might be critical of your specific local church's polity? I, uh, er....

Hey, look! A comet!

Hayden said...

notice also the word 'appoint' not 'elect' or 'vote for' :--) (For our congregational Baptist friends)

Frank Turk said...

Definition of a watchblog:

Any blog-like website which has the primary objective of “exposing” the church life errors of people in the English-speaking, North American church; sees “apologetics” as primarily the prosecution of guilty heretics and not as turning a brother away from sin; rarely turns its attention to exhorting the exceeeding beauty and sufficiency of Christ.

Among their most devastating weapons are surprise, fear, and ruthless efficiency; sometimes their brilliant red uniforms, but never a fanatical devotion to the Pope.

For Catholic watchblogs, change the word "never" in the last sentence to "usually", noting that there are a good number of sedevacant Catholic watchblogs.

Catholic apologetic posts in this thread will be deleted.
____________________

"Watchblog" is also a slander used by people who are being criticized; the term was in fact coined by them. See: in some people's view, all public criticism is inherently unfair and anti-biblical. What they want to do is to take criticism and lump it in together with the voyeuristic tendancy of actual watchblogs and thereby shoot the messenger.

TeamPyro has certainly been branded as a watchblog by some of our subjects of consideration, but here's the thing: by a long shot, the PyroManiacs spend most of our bandwidth talking about what ought to be, based on what the Bible teaches us rather than picking through the detritus of pseudo-evangelical disintegration.

If you're asking, the premise of TeamPyro is different that the premise of a watchblog. We'll name names when it's necessary, but our objective is not to name names: our objective is to open the Bible and see what it says to us -- the English-speaking church in whatever year this is right now.

Ben said...

Dan and Frank,

I'm not following your responses. Unless I'm misreading your definition of watchblogging, Dan, it seems to me that this blog is one, which is a reasonable judgment in my view. But then Frank's argument seems to be that the place to address the absence of discernment is in the local church, not in watchblogs. So I don't grasp how these ideas fit together. I'm certainly not suggesting you should stop doing what you do.

DJP said...

< Nods at Frank >

I have, in fact, often positively refrained from naming names, letting the Biblical case make the point plainly enough.

Ben said...

Gotcha, that's what I was looking for. Thanks, Frank.

SolaMom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gary said...

Notice that Paul here instructs Titus to appoint elders in every town and not watchbloggers.

Your take on this applies, not just to watchblogs but also women elders/pastors. The correct response to unqualified male leadership is not unbiblical female leadership, but proper biblical training for the men.

I'm going to have to disagree with Frank when he says, "People who are not qualified to be elders in their local church -- specifically, people who cannot find a local church to which they belong and are thereby held accountable -- are by definition not qualified to be a source of discernment."

While I do agree with the hyphenated "specifically...", I see nowhere in Scripture where the gift of discernment necessarily entails having the gift of teaching -- open to correction of course.

Tim Challies said...

Frank,

Thanks for posting the definition of "watchblog" or at least _a_ definition of it. It is probably one of the areas where my article fell short. I was stuck between defining it so clearly that I would call out one or two specific blogs and not really defining it at all. I opted for the latter more than the former.

I do not think Pyro is a watchblog. The reason, as you state, is that this blog is far more prescriptive and descriptive. Rather than simply providing endless examples of all that is wrong in the church, you guys focus attention on how things ought to be. This is where so many of the watchblogs fall so short. They are, in effect, just like the gossip columns of trashy newspapers. Instead of dealing with the sexual exploits of celebrities they share the lascivious details of churches and Christians (and supposed churches and supposed Christians). They do this under the banner of apologetics whereas I'm convinced that it is really no than gossip and/or entertainment.

DJP said...

Would you agree that there is no more merit in refusing to address the evils frontally and Biblically, than there is in dwelling on them exclusively, Tim?

Daryl said...

As far as selecting elders, I really like (as if my liking it is a viable standard...) how my church does it.

The elders select those who they feel are qualified, take them through a process of interviews to help discern whether their initial impression was correct, and then present them to the congregation for affirmation or not.
That affirmation doesn't happen by vote, a period of time is alloted for people to register concerns with the elders and for those concerns to be investigated. It's a time for the elders to recieve additional information they may not already have, really.
In the end (and the beginning) it is our elders who select our elders.

What I like about Pyro in general and this series in particular is the constant redirection to the local church.

Incidentally, I think this post goes well with Dan's previous post about discerning God's will. For elders and pastor's alike, doesn't it follow that if your local church doesn't identify you as elder/pastor material, you've no business seeking that role out?

So calling, of any kind, still happens in the local church setting, even if that's not where you eventually end up?

Good word Frank.

Daryl said...

I gotta add here, that the more you write on how a church should be, the more thankful I am for my church.

It's not perfect (it's not even Calvinistic, sadly) but it's got excellent leadership that know what they're about.

olan strickland said...

What Paul is instructing Titus to do here is what we ought to expect from our pastors, and we ought to work to help them do and be this.

Amen Frank! Knowing what God expects of pastors will certainly help the saints to expect the same from them and to help them to do and be this.

First of all pastors should know what God expects of them as found in His Word and should remain true to this no matter the consequences of serving in a church that doesn't understand and possibly isn't interested in what God expects of pastors. This is difficult and painful work (I know from experience) but it is also rewarding work (I know from experience). Hiding behind a blog or anywhere outside of the local church and not working for her reformation from within carries no real cost and will not get the job done.

Atone said...

Frank:

Can you give me (by email if necessary) a specific example of a watchblog.



Sola Mom,

I'd say this definition that Frank has provided should resonate well with you:

Definition of a watchblog:

Any blog-like website which has the primary objective of “exposing” the church life errors of people in the English-speaking, North American church; sees “apologetics” as primarily the prosecution of guilty heretics and not as turning a brother away from sin; rarely turns its attention to exhorting the exceeeding beauty and sufficiency of Christ.

Frank, now that you've provided a definition are you willing to actually name names? I wonder since many folks who would fall under your definition are of the Reformed ilk. In the past, such calls to be consistent with the Emerging and Emergent people you call out by name has been met by crickets. Just wondering.

Brad

DJP said...

Yes, Daryl; that's right in the ballpark of how I see to apply Scripture in this case. Myself. Who is not the author of this post, but counts himself a personal friend of same.

donsands said...

"Given that, and given your point that really only elders are qualified to "judge" elders..."

I had to go through this in my last church. Judging, and asking a senior pastor to resign.
What became a dark and nasty time, can not be imagined.

But elders are elders, no beter or worse Christinas than the flock, yet different calling.

The elders were full of grace through all of the intnense strife, but many in the congregation, even some who were not memebers, became very nasty. Wanting to bite and devour, and consume, with much pride, provoking, and envy (Gal. 5:15,28).
The Lord has His ways of exposing the true heart of people in His Church. And there's not be anything as ugly that I have seen. Yet, repentance and forgiveness are there by His grace, if we believe it; if we go to the foot of the Cross. But some won't.

Tim Challies said...

"Would you agree that there is no more merit in refusing to address the evils frontally and Biblically, than there is in dwelling on them exclusively, Tim?"

I'm not sure that I understand the question. But if I do understand it, then I would say that there is definitely a time to address issues frontally and biblically. But I think this means addressing the issues and not just posting videos of the problems. This is akin to addressing pornography by placing a pornographic image on your site and saying, "See what people are doing today! Lord save us from such evil." The way to address sin is by pointing to what is true and good, not just pointing to all that is evil. It is a testament to our sinfulness, I think, that we have much more delight in watching what is evil than in studying and believing and applying what is good and true.

DJP said...

Yes; I intended to address all that by specifying "and Biblically."

SLW said...

So Frank, is your problem with watchbloggers primarily with those who are lone rangers?

Doug Hibbard said...

On the 'discernment' issue:

I think there would be a difference in the idea of 'discernment' as a gift, drawn from 1 Corinthians 12:10, and the expectation that ALL believers should develop (see Philippians 1:9).

So, while some people might be extra gifted with discernment, all believers are expected to develop it. All the more for someone who is to be an elder or church leader. It's an assumption, but I think a safe one, that 'able to teach' in the qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:2 assumes teaching right things as much as teaching well.

Discernment, to my understanding, is based more on a well-studied understanding of Scripture, and comparing current activities, teachings, and behaviors to Scripture than just a feeling or impression.

On the selecting a pastor issue, from the 'idealist view of the SBC:' all of the people voting on calling a man as pastor are prayed, fasted, and studied up on the Word, the situation of the church, and the man under consideration, and thus make a viable decision based on the Holy Spirit's presence in the lives of believers and their knowledge of the Word. Whether or not that's what happens, whole 'nother story.


Others might make the argument that all of the gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12 may not apply today, we'll leave that to them.


DJP @ 639 AM :That comet is sign! You should call me as your pastor!

Daryl said...

"People who are not qualified to be elders in their local church -- specifically, people who cannot find a local church to which they belong and are thereby held accountable -- are by definition not qualified to be a source of discernment."

That's really good Frank. It parallels what you said in an earlier post in this series, where you mentioned that 99.9% of us (at least) are not qualified to judge and correct our pastor, but that we need to come alongside and help in any way we can.

Same goes for eldership I think.

I know that I am not yet qualified to be an elder, on two counts.

1. My church has not asked me.
2. Most days, I think I am qualified and often think "why don't they ask already!"

Good help us all to be qualified and yet content to not be called.

Frank Turk said...

Before you read this answer to Danny’s question, I want to make something crystal clear: any reproach I offer in this comment is not to Danny personally. It is to the situation Danny, and hundreds of you readers, have said you are in. Danny’s question is your question, and I am answering it with all of you in mind. I am not seeking to offer an offense to Danny, but the advice I have really settled on over the last 3 or 4 years of blogging about the local church.

| My situation is that the church I used
| to attend started getting into ...

Not to Danny specifically here, but to all readers who want to now give us their testimony regarding how their church had suddenly lost its first love (In the Revelation sense of that phrase):

At some point, many of you have to realize that your church “started getting into” things when you were not willing (and in some cases, able) to stand at the plow with fellow workmen and help them reason through the “first things” in order to make and keep the local church a place which is clean, safe and warm (spiritually speaking).

These lines of questions invariably end the way Danny’s does here: what can I do now that my church is foundering? Listen: the answer is not “nothing”, but it is also not “begin the Spanish inquisition”. The truth is that doing “nothing” is really what got you and your church into this mess. Being unable or unwilling to shoulder your spiritual burden in the local church is what has caused at least part of it to fall down.

There is no question: in Scripture, the serious burden of the spiritual health of the church is placed on the elders/pastors. But they are not described in the Bible as the only ones working, and the rest of us are exhorted repeatedly to care for them, pray for them, and be subject to them.

If you, today, are not in some active way part of your church’s life (not a passive way; not merely attending and talking in Sunday school), then when your church “starts getting into” all manner of things, you can’t suddenly want to be doing more than “nothing” and seem credible.

| ... the whole purpose driven, Rob Bell, say
| a prayer and *poof* your saved, and
| then I found that my co-workers and
| friends were into Granger, and
| Willow Creek, and NewSpring.

I think it’s interesting that you discovered this rather suddenly. This is a common attribute in stories like yours, Danny, and it’s one which puzzles me.

Did they discover these things suddenly? I suspect they didn’t. That means that somehow they had been on, at least, a very different spiritual path than you had been for at least some amount of time. How does that happen, do you think? I honestly say this in love: when did they check in with you, and you with them, and for what purpose?

It seems obvious to me that Christians are called to be saints together – which means we are checking in with each other often. That way none of us “start getting into” stuff our fellow church-mates don’t understand.

| There were so many times I listened to an
| invitation from the pulpit that
| grieved me so much, that I went out
| and started a blog to try and reach
| some of those people with some
| warnings about some of these things,
| and I received some good
| information from some watchdog
| sites.

I am very confident that blogging to people you sit next to in church is, frankly, the least you can do. If you can’t have lunch with them (or the equivalent, because I realize that not everyone has lunch liberty), I am not sure what makes you think they will read your blog.

Or, for that matter, why your blog would influence them positively.

| While my friends won't traffic
| those sites, they might traffic my
| blog and be warned where the elders
| of their home church are just sitting
| there. Do I have a responsibility to
| speak up?

If by “speak up” you mean “join the life of my church and be inside it rather than looking helplessly in from the perimeter”, yes: you have that responsibility.

If by “speak up” you mean “start a blog to say things to people I go to church with whom I cannot strike up a conversation”, no: that’s not responsibility. That’s activity.

| I am not an elder, so
| should I stop trying to expose Rob
| Bell to my youth pastor?

Your youth pastor’s problem is not that he is not “exposed” to Rob Bell: it is that he cannot grasp the problems which Rob Bell creates in his videos and books.

There’s a Rob Bell Nooma where he’s sitting in a diner just rapping on about stuff – wealth, money, stuff. And his point at the end is about giving. But the point he makes runs perpendicular to Scripture: rather than underscore the fact that God loves a cheerful giver, Bell tells the viewer, (words to this effect) “If you can’t give cheerfully, God doesn’t want your money.”

Now, when we compare that to what St. Paul Really Said®:
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

And to what Jesus said:
Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

We find out quickly that Pastor Bell has taken a pretty significant liberty with the actual teaching of the Bible and has substituted a popularized version which, frankly, misses the point.

And what needs to happen is that your Youth Pastor has to love the sufficiency of Scripture more than he loves an entertaining video. But here’s the shocker: a blog isn’t going to do that for him when the people around him aren’t doing that for him.

I’m going to give you a secret to my success in influence my church, and do with it what you want: people who know me, and live with me, and talk to me find out quickly that I love God and the Bible in more than just a theoretical and theological way. The Bible makes sense to them when they see how I live. The question of “how real is Jesus” is solved for them when they meet my family and have lunch with me. So when they show me a Nooma video, having never read my blog, and I say to them, “I’m not sure this fellow got the Bible right – can we check?” The context of that statement for them is that my life is actually getting the Bible right already.

I don’t have any kind of perfect life. If you could measure sanctification with scientific devices, to measure mine you would need something which measures angstroms and not cups or pounds. But I have sacrificed the time to demonstrate this to people because I love them and care for them. Have you done the same for these people for whom you are grieved, and troubled, and deeply, deeply concerned?

If you have not, when they “start getting into” all manner of things, you are then at a double disadvantage, and while it is not too late to be part of the solution, the first order of business simply can’t be to watchblog them: it has to be to prove you are, and Paul says, above reproach, the husband of one wife whose children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination, above reproach, not arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. Then when it turns out you are also holding firm to the trustworthy word as taught, somebody will bother to listen to you.

The Squirrel said...

Well said, Frank. I think that comment might just be the best part of this series of posts! Word!

~Squirrel

Frank Turk said...

SLW:

Close enough. That would solve more than half of the problems with watchblogging.

Phil Johnson said...

Frank:

That could be the best comment anyone ever left on our blog.

Frank Turk said...

Phil:

Well, Challies is visiting. I had to step up.

Kaffinator said...

Yes Frank, that comment was breathtaking and prolly should be bumped up to an OP somehow. Hear hear!

I'm already pretty involved in my church. One of the reasons my appearance in blog comment is spotty. But still I am convicted: am I actually inviting people into fruitful participation or am I just busying myself cleaning up other people's messes. It's easy to get lost in the "work" of the thing.

Phil Johnson said...

Frank:

Challies is slumming. No need to treat him like visiting royalty.

And here's the thing: I subscribed to Challies.com on my new Kindle® last week. I'm technically still in the free trial period. If he wants me to fork over .99 a month in real, hard coinage, Challies is the one who needs to step up.

Frank Turk said...

I think TeamPyro needs to offer a subscription for Kindle, and we can donate the proceeds to the Gideons or something.

Maybe we could go to Sonic and have a Lemon Berry Slush. Whatever. I'm just sayin' that we could offer the blog up to Kindle readers and earn some t-shirt money.

Gary said...

Heb 3:12 Take care, brethren [plural!], that there not be in any one [singular!] of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.

Heb 4:1 Therefore, let us [plural!] fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one [singular!] of you may seem to have come short of it.

Heb 4:11 Therefore let us [plural!] be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one [singular!] will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.


These are from the passage that God used to awake my love for the local church. We the corporate, local church are responsible for the believers around us. If a single believer falls away in my church, that reflects on me; it reflects on all of us. So get invovled, now, before it's too late.

Phil Johnson said...

I filled out the application to list our blog as a Kindle sub. Apparently they don't accept watchblogger lookalikes. I've heard nothing back from our friends at Amazon.

Even though I send them money on an almost daily basis.

Tim Challies said...

And here's the thing: I subscribed to Challies.com on my new Kindle® last week. I'm technically still in the free trial period. If he wants me to fork over .99 a month in real, hard coinage, Challies is the one who needs to step up.

I don't know that I can handle that kind of stress. Trying to rise to the standards of Phil Johnson is just too daunting a task.

DJP said...

Tell us about it!

Daniel said...

Frank - I enjoyed reading your comment because it was not only true, but quite well stated.

Solameanie said...

"You prob'ly think this song is about you, don't you, don't you . . . "

LOL. Sorry..couldn't resist.

Seriously, the one word that really captures my attention is "ought." The way things "ought" to be. It's very sad to me that what ought to be isn't in so many cases. And we will be held accountable for it.

Having said that, blogs have their purpose and apologists have their purpose. But these things should never take the place of the local church. Ever. And blogs should never take the place of local churches or their biblically ordained authority. But I do have to speculate a bit. If the Apostles were here today, would they blog? Would the early church fathers have blogged? Who knows?

I blog and will continue to do so. I will continue to speak out on issues that concern me, hopefully with the right motivation. But if anyone is expecting me to offer sacerdotal functions via a blog, sorry.

Solameanie said...

Just to add on my previous comment wondering about the Apostles etc. blogging..I'm serious. Think about it a minute. I wonder what would be the case if the early church had had the technology we have today? Can you imagine a back and forth between Calvin and Arminius? Between Luther and Eck? Between the Apostle Paul and Hymenaeus?

It would be fascinating, and who in the world would ride herd on the meta?

Jim Crigler said...

As an S.B. (that's Southern Baptist, not Sackville-Baggins, in case you are wondering), I'm curious how this bit from DJP
interacts with Landmarkers.

“Given that, and given your point that really only elders are qualified to ‘judge’ elders... how does that reflect on the common church practice of picking a pastor by majority-vote? Of pulpit committees comprised largely or even solely of non-pastors? Of no further qualification requirement for the final decision than that the voter had at one time become a member of the church, which in most churches can be done without possessing a muon of understanding as to the Biblical teaching about pastoral ministry or ecclesiology?”

The Squirrel said...

But if anyone is expecting me to offer sacerdotal functions via a blog, sorry.

Of course, Joel. That's what e-mail is for!

(c:

~Squirrel

Tax Collector said...

Solameanie, good point.

Since Paul called out 'Alexander the metalworker' (2 Tim. 4:14)in God's eternal word (and we're still beating up the guy 2,000 years later) then I'm pretty sure he would not have hesitated to call him out on the Apostle Paul's blog too..

I wonder what tag name Paul would have used?

Bill

DJP said...

Tentmaker12+1

Jmv7000 said...

Frank,

You mentioned earlier that churches fail to raise their own leadership. This is a great point. I often think the fruit of this failure is the reliance of the church upon the Seminary. I do not want say Seminaries are bad (I for one attend one), but the local church is responsible for raising leaders AND pastors.

Seminaries have their place, but locally raised and cultivated pastors would be more advantageous.

tim said...

Since Paul called out 'Alexander the metalworker' (2 Tim. 4:14)in God's eternal word (and we're still beating up the guy 2,000 years later) then I'm pretty sure he would not have hesitated to call him out on the Apostle Paul's blog too..

Don't you think there is a difference between Paul calling out someone who was in a church over which he had some level of authority (whether he was the pastor or church planter or exercising his Apostolic authority) versus using a blog to call out random people to random people? Paul leveled a charge at Alexander to a specific people and for a specific reason. This strikes me as being far different than Paul writing every church in the area to tell them all about Alexander and his problems.

I ask because I've got lots of emails in my inbox using Paul as a defense for watchblogging. I find it very difficult to believe that Paul would have a watchblog of his own!

Tim Challies said...

That comment posted under "tim" was mine. I'm not sure why it reverted to a different account.

SolaMom said...
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SolaMommy said...

Wow, Frank...feeling convicted here. Thank you, I needed that. And now I am sufficiently motivated to do something potentially unpleasant that I've been putting off.

greglong said...

Given that, and given your point that really only elders are qualified to ‘judge’ elders... how does that reflect on the common church practice of picking a pastor by majority-vote? Of pulpit committees comprised largely or even solely of non-pastors? Of no further qualification requirement for the final decision than that the voter had at one time become a member of the church, which in most churches can be done without possessing a muon of understanding as to the Biblical teaching about pastoral ministry or ecclesiology?

I see congregational involvement all throughout the New Testament, and majority vote clearly indicated in 2 Cor. 2:6 as it relates to church discipline, so I don't know why it would be strange to think there should be congregational involvement in the most important of decisions such as choosing a pastor/elder/bishop.

But I will freely admit that the process is not spelled out in the NT in the same way that it is applied in most congregational churches.

greglong said...
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greglong said...

The congregation was involved in choosing proto-deacons in Acts 6 and missionaries in Acts 13, so again, I think it reasonable to think they would do so with elders as well.

In fact, perhaps the account in Acts 6 informs our understanding of Paul's use of "appoint" in Titus 1:5.

The apostles told the church to choose seven men. The church chose them, and the apostles appointed them.

Once again, I fully recognize that this is not the exact process followed in many churches. But the point is that there is clear congrgational involvement.

donsands said...

"Alexander to a specific people and for a specific reason."

That's true.

The Apostle John says, "Little children,...even now are there many anti-christs...They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they were of us they would have continued with us." And, "..many deceivers are entered into the world,...Whoever sins, and abides not in the doctrine of Christ, has not God. ... If anyone come to you and bring not the doctrine of Christ, don't receive him, neither bid him God speed." And, "I wrote to the church: but Diotrephes, who loves to lead, and have the preeminence among them, receives us not. .. talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church."

John had to deal with some nasty people in the Church.

Doug Hibbard said...

Since Paul called out 'Alexander the metalworker' (2 Tim. 4:14)in God's eternal word (and we're still beating up the guy 2,000 years later) then I'm pretty sure he would not have hesitated to call him out on the Apostle Paul's blog too..


I would add that, while 2 Timothy is inspired and useful for the whole church, it was originally a letter from an Apostle to his disciple, with practical advice, including very specific warnings. Paul didn't post 2 Timothy on the chapel door.

Perhaps there is part of the comparison:

With doctrines, you see a valid example of posting your 95 Theses that need examination from Scripture.

With people, you deal directly, including giving private warning to the people who are going to have to deal with the person.

So, when I teach a bad doctrine, call out the doctrine, name me if you need to.

If you don't like how I handle business meeting, call me personally and we'll deal with it. If you still don't like it (with appropriate grounds) warn others that are likely to be affected by me.

If the only place to handle something is the web, then you've got to be very, very careful. I'm not sure how far out that line is, how deep and public of an error you're trying to address, but just immediately calling out someone on the net can't be the best way to handle it.

Tax Collector said...

"I ask because I've got lots of emails in my inbox using Paul as a defense for watchblogging. I find it very difficult to believe that Paul would have a watchblog of his own!"

Tim, that's a great question. Here's my short take on it:

I believe in one church, one body, united under one Spirit and one truth - the Scriptures. Members of this body have been called out and set apart for the glory of God before the foundation of the world.

God has placed me in a localized representation of the whole body and given me specific duties to perform (specifically for His glory and the edification of other members), I know that to be true.

But as a member of the body of Christ I am a part of the 'pillar and ground of the truth' (1 Tim. 3:15) which transcends local assemblies and am admonished to defend the truth (insert kudos here to John Macarthur/ Phil Johnson for putting out such a wonderful book in The Truth Wars - thank you). False teaching in the body of Christ impacts the whole body - even little pinky toes like me. :)

I have no problem with openly calling out ones that are false. I had just better make sure I'm right.

That's my .02 on it. I hope I explained it well.

God bless.

Bill

johnMark said...

There is a piece of the bridge missing. God has entrusted a flock to those He's given to be pastors.

So who gives permission for another pastor to feed and/or poison another's flock?

This is what is happening with all of the easy access to just about anything.

Mark

Rita Martinez said...

Mr. Turk that was a great response thanks It convicted me over a few things...but you are right about things "suddenly happen" they don't. I know cause some of my brethren from youth group were once viewing the nooma videos on their ipod thingies and I could not keep quite, I told them right there to be careful of what they were listening to and told them who Rob Bell is and what he teaches, by God's grace a few weeks after that incident during one sermon the pastor spoke against PM and the emgerg*** church.

NoLongerBlind said...

I ask the following as a lay-member of the body, seeking to evaluate my church's approach to "appointing" elders:

In light of 1 Timothy 3:1 - "It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do." - it would seem that someone should first express their desire to be an elder rather than being "tapped on the shoulder as a possible candidate", so-to-speak, by the existing elders, doesn't it?

Or, is the above verse to be understood, when looked at along with the Titus passage from Frank's post, that, if said candidate for overseer, when first approached about the position, "aspires to the office...etc."?

Solameanie said...

Tim,

As always, it depends on what we're talking about. There are certain public errors that need to be corrected publicly. When Emergent Church authors deny the substitutionary atonement, embrace universalism or defend homosexual conduct in writings and broadcast interviews, it is fair game to challenge it publically. I don't think one needs to wait for a local elder board to deal with an error that has been disseminated widely, especially when said elder board agrees with heresy.

Atone said...
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Atone said...

You're mistaken. I invite you to read my About page where my purpose is clearly stated.

Jules, I'd rather read your content instead, and then take it from there...know what I mean?

Peace.


Frank,

To toss another “atta boy” into the echo chamber, that last comment was excellent. Now if you could channel that spirit in your OPs, you’d give knuckleheads like me a lot less to complain about. Keep at it.

Brad

SolaMom said...
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David Rudd said...

Frank,

I'll pile on. While that comment was pretty similar to your series on "leaving church" several months ago (which I really enjoyed), it was a spot-on answer to Danny's comment...

well done.

Stefan said...

Interesting, Frank, that you are pointing out that the local church is the main vehicle for exercising discernment (to force paraphrase, in order to tie it into my thesis statement).

Yesterday, it was shown to me that there is a principle shown repeatedly in Acts and the life of Paul, whereby the local church is also the main vehicle for missions and evangelism (which are bound up with church planting): Paul would make contact with a community, travel there, preach, establish a church, appoint elders, send and receive brothers to/from those churches, maintain follow-up communication. These churches would in turn become the vehicle for further evangelism and church planting.

In other words, the local church is the locus for the work of the universal body of Christ: both in its corporate sense, and in the ministry of individual believers.

And that was a first-class comment you posted earlier.

Stefan said...

But I'm secretly jealous, because Phil liked my Drunken Master comment so much last week, and now you one-upped me.

Maybe I should start a competing blog, out of pure spite. Call it "The Extinguisher."

Hayden said...

Greg,

Do not confuse congregational involvement with voting. That is found nowhere in the text of Scripture. You have to force that interpretation on 2 Cor. 6. An elder-led system does not exclude congregational involvement it just does not include voting and politicking which is what it has degenerated into in the SBC in particular.

By the way, do a word study on the word translated 'appoint' in Titus 1:5. It is very clear what Paul means here.

DJP said...

Gotta go with Hayden. Getting feedback is one thing. Giving the final call to a majority-vote of the least-trained and least-qualified (contrary to explicit text and example) is another.

SolaMom said...

I'd like to share some personal experiences I've had with "church leadership". But, I won't bog down this thread with it. I'll post it at my blog tomorrow.

Danny Spence said...

Frank
Thank you for that in-depth response. Looking back on my time at the church in question, I was growing in my faith and knowledge of scripture. And as I started to get more involved in my church, they saw my love for reaching out to the unsaved and for the word of God and started including me in some of their programs. I went to a small group seminar that was out of Willow Creek, so it was me finding out they were already a seeker sensitive church, and I just didn't know it. I didn't do the needed leg work before I joined. The blog was so I could get my thoughts together and present something to a VERY technically savvy group that would be thoughtful and deliberate that could spark some discussion. I have not read your series on "leaving church", I will have to take a look.
I still got a lot to learn

SolaMom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Strong Tower said...

"through the detritus of pseudo-evangelical disintegration."

Nice consonance. Now go wash your mouth out.

"all of the people voting on calling a man as pastor are prayed, fasted, and studied up on the Word, the situation of the church, and the man under consideration, and thus make a viable decision based on the Holy Spirit's presence in the lives of believers and their knowledge of the Word."

And after our church had been through ten pastors everyone was still claiming they were faithful. But the real problem is that which Cent points to, just who is it that is to do this? And if Scripture holds an answer, shouldn't that be the standard and not the convenience of collegial convention?

"The congregation was involved in choosing proto-deacons in Acts 6 and missionaries in Acts 13, so again, I think it reasonable to think they would do so with elders as well."

Interesting transterpretation. But what we have is the clear teaching in Timothy and Titus. Acts is not where one normally looks for the normative rule. Why the appeal to the more obscure, and why the need to involve the deaconate issue? And it is not at all clear that those set to "oversee" the distribution were deacons, at all. Church discipline is not Elder calling, nor is the sending of missionaries, though I would argue that at best they should be Elders. Again, the issue is not appearances or acceptability, but what is being taught. Funny thing is that if we can't reach a consensus about how we choose Elders what makes us think that we have to discernment to choose them?

"The apostles told the church to choose seven men. The church chose them, and the apostles appointed them."

Who did? The church, the whole church? Again, if Paul is setting the Church up in Timothy and Titus and elsewhere, then it is obvious that the governmental structure isn't even in play at this point. And just who was qualified to determine which ones where "of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom?" The twelve year old, the recent convert, the emotionally schizoid teen tat dude? It just doesn't figure, does it?

"if any man aspires to the office of overseer"

This doesn't necessarily exclude the mentoring process and identification of eligibility should have long been the consideration of the "teachers." It would not be beyond the verse for the Elders to invite the consideration, and if any man then aspires to the office to qualify the individual.

To echo Stefan. Accountability and discernment go hand-in-hand. The pastor-in-a-box phenomenon didn't begin with the Net. It has made it easier. But, importing "pastoral authority" into the local is not new. Discernment is learned but not without being taught and one of the things which we are taught is that fellowship is essential to the health and well-being of the church. Like any family, maturation is the primary family business and the product is to be "no longer children tossed to and from by every wind of doctrine..." Also like a family, speciific roles and callings are inculcated in the children. It then will not do to have electronic relationships, electronic accountability. I could care less that Cent is on the other end of this communique. What is he to me? I can shut him off any time I wish. How different then are the Elders who come knocking at the door? How different and how refreshingly real life.

Cent has mentioned this real life like Paul figgur who was a father, an mentor, a friend, to his sons, Timothy and Titus. How different we are when we don't see this vitality. Though fallen into disrepute out of abuse, we need to not forget Christ our Elder brother and the example he set as he raised up his brethren as if they were his own dear sons.

Aaron said...

Frank,

This is an excellent series. I for one, never really studied the qualifications of elders that seriously because most of the churches I went to, church leaders were, well,...old. But recently my Pastor wrote in an e-mail that he is trying to identify men for leadership positions. So this series is quite timely.

At some churches, being involved in the direction of the church can seem daunting. If you go to a church that 50,000 members, it's a lot tougher to be involved in talking to the leadership because they tend to be so busy. Additionally, there are so many ministries that it's easy to be involved in ministry without the elders knowing who you are. I know that when I attended a mega-church, I was involved in several ministries and small groups. But I never met the elder or the pastor. I'm not saying that this wasn't my fault for making an effort but that is why I have come to enjoy my small church. I can e-mail my pastor at any time and go see him without much notice.

Secondly, you point out something I hadn't really seriously considered. And that is personal involvement in people's lives. I attend church, Sunday school, men's group, help out in ministries, etc. but haven't really made the effort to get to know people individually. I guess my job makes me very wary of the company I keep, but I need to take a more proactive approach to getting to know the people in my church. Otherwise, how can I be a leader or even somebody who can be trusted by the leaders?

ALL FOR ONCE/ ONCE FOR ALL said...

"I don't think one needs to wait for a local elder board to deal with an error that has been disseminated widely, especially when said elder board agrees with heresy."

Good point Joel- Especially the 'disseminated widely' thing. Fred Phelps doesn't have the cult impact of Rob Bell. That's because of the truth/error mixture and Rob's PC comeliness.

Danny, I resonate with you. That's all I'll say. Even though I'm two feet taller than Frank - I scared :)

Seriously though, when Frank has previously commented about this "thing", I struggle. I believe that I eventually will come to an understanding closer to Cent. I got to let my feelings go and weigh the truth.

Aaron said...

Danny,

I know I attended a seeker sensitive church then a church that turned that direction when I first became a Christian. The "sudden" awareness came from my own spiritual growth and sanctification. I realized as I looked for solid food that the church only offered stage 1 baby formula. I had some discussions with the Pastorate about it and came away feeling less than satisfied with their answers. So I left...quietly. Blogging about it (although there weren't blogs at that time) would have been inappropriate because it would have exposed the ongoings of the local body to the whole world.

IMHO, it's a bit different with church leaders who are printing books, etc. and exporting their nonsense to other churches.

Frank Turk said...

@Challies:

One thing I have learned over the years: Everybody thinks they're Paul, and nobody wants to be either Silas or barnabas. Everyone is Apollos, and nobody is Stephen.

You'd think people who cared about Biblical sufficiency so much would want all of Scripture to be sufficient -- but it turns out that Scripture has sexy parts, too, and like all sexy parts they get abused by the immature.

Frank Turk said...

Aaron:

Why would you join a church with 50,000 members?

Why would you even want to join one with 1,000 members?

... don't make me switch axes in mid-grind, please ...

Solameanie said...

Frank: "nobody is Stephen."

Actually, I expect to get stoned to death eventually the way things are going in the world at the moment, unless they bring scimitars back.

Mostly kidding (cough).

For the record, I am beginning to change my mind on the "congregational rule" aspect of church polity (and the most common polity in my own denomination). From what I can see in Scripture, elder rule does indeed seem to be the standard. I am trying to be open and teachable.

Solameanie said...

I just thought of another interesting question, and hope it's not too far off topic.

Protestants have made much over the years of the "priesthood of the believer." You certainly hear much of that in Baptist circles. One of the things that distinguishes Protestants from Catholics is this idea that you don't need a "priest" to be a mediator between you and God. Is there a risk when we say that lay people are "unqualified" to discern, we risk re-incorporating that old clergy/laity distinction that helped give the Catholic priesthood such power over people?

Jason Robertson said...

nice dog.

Phil Johnson said...

Jason:

We've got Michael Vick working with him. When he's ready, we're going to bring him over to your blog and throw down.

Strong Tower said...

Alright! Watchblog vs Faithdog

Can I get a line?

Frank Turk said...

I have other work to do today, so I have one more comment I think is necessary, given the various points in this thread.

Many of you are reading this post, and the comments down the way, and thinking to yourself, “this all seems well and good, but Cent’s in a nice church with a reformed pastor, he teaches his own Sunday school class, and all around he’s got everything I want or should want – he can toss off posts like these because he doesn’t know what I’m going through.”

Yeah: no. Until October of 2008, I had a nice church with a reformed pastor, teaching my own Sunday school class, and all around I had everything you think you want – and then I had to find a new job which took me 300 miles away which is an impossible commute, and I had to leave my nice church with a reformed pastor, and my Sunday school family, and I had nothing that I thought God had prepared me for, and I had to start looking for a new church.

And now some of you are thinking, “pheh. He lives close enough to Bible Church of Little Rock to have lunch with Lance Quinn. What’s he complaining about?”

If I lived 20 minutes closer to BCLR, I’d live 20 minutes away – and at 20 minutes away that would be as far as I think we could commute and still be part of the church in a meaningful way. So at 40 minutes from BLCR, that’s a deal-breaker.

So I have been searching for a new church home for my family, and I have been subjected to everything from watching Gilligan’s Island in Sunday school to having a pastor visit our home and enjoy a discussion about his church only to end it with the unfortunate phrase, “And you’ll be glad to know we’re not Calvinists.” (Honest to heaven: you cannot make up this stuff. It’s jaw-dropping.)

See: my old situation was not something I fell out of bed into. We joined a church because of one Sunday school class in which the teacher loved Jesus and the Bible in what I would call a spiritually-emotive way (rather than a spiritually-intellectual way) even though the pastor at that time was drawing his sermons out of books like “Beyond Iraq: the Next Move” and performing derivative versions of Joel Osteen episodes. Because the church itself was more like the class we joined than like the pastor they had at that time, he eventually had to leave, but we got to stay.

But through all of that, my wife and I worked in the nursery (diaper-changing Calvinists), subbed for toddler Sunday school (snot-wiping Calvinists), taught 1st grade boys (lego-building, Pokemon-enduring Calvinists), lead teen small groups (doubt-enduring Calvinists), sat on the Finance committee and the Planning committee (bored to death Calvinists), taught some “electives” un Sunday night for adults (interesting Calvinists), and then helped the new Pastor establish the small group ministry of fellowship and prayer (sociable Calvinists). Some of it was excruciating – real suffering for the faith. All of it made us subject to one another in the Eph 5 sense of real church life, learning that God didn’t make the church for us but in fact made us for the church.

7 years of commitment in order to love my church – in spite of, misguided pastors, burned out pastors, no pastors, non-member meddling and the self-righteousness of the Pharisees.

Anyone who endures 7 years of labor in his church, giving because it is to God and not because he expects something to be owed to him, and praying for the leaders and loving them even when, frankly, they are wrong can then say, “yeah but.” The rest must get serious about who they think they are in Christ, and what the church is for, and why God commands us to be called out and still in the world.

Frank Turk said...

SolaMom:

It contains more that 10 assumptions. I think all of them are either true by the example of the questioners like Danny I have encountered (meaning: I have made assumptions about their situation), or they are assumptions which the Bible requires us to make of our churches.

I leave it to you to blog out with your dog out.

Jason Robertson said...

Beware. A-Rod's cousin has been hanging around the new and improved FIDE-O lately.

Aaron said...

Frank:

Why would you join a church with 50,000 members?

Actually, at this point in my spiritual growth, I wouldn't. (and FYI 50K was hyperbole). It's too easy to get lost. But when I first became a true Christian, I began by looking at large churches. They were the easiest to find, had the most ministries, etc. etc. In fact, after I left for a smaller church, I continued in the sports ministry at the larger church because I felt it was a needed area that my small church could not perform.

Why would you even want to join one with 1,000 members?

I wouldn't. But doesn't GTY have something like 7K regular attenders and members?

... don't make me switch axes in mid-grind, please ... Sorry, Frank. You obviously have something to say in this regard and I would love to hear it. It's just one of those instances where you find a great teacher and you want to absorb every tidbit of knowledge.

Frank Turk said...

Bleh. I hope I don't ruin you with my 7 angstroms of sanctification.

Aaron said...

"If I lived 20 minutes closer to BCLR, I’d live 20 minutes away – and at 20 minutes away that would be as far as I think we could commute and still be part of the church in a meaningful way. So at 40 minutes from BLCR, that’s a deal-breaker."

Interesting... I had similar conversations. I've told people that I think that 30 miles was too far to go to church for most of us in a big city (because it translates to over an hour in times of traffic). Few seem to agree with me.

I experienced this in CA. I was driving 30 miles to a great Reformed church. But I couldn't really be a part of it because on everyday but Sunday, it took me at least an hour to get there. So I took a transfer and moved to another state.

Doug Hibbard said...

Side note for when you get the time, Frank...

If you find a good reformed church around the Little Rock area, will you let me know?

I'm down here in the southeast corner of the state, and don't know well the churches in the center.

Especially since when I lived in NLR I was firmly not on a solid Scriptural foundation. (After all, I was a youth minister. What did I need a Bible for? ouch...I feel very responsible for some things)

Doug Hibbard said...

Off-topic with the post, but the last few comments---

I tried pastoring a church an hour from where I lived and worked. It didn't work.

If you're not part of the community, it's hard to be part of the community of faith.

Aaron said...

Bleh. I hope I don't ruin you with my 7 angstroms of sanctification.

Being that I have a low capacity of ten sextarii, I just hope I don't wear you out by asking you to repeat everything until I get it.

greglong said...

Hayden wrote:

Greg,

Do not confuse congregational involvement with voting. That is found nowhere in the text of Scripture. You have to force that interpretation on 2 Cor. 6. An elder-led system does not exclude congregational involvement it just does not include voting and politicking which is what it has degenerated into in the SBC in particular.


It's 2 Corinthians 2, BTW.

2 Cor 2:5-11
5 Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure — not to put it too severely — to all of you. 6 For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, 7 so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. 9 For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. 10 Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, 11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. (ESV)


"Majority" = pleionon--a comparitive designating more in quantity.

"By the majority, but the main body of the church" (Cleon Rogers, Jr., and Cleon Rogers III, The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998], 395, citing C.K. Barrett and Margaret E. Thrall).

"'By the majority' refers to the majority of the Christian community in Corinth (Martin: 'by the majority of church members')...Probably the punishment or reproof was carried out through a democratic procedure in a church meeting. Hence REB translates 'The penalty on which the general meeting has agreed has met the offence well enough'" (from the UBS Handbook Series. Copyright (c) 1961-1997, by United Bible Societies).

"'This penalty by (inflicted by) the majority' (plural comparative) is the one stated in 1 Cor. 5:3-5. It amounted to expulsion from the Christian membership and entailed a loss of all rights of membership. This resolution which had been formulated by Paul had finally been adopted by the congregation...What arrests attention is the fact that Paul writes 'by the majority.' The action had evidently not been unanimous. We should, however, note that Paul has nothing to say about the implied minority. Was their dissent innocent, due to absence from the meeting, to timidity in voting, or hostility to Paul? We cannot be certain" (R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul’s First and Second Letters to the Corinthians [Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1943], p. 881-882).

"'By the many': hupo (NT:5259) toon (NT:3588) pleionoon (NT:4119). By the more, the majority" (from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft & Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright (c) 1985 by Broadman Press).

"'Many': toon (NT:3588) pleionoon (NT:4119). The English Revised Version (1885), correctly, 'the many: the majority of the Church" (from Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft).

DJP said...

Sure

But did one of those say the Greek word meant "By majority vote, irrespective of God-ordained leadership"?

'Cause that's not how I remember the Greek.

David said...

Just so I can glom on to the 97 comments. . .

I appreciate this post. It seems we jettison scriptural authority as soon as (we think) it's not working. And if I (not an elder) am trying to do the work of an elder without his authority, I'm as guilty as Rob Bell in my disobedience to scripture. Can we say we're committed to the authority of scripture while simultaneously thwarting it? Is God just going to let it go?

Frank Turk said...

Doug H:

BCLR is a great Reformed Baptist church in Little Rock. And Lance recommends Crystal Valley BC in North Littel Rock as well.

I'm looking for a church in Bryant/Alexander which is convinced that Jesus' death and resurrection are more meaningful than moralistic sermons about how to be a better "_____". If they were reformed or even 4-pt, even better.

Frank Turk said...

And I want to point out that this post got more comments on the first day than the Emerg* post with video got in its two-day front-page lifespan.

TAKE THAT SCOT MCKNIGHT!

#101

DJP said...

PhilWhen he's ready, we're going to bring him over to your blog and throw down.

Yeah, but you watch. Jason will try to tell you it's really a squirrel.

greglong said...

In my post above,

"By the majority, but the main body of the church"

...should read:

"By the majority, by the main body of the church."

SolaMom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Squirrel said...

Wha...? Huh? What'd I do?

~Squirrel

DJP said...

You've been made a "spiritual" or "true" dog.

The Squirrel said...

"Arf?"

greglong said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJP said...

So you weren't advocating that anything was decided by majority-vote, to which the leadership were bound to submit?

greglong said...

DJP wrote:

Sure

But did one of those say the Greek word meant "By majority vote, irrespective of God-ordained leadership"?

'Cause that's not how I remember the Greek.


Forgive me, Dan, because I'm not really sure what you're arguing against.

How would the desire of the majority be known without some kind of vote? Vulcan mind meld?

As I said before, I see congregational involvement (note that I did NOT say "congregational rule", although I am a congregationalist) all throughout the New Testament. This time I'll list the Scripture to which I'm referring. I won't take the time or space to list anything more than the references:

Matthew 18:17
Acts 6:2-6
Acts 11:22, 29-30
Acts 13:1-3
Acts 14:27
Acts 15:3, 4, 12, 22, 25, 30, 31, 33
Acts 15:40
1 Cor. 5:4, 12, 13
2 Cor. 2:6-9
1 Cor. 16:1-4

Also, the principle of the priesthood of believers MUST come into play here. Millard Erickson writes, "Every believer has access to the Holy of Holies and may directly approach God. Moreover, as Paul has reminded us, each member of part of the body has a valuable contribution to make to the welfare of the whole” (Christian Theology, p. 1090).

Please note that this does NOT diminish the clear command of Scripture in Heb. 13:7, 17 that church members are to "obey" and "submit to" their church leaders, and that elders are to "rule" and rule well (1 Tim. 5:17).

DJP said...

Uh... what I just asked, of your first version of this comment.

greglong said...

Sorry, Dan, and thread readers, I deleted an earlier comment because of spelling error, to which Dan responded, before I reposted it.

The problem is, there is no example in Scripture of a situation where church leaders and church members clearly disagreed.

But hypothetically, it is certainly possible. Paul didn't use the apostolic authority trump card to kick the sinful Corinthian out of the church; rather, he told them to "assemble" together to deliver the man over to Satan (presumably after following Jesus' prescribed process in Mt. 18). What if the assembly had gathered but refused to kick the man out? We don't know.

Even if this is not the same man referred to in 2 Cor. 2, the point is that it wasn't the church leaders who ordained that this man should be punished; it was the majority of the church who did so. We have no way of knowing what would have happened if the church leaders wanted one thing and the church members wanted something else. All we know is the majority decided to punish him.

Jmv7000 said...

Greg,

Is it possible that Paul is mentioning in 2 Cor. 2 the step of going before the majority?

Does going before the majority in the final step of church discipline require a vote? Or is it simply, that the church must now be made aware so the entire church can put pressure on the man to repent?

It seems like you are associating the process of church discipline with congregational rule? Is that correct?

Gilbert said...

Wow. Meta post of the year award: Frank Turk. Deal with it.

It occurred to me that this entire fruitful (I hope, and pray) discussion on elders, deacons, and church leaders would be irrelevant if we believed and acted on 1 Timothy 3:1-9 and Titus 1:6-9 on the qualifications of elders. Imperfect, fallen people...but with a heart for God, the people to be saved, fed, nourished by the Word...

God's Word has said humans haven't evolved; last I checked, we all have been created with a soul, a brain, and various attachments to that to do God's will as He leads us and empowers us. And God has guaranteed us that he gives us the power to reason, and be guided by his Holy Spirit. Nothing has changed since creation.

So when I see this watchblog discussion, I can't help but think that the best way to deal with it is to put them out of business in a Godly way...by Spirit-led elders, deacons and pastors at our local churches. Funny: The Bible already tells us how to do that. We just have to...you know...obey what the Word says! Look, if a curmudgeon like me who is a few needles short of a cactus can figure this out, then it shouldn't be terribly difficult, right? The qualifications, that is. Being a deacon or elder is NOT easy. I just became one, and it's not something I take likely or join for an easy duty.

Having said that...

When you have a sect...or whatever...which is determined to undermine the faith on a large scale in the public sphere, then you ARE a target to be called out. In a Godly way, Phil has done so.
It's not his job, and I'm sure, without putting words into his mouth, he'd rather spend his time building up believers and himself in the Word rather than calling people out for damnable heresies that are causing people to drift away from the true faith and send them to hell.

Some will say that the problems we see now in the church is a lack of maturity and wisdom, which God will grant if you ask, pray and do it for His gain and not yours (John 15:16, John 16:23-24). I think this is the whole root of the problem: leaders in the church aren't qualified, and, concurrently, scrutinized within the church. Yes, it's already been said, but I don't think you can beat a dead horse here.

carry on...and thanks Frank, for your thoughts, and your ministry here at Pyro.

SolaMom said...
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SolaMom said...
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Buck said...
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Gilbert said...

SolaMom,

If what you say in the last comment is true, then let me ask this: What is the purpose of Pyromaniacs?

David Rudd said...

Gilbert,

I'll answer your question (although I think this particular answer has been given about five times in the above comments), I think the three flame-throwers are at their best when they are simply pointing out what Scripture says about the church of Jesus Christ and how its members should live obediently.

That has nothing to do with the "discernmentalist mafia"!

Stefan said...

Greglong wrote:

"Sorry, Dan, and thread readers, I deleted an earlier comment because of spelling error, to which Dan responded, before I reposted it."

Hey, I copyrighted that behaviour!

Just send the royalty cheque to the Dan Phillips Pastoral Placement Fund.

Frank Turk said...

Comments in this thread are closed. Please go here if you have something else to say.