01 July 2009

Rebuke them especially

by Frank Turk
For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
Well, welcome to the second paragraph of the letter to Titus (finally), and it's a doozer. We've pretty much pointed the finger at pastors over the last umpteen weeks (and that's what I intended to do, as you will remember), but here the pastor gets a brief respite because, as it turns out, the rest of you are no prize catch.

"They rest of us?" you say. "We're not Cretans, cent. We're Christians. We read this blog -- we must be pretty good stock even among the breed."

Yeah, well, take a closer look. There are "many" among the Cretans who are "insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers", especially among the young, restless and reformed. Oh wait -- he said "the circumcision party", and by that he didn't mean those who read a lot of books, memorized a lot of Scripture, and looked up to the great heroes of the faith in the past to tell us today how we might better follow the covenant God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, by taking on the signs and seals of the culture, did he?

Well, at any rate, these evil beasts and gluttons and liars need to be rebuked sharply to be sound in the faith. They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are in fact unfit for any good work.

So to that end, dear pastor reader, is the charge you have to consider today: is your job to see to what degree you can cut in on the culture's empty talk and deception in order to get somebody's attention, or is your job to rebuke those who are full of empty talk and lies and deception?

Whichever your hand finds to do in this section, do it with all your might. And that's the last time I'll mention it.









28 comments:

David said...

I continue to reflect back to Isaiah 6. Isaiah, to whom the glory of God has been revealed (how much more to us in Jesus Christ!), is cut to the heart regarding his unclean lips and those of his people. But he is justified to speak by the cleansing of his lips with a burning coal.

How much more should our pastors reflect such a calling?

Three Wolf Moon?!

Frank Turk said...

It's relevant, David: completely missional.

Jay said...

But if the pastors or elders rebuke me sharply won't it offend me, thus not fulfilling the mantra of "offend no one"?

olan strickland said...

Geesh Frank! What would happen to our numbers if we did that? Wouldn't people think that we are unChristian for doing what the Bible says?

Tim W said...

Hi Frank, thank you for the post.

I read your post 3 times and one thing I still wasn't so clear on (open question to the floor if I've missed something). Do you think that the "insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers" were Christians or false teachers?

I've always understood it to be the latter because of v15-16, but am happy to be corrected.

Frank Turk said...

Tim W-

That's a great question.

Daryl said...

TimW,

Being as we're all still shot through with sin, I'd say the answer is both and.

So spricht der HERR said...

Well said, centurion... convicting, strong, and much needed words for me to hear.

Thank you

David Rudd said...

So to that end, dear pastor reader, is the charge you have to consider today: is your job to see to what degree you can cut in on the culture's empty talk and deception in order to get somebody's attention, or is your job to rebuke those who are full of empty talk and lies and deception?


does it have to be an either/or question?

is this the ONLY passage that addresses the "job" of the pastor?

is a pastor who is deeply involved in the lives of those around him out of bounds if he see to what degree you can cut in on the culture's empty talk and deception in order to get somebody's attention?

perhaps you're creating a false dichotomy intentionally to set up your next post?

Frank Turk said...

David Rudd:

Of course, you're accounting for all the rest of the posts in this series so far, right? because it seems to me that this job of the pastor occurs along with the jobs in all the rest of the posts in this series.

I'm sure that's what you mean.

You're welcome.

stratagem said...

All I can say is, I'm glad I'm not from Crete.

L said...

Is this blog primarily for pastors?

David Rudd said...

i'll try again, frank. this time i'll speak more plainly for your benefit :)

you said:
So to that end, dear pastor reader, is the charge you have to consider today: is your job to see to what degree you can cut in on the culture's empty talk and deception in order to get somebody's attention, OR is your job to rebuke those who are full of empty talk and lies and deception?

(emphasis on the "or" is mine)


i'm suggesting that the passage doesn't give any indication that one of these needs to be done to the exclusion of the other. thus it is not an either/or proposition.

my point precisely was that the pastor's job is decidedly larger than any one verse might point out so such dichotomous statements really don't do justice to the scope of what the pastor is responsible to be doing.


thank you

Frank Turk said...

David Rudd:

Of course, you're accounting for all the rest of the posts in this series so far, right? Because it seems to me that this job of the pastor occurs along with the jobs in all the rest of the posts in this series.

To be clear, "rebuke them sharply" has to happen with the rest of the stuff a pastor is and does. When Paul gets to the "instruct and rebuke" part, it's not because Titus has found seminary graduates where there were no seminaries. It is because there are men there who have, in the end, listened to what the word teaches them, and they are made into something better for it.

Pretty sure I said that last week, which is part of all the rest of the posts in this series.

You're welcome.

Frank Turk said...

L:

No. But if you're not a pastor, you can learn how to love your pastor(s) at this blog.

David Rudd said...

sorry frank,

i'll try to simplify this time.

are you suggesting that:

to see to what degree you can cut in on the culture's empty talk and deception in order to get somebody's attention

should NOT be part of the pastor's job description?

or is your question not to be read as drawing a dichotomy between the two roles?

David said...

David Rudd -

"cut in on" = use, if I'm not mistaken.

David Rudd said...

David.

right. i get that. my question still stands.

is there no place for a pastor to "cut in on", "use", "reference", etc...

the emptiness of culture to get people's attention?

I'm not suggesting it be a primary activity, I'm just pointing out that faithfulness to THIS text, would suggest that the activity of "rebuking" doesn't preclude the other...

that's all.

David said...

I would definitely make a distinction between using a culture's empty talk and deception against itself for the purpose of exposing and destroying idols and tossing in a one-liner for chuckles in the cheap seats. One gives shame to the hearer, and one brings shame upon the speaker.

Sir Aaron said...

I need a good rebuke now and then to keep me on the straight and narrow. Thank God He loves me enough to send teachers to do it! Otherwise, I'd be like a hard headed mule.

David Rudd said...

david. this would be true if the pastor's ONLY responsibility was preaching.

one might conceive of many relational situations in which a pastor might do this very thing in order to "get the attention" of a person.

Frank Turk said...

David Rudd:

Given that Paul here thinks "empty talk" is part of the culture's problem, I'll go out on a limb here and see what you'll say.

I think a pastor who is intent on delivering "empty talk" is violating his position and his charge from God. Especially when Paul has already said (and we have already covered in the rest of this series) the idea that the Elder has a responsibility to work "for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth".

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Rudd said...

absolutely frank.

i'm not sure how encompassing you mean to be when you say:

"I think a pastor who is intent on delivering "empty talk" is violating his position and his charge from God."

i'll again come back to the idea of creating a dichotomy between

"using culture" and "rebuking saints".

i would wholeheartedly affirm that the pastor's primary role in preaching is the rebuke saints to the glory of God.

i would then say, i think there are times when the pastor is serving in other roles (not preaching) which would not preclude the use of culture (i.e. quoting an R-rated movie, pointing to the lyrics of a Brittney Spears song) to get someone's attention.

that's all.

NoNothing said...

sorry, accidentally put this in the wrong location...
I already LOVE my pastor.
Sorry about the name change, struggling with google account, setting up blog...
Lisa

Mike Riccardi said...

David,

I'm interested to hear what those situations might be; i.e., quoting R-rated movies, Britney Spears, etc.

David Rudd said...

Mike,

I think you and others may be missing the point of my comments.

I'm not arguing that the pastor should look for every opportunity he can to embed as much of culture as possible into his ministry, simply so he can draw people in.

I am aware that some churches take that tact. I'm not a big fan of it.

I am suggesting that Frank's statement which I cited in my original post seems to unnecessarily limit the "role" of the pastor.

At the conclusion of his post, Frank used an either/or statement to drive home the point of the passage (which I think he has right).

If I read him right, and David indicated that I did, his inference is that it is NOT appropriate for a pastor to use or "quote" the empty culture in an effort to "get someone's attention."

Herein is my minor quibble. While I would be first in line to say the pulpit is rarely the place to be quoting pop culture, I don't think anyone who reads the Bible literally should suggest there is NEVER a place for using or quoting the words/ideas/authors/celebrities of the world.

While I think many people abuse this passage to justify inappropriate "worldliness", I think we would all agree that Paul "cut in on" or "used" examples from the empty wisdom of the world.

Of course... Frank may want to clarify the degree to which he meant to set up this dichotomy, which would render my point meaningless. that would be fine.

Sorry this is so long. But, Mike, to answer your questions specifically:

a) I don't know any Brittney Spears songs, but I'm sure a wise youth pastor could point to some ways he may have used her lyrics in counseling or other venues for the glory of God.

b) One R-rated movie I would point to is Glory. I haven't watched it in a long time, but I'm sure if I were to sit and watch it with friends, I would have several opportunities to point out some good kingdom ideas that get through.

Frank Turk said...

David:

Answered and answered.

Consider the post as a part of a series and move on. You are simply being a fastidous little wonk about your point which, frankly, is not much of a point considering the whole series of posts on this subject and my reiteration of some of the salient considerations.

Move on.