13 April 2007

You say you want to be a teacher? Oy!

by Dan Phillips
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body (James 3:1-2)
The apostle issues a rather remarkable command here. He was writing in a day when no one could listen to Phil Johnson on a CD, nor S. Lewis Johnson (no relation) on his I-Pod, nor a book by Gary Johnson; no one could read Calvin's Institutes on his laptop. No one could get a graduate from WestminDallaTriniTalboMaster's on the phone.

There just weren't a lot of qualified teachers.

So you might expect the apostle to say, "Teachers? Need 'em! Gotta have 'em! You think you have the gift? Brother, take the mike!"

On the contrary, James very somberly warns, "You think you want to be a teacher? Oh boy, you'd better sit back down and give that one a second thought. You take that mantle on yourself, brother, and you are begging for stricter judgment."

A teacher in the church of Christ is meant to get up and say, "Here is what the word of God teaches." Did you know that God prizes one quality in a pastor above all others? Indeed He does: it is working hard in the word and teaching (1 Timothy 5:17; do the math). The pastor-teacher is called on, in the most dramatic and heart-in-the-throat tones imaginable, to preach the Word, in fair weather and foul, and no matter what the thronging masses want (2 Timothy 4:1-4).

So he'd better (A) know what he's talking about, and (B) be prepared to stand up for what he says.

He isn't a prophet. He can't say, "Don't blame me; God said that right through me" (although even prophets have always needed to be tested: Deuteronomy 13; 18; 1 John 4:1, etc.)

No, the pastor-teacher studies, he prays, he thinks hard (2 Timothy 2:7; cf. Ezra 7:10), and then he delivers.

In the list of qualifying characteristics that mark a pastor, the only trait that shouldn't equally be pursued by all Christian men is the one we're discussing: ability to teach (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9). He must be examined as to his abilities in this area before ever he takes the position.

So words are the stock-in-trade of the pastor. When he is at his best, he uses them to communicate God's truth. God holds him accountable for what he says. When he says, "I am a pastor," in that same breath he is saying, "and I invite stricter judgment on myself for what I say."

Anyone who is saved is saved by faith alone in Christ alone. And that saving faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes not by interpretive dance, nor a great guitar solo, nor a pleasant smell, nor lovely decor. Hearing comes by the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). Christ is made known by truthful words — just as surely as He is is denied by deceptive words (cf. 1 John 2:22-23; 4:1-5, etc.). Words matter; they matter a lot.

So a pastor who speaks to a church should expect to answer to that church for what he says. If he goes on the radio, he should expect to answer to that audience for what he says. If he blogs, if he writes in the local newspaper, if he speaks at rallies — and, certainly, if he writes books, he should expect to answer for what he says. He should expect to be held to the standard of God's Word.

No responsible pastor blinks in surprise when someone asks for clarification. He expects it. He invited it the day he presented himself before God and the Church as a pastor. To be a pastor means to be a teacher of the Word of God, and it means to be judged in his pursuit of that activity.

It may seem odd, or even petulant or hostile, to non-pastors — particularly those with little knowledge of church history — when one pastor presses another for clarity on a given issue or issues. And it can be silly if it is an over-intense focus on relatively peripheral issues.

But what an historical perspective grants one is the knowledge that the history of church fairly bristles with men (and women) who have couched deadly, damning error in fine and lovely words. Central, essential doctrines have been and are being denied and perverted by the nicest folks, in the sweetest words. John Calvin discusses this very thing as he recalls Arius' and Sabellius' use of weasel-words, and the resultant need to define the truth precisely, and to put the edges in the right places, so as to flush out false teachers plainly and decisively (Institutes, I, xiii, 5).

It has ever been the case, and it always will be as long as the Lord tarries (1 Timothy 4:1-5; 2 Timothy 3:1-9, 13; 4:1-5; 2 Peter 3:3ff.).

Paul issued this warning to the Ephesian pastors:
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears (Acts 20:28-31)
When a pastor today is earnest in being sure that he understands what another pastor is saying about essential truths, he is doing his job. He is heeding the warnings and exhortations of the apostles. He is obeying God.

It isn't always the funnest part of the job, though. You see, it is our duty to be earnest and serious about these things, and it is our duty to think through implications that others don't have the time, training, or calling to think through. We know that this won't always be transparent to everyone, so it may seem that we're simply being critical for the sake of being critical, or because we think we're better. We aren't, and God knows we don't. In fact, we may groan heavily at the outset, knowing that a crowd of spectators will cry "Foul!" as we pursue the faithful discharge of our God-given duty. It simply is the job of a faithful shepherd to watch out for the sheep, whether our flock says "Thank you" or not (Hebrews 13:7, 17),

And so we pastors are understanding when we ourselves are the subjects of such reasonable examination. It is our desire to be clear, and to be understood. Plus, we understand James 3:1 and its implications, and we know that our brother-pastors are only doing their job when they are reasonably cautious to understand what we're saying.

And it's okay to say "I don't know" or "I'm still working that one through," about a whole host of matters. But then again, there is a host of essentials on which it really isn't okay to say "I don't know," because we really should have worked those out before we stepped into the office.

So when you're spectator to a pastor publicly questioning another pastor about his core beliefs, try to understand: if both are being faithful to God's call in His Word, the first is only doing his job, and the second knows it and appreciates it. In fact, faithful pastors welcome the opportunity to clarify their core beliefs.

Rather than throw brickbats (or frozen meat-chubs) at the reasonable questioner, thank him for taking Acts 20:28 seriously.

And rather than shielding (or beating your breast for) the questionee, encourage him to respond honestly and straightforwardly, and thank him for taking James 3:1 seriously.

After all, it's our #1 job.

Dan Phillips's signature


John Haller said...

Great reminders. As usual.

In discussing issues with people who self-identify with the emerging church or other seeker sensitive movements, I have often pointed out that scripture cautions us to be on the lookout for wolves. How then, I ask them, do you identify a wolf in the church? I have yet to have anyone answer this question.

Matthew S. Harmon said...


Thanks for this. I frequently tell my seminary students they need to meditate long and hard on James 3:1 before they assume the role of pastor, teacher, elder. In my less spiritual moments I find myself wishing that James 3:1 had been omitted by scribes along the way :)

But in all seriousness, given the celebrity mentality that afflicts much of the evangelical church scene I fear that far too many pursuing ministry have never really wrestled with the reality of pursuing a calling that places them under stricter judgment from God. I'm still waiting for a job posting seeking a pastor that includes a line like "Must be willing to incur stricter judgment from God."

DJP said...

Great points, John and Matt, both of you. Thanks for getting the comments started off so appositely.

David A. Carlson said...

Two things.

1. It (How do you apply James 3:1 in your life) is the first question I ask a prospective pastor (by the time we get to questions from the peanut gallery all the other questions have been asked and answered)- so yes, it should be asked, and yes, it should be asked early.

2. why does everything revolve around "other churchs?", such as emergents and the other great evil of our time, "celebrity pastor churchs"? First question out of the box - its all about the emergents and others (Thank God we are not like them). What, Fundi churches have not need of concern about wolves?

DJP said...

Gee, David, just guessing, but -- because it was what was on John's mind?

If you'd been faster, yours would have been the first comment. Would that have had some special significance then?

David Rudd said...

i thought this thread got closed? :)

good post, dan. i do have a question that requires some clarity (i may not be reading you right)

you said, "Did you know that God prizes one quality in a pastor above all others?"

my reading of 1 tim5.17 lends itself more to the suggestion that teaching and preaching are gifts that are given to some elders and not others. (can i use elder and pastor synonymously?) the teaching seems to be that these people are "especially worthy". does that have to mean they are necessarily "more" worthy? or that God necessarily "prizes" that "quality" above others?

i'm just shooting off the top of my head and haven't really looked hard at the text in this context, so i'm interested in hearing your reply.

does God really "prize" teaching above other functions of an elder?

Matthew S. Harmon said...


I am encouraged that you ask this important question and wish that more did.

As far as my comments are concerned, I would like to point out that I did not specifically mention emergents as being prone to this particular danger (whether they are or not is another matter). That is YOUR unsubstantiated inference. My concern is not limited to "others" as evidenced by the fact that I specifically mentioned that in the seminary where I teach I warn students about this danger. And depending on your definition of "Fundi churches" I teach in a context where many of the students going into ministry will serve in those contexts. The celebrity mindset I speak of is not limited to those churches that HAVE celebrity pastors but also includes those who want to be like them, which can include "fundi churches" in small areas that imitate everything they see the celebrity churches doing.

So I for one regard the warning of James 3:1 as relevant for all churches no matter what their stripes, and I am confident that DJP would agree. My gentle suggestion would be to clearly identify which particular comment / commenter (in this case john haller who raised the emergent issue in this thread and me with respect to the celebrity mindset) you have in mind with particular concerns so as not to splatter paint on the wrong canvas.



DJP said...

David Rudd—"pastor" and "elder" are different names for the same office in the NT. The passages I cited in the post indicate that there is no such thing as a pastor/elder who does not teach. In 1 Timothy 5:17, Paul singles out hoi kopiōntes in word and teaching, those who work hard, who labor in those activities, as worthy of more than double-honor.

Thus He singles out those activities. That's God's hierarchy.

LeeC said...

The ability to teach is the one trait required of an elder that is not required of a deacon. So yes, I would say that God prizes that quality more in regards to eldership. It is what makes them distinctive.

I cannot express how thankful I am that I have elders at my church that are truly guarding over the flock, and love me enough to teach and act upon Matthew 18 if I need it.

I have been told by some that I have the gift of teaching, and I am constantly striving to be more equipped, but James 3:1-2 has certainly slowed anything resembling a rush to do so for me. In fact I'm still strugling with the issue. You want to be used, and you dont want to neglect your gifts, but I certainly don't wish to ignore that passage, and I have mmore than my fair share of sanctification still needed.

David Rudd said...

thanks dan.

i think i understand where you are coming from.

Touchstone said...


First, I enthusiastically affirm the importance of a pastor's being not only *ready* to "stand and deliver" on all manner of topics and issues, but *eager*.



So, per the ostensible message of your post here, kudos. Right on.

But for regular readers of this blog, this post is clearly about "the Dan Kimball thing", a bit of buttressing support for Phil's current push for clarification on solafidianism inter alia.

And I affirm that support, too. Phil has every right, an obligation even, to press on these issues which he considers essential and vital to the health of the church and the spread of the Gospel.

What has me grinding my teeth even so is the implication that this was the "idea" from the beginning, when the More on the dearth of conviction in the ECM was put out. It strikes me as thoroughly disingenuous, to the point of being dishonest, to take the line that this has really been about "clarification" from the get go with Dan.

Now, as I said above, I'm all for clarification before "settling" on a criticism and doing the appropriate due diligence in getting my facts straight. So, before I go beyond my impressions above, can you clarify for me a couple of things?

1. In your view, was the "dearth of conviction" post primarily an effort at clarification, an investigation with Dan into Phil getting a clear position?

2. Did Phil make any effort at all to contact Dan by way of getting "clarification", either publicly or privately? I sure don't see many questions put to Dan in the post, especially questions that hold back judgment until the facts are in. Did go so far as to shoot off an email to Dan either prior to posting the article or even after, asking for clarification?

I think "clarifying in public" is fine -- better in some ways than private dialog. And that is definitely the train Phil is riding now. But I went back to read the "dearth of conviction" post last night for other reasons, and reading your post here, it does seem to be quite "spin-laden" with respect to Phil's original intent here.

To wit, the original post is manifestly declarative as opposed to interrogative -- he's telling his reader's what's up with Dan, as opposed to wondering and offering up his list of pointed questions. I'll be happy to supply quotes in support of this, but just a glance at the title is indicative I think: "More on the dearth of conviction in the ECM", as opposed to "Five Key Questions for Dan Kimball" or some such.

I realize Phil has addressed the "misrepresentation" issue, and that's great. But this is me asking a pastor, or two pastors, for some clarity about the original intent here, which was what had me complaining from the start in that original post. If I missed a key comment from you or Phil on this explaining that it really *wasn't* about clarification to begin with concerning Dan, I'm happy to be corrected and withdraw any suggestion that there appears to be some disingenuous polemics in play here.



DJP said...

Is it possible that you're putting your own personal issues on the post? Is it possible that the post is what it is about, and isn't what it isn't about -- in other words, that if it doesn't apply to something, it is because it isn't about that something?

philness said...


I hope this is not to shy people away from discipling one another. Would you agree that discipling is a form of teaching and also is commanded of each believer?

Joe Martino said...

To be honest I don't know if this post had anything to do with DK or not but here is a direct quote from his webpage.

“In simple English words not using Latin words from Reformed terminology - yes, I believe we are born sinners, we need a redeemer to rescue and redeem us from condemnation, we repent and put faith in the Redeemer Jesus, who is our substitionary atonement for sin, we are then justified by faith and made righteous in His sight through Jesus and are sanctified by the Spirit. Is this what you are asking me what I believe?”


John Haller said...

Dan is right, it was something on my mind. I wanted to give a context to where I have asked the question and because the discussions on this blog over the past couple of weeks lead me to conclude that

No one is immune from the attack of wolves. My church is not immune from it and we try to watch out for it. But, like everyone else, we live in the world and must be on our guard. My observation is that some movements seem to be more prone to this than others

I suppose the comment comes from someone who is getting a little sensitive, but it again shows the problem in carrying on a dialogue with "them" because everything gets deconstructed and ripped apart. That's another observation of mine that you can tear apart as well.

I greatly appreciate matt's comments because the problem appears to be generic. Again, my observation is that this warning is not taken seriously in many contexts, not just seeker sensitive and emerging. It's everywhere. But, I only ask seeker sensitive and their cousins in the emerging church the question because that is who I interact with the most. (And, yes, I do see the emerging thing as a further extension of the seeker sensitive movement).

Just to be clear: I think we're all prone to it. I think we all need to be on our guard. I think we all need to take these warnings seriously.

But, I have asked this question over and over and over again in certain contexts and it has never been answered. This leads me to conclusion that the warnings may not be taken seriously. I hope not.

Touchstone said...


I told you how I read it. Are you saying it's *not* about Dan Kimball & Phil? If that's the case, just speak plainly and clearly, here, please.

I'll allow it *could* be sheer coincidence that this topic, this post appears as it does today, without connection to Dan Kimball. If you declare it so, I'll accept it. But as it is, that would be quite a coincidence.

Can you clarify?


Joe Martino said...

Sorry Guys, I tried to repost it but it still didn't work, so I deleted the comment. But if you want the URL just email me.

DJP said...

JoeMartino—if you think your direct quotation answers the questions Phil has asked again and again, in crystal-clear English, then you need to go back and re-read. As Phil pointed out to you.

Until then, knock it off, please.

David A. Carlson said...


I agree, your post wasnt on emergents

But as I said "the first post out of the box" which was John Haller, not you. I thought that perhaps I was clear enough by stating that.

I did then bring in your post indirectly, and yes, perhaps I read that which was not there.

I can be as guilty as anyone in making the wrong assumption. As I was.

I wasnt going to comment at all on this fine, really good post, that applies to everyone and every christian church, that I agree with completely (is that definitive enough?). I knew you would have more than enough "atta boys" for it.

Until I read the first comment and right away it was back to bashing the emergents -

Joe Martino said...

Sure thind DJP. You guys kill me. :)

Pastor Mike Paris said...


Thanks for the re-warning! It is always good to hear the Word of God be used for the basis of the rules. I love the thank them for taking (insert passage reference) seriously. That is a super conflict management device. It allows us to know that the other person has only good-will towards me. He is grateful! I am grateful! How can we fight maliciously when we appreciate each other's perspective.

I believe that this post should be included in a "what to read before you read any more pyro' blog posts" library. I know that it is not the Spurgeon Archive, but perhaps you could get a library named after you Dan! ;) Or maybe that plays into the "celebrity" thing too much! ;)

Thanks again for caring enough to confront and for taking the frozen meat-chubs to the head once in a while for the sake of sharpening my thinking. Iron does indeed sharpen iron. You have once again challenegd me to think sharper.

I'm in it with you brother,

Matthew S. Harmon said...


Thanks for clarifying. "No harm no foul ... play on."

In the midst of the discussion of the emerging church / emergent movement here I sure do hope that we do not lose sight of our own personal application of James 3:1.

"It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God" Heb 10:31

James Scott Bell said...

A couple of comments in the recent past seem to want to press ahead with a "motive" question and even accusations of "dishonesty." I really don't find this helpful. Motive questions are usually distasteful and unproductive and extremely hard to get at. It's a bad tangent, and I'd like to see it dropped in favor of the real issues at hand.

FWIW, on the objective meaning of Phil's original post, I saw it as Phil taking a position, yes, but also inviting clarification, if not from Dan directly, at least from others who read the book in question. To wit:

"Consider the implications of that: If that's really Dan Kimball's position..."

"I have my doubts about whether Dan Kimball would really want to defend that position if backed into a corner..."

"If you happen to read the book, let me know if Kimball's chapter strikes you the same way it struck me..."

Seems clear enought to me. Now, I'd like to see the subtle (perhaps not so subtle) questioning of character and motives go by the wayside. The actual issue is too important to be obscured by such.

donsands said...

"Central, essential doctrines have been and are being denied and perverted by the nicest folks, in the sweetest words."

The false teachers come as righteous servants, who say they love God and Jesus.

Very nice post. Good stuff.

I truly appreciate God's pastors and teachers. They truly are called to the highest honor on this earth, and the most fearful one as well.
They sort of go together I guess.

Touchstone said...


That's a hard constraint to accept, reading TeamPyro for so long, and Phil in particular:

Message: Emergents just want to conform to the world.

Talk about withering assaults on "motivations". And don't get me wrong: I'm not touchy about motivations as a subject; I advocate starting with giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, of proceeding generously from the beginning. But I'm not at all squeamish about motivations -- they can be and are important dynamics to address in the church and the wider culture.

But please don't suggest that my complaints about Phil's motivations are somehow illegitimate when responding to Phil's aspersions cast upon the motivations and faithfulness of emergents.

If it's a "bad tangent" to pursue, then the one to take that up with is Phil.

As it is from you comments here, it appears that the "motivation" question works in one direction only. If so, I think that's a problem.

I think that's all I might slip under the "Rule 3" blade.


farmboy said...

joemartino provides the following from Mr. Kimball's website: "In simple English words not using Latin words from Reformed terminology - yes, I believe we are born sinners, we need a redeemer to rescue and redeem us from condemnation, we repent and put faith in the Redeemer Jesus, who is our substitionary atonement for sin, we are then justified by faith and made righteous in His sight through Jesus and are sanctified by the Spirit. Is this what you are asking me what I believe?"

Let's see, "alone" is an English word, not a Latin word from Reformed terminology like "sola", so it should be all right to use "alone". Yet, I fail to find "alone" in the above formulation. As it stands, a Roman Catholic that subscribes to the dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church would subscribe to the above formulation. Hence, the above formulation at least implies that, from a theological perspective, the Protestant Reformation was a big deal over nothing.

The question still remains: Are lost sinners justified by faith alone through grace alone in the atoning work of Christ alone as revealed in Scripture alone for the glory of God alone? Following Mr. Phillips post, a pastor should have his answer to this question completely worked out before his first day on the job. Similarly, whether one uses "alone" or "sola" a pastor should understand why this word is critically important.

Joe Martino said...

Ok, at the risk that your going to kick me out of here. Dan your last comment kind of torqued me a little bit, so I brought it up to some friends. One of them actually combed through the posts and has cut and pasted 19 different questions. They're all in plain English but they're all different. We were challenged to go through the thread and count them and we did. Count them yourself if you don't believe us. Doesn't seem like we're sticking to the same question to me.

Solameanie said...

Wow. Good reminder.

I'll never forget stepping into a pulpit at a local church, and seeing these words engraved on a tiny bronze plaque facing up at the speaker:

"Sir, we would see Jesus."

Add to that the warning about teachers incurring a stricter judgment, and it seems we all ought to have a lot more trepidation about handling God's Word.

James Scott Bell said...

Touchstone....I think if you'll read with a little more objectivity, you'll see that I have not questioned your motives. Or anyone's (if I have, please cite it specifically). My only point is that it is a fruitless tangent to pursue here. It's much more productive to go to the issue itself than spend time trying to prove character flaws.

But since you've been insistent on this, I did put some specific quotes from Phil's original post to show a legit call for clarification. It seems this should be enough.

I've said my piece. Your call from here.

Solameanie said...


I hate to beat a dead horse, but I will. Your remark about counting questions rather sums up what most of us have been saying for months. You guys are great at pondering and asking questions, but are lousy at giving clear, unequivocal answers.

No wonder Phil closed the comments in the last thread. No doubt Dan will have to do the same thing here.

lawrence said...

I don't understand how a post about the requirements of elders and pastors (a very good post btw) turned into a discussion about the emerging church? Reformed churches and emerging Churches have different beliefs!! Unless we're debating about whether the pastors/elders of the "emerging" church's are legititimately (sp?) by God (which no one has done, to my knowledge) how are we equating this post with the fundamentalists/emerging disagreements. Don't they, in this area (God's requirements for pastors) agree?

Very good post Dan.

lawrence said...

the last post I left should have said "legitamately (dang I can't spell) called by God."


Joe Martino said...

SolaMeanie, forgive me, but why would he have to close comments here because I did what I was asked by "you guys?"
And would you mind telling me which guys you're throwing me in with?
Thanks, Bud.

Touchstone said...


Sorry for the confusion -- I didn't read you as questioning my motives at all (even if you had, it's not a problem -- see Phil's theme of responses to me over the past couple weeks!)

The complaints went like this:

1. Phil goes after DK's motives
2. I go after Phil's motives

I didn't think your comments were taking issue with me directly, but, as you said, trying to steer things generally away from "motives". That's understandable. It's uncomfortable and messy.

But, this kind of cleanup winds up, based on my reading of Phil's comments on Emergents over some number of months, in Phil disparaging Emergent motives, then either ignoring or crying foul at any similar kinds of criticisms coming his way.

In any case, no issue with you, just trying to explain my rationale with respect to comments toward Phil and DJP.


donsands said...

"I don't understand how a post about the requirements of elders and pastors (a very good post btw) turned into a discussion about the emerging church?"

Those type of things just seem to happen in the blogging cosmos.

Daniel said...

I think it was Spurgeon who said, "fools can raise more objections in an hour than wise men can answer in seven years"

Pastors have to be ready for that too.

Solameanie said...


Unless I am totally misreading things (which is certainly possible) I assumed that DJP's excellent post was sparked by the earlier thread regarding Dan Kimball, who is associated with the EC. Phil has been trying to get clear answers to questions from him and it's been a challenge from what I gather. I think Dan P. took that as a launch pad to write his broader post on the need for pastors to be clear and accountable.

Joe, do you really need an explanation? I'm really not in the mood to be unpacked today. :)

Joe Martino said...

No, probably not. I just found it amusing that I was challenged to look at the thread. I did and then I'm accused of asking too many questions. Someone might have been calling me a fool, I'm not sure. That just seems way out of bounds, and then by your posting "you guys" I assumed you mean I was Emergent, which is interesting because I don't consider myself that at all.
BTW, I'm near Cedarville. For two weeks anyhow.

Mike Bonebright said...


You claimed Phil “goes after” Dan Kimball’s motives…

I went and looked for anything Phil might have said regarding Dan Kimball’s motives. I saw one statement (repeated twice) that Phil has made about motives since this "Kimball thing" started. In the comments section of yesterday's thread, Phil twice referenced a potential motive toward "contextualizing the gospel" to a postmodern audience. Is this what you are referring to when you said that Phil "goes after" Dan's motives?

It doesn’t seem so, because your comment attempts to draw a parallel between how Phil has treated Dan Kimball and how you have treated Phil. Has Phil done anything as uncharitable to Dan Kimball as referring to his statements as "disingenuous polemics"? Has he called Dan's words "spin-laden"? And it doesn't seem to help your case here that you had not "settled" on a criticism before calling today's column "thoroughly disingenuous, to the point of being dishonest."

So then, what exactly did Phil say to question Dan’s motives? I see where Phil has questioned Dan’s convictions, his positions, his perspectives, and the implications of his statements. But I see nothing that Phil has said to question his motives.


Rick Frueh said...

And as Paul addressed the elders of Ephesus he begins by stressing they should serve "the Lord with all humility of mind". And Peter exhorts both elder and non elder to be "clothed with humility".

I would say that humility should be the foundation of a tecahers ministry. Sometimes truth is taught in a classroom of self righteousness which reveals the teacher himself hasn't done his homework.

David Rudd said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
matbathome said...

Could he be referring to fools questioning Dan Kimball?

Daniel said...

I think it was Spurgeon who said, "fools can raise more objections in an hour than wise men can answer in seven years"

Pastors have to be ready for that too.

David Rudd said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Rudd said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joe Martino said...

Absolutly. As I said, I didn't know. I know that sol seemed to think I was just "counting questions" without giving any answerrs or something to that effect.

DJP said...

General announcement:

Rule 3 is still in effect. Specifically, for this thread:

1) All puerile off-topic jokes and other egregious violations of James 3:1-2 will be summarily deleted without further explanation; and

2) Remarks that are merely carry-overs from yesterday's closed
thread will also be deemed off-topic in today's meta.

Let's stick to the subject, folks.

Sled Dog said...

Let's stick to the subject, folks.


Touchstone said...


I responded to you earlier, but my comments to you got deleted, just so you are aware.


Ken Silva said...


Thank you for this great post. I really like what you say here: "A teacher in the church of Christ is meant to get up and say, 'Here is what the Word of God teaches.'"

Not only is this largely lacking in the Church today but it is the antithesis of the Emergent Church idea of embracing mystery and uncertainty as virtues. Rather one might conclude it is actually an unwillingness to take a stand on their part.

DJP said...

It may well apply to emergents.

But honestly, the historical example that was most in my mind as I wrote was (very roughly) the 1850s-1950s, when liberalism and modernism wriggled their way into control of the mainstream denominations. This was accomplished by the invaders' duplicity and deceit, and by their preying on the gullibility and naïveté of the church.

But as they say: the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Brett said...

I fully agree that James 3:1 is not considered nearly enough!!

But I'm wondering how Hebrews 5:12 fits into this?

For though by this time you ought to be teachers

Ken Silva said...


Where you say, "liberalism and modernism wriggled their way into control of the mainstream denominations", and I would also say we can even see an interesting parallel to this developing right now within the broader evangelical camp itself.

And I sure agree with you here as you point out, "This was accomplished by the invaders' duplicity and deceit, and by their preying on the gullibility and naïveté of the church." In fact, this is exactly what Dr. Walter Martin talked about in his lectures on what he called the "Cult of Liberal Theology".

In my view of God's Word and looking at the Emerging Church movement, I would have to agree with Dr. John MacArthur that we are seeing a new liberalism attempting to do the same thing right now. A "post" liberalism with its "post" modern theology. Which would be why I think your post here today is so timely to encourage our pastor-teachers.

Because as you said my brother: "an historical perspective grants one is the knowledge that the history of church fairly bristles with men (and women) who have couched deadly, damning error in fine and lovely words. Central, essential doctrines have been and are being denied and perverted by the nicest folks, in the sweetest words."

Anonymous said...

Dan, great reminder here. The context of James 3:1 is the use of the tongue, and the highest use of that organ and the gift of speech that God has given is to employ it in proclaiming the Word of God to His people. If, as James goes on to say in the rest of chap 3, that our tongues are wicked and full of deadly poison, it should give us pause to think and examine ourselves before seeking the role or office of teacher or preacher.

I want my son to read this post, he's in Bible college (TMC) and will be doing an internship in our church here in Nebraska this summer, trying out some teaching and preaching.

risen_soul said...

Great post brother.

Ian said...

Thank you for this post, it was excellent.

Wyeth Duncan said...


Thank you for this sobering reminder of the truly awesome responsibility of teaching the word of God.

This post is a "keeper".

Wyeth Duncan

Matthew Carroll said...

Thank you, Dan.

Coram Deo said...

"an historical perspective grants one is the knowledge that the history of church fairly bristles with men (and women) who have couched deadly, damning error in fine and lovely words. Central, essential doctrines have been and are being denied and perverted by the nicest folks, in the sweetest words."

In my view the point made above easily ranks among the greatest problems and weaknesses within the modern professing church; namely that there's little or no understanding of church history.

Furthermore there's little or no understanding of basic doctrines or of the basic tenets of the Christian faith itself.

In fact the professing church has been generationally dumbed down so far and for so long by ungodly, compromised, church-growth apostate leadership that their hapless sheep have no scriptural or historical depth of root in themselves and are therefore highly susceptible to the doctrines of demons.

When a shepherd fails to properly feed his flock and fails to provide them with adequate protection you can be certain that those sheep will be consumed with disease and rent by ravening wolves.

Yet sadly too many within the professing church, even - and sometimes especially! - within its leadership are quick to "pooh-pooh" this type of complaint away and dismiss it as hyperbole or perhaps as unfounded generalizations but the truth of the matter is inescapable and plain for those with eyes to see.

It's a well worn cliché, but those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it. The enemy's bag of tricks and the hearts of men are no different today than they were in the garden and whether we fancy our world as modern, post-modern, Christian or post-Christian it's still God's footstool and the fullness thereof is His.

Let's never lose sight of our eternal hope of glory in the midst of our temporal struggles, nor let us forget the simple fact that unregenerate man is a corrupted and twisted image bearer who is in desperate need of a Savior, the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
(Ephesians 6:12)

Coram Deo said...

"In simple English words not using Latin words from Reformed terminology - yes, I believe we are born sinners, we need a redeemer to rescue and redeem us from condemnation, we repent and put faith in the Redeemer Jesus, who is our substitionary atonement for sin, we are then justified by faith and made righteous in His sight through Jesus and are sanctified by the Spirit. Is this what you are asking me what I believe?"

My sacred-underwear tailored Mormon neighbor would wholeheartedly agree with the statement above.

Unfortunately he's changed all the meanings of those words to fit within his false theological construct. I wonder if the emergents consider the LDS and JW's to be Christ followers? Has anyone publicly come out one way or the other on this subject from the emergent camp? It seems to me that many, if not most, of the emergent types are so phobic of absolutes that I wonder if they'd have the stomach to tell a Mormon Missionary or a Jehovah's Witness that they're just plain wrong and that their "truth" - so called - is actually a lie from the pit of hell?

One thing (among many) that concerns me about the overarching uncertainty principle espoused and embraced by the emergents lies in the stark contrast between their "Generous Orthodoxy" and the slam-dunk false-doctrinal adherence of groups like the Mormons and JW's. Unlike the emergent cult's "You're down with God? Sweet, bro!" approach, the LDS & JW cultists I've witnessed to are so well trained in their understanding of their cult's version of the scriptures and their false system of faith plus works that they'd turn the average professing Christian into a spiritual pretzel in about five minutes flat.

Please understand I'm not trying to hijack the thread, I'm just curious to know how the emergents with their dearth of doctrine are equipped to bear witness of the true Jesus Christ to the kingdom of the cults, or if they're even interested in trying.

Anonymous said...

Coram Deo:

I have to agree with your statements re: the Mormon and JW missonal (!) types being far more well-versed in their doctrines than the ordinary garden-variety Christian.

And I think this does relate to the original post - in that they, the ones who teach these false and damning doctrines, will be held to a stricter judgement. Using our speech to influence others spiritually - for Christ or against Him - puts us to a higher standard.

Morris Brooks said...

Coram Deo said, "in fact the professing church has been dumbed down so far and so long by ungodly, compromised church growth apostate leadership..." It is not just the church growth pastors, but pastors in general. The lack of good solid biblical preaching and teaching, both from the pulpit and in the Sunday school classrooms is just as much a culprit.

This is exactly what Dan's post is referring to. Too many, way too many people have taught and are teaching that have absolutely no business teaching. Many fit the I Timothy 1:6-7 example. Most churches do not have any method for finding, developing, and training teachers. They mostly look for people to fill the class they have formed instead of forming the class around a gifted and qualified individual. So you have the lame and the blind leading the lame and the blind. Ignorance is pooled and opinion reigns and everyone's opinion is just a valid as the person's next to them. So instead of the Scripture being opened and expounded they all quote from the book of II Opinions.

The majority of pastors do not preach/teach expositionally and as a result recycle most of their sermons under different names. The topics change, but the subject matter stays the same. The congregation gets the same thing over and over and so never grows past where their pastor is.

Churches that hold to the inerrancy of the word are just as guilty of this as the worst main-line liberal church. This issue is pandemic in the church and is the main reason our churches are full of biblically illiterate members.

Daniel C said...

Oh my...

II Opinions!!! Whatever happened to I Opinions? And how many books of Opinions are there?

Terry Rayburn said...

Dan wrote: "To be a pastor *means* to be a teacher of the Word of God..."

I would say, "To be a pastor *includes* being a teacher of the Word of God."

And even then, that teaching should go well beyond the pulpit. The essential meaning of "pastor" is "shepherd", not "teacher", and shepherding rightly includes at the least knowing one's sheep by name.

Many pastors think if they've cut straight the Word for the week, and intervened in pastoral emergencies, and managed the corporation, they've done their dutey. But the people often are left as sheep without a shepherd, aching holes in their hearts because their shepherds don't even know them, let alone truly fellowship with them.

This aching hole in the hearts of many is part of the impetus behind "movements" like Emerging Church, but the problem persists as ECers built their own mega-churches with a star in the pulpit, and more sheep without a shepherd.

To be a pastor surely includes teaching the Word, but if it stops there, that's just a teacher, not a pastor.

DJP said...

Thanks, Terry; very good points.

Just for clarification on your opening distinction:

Do you mean that a pastor is always a teacher, but not just a teacher? If so, we don't disagree at all (and I think your final words point in that direction).

Or do you mean that one may be a pastor without being a teacher? In that case, we'd see the role differently.

(I'm using a narrower sense of "teacher" here, as I think you are as well. It could be argued that leading, counseling, loving, example-setting and many other activities are all forms of "teaching," but that isn't what we're talking about at the moment.)

Terry Rayburn said...

"Do you mean that a pastor is always a teacher, but not just a teacher? If so, we don't disagree at all..."

Yes. Thanks, Dan.