03 October 2007

Coleco vs. NFL

by Frank Turk

We have this funny word in our Christian vocabulary that appears in our Bibles – namely "church". Webster's dictionary says this about where we get that word:
Middle English chirche, from Old English cirice, ultimately from Late Greek kyriakon, from Greek, neuter of kyriakos of the lord, from kyrios lord, master
Which, you know, is interesting because we use "church" in the translations of the Bible in English to represent the word "ecclesia", not the word "kyriakon" – that is, it is possible that we mean the same thing by saying "church" when the NT says "ecclesia", but the word "church" doesn't come from the word "ecclesia".

Now, here's what I'm not equipped to do here: I'm not equipped to criticize guys (and women) who have spent their lives studying Greek who all agree that "church" is a fine word in English for the Greek word "ecclesia". I accept that this is the word we are going to use and, frankly, ought to use.

What I'm thinking about today is what we mean by using this word.

I realize, btw, that I am on something of a year-long rant about the church, off and on. But listen: Dan's experience last week (which he posted yesterday) is not just sort of disappointing: it's down-right appalling. It's like getting a coleco hand-held football game when you thought you bought tickets to see [insert your football team here to protect the meta from frivolous sports talk] – not only did you get cheated out of what would have been worth coming to, you also have to do all the work yourself now after investing all that time and cash.

The over-arching theme of this series, btw, is that the believer needs the church. You need it. Part of that, of course, is that it needs you, and I have beaten that almost to death. But I was reminded of this theme this weekend as I listened to Dr. MacArthur preach broadly and enthusiastically at DGM's national conference on the theme "Stand", meaning a call to the perseverance of the saints.

Part of "Standing" in the faith is, as the Spurgeon piece sketched out for us this week, not acting like the church is a Baskin Robbins of possibilities – that is, it's not about flavors or "style", and if you get hung up on "style" or flavor (even if it's to go back to some allegedly-ancient style which came into being and went out of being years before your grandparents where born), you're really not about what the church is for.

Let me context this for you – with Scripture, so those of you who don't recognize it will be able to follow me when I resort to God's word. At the end of his life, from a prison cell, probably through some kind of amanuensis, Paul wrote to his disciple Timothy a letter which we receive in Scripture as 2 Timothy. So this letter, whatever else we want to make of it, is Paul's last word to a young man he loved dearly and had discipled in the faith apparently from the start of the young man's faith.

Paul knew Timothy's family – his mother and grandmother, who were themselves Jewish women who had accepted Christ. And if we read Timothy at all, Paul has the highest confidence and love for Timothy – like Titus, Timothy is called Paul's "true son" in the faith.

And in that, Paul's last words to Timothy are important to us as we have to believe that he wrote these things as a farewell.

But as Paul writes, we find some very troubling things in his words. All of Asia, he says, has forsaken him for false teachers; Demas has decided that the world looks pretty good and the Gospel not so much. So in that environment, you'd think Paul would give Timothy the advice any wise man would give: run away from the bad guys and go find someplace else to start a new church – because we have to run away from false teachers, and a church with false teachers is a church where it is necessary to leave.

You'd think.

Instead, Paul says this – if the ESV can be considered Scripture:

do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.
And again he says this:
Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity."

Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
And again this:
You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and [they] will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Even as he is ready to be "poured out as a drink offering", as he says himself, Paul calls Timothy to stand firm in the truth and preach and teach what is right in spite of fads and the tastes of men.

See: Paul didn't tell Timothy, "dude, my method landed me in jail, so you have to try something different. Check with Demas as he has found a nice job in the world -- obviously he knows something I don't." He told Timothy to not change and not adapt and not go his own way, but instead to "endure suffering" and "continue in what you have learned" and "depart from iniquity" and so on -- but not to leave the church.

This goes back to my Coleco vs. NFL analogy -- Paul isn't telling Timothy, "Son, just work on your passing game on that little hand-held, because that's what real football looks like. Nobody has to get hurt, right?" Paul is telling Timothy, "Son, I have taken real hits on the field of play, and you are going to take real hits on the field of play. But you are called out not to be a fan or even a mascot: you are called out to play in the majors. And when you play in the majors, you play until the game is over."

Here's why I bring it up: it's because we are not called out of the church to preach the Gospel – we are called out of the world and into the "ecclesia" to preach the Gospel. Standing firm for the truth is standing where? Whatever "ecclesia" means, and whatever "church" is supposed to mean in its place in English, it is something we are called into in order that we may demonstrate who God is and what He has done.

And this is where the football analogy really gets some legs. We're certainly not called out to play a little metaphorical LED version of the game where there's not even a real ball or real players, yes? If we're "ecclesia", I guess we can also admit that we're not just called to sit on the couch and watch the players on our really cool HDTV home theater unit -- we're not called out to be viewers from a distance, subject to blackouts when the stadium doesn't sell out -- because sitting on the couch doesn't qualify as "out". But let me suggest that we're also not just called out to be season-ticket holders who show up at every home-game, or true fanatics that have a ticket and a seat at every pre-season, regular-season and post-season -- because these people just come to the game no matter how personally they take it when their team loses.

We are called out to play on the team and be down on the field.

You think about that, and we'll come back to it.


Tom Chantry said...

Sort of off-topic, but I really appreciate reading those extended passages all as one. we get so accustomed to verse-by-verse exposition that we can miss the flow. There is a point to be made from the entirety of II Timothy, just as a point can be made from II Timothy 3:16a. Thanks for summarizing the big point.

DJP said...

Etymologically speaking, when once upon a time I named a local church, I found that the first dictionary definition for "church" was "a building...." (i.e. here, still: "a building for public Christian worship"). In Scripture, ekklesia never describes a building. So I preferred the word "assembly," which gives the sense of ekklesia better.

FX Turk said...

You belong to the Assembly? Oh brother -- we have to have a team meeting so the session can make sure you are still improving your baptism.

Chantry --

My opinion is that verse-by-verse exposition is so greatly improved by first getting the overarching sense of what the writer is saying that those who forget to do such a thing are probably doing less than they should for those they are teaching.

First get the context and the broad outlines of the writer's point, then take a look at the details which support the broader lines.

BTW, 2 Tim 3:16 is so greatly enhanced by the context of the rest of the letter that it's hard to believe that anyone would just want to memorize that one verse. More on that as I move through this part of my rant on you and your local church.

DJP said...

You know, it's really irritating: some of the best, Biblicallest names are owned by either cults or yucky-doctrine groups. Ticks me off.

Mike Riccardi said...

I thought this was great, Frank. As a language student, I really appreciate the etymology of the word church. It's great to see how connected it is with "Lord." Thanks for this.

In other news, I think the girl in that family in the Team Pyro picture is extremely scary and may have the flabby luggage-demons.

Tom Chantry said...

Chantry --...as I move through this part of my rant on you...

Yikes! Centuri0n is ranting about me!

Tom Chantry said...

You know, it's really irritating: some of the best, Biblicallest names are owned by either cults or yucky-doctrine groups.

Even "Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints" ain't bad, is it?

DJP said...

No, not really; nor "Church of God," "Assembly of God," "Church of Christ" — nor the (directly Biblical name) "The Way."

DJP said...

LOL, Riccardi; now that you mention it, she does look like she's about to bite her brother's (?) ear off, doesn't she?

Tom Chantry said...

"Jehovah's Witnesses." May we all be...

FX Turk said...

Well, cut her some slack. She was raised in a home with a stellar older brother who was Mom's favorite and her Dad was an oblivious Greek. You're be a little edgy, too, in those circumstances.

northWord said...

"so those of you who don't recognize it will be able to follow me when I resort to God's word"
. . nice tackle :)

Wonderful exposition of Pauls words. I usually think first of Christ's body when see/hear the word "church" - sometimes that "body" is just a doll as opposed to a living, breathing body of Christ, but nevertheless..it's Pauls words, along with all of scripture that breath life into His church, and I thank Him daily for His Word.

Devin Parker said...

Okay, so not to drive this thing off the rails, but what exactly is the issue with the ESV?

DJP said...

It's too literal for Frank.

FX Turk said...


The ESV is the translation I use to teach from at church, and I recommend it. I just don't want anyone to fault me for using a translation which doesn't use the original word-order of the text.

I mean, 2 Tim 1:8 starts off, "μὴ οὖν ἐπαισχυνθῇς τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν μηδὲ ἐμὲ τὸν δέσμιον αὐτοῦ" -- which has a very distinct word order. And something like this --

So do not be ashamed to tell people about our Lord Jesus, and do not be ashamed of me, in prison for the Lord.

-- or this --

So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him.

-- or heaven forbid this --

So don't be embarrassed to speak up for our Master or for me, his prisoner.

-- would, in some people's eyes, not be Scripture at all. They know who they are, and I leave it to them to expose themselves because they feel like my comments here have treated them unjustly.

Devin Parker said...


So...no "Word on the Street", then?


Mike Riccardi said...

Word on the Street, or the Ebonibible?

We're getting there...

Example? Gen 1:10-11:

[10] And Big Daddy called da dry land Earth; an' da gathering together o' da waters called he Seas: an' Big Daddy seen dat it wuz pimp-tight.

[11] And Big Daddy did verbalize, Let da earth bring forth grass, da herb yielding seed, an' da fruit tree yielding fruit afta his kind, whose seed iz in itself, upon da earth: an' it wuz so.

Nash Equilibrium said...

OK, so which translation would be the right word-order?

Stefan Ewing said...

So the postwar housewife in the second picture is..."getting called"?

David Regier said...

I appreciate the post, Frank. It's one thing to sit around and snark about all the immature believers everywhere while you insulate yourself in your own club.

It is quite another to make disciples, immersing them in the Name and teaching them to do all the things Jesus commanded.

Disciples of Christ, anyone?

Mike Riccardi said...

The word-for-word translation, keeping with word order would be:

"μὴ οὖν ἐπαισχυνθῇς τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν μηδὲ ἐμὲ τὸν δέσμιον αὐτοῦ"

Not therefore be ashamed (of) the testimony of Lord our, nor of me the prisoner his.

David Regier said...

I you for that thank.

Stefan Ewing said...

Frank wrote:

We are called out to play on the team and be down on the field.

Very well put. This point reminds me of Oswald Chamber's daily devotional My Utmost for His Highest, in that every day's teaching assumes implicitly that we are all called to be Christian workers in one way or another, and not merely passive believers. Today's reading is no exception: halfway through, he just casually tosses out, "Your duty in service and ministry is to see that there is nothing between Jesus and yourself."

Not totally off-topic, later in the same reading, he writes that "the power of the saint lies in the coming down [from the mountaintop] and in the living that is done in the valley," without having our faith destroyed by living in the valley, having the power to "do all things through Christ who strengthens [us]" (Philippians 4:13), referring to knowing "how to be brought low, and...how to abound," and how to face "plenty and hunger, abundance and need."

So we are called neither to (a) remain on the mountaintop, aloof from the trials and travails of the world, nor (b) dwell in the valley without a care or regard for the consuming fire on the mountaintop, choosing instead to be consumed by temptation, sin, and man-centered worship.

Devin Parker said...

So the postwar housewife in the second picture is..."getting called"?

I don't know, but that daughter certainly looks like she might be hearing voices.

Paula said...

"He told Timothy to not change and not adapt and not go his own way, but instead to "endure suffering" and "continue in what you have learned" and "depart from iniquity" and so on -- but not to leave the church."

I understand what you are saying here, but aren't Paul's instructions here to the Pastor? How are they applied to the church member who doesn't have any authority over what is being taught in a church?

We're trying to figure out where that line is - we're in a church that on outward appearance(and in the pulpit) is Biblically sound. However, the youth group is leaning emergent - Nooma videos - ditching teaching the Bible in favor of student-facilitated "relevent" discussion about "edgy" topics, i.e. piercings, tattoos, Harry Potter, Halo; using secular music for "worship"; "authenticity" seems to be the highest value.(sorry about the excessive use of quotation marks! The EC's re-definitions mandate it!)

We've had to pull our kids out of most activities (more so for our younger daughter who is less discerning) The sr. pastor agrees that the EC is dangerous, but trusts our youth pastor. We've already been removed from teaching positions for not drinking the Kool-aid.

I guess what I'm asking is what does it look like when a person not in authority stays? Understanding that it's not stylistic differences but perhaps teetering on the edge of heresy (depending on what you think of Rob Bell I guess) (I vote yes). Does one just sit quietly, hoping and praying the leadership will eventually "get it"? Does one keep earnestly pestering the pastor? Inform the other parents? I guess the confusion springs from the church authority issue. I am still under the authority of the senior pastor (and the youth pastor for that matter). How exactly does that all flesh out?

Stefan Ewing said...

Oswald Chamber's ==> Oswald Chambers'

"How to be brought low...": Philippians 4:12.

"Consuming fire": Deuteronomy 4:24.

"Man-centered worship": Genesis 11:1-9, Exodus 32, etc.

Stefan Ewing said...

Sorry, I meant the postwar housewife in the third picture. But she's sitting in a comfy chair and sipping coffee, so she's a postwar postmodernist?

Randy said...

I was going to post something along the lines of tom chantry's first comment. Guess I need to be quicker.

Anyway, I always find the difference between seeing scripture in my bible (with all of its numbers, footnotes, etc...) and reading it as was posted here to be amazing. I really do feel I understand context much better when the text is in unaltered, regular old paragraph format. Then again Ebonibible is really what makes me understand the true meaning.

Randy said...

I second carolczech's questions above. Nice use of the word "springs" too.

Devin Parker said...

Thirding carolczech. I'm going to be moving back to my home state in a few months, and my friends back home tell me that our old community church, the community I grew up in, has been growing more and more PurposeDrivel and less substantial. I like my old pastor a lot and I feel as though I owe him some loyalty, since he gave me good counsel in a difficult time for me, but from what I understand, he's engaged in some questionable behavior. Obviously I owe my first loyalty to Jesus, but I don't just want to abandon my own community.

Stefan Ewing said...

I agree with Randy's sentiment: sometimes just reading Scripture laid out straight across the page without markup—in the same manner as other literature is displayed—makes for good reading.

On the same thought, the one thing I don't like about the ESV is that it has traditional, English-Bible-style block paragraphs, rather than quotation-based paragraph divisions as is the modern convention (like the NIV).

FX Turk said...


Your question is a G-R-E-A-T question, which I would like to address in the next installment of this year-long series.

Stefan Ewing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stefan Ewing said...

...Since paragraph divisions, quotation marks, sentence divisions, all other punctuation, and capitalization are all modern conventions and not in the supporting texts anyhow....

W. Ian Hall said...

Not sure about the analogy but I think I understand and agree with the point you are trying to make.


FX Turk said...

Before we see my post next week, the interested parties may read the posts listed as "local church". Especially the two or three that show up at the bottom of the page.

Paula said...

Randy said, "Nice use of the word "springs" too."

:) However, "I" was a "slacker" and forgot to be consistent and "overuse" quotation marks...now where was that website/12-step "program" I saw here a while back for people who "overuse" quotation marks? Was that "PDL" or "BL Now"?

Nash Equilibrium said...

Fourthing CarolCzech, here. However, I'm not just going to echo the questions, but I'm going to express an opinion. I think that a lot of churches are asleep as to what is going on in youth ministry. And I think a lot of pastors and elders give passive support to many of the disturbing trends CarolCzech listed, by doing nothing about them. The person in the pew is powerless. My own opinion is that if you find yourself in such a church (as we did a year ago, almost exactly what she was describing), GET OUT. Stop supporting things you have serious disagreements with, or you'll actually be part of the problem by enabling those who are promoting Nooma, etc. I know it's hard to leave, but there's no middle ground.

FX Turk said...


I think your view is gospel-free -- that is, it forgets everything about the Gospel.

Follow the link above.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Cent: How so forgets everything about the Gospel? And, what link are you talking about?
How is staying in /supporting an organization that is confusing the biblical Gospel (especially if it's done intentionally), somehow helping the Gospel?

Daryl said...

Does the gospel need help? Or do people.

VcdeChagn said...

It is clear in several places in Scripture that you do not yoke yourself to unbelievers (1 Cor 5:9, 2 Cor 6:14, 2 John 10, half of the OT :D ). If your church tolerates apostates and false believers, take a Biblical stand. If they do not change, leave.

Contrary to Frank, I feel there is a strong scriptural basis for leaving a church if you feel it has gone beyond the bounds of Christianity.

here are three scenarios:

1. A Mason is allowed to be a board member (Masonry is a cult). The church does not address his Masonic membership, or see it as a problem. Leave or Stay?

2. A Catholic(or Mormon..take your pick) becomes born again, and no longer believes in prayers to Mary, etc. Leave (the Mormon or Catholic local assembly) or Stay?

3. You feel that the youth movement in your church is becoming apostate (Lecto Divinia, Yoga (snicker)...etc). Your son is involved in the youth group and resents the implication that anything is wrong. Leave or stay (aka sacrifice him on the fires of Molech, essentially :D )

David Regier said...

Frank, God bless you as you continue to work this out.

It is really easy to get all the answers correct. It is really hard to live in the midst of living, breathing people who have been justified by Christ's blood. Honestly, I started to get tired of it this week, until I re-read Philippians and Colossians.

I have a tendency to read my Bible (NASB, 'cause I'm a word-order freak, and I like it to sound wooden) with the intentions of teaching it to somebody else. And I forget that it's telling ME to be completely humble, considering others to be better than myself.

So it's important for me to consider my pastor and elders to be better than me. It's also important for me to give up my seat of honor to someone who smells bad and doesn't wear nice clothes. My Bible says that I am to be completely humble.

And if I am to correct one of these brothers of mine, I'm supposed to follow the Matthew 18 rules, which were taught by Jesus, whose life is my example in this humility according to Philippians 2.

What if the church started noticing that the people who have their theology right are patient, kind, gentle, loving, faithful, good, and self-controlled? It may be that many of them aren't. And if they aren't, they have missed the gospel.

FX Turk said...

There is a reason Pretty David is pretty, and it's not because of his glamor shot.

FX Turk said...

This Link, which I made earlier today.

FX Turk said...


What is the Gospel?

FX Turk said...


Your answers are short-sighted and overlooks what happened to Timothy in Ephesus, and what was happening to Paul as he saw all the churches he established in various states of less-than-perfection.

Let me ask you: how perfect does a man's practice have to be to offer us proof that his doctrine is sound?

Nash Equilibrium said...

Yes, yes, now Cent I see which link you were referring to, and see that what you are talking about in your post on the 'poor local church' is in no way related to what I was talking about.

In our situation, it isn't that we weren't concerned (at first) about our pastor who had strayed into Emergent apostasy, but I guess we were not so concerned that we were willing to stay and let him teach us and our children those Emergent apostasies. To imply that we are somehow required to do so for the sake of unity or something is pretty silly, if you ask me. (Take a walk in another person's shoes for a while).

Perhaps Cent you were thinking I was talking about something relatively inconsequential, such as election vs. free will, or any number of debates that have gone on within the realms of orhtodoxy over the ages? I will extend that benefit of doubt to you.

As far as the "what is the gospel" question, it is that that those who believe in Jesus Christ so much that they practice his teachings, are saved from God's wrath. That does not require me to stay at a church where it is suddenly being taught that everyone is saved, even if they don't believe. Sorry if you think it does.

philness said...


What one believes dictates what he will do. Something about ortho-something precedes orthoproxy if you prefer those more educated words. Have you thought about going back and being light and salt there or do you believe church is to solely feed just you and your family? If you agree that the feeding there is malnourished then possibly consider putting some nutrients in it yourself. How does one go about doing this you ask? Well it may seem crazy but what I am contemplating doing is buying as many copies of John MacArthur’s Truth War books as my wife will allow and place them all over my church and pray without ceasing that the Lord grant some folks some discernment. Because I believe without discernment it is impossible to even know that your malnourished.

FX Turk said...

|| As far as the "what is the gospel"
|| question, it is that that those who
|| believe in Jesus Christ so much that
|| they practice his teachings, are saved
|| from God's wrath. That does not
|| require me to stay at a church where
|| it is suddenly being taught that
|| everyone is saved, even if they don't
|| believe. Sorry if you think it does.

This is actually –not- the Gospel. The Gospel is that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scripture; he was buried, and he was raised from the dead in accordance with Scripture. (1 Cor 15) Or as Paul reasoned in the synagogues, the Christ had to come and suffer and be raised from the dead. (Acts 17)

Does this mean believers are saved? Why yes – it does. But the Gospel is what Christ has done, not what we do.

Your view abandons the Gospel because it has no Gospel in it. Please reconsider what you are telling others to do.

David Regier said...

And once again, Stratagem, if the gospel is practicing Jesus' teachings, that would include doing the Matthew 18 thing, and taking on the very nature of a servant yourself (Phil. 2: Have this mind in you. . .).

Keith B said...

Thanks for the good post and text on standing strong in the face of false teaching as a pastor or church leader. I like the illustrations too. Looking forward to the follow up on how lay people should respond.

Strong Tower said...

Get back in there and show them what you got kid!

There are reasons to leave the Church. They are few. Just left mine after a four year struggle to bend ears to the Gospel. Left because there were no apparent mechanisms still working through which reconciliation might take place. Politics. Follow the money and pioneer founders mentality and all that. Still, if your church has a functioning consitution, with legitimate business meetings then call the chuch to account. If you are giving of your resources, stop. Then, bring yourself before the church on charges of disobedience to the covenant that you bound yourself to. Demand a trial so that your "problems" receive full and public hearing. Let the church decide what the disciplinary action will be, but they must make all efforts to legitimate the reconciliation process as it is corrective towards all parties. If they do not, as was the case with me, and try to use "illegal" means to accomplish silencing the divisor, you might seek out side help. In my case the presiding officer of the local association was in cahoots with the pastor and the "powers." At that point, I decided that my most powerful position was outside their authority.

Cent, nice post. There is something that is not often spoken of. The pastoral letter was written from a pastor to a pastor, and that should not be over-looked. Generalist admonitions from Timothy and anywhere else, like the first chapters of 1 Corithians which are directed at leadership primarily, should not be isolated only for the leadership. Nor, should they be isolated from the leadership by generally assigning them as if there were no particularity to the passages. This is typically the problem. Paul's admonition is for Timothy to do the work of an evangelist, yet in most churches this is relegated to the congregation as if it has no particularity. There are many members to the body and each has been given specific giftings and specific calling. Do not neglect the 12th player. Some are called to be fans. Some, cheerleaders, some coaches, some players, some guards, some quarterbacks. Each has a particular calling and the pattern in Scripture, especially in Timothy is clear. Take Ephesians, the some passages. Not all are called to be on the field and it is wrong to lump it together. We are not all pastors not all evangelists, yet we are all called to pastor and all called to evangelize. Some of us just sell popcorn, flat beer and cold hotdogs.

So, bravo! The Gospel must be preached within and without the ecclesiassembuilding. We know that brothers can be held captive to do the will of the enemy, and it is our job in the local assembly to snatch some out of the flames, hating, yes, hating even the garment spotted by flesh. Now, this gentlness thing is not always Charmin. Sometimes it is in your face Paul to Peter, anathema calling. The gentleness is of the heart, not necessarily of the actions. Why do you want to save them? And from what? So that they might be like you, be on your team? Wrong reason. Check the motive. If you lose the game, take heart, for he has overcome even your worldliness.

Thanks for the etymology. I always thought that had to do with glutony. Did you know that the English word for Lord comes from an ole English word that means keeper of the bread? Ya really!

Thanks to you all for your works here, commentors and Pyros alike. This blog always seems to bring out good stuff.

Stefan Ewing said...

"Keeper of the bread"—that's good. Praise the Lord, the Provider of our daily manna!

Jake said...


you came up with a really lame sermon illustration (listen to WOTMR)

It works, we're called to play,to get into the game, not just cheer when things go well, and "hang in there" if things are rough.

VcdeChagn said...

Let me ask you: how perfect does a man's practice have to be to offer us proof that his doctrine is sound?

Not perfect at all..my doctrine probably stinks and my practice definitely does. However, the Gospel I believe in is pure (1 Cor 15). I will not sit under a pastor preaches a false Gospel, one that Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit calls accursed.

Also, are you speaking only to leaders or to "lay people" as well? If this is to leaders only, then my apologies because I misunderstood the thrust of your article (and probably need to re-read it).

FX Turk said...

I see: pastors have to stick with their churches, but the lay-people are spiritual nomads who can throw in with a guy until they judge him to be actually a snake-oil salesman rather than the one with an annointing.

I'm glad I brought all this back up. This will be a fruitful discussion.

David Rudd said...


on this one, i'm totally with you. i'm seeing a lot of reasons given for leaving the church that are masquerading as "Gospel Issues" but really have nothing to do with the Gospel.

Seems like you did something with this a few months ago, and as I recall it was pretty good? (i'm asking you about the timing, not about the quality!)

VcdeChagn said...

I see: pastors have to stick with their churches, but the lay-people are spiritual nomads who can throw in with a guy until they judge him to be actually a snake-oil salesman rather than the one with an annointing.

Red herring alert. I only asked what the context was. I assumed that the context was everyone, not just leaders. And that's fine.

I still disagree with you and feel that the whole body of scripture supports not taking communion (an integral part of "church" IMO), eating, or yoking with idolators, etc.

In addition, how do you feel about the three situations I provided? Should a mormon continue attending a mormon church? A catholic mass?

And in the first case, when idolatry is not confronted from the pulpit, and the Word says not to yoke or eat with idolators (especially in this case...as I know the people involved...unrepentant ones)are you supposed to attend church and refuse communion or to participate in fellowship activities within the church?

These are difficult questions to answer for one who takes the position of staying no matter what.

If I am misreading your position, please let me know, but that's the way I see it at the moment. Please tell me I'm seeing your point of view all wrong, because I think you're way off base.

p.s. And in the link you provided before your article today, the family should have stayed because there was no good reason to leave, based on your assertions.

Paula said...

May I ask for a couple more layers (to complicate matters, of course!)

When you write more, will you (Frank) define "pastor"? Would this be strictly someone ordained? Senior pastor? Youth pastor? Head youth pastor? Asst. youth pastor (not ordained?, youth intern? Ordained worship leader? I think it's important to define this in a discussion of the roles of pastor/lay persons. Who's 'da boss and where does the buck stop?

Also, if we're discussing the proper way to stay, ecclesiologically (is that a word?) are there differences between small vs. mega churches and large denominations vs. independently controlled congregations? Obviously, there shouldn't be (unless you're into trajectory hermaneutics), but practically, as far as dealing with real life human beings (i.e. bureaucracies) there are differences.

Matt Gumm said...

Since there seems to be some interest in Bibles without verse numbers, etc., I'll put in a shameless plug for the ESV online. They have a feature where you can turn off chapters, verses, chapter headings, even "words of Christ in red." Some people have been known to print out these out for study.

The folks at the ESV Blog took it a step further, encouraging people to copy and paste verses to a word processor, and put in their own paragraphs. I thought this was a great way of "wrestling with the text," even for those who don't know a lick of Greek.

With all that, and Crossway's penchant for different bindings and different presentations, I'm a bit suprised that IBS beat them to the punch on the Books of the Bible Bible.

Matt Gumm said...

Speaking of red herrings, VcdeChagn, since Frank is smart & already in bed, I'll just throw in that the scenarios you provided are (for the most part) not what Frank is talking about.

Nowhere in the discussion (at least until you brought it up) were we talking about people who were not believers. I believe the discussion was about believers who were headed in the wrong direction, and how long you would need to remain with them.

The proof is the question Frank asked: What is the Gospel? That's the clear line of demarcation. But beyond that...well, hopefully Frank or someone else will be back to add the rest.

I'm going to bed. I've only got about two hours before one of the boys wakes up having wet his bed. I think we're going for some kind of record.

VcdeChagn said...

Speaking of red herrings, VcdeChagn, since Frank is smart & already in bed, I'll just throw in that the scenarios you provided are (for the most part) not what Frank is talking about.

That's fine then. I wasn't trying to throw out red herrings, I was trying to understand the context of the article.

So that leaves as the only really relevant question (the catholic/mormon and the emerging one are irrelevant) the one about the church tolerating unrepentant open sin (masonry, in this case) in the leadership.

The pastor is a believer, but even in the face of confrontation on the issue above as well as others, refuses to do anything about it (the guy is on the board, of course).

How do you square up remaining in the church with numerous verses about not companying with fornicators, idolators, etc?

And if you do stay, how do you keep from causing division by behaving biblically (aka, not taking communion in the church, yoking yourself with the leadership, etc)?

For the record: This is not my church, but the church of someone who is close to me.

Daryl said...


I suggest you first reconsider your question with a different sin in the leadership. Say and elder who's wife gossips, and elder who cheats on his golf game or an elder who doesn't support the church financially. Do you leave in those circumstances?

Perhaps (perhaps) the answer is to up the vigilance quotient a little bit when being taught and address inscriptural teaching with the elders first rather than assuming bad teaching will follow.

Brendt said...

Frank references a hand-held electronic game from the 80s and uses the word "amanuensis" in the same post, thereby securing his position as the Dennis Miller of the God-blogosphere. ;-)

Stefan Ewing said...

Gummby: Thanks for the tips. I didn't know about the ESV Online's display options. Geek that I am, I have actually tried copying & pasting Scripture, then reparagraphing and reformatting.

VcdeChagn said...

I suggest you first reconsider your question with a different sin in the leadership. Say and elder who's wife gossips, and elder who cheats on his golf game or an elder who doesn't support the church financially. Do you leave in those circumstances?

No. That's an easy answer. Apples and oranges. The situations are not the same.

Unscriptural teaching is not at all what I"m talking about, unless you end up in apostasy (denying the Gospel, etc). I've often ranted to whomever will listen that the most pathetic excuse for a person to leave the church is "I'm not getting fed." My response to them is "Go feed yourself..sheesh!"

Daryl said...

MAybe the difference is in the teaching we've all had. We know those things are wrong.

Perhaps a little teaching on Masons is in order. Teach the blind, don't leave them to fall into a pit.

VcdeChagn said...

Perhaps a little teaching on Masons is in order. Teach the blind, don't leave them to fall into a pit.

Just for reference...

The pastor is a believer, but even in the face of confrontation on the issue above as well as others, refuses to do anything about it (the guy is on the board, of course).

A part of the confrontation WAS teaching...