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Is having at least two children a qualification of a pastor or deacon?

This is a cross-post from my theology blog Ready to Harvest

There are some who claim that to be a pastor, a person must have at least two children. They object to a pastor who has no children or only one. These people get their justification for this claim from 1 Timothy 3, which reads:

1Tim 3:1-7  This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.  (2)  A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;  (3)  Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;  (4)  One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;  (5)  (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)  (6)  Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.  (7)  Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Verse 12 states

Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

Specifically, the person who thinks that a pastor should have more than one child (referred to going forward as the objector), will refer to verse four and twelve, and say that since we are in a passage about qualifications, and the bishop (pastor) and deacon is referred to as having children, then anyone without children (plural) is not qualified to be a bishop or deacon.

Let’s consider the reasons why the scripture does not actually prohibit a man without children being a pastor.

  1. The mention of “children” is not listed as a qualification to have children

What are the requirements given for? They are given to prevent an unqualified or disqualified man from taking the office. In the chart below, consider each of the qualifications and the opposite, disqualifying position:

With this in mind, it is apparent that the command to have “his children in subjection with all gravity” is present to prevent the opposite – a man who has children that are not in subjection. The passage doesn’t address the case of a man without children, but only that children which he does have must be in subjection.

2. Making every mention of children become a qualifier to the position leads to strange inconsistencies in scripture

If we do take the position that a reference to a person having children means that the person must have children, we end up with this strange case. Consider the requirements listed in Luke 14:26 to be a disciple:

Luke 14:26  If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

Following the same pattern as the objectors do in 1 Timothy, a person cannot be a disciple unless they have a wife (no woman disciples), have children (no single or one-child disciples), have brethren and sisters (no disciples who have only sisters or only brothers, and no only-child disciples). But this is contradictory, because Acts tells us that Tabitha (A woman) was a disciple, and we are quite certain she didn’t have a wife.

Let’s take another example. Titus 2:4 tells us about the older women teaching the young women:

Tit 2:4  That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

Does this passage mean one cannot be a young woman unless they have children? Or at least they cannot be a teachable young woman? No, it obviously is speaking of them to be taught to love husband or child even if they aren’t yet married – e.g. in the future. The same could be said for the Bishop and deacon requirement. If they don’t have children, then they certainly don’t have children which are not in subjection. Later when they do have children, then we can see if they become unqualified.

Objection: The requirement is there because for a person to be qualified to pastor or be a deacon, they need to demonstrate that they can raise children properly, which cannot be known if the person has no children.

Answer: However, as we have seen, there is no such requirement. The reason a person may think a requirement could be there does not make such a requirement exist. If there is such a requirement for pastor, then there is an inconsistency in the requirement for a disciple, as seen above, and because there are no errors in scripture, there is no such requirement of multiple children for a pastor.

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Posted by on September 24, 2018 in Doctrine

 

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Is the Bible God? Examining Jesus’ title “the Word of God”

What does the scripture mean when it refers to Jesus as “The Word” or “The Word of God”? There are some that take this to mean that the Bible is Jesus, and Jesus is the Bible, that is, that the 66 books of scripture are literally the third person of the trinity. Do the scripture passages support this conclusion?

Let’s start with a cursory look at the five places where the King James Bible refers to the “Word of God” with a capital “W.” The first is John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Who or what is the scripture referring to as “the Word?” this becomes clear later on in the chapter, in verse 14:”And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

So it is obvious that this passage is telling us who “the Word” is. The Word is Jesus. It does not state anywhere that the person referred to here as “the Word” is also the Bible. Some might say that it refers to the Bible simply because the Bible is also called “the word” (lowercase) throughout the scripture. But this does not follow. Multiple different things or people can have the same title and still be distinct. Ezekiel can be the “son of man” and Jesus Christ can be the “son of man”, but Jesus is not Ezekiel. God the Father, is of course the Father, and Christ is also given the title of Father in Isaiah 9:6, and Abraham in Luke 16:30, but these are all distinct persons. So the question remains, is the title “Word of God” ( capitalized) ever referring to the Bible itself, and if so is it making it equivalent to Jesus?

Note that all the references to the “Word of God” are in books written by the Apostle John, first in the gospel, then in 1 John, and finally in Revelation. The next verse is 1 John 1:1: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;” All of these descriptions speak about Jesus Christ, not the Bible. Later in 1 John 5:7 it says “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” This passage is a clear reference to the trinity, with the Word once again referring to Jesus. This is made even more clear when the previous verse is read with it. Finally we see Revelation 19:13, which says: “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.” Verse 16 clarifies more who this rider is: “And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Who is the King of Kings? Earlier in revelation we read this: “(Rev 17:14)  These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” The Lamb is, of course, Christ. (This is universally accepted, one such demonstration of this is that the lamb has twelve apostles in 21:14)

What is meant by Christ being “the Word of God?” It means that Christ is God’s sent message – the physical embodiment of what God wanted to convey. Christ’s title of “Word” means that he is more than just a messenger telling us truth from God, but that he is also the message of God’s truth itself.

Thre is certainly a value in understanding the close and intentional connection of Christ’s title “the Word” and the Bible being called “the word”. The scripture is God’s written word to humanity, and Christ is the living Word. Both are the message of the Father. But they are not the same.

Making Christ and the Bible to be the same thing leads to some strange conclusions. Primarily, it can lead to a belief that John 1:1 is telling us that God’s written word became flesh, and that prior to that there was no separate person of the trinity that was God the son. Many who attack the eternal sonship of Christ do so on the basis of interpreting John 1:1 in this way and conflating Jesus with the spoken or written word of God. In addition, there are an innumerable amount of strange conclusions that can be drawn by forcing Jesus into the meaning of places that refer to the “word of God” or “word of the Lord.

Can Christ be corrupted? (2Co 2:17)  For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

Is Jesus the Sword of the Spirit? (Eph 6:17)  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

The sad part about this doctrine (like many) is that it is radically defended and used as a means of attacking, when it comes from nothing more than poor exegesis and a failure to look at context. The result can be dangerous – worshipping God’s written word like it is God himself. God’s word is important – he has magnified it above his name (Psalm 138:2) but his word is what he has said to us – the unlimited God cannot be even limited to the revelation we have of him in scripture – If we tried to write down all there was to say about the works of Jesus, John said it best, “I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.”

This is a cross-post form my ministry blog “Ready to Harvest”

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2018 in Doctrine

 

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The Confusion Surrounding Easy Believism and Lordship Salvation Explained and the Biblical Position Outlined

Note: This post is a cross-post from the new Ready to Harvest blog. The original post is here

By Joshua Lindsey, July 2015

Introduction

One of the great controversies in Fundamentalism of the 21st century is the issue of “Easy Believism” vs “Lordship Salvation.” Certainly there is an importance here, as it deals with the most important issue of all – that of salvation. What I have found to be the problem in dealing with this issue is that it is like the issue of Calvinism and Arminianism. If you claim to not hold to either position, then you will doubtless find yourself disowned by both camps, and even by people who put themselves in one camp or the other even when they are not really.

To explain this, I think that there are many people who take the “Balanced position” on this issue, and do not subscribe to Lordship Salvation or Easy Believism, but they have an incorrect understanding of what these terms mean. As a result, many men of God will say they are “Lordship Salvation” or that they are “Easy Believism” when they do not actually fall into that category.

Perhaps this is brought about by the fact that both have admirable names. For example, the name “Easy Believism.” I do think that Salvation is easy, and you do receive it by believing. So it is a good name. However, that does not make me have to hold the teachings of what is peddled under the name “Easy Believism”. I also believe that if someone is truly saved, they will believe that sin is sin, that it is an affront to a holy God. Thus, whether they realize it or not, since they are saying that God makes the rules on what is sin, they are saying He is Lord. (This doesn’t mean they will obey the Lord, or stop sinning necessarily though.) So Lordship salvation is also a good term. However, I am not a believer in Lordship Salvation either.

Now if you claim either of these terms as terms that represent yourself, don’t turn me off yet! We may actually agree, but use different terminology. These factors I mentioned have led to strange results. There are actually some who claim to be “Lordship Salvation”, others who claim to be “Easy Believism” and some who claim neither, who in effect believe the exact same thing! They also go around decrying each other and not realizing they are preaching the same gospel. What I hope to do is clarify the boundaries of what actual Lordship Salvation is, what actual easy believism is, and what the balanced position is.

As part of this I am going to also point out some false definitions of terms.  “Willingness”, “Desire”, “Lordship”, all of these need to be clarified to avoid misunderstanding. I also need to clarify what “belief” and “repentance” actually are, and whether they are necessary for salvation.

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