Oriana Fallaci, the famous Italian journalist and skewerer of powerful men, has taken on Islam in the years since the attack on the World Trade Center. Unfortunately, her books on Islam have barely sold in the USA.
In a January 2003 interview in the New York Observer Fallaci makes a powerful point about Americans' love of "coolness"...
"Listen," she said, wagging a finger. "Those who do not follow what people like me say are unrealistic, are really masochistic, because they don't see the reality .... Muslims have passion, and we have lost the passion. People like me who have passion are derided: 'Ha ha ha! She's hysterical!' 'She's very passionate!' Listen how the Americans speak about me: 'A very passionate Italian.'
"Americans," she said, repeating for me something she told the American Enterprise Institute, "you have taught me this stupid word: cool. Cool, cool, cool! Coolness, coolness, you've got to be cool. Coolness! When I speak like I speak now, with passion, you smile and laugh at me! I've got passion. They've got passion. They have such passion and such guts that they are ready to die for it."
It's not just in secular circles that passion is derided. Some years ago I put up the first web site for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). Buried within the site I included a page of quotes from reformers including Calvin and Luther on the need to separate from those who consistently oppose and deny God's Truth.
I kept the page on the site despite hearing rumblings that the president of CBMW was unhappy with it. Eventually he called and asked me to remove it. This man, a theologian of moderate note in the Evangelical firmament, had the temerity to suggest that Calvin and Luther were "sinning" when they spoke of Roman Catholicism with the stormy terms I had quoted.
Tragic. Systematic theologies may sell because of their evenhandedness, scholarly reputations may persist if the scholar never speaks with heat against any foe--no matter how foul their blasphemies--but such religion and such men and institutions are the scourge of our age, bloodless, passionless, religionless.
What kind of faith is without vehemence?
My brother introduced me to this quote:
Samuel Johnson tells us that Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield originally contained the following statement which was later cut from the text: "I do not love a man who is zealous for nothing."
--Samuel Johnson as quoted in Bartlett's Quotations
Until we reclaim ministry from the pillars of "coolness" in Evangelicalism, until we reject as trainers of our pastors those who can argue against evangelical feminists and open theists by day while drinking with them in the faculty lounge at night, we have ceded Christianity to the control of the Pharisees.
by David and Tim Bayly on August 24, 2004 - 8:36pm
"As disobedience reproaches the ministry, so obedience honors it... When there is a metamorphosis, a change wrought; when people come to the word proud, but go away humble; when they come earthly, but go away heavenly; when they come, as Naaman to Jordan, lepers, but they go away healed; then the ministry is honored... You cannot honor your spiritual fathers more, than by thriving under their ministry, and living upon the sermons which they preach."
(From Thomas Watson's, The Ten Commandments, Banner of Truth Trust, 1981, p. 125.)
by David and Tim Bayly on September 7, 2004 - 2:00pm
Years after I married my first and only wife, Mary Lee, I came across a verse I didn't recall noticing before, Proverbs 19:14:
House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.
As I read this verse it hit me that, during the days when I'd decided to marry Mary Lee, I'd been in rebellion against God. Yet He had not forsaken me. Instead, out of His faithfulness and mercy, He had led me to love and marry a woman who was (and remains) everything I could ever need in a helpmate--a prudent wife.
On this her birthday I praise God for His gift of Mary Lee to me. How excellent she has been for me! There are many things I could mention, but two are particularly worthy of public mention.
First, as a pastor I've often been in a position where a decision needed to be made that might well cause a decline in our income or the necessity of moving to a different church. Yet never in twenty years of ministry has Mary Lee ever pressured me--even to the slightest degree--to think about our money or job security as we made those decisions. Thus it has always been clear to me that Mary Lee fears God--not man.
Second, Mary Lee has never complained about having to sit under my preaching. Many pastors have wives who are relentless in their criticisms and complaints about their husband's preaching, but I've never had this discouragment. Rather, Mary Lee has been a faithful encourager to me, precisely in this work, and has chosen not to allow my sin to be a stumbling block of bitterness or cynicism each Sunday as I proclaim God's Word to her, our children, and our congregation.
If it occurs to you the next time you are speaking to our Father, please pray that I will love my wife as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for Her. And pray, also, that God will give you that gift that your father and mother cannot give--a godly and prudent wife.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 11, 2004 - 7:00pm
Ask me to list my favorite books and up there near the top would be Kierkegaard's Attack Upon "Christendom". Every pastor and elder should read it, as should their wives. It pierces our hypocrisy and points the way back to the path and cost of discipleship. It skewers the modern expectation that the model pastor will have the affect and temperament of a shopkeeper, instead calling for a restoration of manliness to our preaching and pastoral care.
To entice our good readers to find the book and read it, here's one of the hundred or so passages perfectly suited to the work of reform so desperately needed in the evangelical and reformed pulpits of our day.
We all know what it is to play warfare in mock battle, that it means to imitate everything just as it is in war. The troops are drawn up, they march into the field, seriousness is evident in every eye, but also courage and enthusiasm, the orderlies rush back and forth intrepidly, the commander's voice is heard, the signals, the battle cry, the volley of musketry, the thunder of cannon--everything exactly as it is in war, lacking only one thing...the danger.
So also it is with playing Christianity, that is, imitating Christian preaching in such a way that everything, absolutely everything is included in as deceptive a form as possible--only one thing is lacking...the danger.
(From Attack Upon "Christendom" by Soren Kierkegaard; 1944, Princeton University Press.)
[Please note: This recommendation of Attack Upon Christendom is not a general recommendation of Kierkegaard. My friend Don Johnson warns that Kierkegaard was a "father of liberalism," and I do not have the knowledge to agree or disagree, although the book Don cites for his concern, Murray's Evangelicalism Divided, has been one of the formative influences in my work and just yesterday, again, I recommended it to a brother for his reading list. So while acknowledging this concern with Kierkegaard--a concern I've heard before--I place this volume by Kierkegaard high on my list and encourage all to get it and read it.]
by David and Tim Bayly on September 16, 2004 - 6:19am
No time like the present to send out another of Kierkegaard's gems:
Imagine a fortress, absolutely impregnable, provisioned for an eternity.
There comes a new commandant. He conceives that it might be a good idea to build bridges over the moats--so as to be able to attack the besiegers. Charmant! He transforms the fortress into a countryseat, and naturally the enemy takes it.
So it is with Christianity. They changed the method--and naturally the world conquered.
-Soren Kierkegaard, Attack Upon "Christendom," (Princeton University Press, 1944), p. 138.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 17, 2004 - 12:43pm
Still more from the wise Danish curmudgeon:
It is pretty much the same now with the modern clergyman: a nimble, adroit, lively man, who in pretty language, with the utmost ease, with graceful manners, etc., knows how to introduce a little Christianity, but as easily as possible. In the New Testament, Christianity is the profoundest wound that can be inflicted upon a man, calculated on the most dreadful scale to collide with everything--and now the clergyman has perfected himself in introducing Christianity in such a way that it signifies nothing, and when he is able to do this to perfection he is regarded as a paragon. But this is nauseating! Oh, if a barber has perfected himself in removing the beard so easily that one hardly notices it, that's well enough; but in relation to that which is precisely calculated to wound, to perfect oneself so as to introduce it in such a way that if possible it is not noticed at all--that is nauseating.
-Soren Kierkegaard in Attack Upon "Christendom" 1854-1855, translated with an introduction by Walter Lowrie, The Beacon Press, Boston, 1956, p. 258.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 20, 2004 - 7:08am
A brother in Christ comments on an earlier post: "Today in America, the opportunities for a doctrinally orthodox pastor to maintain a bland inoffensiveness don't seem all that great."
To the contrary.
As a lawyer-friend of mine once put it concerning the preaching of his church in another state, "With the indicative, can't we please have the imperative?"
Or as a Bible Study Fellowship leader from one of my former churches put it, "It's not up to the preacher to apply the text--that's the job of the Holy Spirit. He is the One who should convict of sin, not you."
There is a relentless opposition to pastors preaching in such a way as to apply the text to the lives of their congregants, to preach to the conscience and not just the mind, and to call for repentance. In fact, there is a relentless opposition to pastors who move past teaching, to preaching.
This opposition is documented across church history and in the Scriptures. Consider Jesus' summary statement concerning Jerusalem:
Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, "BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!" (Matthew 23:34-39)
Speaking of the absence of danger in the preaching of his day, Kierkegaard was pointing out what is true here today--that pastors have given up preaching, settling for truisms, velveteen rabbit stories, and nostrums. We have given up working for the salvation of the souls we were called to guard and have settled for working for the building of our kingdoms or the maintenance of our lifestyles. And when security becomes the greatest good, danger must be removed. But not in too obvious a way.
If it's too obvious, the pastor might be exposed as the charlatan he is, holding the sinecure he does, and then the gig would be up. So we must act as if we're shepherds, good shepherds, and preachers and prophets, but do it in such a way as to avoid danger scrupulously. Give the congregants drama, all the drama they want, but fill the gun's barrel with blanks.
No, the market for "doctrinally orthodox pastors (who) maintain a bland inoffensiveness" continues to be a bull market.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 27, 2004 - 12:33pm
Page one of the New York Time's "Sunday Styles" section carried a piece by Alex Williams on the upcoming presidential debates titled, "George 'The Squinter' Bush vs. John 'The Grinner' Kerry--A Showdown of Style!" Here are some excerpts:
...the candidate who voters perceive as the winner will probably be chosen not on the substance of what he says, but on the cut of his jib. The subtle style cues... account for as much as 75 percent of a viewer's judgement... the mano a mano is about style--those nonverbal messages that speak to hearts, not heads.
...in some sense it comes down to which man you would want in your living room for the next four years.
...even one deftly delivered witticism, as long as it seems spontaneous (like Reagan's "There you go again" in 1980) could be the deciding factor.
Each candidate must channel his gifts as an onstage communicator--that is, a thespian--said Susan Batson, a longtime acting coach. (Kerry's) greatest opportunity... is to laugh more, to radiate a vulnerability with his eyes, a sense of compassion and wisdom, as opposed to single-mindedness and aggression. He can be "sort of a combination of Henry Fonda and James Stewart," she said.
Note there's nothing here of substance. The entire discussion centers around the candidate's ability to cop a posture or to be an actor, to put his audience at ease. Even taking into account that the piece appeared in the "Sunday Style," rather than the more weighty "Week in Review" section, it's clear the debates are expected to be the pivotal event of this election. And Williams points out that campaign experts expect "hearts, not heads" to prevail in the conclusions voters draw from the debates.
So what does this say about our view of leadership? If our president must put us at ease as we sit with him in our living room, could Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill carry an election today? No, it's doubtful either Lincoln or Churchill "radiated vulnerability with their eyes."
But to get really serious, what does this say about pastoral leadership today? If presidents are picked with little concern for substance, but an overwhelming emphasis on "subtle cues," "non-verbal messages," deftly delivered witticisms" that "seem spontaneous," and their ability to "radiate vulnerability," no wonder our seminaries are turning out men who have few leadership skills.
If "single-mindedness" and "aggression" are a liability to John Kerry, one wonders which church in which suburb and denomination would issue a call to Jesus or the Apostle Paul? And anyone who responds saying that a different philosophy of leadership prevails among biblical churches should pull his head out of the sand.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 27, 2004 - 1:28pm
Assuming that, when the normal American goes through church doors, he doesn't go through a paradigm shift about the nature of leadership, it's interesting to note what the secular authorities advise concerning the speeches of Bush and Kerry:
(Kerry) uses what George P. Lakoff, a professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkley, calls "hedges," words and grammatical constructions that imply uncertainty or qualification.
"There are certain forms of grammar that don't commit you, phrases like 'I believe' or 'I think,'" Mr. Lakoff said. "Kerry has to learn not to do that."
"It is possible to be decisive and not sound decisive," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. "People who speak in sentences that contain parenthetical phrases, people who begin a sentence and then deflect to add a series of illustrative examples before they end the sentences" do not seem authoritative, she said. "The language of decisiveness is subject, verb, object, end sentence." (Alex Williams, "George 'The Squinter' Bush vs. John 'The Grinner' Kerry--A Showdown of Style!" New York Times; Sunday, September 26, 2004.)
And what of pastors? Do we use "hedges?" Do we preach in a way that "implies uncertainty?" Are we careful to "qualify" our proclamations?
If so, our preaching "does not seem authoritative" to the souls we have been called to shepherd. Nuanced, yes; but not authoritative.
How sobering is that? What a contrast to the preaching of the prophets, apostles, and our Lord Himself:
Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:4, 5)
As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:9-12).
For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:18,19)
Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall."
When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.(Matthew 7:24-29)
It's not every day a pastor of the Presbyterian Church in America is put to death. But now it has happened twice in successive Septembers.
September 3, 2003, Paul Hill, one-time PCA and OPC pastor and graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary, was executed by the State of Florida for the killing of abortionist John Britton and bodyguard James Barrett in 1993.
His death passed without comment within the PCA and Reformed Seminary communities. No mention of his execution (or connection to the PCA) was made on the PCA web site. No emails asking prayer for his wife and young children made the rounds of PCA presbyteries. To the best of my knowledge, no PCA church volunteered to hold a memorial service for his grieving family.
A student at Reformed Theological Seminary's Jackson campus told me the day following Hill's execution that he was unaware of a single official (or unofficial) reference to Hill's death on the Reformed campus; the execution of the school's most famous graduate passed like a thief in the night. It was as though he had already ceased to exist for the Reformed community; having repudiated him in life we ignored him in death. He died unlamented, unnoticed, not even remarked upon as a negative example.
September 22, 2004, a PCA pastor disappears leaving behind suicide notes. His body is found September 29. His death--his murder--comes by his own hand. Yet how different our reaction to this death....
On its home page the church he pastored ("...the flagship Presbyterian Church in America congregation" within its region) "praises God for his life and that he is now in God's loving hands." Messages of condolence and words of love flow from throughout the PCA. A large memorial service is planned. A member of the church's staff is quoted in the local paper: "We trust in God and know that he's there with him."
Is it sin to kill man? Is it truly always murder to kill extra-judicially what is created in God's image? If so, then are some extra-judicial killings more sanctified than others? Should we refrain from speaking against extra-judicial killing whenever the murderer is also the murdered? Could it be that fear of man drives our voice in these matters--fear of the consequences of examining the underlying issues in either of these deaths? Why the disparity in our treatment of these two men, both of whom were at one time PCA pastors, both of whom put men to death, both of whom died as a consequence of their own extra-judicial acts of killing?
Praise God that His grace is sufficient to reclaim killers, for the apostle Paul and King David who give us evidence of God's abounding grace to killers. But where is the Church's "NO" to the sin of suicide? If we have said amen to the execution of Paul Hill, should we not be equally careful to note the sin of the second PCA pastor before speaking words of comfort and granting what appears to be absolution of his sin?
Tim forwarded an email from a good friend questioning my post on extra-judicial killing last Friday. I appreciate Skip Gillikin taking the time to question what I wrote (and the gentle spirit of his criticism), and I've asked his permission to place my response here.
Thank you for taking the time to express your concern with what I wrote on our blog.
by David and Tim Bayly on October 9, 2004 - 8:22am
A father of our presbytery has fallen. Pastor Petros Roukas, who served as senior pastor of Tates Creek Presbyterian Church, took his own life leaving behind hundreds of souls who looked to him as their shepherd, his fellow elders of Ohio Valley Presbytery (PCA); and most sadly, his wife and their two children.
Meeting just now in our fall stated meeting, Ohio Valley Presbytery adopted the following memorial. Please note, particularly, the words in the final paragraph concerning the sin of suicide and the hope, even in the face of this sin, that we have in the blood of Jesus Christ. (For those struggling for a biblical understanding of suicide, I commend these two sermons by the early nineteenth century Princeton Seminary professor and presbyterian pastor, Samuel Miller.)
Memorial for Pastor Petros Roukas
Ohio Valley Presbytery
The teaching elders, ruling elders, and churches of Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America are saddened by the death of our friend and brother Petros Roukas on September 22, 2004. We intercede before the throne of grace for God's comfort and strength for his wife Jan and children Nicholas and Elizabeth and for his parents Konstantine and Evangelia Roukas in Greece. We also pray for the congregation of Tates Creek Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Kentucky where he was serving at the time of his death as well as the previous congregations he served - Westminster PCA in Muncie, Indiana and Calvary PCA in Bricktown, New Jersey.
Petros was born in Greece in 1953 and received a Bachelors of Religious Education at Reformed Bible College in Grand Rapids, Michigan and a Masters of Divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He was ordained in 1978 by the Midwest Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod. He served faithfully at Calvary PCA from 1978-1984; Westminster PCA from 1984-1999; and Tates Creek PCA from 1999-2004. His pastoral ministry was marked by effective preaching and teaching of the gospel, helpful application of the gospel in pastoral counseling settings, strengthening the shepherding ministry of ruling elders, building community in the congregation, and leading numerous cross--cultural mission teams--especially to Jamaica and Mexico.
Throughout his twenty years in Ohio Valley Presbytery of the PCA (previously part of Great Lakes Presbytery) he served on numerous committees. Especially noteworthy was his long term service on the Shepherding Committee where he helped numerous pastors and congregations look to Christ for both the purity and unity of the church.
While the tragic events surrounding his death at his own hand were certainly related to his long struggle with depression--they were also what Petros himself called "sinful and inexcusable." While Petros' grip on the truths of the gospel he preached and ministered so faithfully grew weak in his final actions, we are confident that God did not lose His grip on Petros. We hold that Paul's words in Romans 8 that "if Christ is for us, who can be against us" and "nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus" apply to God's adopted children--even when they are the very ones who are against themselves. As elders of Ohio Valley Presbytery--may God give us the grace to go to Jesus as we are weary and heavy burdened and may God also give us the grace to not only minister to others but to receive ministry from one another as well.
(Memorial gifts, including financial support for Mrs. Roukas, may be sent to Tates Creek Presbyterian Church at 3900 Rapid Run Drive, Lexington, KY 40515.)
by David and Tim Bayly on October 9, 2004 - 8:03pm
Thinking about a friend's death at his own hand, it has struck me that he was the first to face a question that many, many of my baby-boomer generation will face: shall we age and die by faith?
Shall we submit to the suffering the Lord makes us stewards of, "working out our salvation with fear and trembling (knowing) it is God who is at work (within us), both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12,13)? Or shall we be self-willed, spurning God's tool of suffering and making ourselves masters of our own destiny?
Make no mistake about it--this question will become personal as we suffer the breakdown of our bodies and feel the weight of old age as Solomon here describes it:
by David and Tim Bayly on October 14, 2004 - 10:58am
Following last week's memorial service for PCA pastor Petros Roukas I received a copy of the text of Bryan Chapell's funeral sermon titled, "Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit." The sermon, though well-intentioned, was a gloss on the first beatitude (Matthew 5:3).
Mr. Chapell did speak of Petros's suicide as sin. And though Mr. Chapell rightfully held out biblical hope for Petros's salvation, he spoke clearly of the act of suicide as sinful, an act of Biblical fidelity for which I am grateful.
Yet, poverty of spirit is fundamentally different from depression. Poverty of spirit, in fact, is depression's cure and the answer to the suicide's despair. And though it is understandable that Mr. Chapell would wish to give comfort and hope on such an occasion, his use of this text as the basis of his message was disingenuous.
I suspect Mr. Chapell knows that "poverty of spirit" is not the kind of hopelessness which drives us to despair of God's faithfulness and thus to make violent end of ourselves, and had Mr. Chapell not seen fit to permit the publication of his sermon I would have thought these things privately without commenting on them here.
Unfortunately, Mr. Chapell has chosen not only to permit public dissemination of the text of his sermon, but the editorial staff of By Faith Online, the Presbyterian Church in America's online news site, recently made his sermon the most prominent link on their home page.
It would be fitting to memorialize a martyr who died by faith this way. But this was suicide. This was sin. And in his sermon Mr. Chapell comes perilously close to describing such faithless despair as "blessed" of God. And now this sermon has been published. I wish it had not. I wish By Faith Online had not given it such prominent treatment.
But it must now be said that Mr. Chapell's sermon is misleading, and that despite his looking into the pit by proclaiming suicide a sin in his sermon, he did not look long enough or hard enough, and whatever wounds he healed by preaching thus are likely healed lightly rather than fully. I say this because Scripture is clear: "The just shall live by faith."
In the meantime, what is poverty of spirit? According to Thomas Watson:
It is increasingly clear that Anglican Bishop N.T. Wright, beloved Pauline interpreter of Reformed academics, has neither the slightest idea of the nature of the Church nor of the duties of a minister of the Gospel.
Wright played a key role in the recent report of the Lambeth Commission on Communion (the commission of leading Anglicans appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to resolve the controversy over the American Episcopal Church's ordination of homosexuals).
In an interview with Christianity Today Online subsequent to the commission's report, Wright was asked whether the commission had considered asking for a more sincere statement of repentance by the Episcopalian Church in America. Wright responded:
We must stress, and I think the report says this two or three times in italics, that we were not set up to talk about sex. Had we been, we would have had very different membership, for a start. We were set up to talk about the issues of communion, because in a sense, an obvious example, the issue of sexuality may be the fire that somebody has lit in one room that is actually setting bits of the house on fire. But what we're doing is actually fireproofing the house, and then saying now we've got to deal with this particular fire, which happens to have broken out in this room. But we're really more interested in long-term fireproofing the house.
Wright clearly has not even the slightest comprehension that a fire-proof house is also a Word-proof house.
Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?
Wright wants his Church fireproof.
Peter Akinola, on the other hand, archbishop of the Nigerian Anglican Church and leading critic of the Episcopalian Church's homosexual heresy clearly understands the role of the Word and of its servants, Christ's ministers. Speaking in the pulpit of All Saints' Church in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Akinola held his Bible in the air and said:
by David and Tim Bayly on January 7, 2005 - 5:25am
My dear brother in Christ, David Wegener, has been a great encouragement to me through the years. Now serving as lecturer at the Theological College of Central Africa under our denomination's mission agency, Mission to the World, I continue to cling to our friendship gaining much from David's knowledge of Scripture and church history.
Occasionally David writes in such a helpful way that I wish others could read him. So this time I wrote and asked his permission to put some of his reflections concerning the decline of Princeton Seminary up on this blog. He kindly agreed.
David Wegener, my brother David Bayly, and I share a growing concern over the weakness of the training offered at reformed seminaries where men from our congregations (and other friends) have taken their Masters of Divinity--what my Dad used to refer to as "the union card" of pastoral ministry.
Our criticisms of these seminaries must be developed more fully (which we hope to do), but it may be summed up by observing that it is almost a basic assumption of the curriculum that a good shepherd will avoid controversy.
Ruminate on that a bit and our good readers will quickly see how very much of faithful pastoral ministry this eliminates. Consider just two of the pastor's duties, preaching and discipline, and it's easy to see the damage the Church will suffer when reformed men trained by these seminaries stand in the pulpit and moderate session meetings having been stripped of their ability to "fight the good fight."
Ironically, though, the conflict stripped from the work of the shepherd is given back to these men in a strictly circumscribed outlet that is safe and culturally approved--the pages of Sports Illustrated. The same shepherds so meticulous in avoiding controversy in their pulpits carefully study the stats of three-hundred pound behemoths who make a living crashing through lines of scrimmage trying to sack quarterbacks.
Making common cause with the cultural forces intent on feminizing the Western World, seminaries today are turning out shepherds quite similar to the castrati who, as late as the twentieth century, sang in the Sistine Chapel Choir in a woman's voice...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 13, 2005 - 12:21pm
Note: The following essay is the fruit of research I've done on the history of marriage ceremonies, specifically their liturgy. I've asked the question "How can my work as a pastor officiating at marriage ceremonies be used by God to strengthen the commitment within our congregation to God's Truth in the area of the meaning and purpose of sexuality?"
I've been to too many weddings in which the presiding pastor didn't bother "improving" the time, by which I mean that the very areas of biblical doctrine our culture hates were carefully (or maybe even thoughtlessly) excised from the liturgy--the three purposes of marriage, the warning of the seriousness of vows, the word 'obey' in the woman's vow, any mention of the wife's duty to submit to her husband, and so on.
So this essay is my effort to think through this aspect of pastoral ministry biblically, and to record my new commitments concerning how I will preside at the weddings of our congregation. The essay is published in a collection of essays offered by...
One man, who has trained pastors and elders, frequents this blog and today made this comment:
I am sensitive to words like "dishonest" and "deceive," both of which are words which connote intent to mislead and describe motives.... I have no problem with disagreement - even strong disagreement, but I think we need to be careful not to judge the motives of others unless they specifically announce them.
Think of the repercussions of men who refuse to address the motives that issue in schism and false doctrine training other men to be shepherds of God's Flock! This current battle is a battle for souls, with false shepherds on one side and true shepherds on the other, and many in the middle whose souls are at stake. Some prefer to act as if this is a fraternal debate, with people of good conscience holding differing views. But Scripture itself does not demonstrate shepherds after God's Own heart dealing with false doctrine in that way.
If I were the pastor of the churches attended by the men promoting false doctrine and false Scriptures in this issue, I would labor to lead them to repentance by every means possible--including of course tender personal appeal. But if every pastoral strategy other than rebuke, censure, temporary suspension from the Lord's Supper, or excommunication, were to fail, I'd certainly not stop before carrying this battle for God's Truth the whole way to the end--an end that Scripture itself commands, we must remember.
Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their **smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.** For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (Romans 16:17-20)
Smooth and flattering speech is precisely what has too often characterized those promoting false doctrine and false Scriptures on this list, and all those watching need to recognize such men and, as the Apostle Paul said endless times, have nothing to do with them.
I'm increasingly wary of blanket promises of confidentiality in all areas of life, particularly in our work as pastors and leaders in Christ's Church. The concept of a sacrosanct confidentiality in pastor/parishioner communications is largely the product of Roman Catholicism's doctrine of auricular confession which provides an ironclad guarantee of confidentiality to induce sinners to confess their mortal sins and receive absolution.
"Let your yea be yea and your nay be nay," Scripture commands, but confidentiality so often lets a yea turn into a nay without exposure.
Why don't we simply live in the open without trying to cover what we've said or written or done?
Increasingly, I respond to requests for confidentiality by telling those who request it that though I promise to be exceedingly careful and judicious in divulging what they tell me, I cannot promise blanket confidentiality. In particular, my willingness to hold things in confidence must end when the request for confidentiality becomes a covering for sin.
Something's wrong in the Church when a man tells his pastor he's sinned in a way that could have tragic repercussions for his entire family unless preventative action is taken, but claims his communication is privileged and forbids, under threat of lawsuit, any divulging of what has been done.
Christians should not be hasty to conceal lies and cover sins beneath a mantle of confidentiality.
by David and Tim Bayly on March 26, 2005 - 12:14pm
For the past week, my brother, David, and I (arriving later) have been blogging from outside Woodside Hospice here in Pinellas Park, Florida where Terry Schiavo is being executed by the civil authority for the crime of helplessness. For years, her father, mother, and sister have been pleading for her life. But the cruelty of her adulterous husband and the heartless complicity of her physicians, judges, legislators, governor, and president have all conspired together to pass on Terri the sentence of death.
Yesterday, my brother, David; my fellow Church of the Good Shepherd pastor, Dave Curell; and I held a Good Friday worship service among the witnesses gathered outside the execution chamber. We confessed our sins, read the Passion account and other portions of Scripture, sang praises to the Lord Jesus, preached the Word, and prayed. The sermon text was Isaiah 53 and the Word of God was proclaimed concerning the centrality of suffering, His and ours, in the message of the Gospel.
The scene of the crime is filled with the despised and rejected of men--what an AP sportswriter called in to help with the twenty-four hour coverage referred to when speaking to me as "the circus"--and we're privileged to be among them. They are the people that surrounded Christ as He approached Jerusalem.
Muckity-mucks and grand poobahs are no-shows. There's not a single well-known evangelical present. Of course, many evangelicals are writing and speaking and giving interviews, but the death scene is a forsaken place.
Governor Bush and his brother, the President, have washed their hands of the case, justifying their inaction by speaking of the rule of law and the necessity of honoring the august decisions issued by every level of the state and federal judiciaries. To every one of us present, though, their justifications sound like excuses, and ring hollow.
It's now a death watch. I just posted a picture of Terri's father and sister coming out of their ten-minute visit they were granted late this morning. They were very sad and said they will make no further appeals.
It all makes a mockery of the rule of law. Our unborn babies are killed at the rate of 1.3 million per year; our defective newborns are cast off; our elderly are institutionalized; our handicapped are starved to death--all in untold numbers; and we pray for Africa!
So, brothers and sister, examine your conscience and ask yourself if you have been a faithful shepherd of the flock God has given you, whether that flock is your wife and children, or the Church of Jesus Christ to which you were called as a minister of the Word and Sacrament. Has your trumpet sounded a note of clarity, or have you blown your trumpet halfheartedly speaking of "the difficulty and tragic nature of these decisions."
Yes, I'm well aware that one doesn't build a Willow Creek on the back of a faithful and biblical witness conerning the execution of Terri Schiavo. Any idiot knows that speaking of such things--not to mention teaching or preaching on them--can be perceived as a negative confession. But let us remember that each man's work will be tried by fire.
Ask yourself if you love Jesus Christ, and if your love for Christ is proven by your love for the "least of these." Or, have you passed Terri by, moving to the other side of the road as you go about your important business of leading the People of God in their Holy Week celebrations?
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53:3)
Years ago, a godly woman named Joan Andrews made a habit of chaining herself to the killing machines in abortuaries...
by David and Tim Bayly on April 28, 2005 - 10:11am
(Note from Tim Bayly: Often I get calls from pastors and elders asking if I can give them help working through the issue of what work is and is not appropriate for men and women in their congregation. Five years ago Church of the Good Shepherd adopted such a statement drafted for us by one of our pastors at the time, Rev. David Wegener (a fellow member of Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America).
Such a call came again this morning from a fellow teaching elder of the PCA, so I'm taking this opportunity to post the statement here for the good of the church at large. If our good readers know of another church statement that would be useful, also, and that honors the unequivocal teaching of Scripture that is patriarchy, please feel free to post that statement, or a link to it, in the comments below. Thank you.)
Church of the Good Shepherd's Understanding of the Biblical Roles of Men and Woman in Congregational Life Adopted by the Session (Board of Elders) of Church of the Good Shepherd November, 1999
1. All men and women are equally created in the image of God and therefore are equally worthy of our honor and respect...
When we read of pastors being attacked and defending themselves, we must remember that the process, while unpleasant, is a necessary part of the ministry.
We would rather that ministry be pure and light and that our pastors be clean machines, teflon men impervious to complaint, impregnable against attack, men from whom no corresponding defense or rebuke for false charges is ever necessary. How much nicer it would if our pastors could ignore their detractors from Olympian heights. But this is not how God has chosen to establish His truth--and have no doubt, the pastor who goes through life unscathed is a pastor who cares only for image and nothing for truth.
If you have a pastor who meets charges with vigorous defense, even to the point of naming his detractors and defining their attack as sinful, consider that this, more often than not, is how the great men of Scripture responded to those who brought false charges against them. The likelihood is that you have as a pastor a man who values truth. Stop for a moment and consider how much preferable it is to have such a man caring for your soul--a man willing to struggle on the field of Church battle--than a pastor elevated to such heights that he will not respond to detractors.
Think of Paul attacking Cephas to his face, telling him that he stood condemned already, for his return to the Law and failure to hold fellowship with Paul's Gentile converts.
Think of Paul naming Barnabas in Galatians.
Think of Paul defending everything about his ministry, including his use of money, to the Corinthians.
Think of Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, naming Phygelus and Hermogenes who turned away from him. An oracle of God in the eternal Word: the names of two men who turned away from Paul.
Be glad for a pastor who will engage in conflict to clear his name. It's a sign he has not allowed himself to be turned into a celebrity who can ignore his detractors. And remember that God reveals where His favor lies through conflict.
There are several further benefits of conflict.
Conflict establishes truth. Paul writes in 1 Cor. 11:19, "for there must be factions (Gk: "heresies") among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized."
Conflict sanctifies. Few things cause a pastor more to examine himself and look to God in repentance than conflict. We may be right as pastors in the overall contours of the conflict, yet God will always work to remove sin from our lives as He puts us through the painful chastisement of conflict.
Conflict purifies the church. Tim and I glory in the churches we serve as pastors. Neither of us could imagine greater happiness anywhere on earth than among the people God has granted us the privilege of serving, the flocks of Christ the Word and Church of the Good Shepherd. Yet it is no coincidence that both these churches were forged out of the depths of often-bitter internecine conflict.
Conflict leads to glory. There is no glory to God where there is no warring for His truth. Think of the Reformation and its "stormy men."
Finally, a warning to those whose pastors are under attack: those who attack men of God often focus on slight things, petty issues. They are unwilling to deal with primary issues of truth because they will lose on those, so they try to reduce conflict over truth to the realm of petty misbehaviour and personality.
Do not give in to such mendacity. Give glory to God by publicly repudiating the enemies of truth.
You will see weaknesses in your pastor in the midst of the conflict. Leave those to God. Concern yourself with primary issues and do not permit Satan to cause you to detour from primary issues to secondary. He wins when that happens.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 27, 2005 - 7:32am
This short exhortation was written by Thomas Sydenham to members of the medical profession. It's equally (or more) pertinent to the work of those entrusted with the care of men's souls, particularly pastors and elders:
It becomes every person who purposes to give himself to the care of others, seriously to consider the four following things:
First, that he must one day give an account to the Supreme Judge of all the lives entrusted to his care.
Second, that all his skill and knowledge and energy, as they have been given him by God, so they should be exercised for His glory and the good of mankind, and not for mere gain or ambition.
Third, and not more beautifully than truly, let him reflect that he has undertaken the care of no mean creature; for in order that he may estimate the value, the greatness of the human race, the only begotten son of God became himself a man, and thus ennobled it with His divine dignity, and far more than this, died to redeem it.
And fourth, that the doctor being himself a mortal human being, should be diligent and tender in relieving his suffering patients, inasmuch as he himself must one day be a like sufferer.
by David and Tim Bayly on November 2, 2005 - 10:02am
...because, at times, you have the joy of getting email such as this:
The best class of steam engine ever made (1944 Berkshire, made in Lima, OH), just finished a rebuild (in Ft. Wayne) of engine number 765. They did a total rebuild during the past 4 years. I rode in the cab of this same engine once about 20 years ago. I also chased it many times as it ran at speeds over 80 MPH. I also snuck up into it one night when it was under full steam and blew its whistle!
by David and Tim Bayly on November 9, 2005 - 9:50am
Samuel Johnson had this to say about the life of a pastor:
The life of a parson, of a conscientious clergyman, is not easy. I have always considered a clergyman as the father of a larger family than he is able to maintain. I would rather have Chancery suits upon my hands than the cure of souls. No, Sir, I do not envy a clergyman's life as an easy life, nor do I envy the clergyman who makes it an easy life.
by David and Tim Bayly on February 1, 2006 - 7:05am
Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. (Hebrews 13:12-14)
Saturday, I wrote about my gratitude for the unity and peace of our own congregation, Church of the Good Shepherd. Since then, I've been thinking about how our unity came to be and I realize how central the battles a number of us went through in another prior congregation were for the development of this unity. In our prior congregation, the central issue was the refusal of a small group of influential leaders to allow any exercise of correction or rebuke by the congregation's elders. They considered anathema even the most private forms of church discipline.
It was a painful ordeal, but the Holy Spirit used it to produce the unity and peace of Church of the Good Shepherd we presently enjoy--including, now, ten years of loving and peaceful congregational meetings.
This comes to mind as I read of attacks other pastors are suffering, particularly our dear brother, Pastor Doug Wilson. David and I are not surprised Doug is under attack. He's a strong leader with biblical convictions, and he's at his greatest precision and boldness in preaching those convictions where the Evil One has focused his attack and there's a breach in the wall. But instead of other church officers giving thanks to God for raising up such a warrior, Pastor Wilson is the object of much envy and resentment. Like all of us, Pastor Wilson is a sinner in both his conduct and doctrine and we are confident he appreciates the licks he takes for his sin.
But taking his licks from fellow presbyters, his children, or his wife is a far cry from having any Tom, Dick, or Harry set himself up as a judge over every word of his pastoral conversations and session meetings extending years into the past and posting those judgments on this gabfest and gossip-pool known as the internet. Need I point out that Doug Wilson is not the only one suffering such persecution?
In both the church and secular world, leaders have lost the manly traits and pander to their constituency. Church officers are given to mollycoddling, equivocation, and self-doubt. One of my favorite cartoons shows a consultant meeting with a pastor in his office. The wall holds a graph of the congregation's attendance trends and they're down, down, down. Pointing to the graph the consultant says, "I'm no expert in these things, but I think it might help if you didn't end every sermon with, 'But then again what do I know, anyhow?'"
Pastor Wilson preaches, teaches, and leads as if he has received the good deposit and intends, come hell or high water, to pass it on to reliable men...
Note from Tim Bayly: The exchange with Dr. Guelzo over his review of Philip Gura's recent work, Jonathan Edwards, has continued over the past couple of days. For the earlier exchange, please look at the comments under my initial post. Dr. Guelzo requested that I place the exchange on our blog, so here it is. I've tried to format it in a way that is helpful, but it may still be confusing. None of the exchange will make any sense, though, unless the reader first reads Dr. Guelzo's review itself, along with my blog post responding to Guelzo.
For the record, Allen C. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era & Director of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College. His comments are all in italics.
* * *
Dear Tim Bayly:
Very much by accident, I tumbled across your comments on my review of Gura. I am amazed, to put it mildly, at how utterly wrong-headed your reading of the review was. Far from being a critic or (demonizer) of JE, I play second fiddle to no one in admiration of him.
If one reads the review, it's hard to see how anyone could come away from it thinking the reviewer is an admirer of Edwards--unless, of course, one has prior knowledge of your commitments. Consider this summary of what the review had to say concerning Edward's life and work:
(Guelzo wrote that) Edwards' training was in "scholastic theology," his preaching was "never particularly scintillating" nor his writing "particularly graceful," it was Edwards' "pastoral ineptness" that triggered the "exasperated" townsfolk to fire him, Edwards made "only a very modest impact on his own contemporaries," Edwards "never knew what it was to duck an argument," and he was a "prig".
I still don't see any response on your part to my basic point--that you failed to say anything at all good about this man of God...
Back in the early 80s when Tim and I were students together at Gordon-Conwell the percentage of our classmates who had no intention of pursuing pastoral ministry was startlingly high. Over the years since that percentage has only increased at seminaries across the board.
Students with no intention of pursuing pastor ministry aren't the only demographic trend altering the face of modern seminaries. An increasingly-large proportion of seminary populations is comprised of women and second-career 40-plus-year-olds.
It's going to become increasingly obvious in years to come that while seminaries can prepare scholars and parachurch leaders, the Church itself is the best training ground for pastors. Doug Wilson nails this here.
But first, some personal historical perspective on the Presbyterian Church (USA) apostasy being fought out today...
Back in 1991, my former denomination, the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA), was hot and heavy to adopt the report and recommendations of a task force of its national general assembly known as the Task Force on Human Sexuality. The report, broadly referred to as the Justice-Love Report, was one more in the long and monotonous line of obscene literature that has been put out by all the mainline denominations for a number of decades, now.
This body of literature's common denominator is the reassurance that the nonorgasmic life is not worth living, and that God approves of whatever perversion any particular soul finds most effective in seeking sexual release. So, for instance, this particular Justice-Love Report commended fornication for the elderly in cases where normalizing the relationship through marriage might jeopardize one or the other partner's Social Security payments.
With the Justice-Love Report coming to that summer's 1991 General Assembly for action, evangelicals were up in arms and working feverishly to oppose the adoption of the report and its recommendations.
This was the context for a presbytery meeting held in Dubuque, Iowa, of my own John Knox Presbytery in late Spring of 1991. Things were in turmoil, even in our liberal presbytery, and a careful effort was made to give some voice to evangelicals during the presbytery meeting in the hope that being heard would be sufficient for us, and that we wouldn't bolt if the denomination saw fit to approve this report.
Thus it was that the presbytery asked the most prominent evangelical among us, Rev. Dr. M. Craig Barnes, to preach the sermon. At the time, Dr. Barnes served as Senior Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Madison, Wisconsin, where a large number of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship executives and staff attended...
If you, good reader, are a New Perspectivist, I think you'll find this and this quite helpful.
'Peace' is certainly a pleasing word; but cursed is the peace that is obtained at so great a cost that there is lost to us the doctrine of Christ, by which alone we grow together into a godly and holy unity. -Calvin on Acts 14:2
This may come as a shock, but evangelicals who are impressed with the piety of practicing sodomites and talk about how much those sodomites love Jesus don't seem that far removed from other evangelicals who say Martin Luther and the reformers were wrong, that Galatians is not about justification by faith alone, and that they know many Roman Catholics who are pious and love Jesus just as much as Protestants do.
Of course, fans of Bishop N. T. Wright would protest that this comparison is unfair, that those who claim Luther is wrong about Galatians are making a theological statement grounded in exegetical arguments that have gone through a careful process of peer review and are, therefore, to be taken utterly seriously.
But the same can be said by those seeking the normalization of sodomy. They also have their exegetical, hermeneutical, and theological arguments, and arguably, those arguments have as much academic respectability as the arguments Bishop Wright and his disciples have.
"But," my readers might sputter, "you can't honestly be proposing that sodomites and New Perspectivites are to be taken equally seriously? They have nothing in common other than both making their case from Scripture!"
Alright, I'm not ready to say that the only thing proponents of sodomy and the New Perspective have in common is that the foundation of their exegesis and hermeneutics is their having been bamboozled by sweet-talking guys, but I have no doubt this is the simple explanation behind some I know, and I do wonder if it isn't more broadly applicable to those holding these errors than I've thought previously?
The explanations are amazingly similar and it does seem like we ought to take these men at their word. For instance, Stephen Baker and I were at a conference recently where one of the plenary speakers who used to be a respected member of the reformed Baptist world, and is now well down the road to Roman Catholicism or (more likely) Eastern Orthodoxy, justified the sea-change in his convictions...
l. to r.: Dawn, Mary Eleanor, Samuel, Adam, and Cynthia Spaetti; Andy & Grace Halsey; Tim & Mary Lee Bayly
This morning, seven of us from Bloomington are worshipping here at First Presbyterian Church of Charleston, Mississippi, a congregation that just pulled out of the mainline, liberal Presbyterian Church (USA) and transferred into the Presbyterian Church in America where David and I are members. We're here to take part in the ordination this afternoon of Andrew Halsey who, with his wife, Grace, are former members of Church of the Good Shepherd. Adam and Dawn Spaetti, with their children, also came to join in this ordination service. (Adam and Andy came to CGS at the same time, as IU undergraduates.) Andy and Grace were students at Indiana University before leaving for Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, where Andrew just received his M.Div. While in Jackson, the Lord blessed them with two children, Clara Ruth, and her one month old brother, Benjamin.
Last night we had warm fellowship with the people of First Pres. at a potluck dinner here at the church. Afterwards, John Ball Burnett Jr. drove me out to see the delta on the west side of town. Then Mary Lee and I had a pleasant evening's conversation with our host family, William and Mary Alice Sanders, and their son, Tripp.
l. to r.: William, Mary Alice, and Tripp Sanders
Charleston is the county seat with a stately courthouse anchoring its town square. The town sits on the edge of the bluff bordering the Mississippi delta. The delta extends from a mile or so outside of town to the Mississippi River around fifty miles due west.
Gate to Morgan Freeman's home
John Ball told me Morgan Freeman lives here and is seen around town in a ten-year-old Toyota pickup truck wearing Levis and a baseball cap.
Another of Charleston's famous residents was Scissors, the World Champion Hog from 1918-1923. Here's a life-size statue of Scissors...
Also in honor of yesterday's ordination and installation, here's the charge Dad gave me twenty-three years ago when I was ordained and installed as pastor of the yoked parish of Rosedale Presbyterian Church of Cambria and First Presbyterian Church of Pardeeville, Wisconsin. The service was under the auspices of John Knox Presbytery, Presbyterian Church (USA).
Joseph T. Bayly
October 23, 1983
My beloved son Timothy,
I charge you as you enter upon your ministry.
Have faith in God, who has called you. Seek to fulfill His expectations first of all, not those of His people, or your own. Build the church for His glory.
Use the talents and training and gifts He has given you to the fullest, but don't depend on them. When your experience increases, don't depend on that. Depend on God Who has called you, to fulfill your calling. Depend on the Holy Spirit to work through you.
Do the work of an evangelist as one who himself has experienced deliverance and redemption. Carry the keys to the kingdom of heaven in your hand at all times. Be ready to give your time and life for one lost sheep as earnestly and diligently as you would for a thousand...
In honor of the the ordination and installation of Rev. Andrew Halsey as Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Charleston, Mississippi, yesterday, here is a letter my Dad received from an older woman who had a few words of advice for new pastors starting out in a small town church. My Dad thought her words so wise that he ran them in his monthly column in Eternity magazine:
(The following letter was written by Mrs. Floyd K. Chapman, who lives in a small [population 1,064] Midwestern town. Her letter was written in response to an article about the suspicions some laymen have of their ministers and of interdenominational agencies. I found Mrs. Chapman's insight into the image of the Protestant minister so penetrating that I asked for permission to quote the letter. Mrs. Chapman kindly agreed. -Joseph Bayly).
The Big Truth about Many Preachers
I like to think I am a voice from the grass roots.
I am more than 60 years old, full-time employee of the local weekly paper, substitute public school teacher and superintendent of the Sunday school of the First Baptist Church. I have lived on a farm or a small town most of my life...
Our longtime friend and sister in the faith, Elizabeth, just posted a comment recommending that we encourage our readers to listen to our sermons, the better to get a context for our writing. She writes:
To a casual observer this blog might give the impression that your conservatism is about being on the right side of the culture wars. And then too you have sympathizers posting that they'd rather be Baptists because at least then people would know where they stand on hot-button social issues. Your friend's second paragraph shows he is sympathetic to this outlook. ...I suggest you point him (and your general readership) to your recorded sermons, and start posting more here about the central doctrinal content of the faith, so that there will be no mistake as to whether your Christianity is merely a question of the best alternative to feminism, communism, corporate America, etc. Don't, like so many other American evangelicals, underestimate the dangers of a merely moral religion. Rome will beat you at it every time.
Readers might be particularly interested in three sermons I recently did on Galatians 6:1,2 (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) focussing on the biblical doctrine of the church and the threats to that doctrine posed within the conservative reformed, or evangelical world. I'd encourage readers to listen to all three sermons, but if you only have time for one, make it Part 3.
Generally, I'm no fan of modern commentaries. Sure, I own them. But it's entirely prophylactic, devoid of hope or joy. I tell young pastors that they need to own modern commentaries only to keep themselves from looking foolish. On any particular book of Scripture, purchase and read one or two of the big boys simply to keep abreast of "scholarly developments," whatever those are. But don't get your hopes up.
At Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, my own alma mater, the bookstore was the temple where we all worshipped. And in that temple no commentary had a higher reputation among the cognoscenti than I. Howard Marshall on Luke. So shortly before leaving seminary for my first call, I shelled out forty or so dollars to buy it. The gates to the city would be opened to me!
When I started preaching, I looked for opportunities to have a text in Luke so my congregation could benefit from my big expensive book. But Marshall never seemed to pan out the way I hoped...
by David and Tim Bayly on September 9, 2006 - 9:23am
Looking toward Lord's Day tomorrow, it occurs to me to encourage our readers to think about the way each of us honors our pastor. The Holy Spirit has given us this explicit command:
The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. (Galatians 6:6)
What "good things" have you shared with the men who have been faithful shepherds to you, preaching and teaching and correcting and encouraging you in God's Word? Yes, the church needs faithful shepherds. But the church also needs sheep who are faithful to their shepherds, sharing with them "all good things."
Think about what priority your pastor and the Word of God have in your life as you begin a new academic year.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 11, 2006 - 1:16pm
Farewell sermons are particularly poignant, being the "be on guard and goodbye" message of a shepherd to the flock he has loved and cared for, but now must leave. If you haven't read the sermon Jonathan Edwards preached upon his departure from Northampton, find a copy and read it. Also, the message the Apostle Paul gave to the Ephesian elders when he took his final departure from them is one of the most moving texts found in the New Testament. Look for it in Acts 20.
Rev. Dan Reuter is a dear friend who, until a couple weeks ago, has been serving as the pastor of the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA)'s congregation in Nashville, Indianan, about a half hour east of Bloomington. For years, Dan has been an active participant in the work of reform within the PC(USA), but as he watched the denomination's Peace, Unity, and Purity Committee issue its recommendations and prepare to get them adopted at this summer's national general assembly, Dan realized that they would be successful and, given the godlessness of the recommendations and what would inevitably follow their adoption--namely, the normalization of the sexually immoral (particularly sodomites) being ordained and serving as church officers--he prepared to pull his credentials from the denomination and, consequently, his call to Brown County Presbyterian Fellowship.
This is the sermon he gave upon his resignation of the pastoral call to Brown County Presbyterian Fellowship...
by David and Tim Bayly on September 12, 2006 - 6:09pm
His watchmen are blind, All of them know nothing. All of them are mute dogs unable to bark, Dreamers lying down, who love to slumber; And the dogs are greedy, they are not satisfied. And they are shepherds who have no understanding; They have all turned to their own way, Each one to his unjust gain, to the last one.
"Come," they say, "let us get wine, and let us drink heavily of strong drink; And tomorrow will be like today, only more so." (Isaiah 56:10-12)
One of the most discouraging aspects of the church today is the refusal of shepherds to say God's "no" as well as His "yes," and to say it in person as well as from the pulpit. We are mute dogs unable to bark.
The Holy Spirit commands us to "Let judgment begin...in the House of God," but we are very careful to make sure judgment is kept outside God's House. We save our prophetic words for pagans: "Hear this, you wicked people of San Francisco and Madison and Las Vegas!" Yet the Apostle Paul commands us not to judge the world, but instead to judge those who call themselves "brothers":
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES. (1 Corinthians 5:9-13)
Shamelessly, we do the opposite of what he commands. We castigate those who make no claim to Christian faith, but we observe a strict hands-off policy toward flagrant sinners within the church. And if an elder or pastor tries to obey the Apostle Paul, and to judge someone who claims to be a Christian but lives a life of rebellion against God, we reserve our most intense condemnation for him.
"But he's on our side!" we exclaim. "He's a Christian and you're treating him like an unbeliever! Jesus said, 'Let him who is without sin cast the first stone' and 'Judge not lest ye be judged.' So why are you judging your brother? Who made you judge over him, anyhow? How do you know he's not a Christian?"
We talk and act as if the Apostle Paul had commanded us to judge those outside the church, but never those inside the church; as if Paul had commanded us to disassociate ourselves from the greedy and sexually immoral who make no claim to faith, but never to cut ourselves off from the greedy or sexually immoral who do claim to be Christians; as if God's people are to hide themselves from sin in the church, seeing, naming, and condemning only the sin of those outside the Household of Faith.
No wonder our churches are filled with hypocrisy. We have no way of dealing with sin because correction, rebuke, and discipline are only for unbelievers...
by David and Tim Bayly on September 20, 2006 - 9:23am
Anyone who has spent time in the Christian blog world is bound to have come across the peculiarly "Christian" blog genus in which a disenchanted former beneficiary of a ministry seeks to set that ministry straight by exposing its minister's sins--all, ostensibly, under the guidance of Christian love.
Such men labor under the conviction that they, though sheep, are meant to shepherd. Or, more accurately, that they, though sheep, are appointed to sheep-dog their (usually) former shepherd into righteousness by snarling at him from the fringes of the fold.
Unfortunately for these men, Scripture knows no such office as sheep dog. Those who reside within the Body of Christ can only be sheep or shepherds. No middle position exists. Either a man is called to the work of a shepherd, set apart for leadership and accountable to God for his flock, or he is called to follow those whom God has granted such authority. If a sheep, his duty is to faithfully heed the leading of his shepherds; if a shepherd, his duty is to soberly guard the flock of Christ.
But such vigilante blog authors, unordained and without office, write as though the future of the Church of Jesus Christ were personally entrusted to them, turning into barking snarling sheep, ravagers of the flock through their attacks on its shepherds.
What is the Biblical status of such men? You won't hear them admit it....
More often than not you won't hear it from their shepherds either. Caught between the devil of ignoring his critic and the deep blue sea of answering a fool according to his folly, even the stalwart shepherd eventually lapses into silence. The shepherd has a flock to nourish and protect, his time for self-defense is limited by the needs of his flock. His foe, however, knows no such constraint. The barking sheep lives for his shepherd's attention. Every response heightens his self-esteem. Every word of opposition increases his self-righteousness.
But though shepherds may remain silent, the Bible clearly address the deeds of such men. The sin of patricide is the most despicable offense against the second table of the Law. To kill one's own father is, by direct implication, to kill The Father. Thus the Law places extremely high hedges around parental authority: the child who strikes his parents must die by stoning; the child who curses his parents must likewise die.
The sin committed by the barking sheep is that of spiritual patricide. The barking sheep lifts his hand against his father in the Lord; it should be readily apparent to all true Christians that the one who commits such wickedness will not be held guiltless by God. Just as the Law does not discriminate between striking to kill, striking to hurt and merely speaking against parents, so too all forms of spiritual patricide lead eventually to death.
Paul warns Timothy against dealing intemperately with older men. When they sin they should be appealed to as fathers rather than sharply rebuked. This is God's command to a young man holding ordained office for the treatment of older, unordained men guilty of sin. How much more imperative, then, that office-less young men refrain from attacking the Lord's anointed, those undershepherds of Christ ordained to govern Christ's Flock?
Faithful sheep of the flock need to understand this about such men: they are not sheep dogs. According to the Word of God the creature, neither sheep nor shepherd, lurking malevolently at the fringes of the sheepfold is a wolf.
For the sake of God's glory the faithful Christian must regard such men as the wolves they are while at the same time honoring faithful shepherds for standing firm and enduring the stripes of their service. The more persistently and alarmingly these creatures snarl the more determinedly we must heed the words of Scripture which call us to have nothing to do with such mockers:
Jude 18-23 (NASB95)
In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts. These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 22, 2006 - 12:59pm
Two Lord's Days this month, Church of the Good Shepherd's sermon text was Galatians 6:6:
The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.
Biblical churches forget this command today, but it remains a critical aspect of the life of God's Household. The members of God's flock are commanded to "share all good things" with their shepherd. In our churches, though, it's not normal for the sheep to be focused on their duties toward their shepherds. Rather, their focus is on the duties of the shepherd to care for his sheep. And in some ways, this is natural. The health of the flock is integrally and uniquely tied to the work of the shepherd. So it's important the pastor fulfill his obligations to his flock. If he doesn't, the flock will inevitably suffer.
Our Lord taught us that, when thieves and robbers attack the flock, the good shepherd gives His life to protect the sheep, but the bad shepherd flees. So clearly, the sheep need protection and God has called shepherds to protect them. The work of the shepherd is crucial for the welfare of the flock. You can't read the Bible without seeing how vulnerable sheep are to bad shepherds, the men our Lord calls "hirelings." But good shepherds feed and protect their sheep.
So what are the pastor's duties as he shepherds his congregation?
He is to pray for them, to study, preach, teach, visit, counsel, lead the other staff, plan and lead elders (session) meetings, marry, bury, baptize (or dedicate) the children, do the premarital counseling (and of course the marriage counseling, also), be the leader of any discussions and implementations of church discipline, make occasional appearances in the community--both personally and on the newspaper's op-ed page, be out and about doing evangelism, raise perfect children, have a happy wife who oversees all aspects of the church's women's ministry, keep track of the money and make sure people give enough (to God) so the elders aren't too pressured, write for the church newsletter, lead a men's Bible study, go on (or lead) short term missions trips, host the missionaries when they're home, make pastoral calls at the hospital and nursing homes, assure that there's a dynamic youth program, fulfill his responsibilities to denominational entities, run comparative analyses of the programs and ministries of the church he serves and other successful churches in the community so that his flock won't leave for greener pastures; teach his members to use their gifts; find a place of service for each member that fits the gift he's been given by the Holy Spirit; make sure the lights are out and the church locked up after everyone's gone; and so on.
Sheep do have high expectations of their shepherd. Thousands of books have been written, tens of thousands of seminars held, on these and other duties of the shepherd toward his sheep. Many of these books and seminars are important and worth studying diligently. But in all this talk about the duties of the pastor, what of the duties of the congregation?
by David and Tim Bayly on November 15, 2006 - 10:32am
An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal on sermons sold, traded and appropriated. (Thanks, Wayne)
I've written in support of using others' sermons in the past--partly because I've done so with my brother's sermons 10-15 times over the years. Vineyard minister Steve Sjogren ably defends such sharing in the article. Interestingly, preachers most likely to be quoted by others (megachurch pastors such as Sjogren and Rick Warren) are also most sanguine about others doing so and least likely to seek attribution.
But there's also a deeply slimy aspect to the sale and slavish recreation of others' sermons--even down to the appropriation of the original preacher's personal illustrations.
If we'd stop referring to such preaching as simple plagiarism and speak about the issue in light of Scripture's definition of the shepherd's call--without reference to the standards of academia and commercial publishing--we might come to consensus on what is and is not appropriate in this area.
I suspect, for instance, that in plenty of good churches Martyn-Lloyd Jones is followed pretty explicitly when preachers are preaching through Romans. Perhaps this isn't ideal. But Lloyd-Jones has inspired a number of my sermons--how could he not when a young pastor is preaching in Romans and reading Lloyd-Jones? Plagiarism? I don't think so. Utter originality may be a transcendent value in academia, but faithful believers are unwise to make this a test of preachers of the Word.
by David and Tim Bayly on November 16, 2006 - 6:08am
The unmentioned scandal of late-20th/early-21st century preaching is not the number of preachers seeking outside inspiration for their sermons. That's well-documented. Just as baleful in its effect on modern preaching has been the number of preachers who have turned from preaching sermons to a flock to writing sermons for an audience.
My father used to tell his children that written and spoken English are two entirely different languages. And it's true. Equally distinct are sermons addressed to a particular flock and sermons written for a broad reading audience.
Throughout the centuries a number of great preachers have had their sermons collected and published. But the sermons contained in such volumes were seldom prepared with publication in mind. Rather, they were preached to a congregation (often from notes or extemporaneously) and later made available for publication. For instance, John Calvin's sermons are available in written form due to the work of a French shorthand expert named Denis Raguenier who took verbatim shorthand notes from Calvin's extemporaneous preaching. Luther's sermons were carefully recorded by a variety of listeners. Martyn Lloyd-Jones' sermons were mechanically recorded and later transcribed. Jonathan Edwards sermons are still being culled from handwritten manuscripts and must be edited for publication.
Today many preachers write sermons with minds divided between a local congregation and the national audience they hope to reach through a book they intend to publish out of their current sermon series. The result is wretched preaching (and often wretched publishing to boot).
Many of the greatest preachers of our time have declined in power as they have shifted focus from a local church and specific congregation to a national audience. If you listen to early sermons by many preachers whose sermons are routinely published today you find power not present in current preaching. Sadly, the powerful preaching of a young pastor often leads a publisher to offer book contracts for future sermons and those book contracts become the death of the preacher's power.
It's also true that preachers whose sermons are routinely broadcast often fall into a similar trap of preaching for a broad audience rather than preaching to build a particular Church
Preaching for posterity rather than for the current needs of a particular flock leads to emasculated preaching. Those who preach for publication can be divided into two camps: populists and scholars. Populists tend to become more oratorical, to illustrate more liberally and to over-simplify. Those preaching for more scholarly publication (commentaries, for instance) become more pedantic and theoretical. Both types of preaching are devoid of pointed application.
Many good preachers also write great books. But in the end, I am convinced that preaching for publication is preaching for pay and honor. And that always bodes ill for power.
by David and Tim Bayly on January 29, 2007 - 12:30pm
We all know what it is to play warfare in mock battle, that it means to imitate everything just as it is in war. The troops are drawn up, they march into the field, seriousness is evident in every eye, but also courage and enthusiasm, the orderlies rush back and forth intrepidly, the commander's voice is heard, the signals, the battle cry, the volley of musketry, the thunder of cannon--everything exactly as it is in war, lacking only one thing...the danger.
So also it is with playing Christianity, that is, imitating Christian preaching in such a way that everything, absolutely everything is included in as deceptive a form as possible--only one thing is lacking...the danger
-Soren Kierkegaard, Attack Upon "Christendom" 1854-1855, translated with an introduction by Walter Lowrie, (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1956) p. 258.
Addendum: Wednesday evening, March 8, Bryan Chapell and I met together to discuss this recent series of posts. After our discussion, here are several clarifications and corrections that I believe need to be made. I have made them here, at the top of the post, because it would be difficult to weave them into the post itself in a way that would call attention to them sufficiently as corrections.
First, it is unclear that the paragraph beginning, "The whole things is a tempest in a teacup" is not my judgment, but rather a hypothetical construct of what the average member of the PCA might have thought to himself.
Second, I refer to "the Covenant/Redeemer/Reformed mantra, "A woman may do anything a non-ordained man may do." Bryan told me that this is not his position and that he speaks against this position as an adequate representation of the Biblical perspective. This is an encouragement to me.
Third, Bryan rehearsed his actions in response to the chapel time in which Diane Langberg spoke, and clearly my own summary of those actions is not accurate. Here is an accurate record of what happened:
When General Assembly convened that summer and the time on the agenda arrived when President Chapell was asked to give an answer for what had happened on his watch, President Chapell told the assembly:
That Diane Langberg had been told ahead of time what the standards were for her speaking during the chapel time;
That after she spoke at Covenant Seminary, Diane Langberg received a letter reminding her of the standards, and expressing concern that those standards had not been followed; and
That the administration of Covenant Seminary met with students to explain the situation and to assure the seminary community that what had happened was not according to the standards they were committed to upholding.
Since I implied Covenant Seminary was not upholding the PCA position in its response to Diane Langberg's chapel time, I regret this inaccuracy and now believe Covenant's response was good.
Some wonder how I could accuse prominent teaching elders of the Presbyterian Church in America and the institutions they lead of sympathizing with the egalitarian, feminist cause? Don't I know the PCA's reason to exist is tied at the heart to opposing these ideologies? When a group of mainline PC(USA) churches left their own denomination for a more conservative one back in 1983, wasn't it necessary for them to found the new denomination, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, precisely because the PCA wasn't willing to compromise on women in office? And isn't the same reason behind our present failure to bring into the PCA many churches currently departing the PC(USA) train wreck: that these churches and their pastors are determined to enter a denomination that allows their women to serve as pastors, elders, and deacons?
So, as a denomination we've paid our dues. We've seen the cost of our convictions, and haven't wavered. What on earth am I thinking, then, to accuse our seminary and its president of being allies of the egalitarian, feminist ideology?
It's a fair question, although I have no confidence I'll be able to answer it to the satisfaction of more than a few because the heart of the answer is tied up, not with specific arguments about Scripture's teaching about sexuality, but rather its teaching concerning the nature of pastoral ministry.
Several years ago, Covenant Theological Seminary had a woman preach in chapel. When it was reported within our denomination, it scandalized a number of presbyters across the country...
He also who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys.
In connection with pastoral ministry, I've been thinking a lot this past year about pastors who choose not to guard the good deposit, rather spending their time focusing on evangelism and church growth techniques. Question them about their silence in the pulpit concerning sodomy, sacramentalism, Rome, abortion, divorce, or the love of money and they'll come out with some high-sounding platitudinous statement like, "I've determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I want to be all things to all people. We must not allow our pulpit to become a divisive presence in our church, alienating seekers and young believers."
A couple months ago, I spoke to a young professional who attends a flagship PCA congregation on the Eastern Seaboard...
For a number of years, I've thought we need a book for preachers called The Feminization of Discourse. The book would show how the feminine priorities that have taken over the Western world have turned the preaching of God's Word from authority to mutual exploration and discovery. One friend lamented the preaching he'd sat under for a number of years saying, "Along with the indicative, can't we please have the imperative?" Read anything about the differences between male and female conversation and it's no mystery why the worship and preaching of our--yes, PCA--churches feel like a tea party. Having a reformed form of godliness, we deny the power thereof.
Our preaching is so graceful--more graceful than the preaching of Jesus or the Apostles. Anyone read the book of Acts, recently? Notice how often those listening to the sermon are confronted with the statement, "You killed Jesus!" No wonder repentance was the entry point to faith and baptism back then. But today? We're compassionate Christians, kinder and gentler elders, and sensitive graceful preachers who want to be liked. Above all. Yes, insofar as we can be liked and still be obedient, that's fine. But a choice between the two is no contest; being liked wins.
Now of course, right here the feminization of discourse kicks in and many are ready to condemn me for being dogmatic, making generalizations, or demonstrating a harsh and judgmental spirit, right?
Well, meet my friend Cesar Millan and see if we preachers have anything to learn from him about our exercise of the authority God has delegated to us, particularly in the pulpit...
Among many others, John Piper and Mark Driscoll have added to their church numbers by employing a video image of themselves preaching their Sunday morning sermon in the mother church as the cornerstone of other virtual worship services held on other church "campuses." And now, for something completely similar, Life Together offers small group pastors who are virtual, also...
PS: Responding to the comments below, I've now made a second post on this subject. So after reading this one, please read the second post, Video sermons and the marks of the church.... There you will find the discussion continuing...
(by Tim) False shepherds surround us, building their profitable religious corporations by tickling itching ears. But for the purpose of receiving more of the tithes of the souls under their sway, they call these lucrative corporations tax exempt "non-profit" religious organizations. And the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability provides them a seal to use in their money-making letters assuring their supporters that this ministry is run according to the strictest accounting standards of the non-profit world.
These false shepherds' stock-in-trade is the studious neglect of the defense of God's truth and the call to repentance at the gaps in the wall where it's under attack. So we look in vain for today's super-apostles to speak to the consciences of their sheep about sodomy, divorce, fornication, rebellion, child sacrifice to Molech, internet pornography, greed, and pride. AIDS and global warming, yes; but only because they can cop a prophet's posture on these matters and bask in the kudos it will bring them on the op-ed pages of the "New York Times."
Their product is doctrinal indifference, which is the hatred of God's truth. And yet having the "look at the birdie" technique down cold, they drive attention away from their unfaithfulness by speaking of their cowardice as if it were the state of the art in evangelistic zeal and cultural engagement. So then, quite perversely, the very men who specialize in scratching itching ears have a reputation for being missional and prophetic.
The real test of a man's ministry, though, is repentance. This was the response of the crowds on the day of Pentecost, of the souls under the ministry of Jonathan Edwards during the Great Awakening, and of souls cared for by shepherds after God's heart today.
by David and Tim Bayly on August 21, 2007 - 12:30pm
(by Tim) Sadly, reformed pastors identify less with those who live in rural communities and make their living as sheep farmers (what used to be called "shepherds") than with those who live in books and make their living as academics. So this story from today's New York Times is particularly instructive.
There's a big stink over a psychology prof at Northwestern University named J. Michael Bailey who's gored the ox of transexuals around the country. But before we get to Prof. Bailey and the transexuals, a few comments about the lesson Christians should learn from this battle.
For decades, freedom of religion and freedom of speech have been under a sustained attack and the content of the books we read, the sermons we listen to, and the Bibles we carry to church Sunday morning all bear witness to the attrition of these freedoms.
Speaking only of our Bibles, did you know that millions of Bibles used by evangelicals have had words deleted in order to avoid expressing incorrect opinions deemed to have the potential of being hurtful to women and Jews? Evangelical Bible scholars, linguists, translators, graphic designers, publishers, bookstore owners, and pastors all joined together to produce and sell Bibles that would not be vulnerable to charges of sexism or antisemitism. Many hundreds of times, the original Hebrew and Greek words were changed or deleted so the Bible would be less offensive to moderns...
Rather than bury Pastor Wegener's response in the comments under his post, it seemed good to put it here on the main page with the hope that many more will read it than otherwise might.
Dear Bill R.: Sorry for the delay in responding to your question about McGrath’s book on justification. I have a copy of Iustitia Dei and have studied parts of it. It is one of the few treatments of the history of the doctrine of justification, so maybe that is why people regard it as seminal.
It is a pretty accurate truism of historical theology that justification by faith alone was one doctrine the Reformers recovered from the Scriptures. Yes, you can find comments in a number of earlier authors that would line up with Protestant doctrine, but by and large, it was a key truth that the patristic (including Augustine) and medieval theologians got wrong.
However, I’m not convinced that McGrath is correct on the Reformed teaching on this topic. He tries to pry apart the unity of the Reformers on justification (p. 188). It is easy to do that with Zwingli and Bucer. Neither were so reliable as theologians. But it is more difficult to do that with Calvin and Luther and the evidence McGrath presents can be used against his attempts to pry them apart.
McGrath’s conclusion to the book is much more troubling...
by David and Tim Bayly on October 6, 2007 - 1:05pm
Why, look at us! Check it out! We have women deacons. Unordained, of
course, but women they are and they do everything our male deacons
do--disciple, teach, cast vision. Look at us! Check it out! We have
women serving the elements at the Lord's Table. Women, mind you! Aren't
we forward-looking and progressive? Can't you iPod joggers settle into
this comfy chair? We've made it just for you. No fuddy-duddy patriarchs
holding us down or setting us back. We've captured the center of the
city because we're the only ones that can do it without making asses of
ourselves. Look at us! Check us out! We do art. We write music. We
have important people who are rich in our congregation. And they
respect us because they know we can be trusted to think through the
implications of Scripture for our time and culture without falling into
the many errors of past centuries. You know, errors like fuddy-duddy thinking
about women in leadership.
(Tim) For most of the first ten years of pastoral ministry, I served in a denomination whose polity required each church to elect female elders in proportion to the number of females in the congregation. Also, every pastoral search committee was required to sign an EEO-type contract promising they would give equal consideration to women for their pastoral position. So I’ve had experience working with women elders within the local congregation, as well as female pastors and elders at the presbytery (regional) and general assembly (national) levels. There were some wise and godly women elders within our congregations (I had a yoked parish of two churches), and still today my wife and I are close to several of these sisters in Christ.
And yet, wise and godly women placed in the position of elder are tenaciously focused on the protection of relationships within their congregation. It is both their strength and weakness that they want to deny or postpone any threat to relationships, even when the good of the larger household of faith would be put at risk by inaction or the postponement of discipline...