Pastors

Ministering to the abused...

The one sure thing is that pastors who care for victims of child sexual abuse must not allow pity to ruin our pastoral care. Child sexual abuse permeates our congregations today, so we must grow in wisdom and compassion towards those who suffered these crimes. Such wisdom and compassion will always cause us to set our sights higher than ameliorating victims' shame and moving them toward self-acceptance. It may sound callous to say so, but Scripture doesn't trade in self-acceptance. The precious treasure we have to offer those weighed down by sin and shame is God's acceptance through the shed blood of His Son. Yet that is too often absent in the narratives of survivors.

After several days riding the wave of World Vision's flip-flopping on homosexual marriage, Christianity Today ended the week by running a "this is my life" piece by Jonathan Merritt, a writer for the Religious News Service. The piece is an account of the corruption by an older neighbor boy Merritt suffered in his childhood and the terrible fruit that corruption bore in his life. Merritt tells us he has lived with a deep and pervasive sense of shame, he has suffered the compromise of his male sexual identity, he has sinned homosexually, and he has been alienated from the Church.

CT took this excerpt from Merritt's forthcoming book, Jesus Is Better Than You Imagined, and the excerpt ran under the headline, "A Thread Called Grace: How I came to stop hiding and face the biggest secret of my early life." From the start of the homosexualist movement several decades ago now, this has been the narrative of those committed to normalizing homosexual sin: come out of the closet and be done with the shame. Thus CT ran Merritt's piece under the phrases "biggest secret" and "stop hiding."

Merritt tells a very sad story. CT, though, has its own reasons for promoting this story and we must see those reasons and resist being manipulated through our tears. Christianity Today has a larger purpose in providing subscribers this intimate view of one man's sexual suffering and clearly its purpose is not simply to promote Biblical compassion and love...


Clearnote pastors' written prayers, set forms, and clothing...

In light of the discussions concerning "set," "fixed," or "written" prayers, worship forms, as well as the clothing worn by pastors, let me clarify a few things. First, here at Clearnote Church, Bloomington, we regularly (weekly) use...


Post on John MacArthur's money: answering objections...

Back on January 30th, we ran a post updating readers on the latest IRS Forms 990 filed by John MacArthur's non-profit companies and what they show about his annual income. Since the post, several commenters have questioned whether MacArthur really had any say over his study notes being packaged with the neutered New International Version, whether we're saying MacArthur's income is sinful; and if so, what specific sin we're accusing him of? Here are some responses to those questions and challenges:

Brothers,

I've been out of the loop for a while. I appreciate others who have responded to some of the more recent objections to this post. Now, a couple responses of my own.

First, John MacArthur himself had absolute control over whether or not to package and sell his MacArthur Study Bible notes with the neutered Bible now sold under the name New International Version. It was his decision and he alone is the man who could have stopped it. His elders board did not make the decision.  Zondervan doesn't control MacArthur's study notes. John MacArthur controls John MacArthur's study notes. This is how publishing works.

John decided he didn't want to lose out on one of the largest Bible markets in the English-speaking world, so after negotiating royalties (which unlike John Piper's royalties, remain a secret), he signed an agreement with Zondervan to sell his own study notes in the text of a Bible that everyone knows has gagged God's words for the sake of pacifying the feminists.

There's no debating these simple facts. Readers may differ concerning the reason MacArthur did this, but it's certain he made the decision to sell the neutered Bible he had previously opposed because of its unfaithfulness to the text of Scripture.

Second, the Bible commands us to exclude men from ministry who are greedy:


Silence them...

The Apostle Paul is not postmodern. He doesn't preen himself publicly over his meekness and humility. Being fully aware he speaks for God, he's not so arrogant as to refuse to defend his leadership, teaching, and doctrine. He doesn't shrug off his responsibilities, nor is he coy about his authority. When sweet-talking guys invaded the churches of his time spreading their false doctrines and schism, he took a stick to them and beat them about the head until they were driven away from the flock.

God and His truth were The Thing with the Apostle Paul—not himself.

Dear pastor, elder, or Titus 2 woman, how is it with you? When you face a feminist, do you flinch? Do you fear how you'll play in Peoria? Do you say things like...


A.W. Tozer: man of prayer, introverted pastor, and Evangelical mystic...

A Review of Lyle Dorsett, A Passion for God The Spiritual Journey of A.W. Tozer (2008)

A number of us have enjoyed the books of A.W. Tozer (including, The Pursuit of God, The Knowledge of the Holy, and Worship: The Missing Jewel of the Evangelical Church), but few of us know anything about his life and pastoral ministry. Years ago, I read James Snyder’s biography of Tozer and learned a lot from it. However, this more brief biography by Dorsett was based on interviews with Tozer’s family and friends, so it gives a more intimate portrait, though that’s a complicated word to use to describe Tozer.

He was born in 1897 in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains of Central Pennsylvania. The third of six children, Tozer’s family was poor and all the children learned the value of hard work that farm life teaches. His father modeled aloofness and insensitivity to his children. He was irreligious and his family did not attend any church, though he encouraged his children to attend school. Aiden Wilson Tozer finished the eighth grade, but that ended his formal education.

The key event in Aiden’s childhood took place when the family home burned down when he was ten years old...


Choosing a pastor...

You must not only choose men of counsel, but if you would design the unity and peace of the churches, you must choose men of courage to govern them. For as there must be wisdom to bear with some, so there must be courage to correct others; as some must be instructed meekly, so others must be rebuked sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; there must be wisdom to rebuke some with long-suffering and there must be courage to suppress and stop the mouths of others.

The apostle tells Titus of some whose mouths must be stopped, or else they would subvert whole houses (Titus 1:11). Where this courage has been (lacking), not only whole houses, but whole churches have been subverted. And Paul tells the Galatians, that when he saw some endeavor to bring the churches into bondage, that he did not give place to them, no not for an hour (Galatians 2:5). If this course had been taken by the rulers of churches, their peace had not been so often invaded by unruly and vain talkers.

John Bunyan, Exhortation to Unity and Peace.


Child abuse: grandstanding or pastoral care...

(NOTE FROM TB: Earlier today, my wife and I read a statement against child abuse signed by a bunch of church leaders and their friends who are affiliated with the PCA, Biblical Theological Seminary, Westminster Seminary (Philly), and an assortment of other organizations. Both of us were unimpressed. My wife said, "I'd like to ask all the people who signed it if any of them have ever taken even one man and woman from their own congregation or their own family down to the police station to confess their crimes? They all have child molesters and abusers in their own churches and families."

So I asked Mary Lee if she would do a short post on her reaction to the statement and here it is. Obviously, the statement leaves us cold. Despite their public declaration of moral indignation, we doubt more than a handful of them have done the hard work of pastoral care needed in matters of this sort. Too, if we're talking about "child abuse," why no mention of the murder of children? Which is to say, why no mention of abortion?)

(Mary Lee writes:) It is easy to point fingers at the people in the past who did not expose the abuse and wickedness in their churches and Christian organizations. It is easy to point fingers at those around us who have not done what was necessary to stop the abuse and wickedness they have been told about. It is even fairly easy to acknowledge that, surely, we too have failed in these areas.

It is not easy, when a man in your own congregation is found to have molested little children, to take that man down to the police station and help him confess his crimes. 

It is not easy to go with a woman in your congregation whose father molested her for years as she was growing up and... 


Smokey Bear gets a makeover...

Jake passes on a news piece announcing that Smokey Bear is being updated to make him more appealing to this generation. The article is helpful because it leads us to understand why pastors now preach and write haltingly, suggestively, and wonderingly rather than authoritatively and soberly, proclaiming the Gospel of God's Law, Judgment, and the penal substitutionary Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ.

(The new ads) give Smokey’s role and persona a makeover. ...Smokey is changing from a teacher or authority figure into a paragon of positive reinforcement...


2013 Clearnote Pastors Conference audio...

If you missed the 2013 Clearnote Fellowship Pastors Conference, you missed a great time. If you're an officer in Christ's church, we hope you'll join us at next year's conference. To whet your appetite, here are the audio recordings of this year's conference from the Clearnote Fellowship website.


Clearnote Pastors/Church Officers Conference begins this evening...

Please pray for us. We're getting ready for the beginning of the Clearnote Pastors/Church Officers Conference this evening. We'll have over fifty this year which makes all of us very thankful to you and to our Father. The theme is "Preach the Word" which would seem to be the one thing every Reformed or Evangelical pastor already does faithfully.

Sadly, none of us have been killed, recently; none of us are in jail; and only a few of us have been fired for resembling Jeremiah, Amos, Stephen, Peter, or Paul. So yes, this conference is needed, particularly by those of us intimidated and maybe envious of men well-paid by aquisitions editors and conference-organizing coalitions.

"What? I thought this was a post puffing your own conference? Seems a little inconsistent, dude—ya know?"

Yup, this is a conference and I just got done thanking you and our Heavenly Father for bringing so many men to it. So what gives?

What gives is that this conference...


The need for pastors in our pulpits and session meetings...

Someone commented under the previous post, "Pastors and their sinecures...," that the Reformed church today needs reform in the area of restoring Calvin and Luther's teaching on birth control. To which I respond:

The problem with the Reformed church today isn't our failure to teach or preach on this or that issue—even the refusal of the people of God to propagate for their Lord a godly seed—so much as it is an almost complete betrayal of the pastoral office. And this is true in our session meetings as much as the pastor's office and the pulpit. Sadly, it's true of our marriages and families, too. Men don't take responsibility for the souls God has placed under our care and we aren't vigilant in protecting the honor of our offices because we don't exercise our offices. Which is to say that our churches have no fathers. They have readers and debaters and curators and featherbedders and teachers, but no fathers.

Abortion and feminism are simply the best labs to observe how vacuous we have made the pastoral office today. Take abortion, for instance: lots and lots of loud condemnations within the Reformed world and church with not a word of...


Pastors and their sinecures...

SI'NECURE, n. [L. sine, without, and cura, cure, care.] An office which has revenue without employment; in church affairs, a benefice without cure of souls. [This is the original and proper sense of the word.] - Websters Dictionary, 1828 edition

And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” - Acts 19:15

Whenever you read Luther and Calvin, you find them relentless in their attacks on the principal wickedness of their day. Whatever doctrine they're expounding, whatever text they're preaching, their swords are wielded against Rome. Their language is unseemly, their accusations strident, their metaphors make you blush, their condemnations unequivocal, and each attack very, very personal.

Church officers who miss it do so because their preference for calm and security has reduced their ministry to a Reformed curatorship. The director of a museum wants bloody reform on exhibit. Museums don't allow guns, let alone live ammunition. Such things would threaten their patrons' sense of security so it's perfectly understandable that curators are the sworn enemies of reform.

They fawn over each other's procurement of dead men's works. They're Christian scrapbookers pawing through manuscripts and photos of the deceased. They have the sort of character that finds theses unseemly. With tastes running in the direction of the patrician, they don't write theses; and if they ever chose to do so, they'd only produce two or three and it's inconceivable they would nail them to any door.

So I repeat myself: the Reformers are the sworn enemies of Rome. They never stopped fighting and they gave themselves to the battle with nothing held in reserve. They had not the slightest doubt where their age's breach in the wall was nor whose hands were bloody.

The wicked, godless, fat, corrupt, hellish, whorish, beast-like, arrogant, demonic wolf was Rome...


Taming the pastor...

Victimhood is the first refuge of the scoundrel. (Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford)

Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. (Deuteronomy 30:6)

Under another post, one commenter quotes Doug Wilson, "A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts." and asks, "Do you not see the issue with (Doug Wilson's) choice of words?"

To which I respond, yes, I see how it's possible to put the worst construction possible on Doug's words. It's understandable many would do so but we don't stop writing because of the danger...


Sexual by Design: A Series of Lectures with Doug Wilson

The Big Idea

"The only unnatural sex act is that which you cannot perform." – Alfred Kinsey

Kinsey was wrong. His quest to normalize perversion did not end in sexual liberation. It created sexual confusion and sexual brokenness.

Sexual by Design is a two-part lecture hosted by Clearnote Campus Fellowship and delivered on the campus of Indiana University featuring evangelical pastor, theologian, and controversialist Douglas Wilson.

In these lectures Wilson brings biblical wisdom and sexual sanity to the home of Alfred Kinsey. Why is heterosexuality central to bearing God's image? Why are sex and marriage so closely connected to the Gospel? These are some of the questions Wilson seeks to answer as he explores how sexuality relates to God's work in creation and redemption...


The bogeyman of authoritarianism...

This quote is from the Reformed World article I've posted here on Baylyblog which gives the history of the ordination of woman officers within Reformed denominations around the world.

The article's author is absolutely certain woman officers in the church is a good thing, but she realizes many still consider it a weakness that women don't have the natural weight of authority a man has. Her solution?

A Reformed congregation for whom the priesthood of all believers is an article of faith should not consider it a disqualification that a woman pastor is not and has no desire to be the traditional authoritarian stereotype, but rather as an opportunity held out to it.

To which an older Presbyterian pastor with many years of pastoral ministry behind him responded to me privately...


Wolfe wore the whole Scottish fig: cassock, gown, and bands...

This from a godly pastor in his seventies who spent his life ministering in Presbyterian churches. I respect him greatly and wish he were in our congregation. He didn't think this was worth a comment under this post, but I thought it worth its own post. Maybe we think alike because we both ministered in rural parishes, and in Wisconsin no less.

* * *

1. I thought when I was in seminary that I would wear a gown & bands--probably without a clerical collar, using a system that one of our professors used.

Then I became pastor of two rural churches in N.E. Wisconsin & immediately realized how ridiculous this would seem. Oh, maybe I could have explained it all to folks. But was that my job--to talk about my clothes? Our churches had used a retired Presbyterian preacher for a while, who wore a robe. It was OK because they all understood that it was to conceal his fishing waders so he could get out on the trout stream right after church.

2. All the churches I served regularly were in small places or the open country. I did supply a pulpit in the Bronx over one winter...


A new confession of the Image of God, the Creation Order, and sexuality...

Confessions weren't meant to sit pristine across time receiving fealty. They were bloody useful and their usefulness consists in calling men to show their commitment to the authority of Scripture by requiring them to describe and subscribe to the specificity of the Word of God in matters of controversy. But controversies change.

We must continue to confess our own faith in our own language and time. Dead men were faithful in this work in their own time and the battles of the past are not over. No heresy is ever dead, so we are privileged to stand on the shoulders of our fathers promising allegiance to the paths they've left for us. Along with Clearnote's officers I subscribe to the Wesminster Standards because they are a faithful exposition of the Word of God, removing many of the weasel paths unprincipled men might otherwise get away with were they not accountable to those standards.

That said, the Westminster divines were not intending their work to stand alone across time. All of us confess our faith in the words of other confessions inherited from other centuries. We take those confessions, also, to be faithful expositions of Scripture.

But what of today?

The attack against Biblical anthropology--Scripture's doctrine of the Image of God in man and the meaning and purpose of sexuality--is demonic and gaining ground across the Protestant, Reformed, and Evangelical Church. This attack against these doctrines is unprecedented across Church history and it requires the hard work of a new confession...


Citizen's arrest! Citizen's arrest!

Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. (Galatians 6:12, 13)

Sin is not what Reformed men do. Everyone knows that. It seems stupid to say it. Reformed men have enough money and class to keep their hands clean. We're scrupulous and the worst we can be accused of is not yet having attained the vocabluary necessary to be proficient at teaching doctors, lawyers, engineers, pharmacists, professors, architects and their husbands in our churches' adult discipleship programs. Maybe occasionally bad doctrine seeps in, but never bad practice and never ever bad motives which led to that bad practice. And don't you ever forget it!

It's not simply David-and-Bathsheba-pregnancy-and-murder public sins which have left the earth on UFOs. We don't even sin privately and we can't remember the last time we had to examine our hearts. All our motives are pure--that one you had better get. Don't ever make the mistake of questioning a Reformed man's motives or you'll pay for it; especially if he's an elder or pastor. "How dare you question my motives! What gives you the right? Who are you to talk? Judge not lest you be judged!"

Then his fellow presbyters chime in...


Apostle Paul, trouble-maker...

This received from a pastor Saturday night helped me much in the work of the pulpit Lord's Day morning. (TB)

I was studying for my sermon tomorrow and read Calvin's commentary on Acts 17:6 where Paul is falsely accused of being a trouble-maker...


Pastors Conference recordings now up...

I'm very pleased to report that the 2012 Clearnote Fellowship Pastors Conference audio recordings have now been posted over on the Clearnote Fellowship website. Go give them a listen--particularly if you're a pastor or an elder. The time together was such an encouragement to me, and I trust that it will be strengthening to you, too. I'm so grateful for the men who made the trip out to join us, and I look forward to doing it again next year. (While you're at it, you can also listen to audio recordings from previous events.)

Don't forget, we have more events coming up this summer, and we'd be delighted if Baylyblog readers would join us. The Clearnote Fellowship Pastors College graduation will be held on Sunday, June 3rd, at Clearnote Church here in Bloomington.

Then, on July 6th and 7th, we'll be hosting out 4th annual Clearnote Fellowship Summer Conference. The topic is "I Believe in God the Father Almighty". We'll be posting more details on the Clearnote Fellowship website very soon, but mark your calendars in the meantime! (TB)