Training pastors/seminary

Leadership in the PCA: protecting power structures while tossing a bone to younger men...

The third key issue (first here and second here) identified by the Cooperative Ministries Committee of the PCA at this year's General Assembly was "The rising generation of leaders in the PCA:

The rising generation of leaders in the PCA – particularly, seeking to find new avenues of including younger people in denominational leadership.

Are the fathers of the PCA really ready to grant younger men access to the reins of power? Here's a case study based on the Board of Trustees of the denomination's Covenant Theological Seminary...


Church fathers: only God is good...

Happy Father's Day, home fathers and church fathers!

When I graduated from high school, the Wheaton area was the center of Evangelicalism and Evangelicalism was riding high. Our father, Joe Bayly, was out on the road speaking at conferences so often he was a member of United's million mile club and my girlfriend's father had just started Tyndale House Publishers. At the time, Ken Taylor had two best-sellers making Tyndale lots and lots of money—a long-shot manuscript rejected by all the legacy Christian publishers that he issued under the title Dare To Discipline,


Seminaries and search committees in the dance of death...

Pastors are called to warn their sheep. This is the reason the Apostle Paul declares his innocence of the blood of those he pastored, saying he never failed to warn them. His warnings were both public and private and he gave them every last warning God commanded him to give. (See Acts 20.)

This is not true of Reformed pastors, today. There is a great absence of pastoral care among us and the pastor whose ministry is characterized by warnings must justify those warnings while the lethargic and conflict-avoiding Reformed pastors around him who trade in flattery and presumption are viewed as paragons of clerical virtue.

Think of the spiritual destruction of their sheep caused by such careless pastors and we tremble. Let's keep in mind, though, that people choose their own churches and pastors, and thus a certain measure of blame belongs on the congregants themselves. They have a chaplain rather than a pastor because they prefer a chaplain to a pastor. They prefer a man who can keep a good religious shine on their Reformed veneer providing religious cover for friendship with the world.

If this were as far as it went, it would be bad enough. Remember how our Lord took pity on the crowds because "they were sheep without a shepherd?" This is the condition of all those souls who have chosen churches and pastors who are committed never to warn their sheep. But it goes further. The damage caused by faithless shepherds extends beyond their own parish to sheep tended by faithful shepherds, also. Richard Baxter describes the process by recording the irritation sheep have with


Book recommendations: Baxter's Reformed Pastor and Shusaku Endo's Silence...

It seems inane to say so when so many others have said the same so often for so many centuries, but having recently led our Pastors College men through Richard Baxter's The Reformed Pastor, I was reminded how central to the development of my work as a minister of the Word Baxter has been. After seminary, I read The Reformed Pastor, followed quickly by Baxter's Autobiography, and it's impossible to overstate the impact both had on my pastoral conscience and commitments these past thirty years. Page after page, I see my markings and marginal notes and think to myself, "that's where I learned that" and "that's why I think that way!"

Whether you're a deacon, pastor, or elder, if you haven't read Baxter's Reformed Pastor, buy it now and read it yesterday! Then preach on Acts 20 and you're good to go! (Or to sit down and mourn and cry and beat your breast and confess your failures to the Chief Shepherd, asking for His mercy and renewed commitment to faithfully shepherd Christ's Church which He bought with His Own precious blood.)

* * *

Speaking of books, I also just finished Silence by Shusaku Endo and recommend it to our good readers. (I was up staying with my brother, David, for a couple days and pulled it from his bookshelves, so thank David for the recommendation.) Silence is said to be the masterpiece of Japan's most respected novelist and the work is a fictionalized account of the great persecution Christians suffered in Japan during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries...


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.


Leadership matters in Reformed colleges and pastors colleges...

As expected, Brian Chapell will be leaving Covenant Seminary. This coming Lord's Day he plans to be voted on as the new pastor at Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria. Grace is one of the few tall-steeple PCA churches north of the Mason-Dixon line and Brian's roots are deep in Illinois, so this seems a good fit.

Much like Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, historically Grace has been a mainline Evangelical church with roots deep in the sort of Reformed dispensationalism popularized by Wheaton, Moody, and Campus Crusade. For forty years Grace was served by Wheaton grad Bruce Dunn who spoke regularly at Winona Lake, Bibletown (Boca Raton), Cannon Beach (Oregon), Moody Founders Week, Moody Keswick, and prophecy conferences.

Which brings us to the subject of dead and dying institutions...

Close to ten years ago, I was speaking with a brother much respected across the PCA to express my concerns over Covenant Seminary's toxic influence. What I saw of Covenant grads, I said, had convinced me Covenant would preside over the death of the PCA, and the only way to turn it around...


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...


Fight the good fight...

Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. - 1Timothy 1:20

Edwards once said that, during his studies at Yale, he learned more from arguing than reading.

Today, argument is a dirty word, especially among Christians. To disagree requires a man to have a chest and narcissists have no chests. So they spill their FB updates agreeing with one another about everything but politics, and their political disagreements are mind-numbing with both sides parroting lines they heard from some woman teacher who wished she could get every boy in her classroom on Ritalin. "Don't be mean! That's not nice! If someone told you that you were wrong, how would that make you feel?" And so on.

On then with the arguments! Probing, parrying, thrusting expose weaknesses and strengths so men may grow.

If you want children who are able to think and stand against the narcissists persecuting the Church today, argue at your dinner table. Improve the time!


Recovering devotional reading (part 1): Lucado or Dallimore...

Devotional reading has gotten a bad rap, perhaps because it conjures up images of sappy stories whether a lightly baptized version of a Lassie episode or a Max Lucado book designed to bring us to tears. Still, the recovery of Christian devotional reading will help the evangelical and Reformed movements to recapture the spiritual vitality that was once theirs.

Over fifty years ago, John Warwick Montgomery surveyed the devotional literature available in the early sixties (see Christianity Today, September 25, 1961). It is gratifying to compare his list with those books currently available. Things have improved dramatically, partly due to the labors of our friends at Banner of Truth. Yet I wonder if believers are benefiting from this richesse. My hunch is we’re wasting too much time on Twitter and Facebook.

Giving advice to preachers, Martyn Lloyd-Jones urged them to preface their prayer and Bible reading times by reading something that will “kindle a flame in your spirit” (Preaching and Preachers, p.170). So obviously, devotional reading cannot and must not replace our Bible reading; rather it should accompany it...


Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary faculty allowed no one to oppose feminism...

Almost thirty years ago, the administration and faculty of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary sent a copy of these letters to every student in an attempt to shut down discussion of womens ordination on campus or in the classroom. When the letter went out, I had finished my M.Div. the previous May, but my brothers David and Nathan were still finishing theirs up. The environment had already been stultifying, but this letter made it even worse.

This is always the way of the destroyers. At first they claim they want dialog, but once they've gotten rid of God's Truth, they're notoriously intolerant of dialog and shut down any voices of diversity. Only perversity is allowed.

Keep in mind that this is the seminary not just of the Bayly bros, but also of Scott Hahn and Marcus Grodi and Tim Keller. And if you think that's ironic, imagine John Piper at Fuller...


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...


Humble is as stupid does...

Recently Jared Wilson of The Gospel Coalition put up a quote from Doug Wilson's book Fidelity. The post (not the book) was meant to be an explanation of why women today are reading books like Fifty Shades of Grey, which include pornographic BDSM content. The simple version says it's because when we deny that authority and submission play any role in sex, we are lying to ourselves. Authority and submission are built into our nature, and rejecting them doesn't get rid of them. They just end up coming back to us in a "pathological form." Oh yes, and the quote also said, "This is of course offensive to all egalitarians." 

Then those who claim to be true sons of Abraham, but are in fact of their father the Devil, went on the attack. They were, quite appropriately, led by a woman in this battle--


Looking for a church in Toledo, Bloomington, or Indianapolis?

Looking for a church home in Toledo, Bloomington, or Indianapolis? We'll put up a post about Christ the Word soon, but much of what is said here about Clearnote Church Indianapolis and Clearnote Church, Bloomington is characteristic of Christ the Word, Toledo, also.

CNBHomePageIt's hard to move and have to find a new church home. All of us have done it and those of us a part of Clearnote Fellowship want to make your work a little easier by telling you why we love our Clearnote churches in Bloomington and Indianapolis. So read on and spend a little time learning about the work God is doing within Clearnote Fellowship.

First, a few words about our doctrine and denominational roots. If this stuff isn't your brand of coffee, click through and start reading about our ministries.

ClearnoteFellowshipDoctrinal and denominational roots...

The roots of Clearnote Fellowship are deep into the Presbyterian Church in America: I've served as a teaching elder of the PCA in Wisconsin and Indiana for almost twenty years; six of Clearnote Church, Bloomington's elders have been members of PCA churches; son Joseph Bayly who pastors Clearnote Church, Indianapolis was a part of the PCA's campus ministry (RUF) and attended a PCA congregation while studying at Vanderbilt; we have referred many families moving away from Clearnote Church, Bloomington to PCA congregations across the country; and several sons of our church now serve as PCA pastors.

This to say the people of Clearnote Fellowship have decades of experience as members and officers of the PCA, so those of you moving and looking for a PCA church in Bloomington or a PCA church in Indianapolis will find the congregations of Clearnote Fellowship to be spiritual homes where you and your children will thrive. Come and visit our Bloomington or Indianapolis congregations...


Gentleman farmers and preaching...

This is funny. I've know a couple gentleman farmers who are a little better at it than P. J. O'Rourke.

The boarding stable where P. J.'s daughter's pony now lives does, in fact, have someone who deals with the (stuff) his daughter preferred to avoid. For several years in junior high school I worked cleaning a boarding stable's stalls. Here's a proverb I love:

Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, But much revenue comes by the strength of the ox. (Proverbs 14:4)

Faithful ministry always gets us dirty. It's unavoidable. Anyone contending for God's Truth should first roll up his pants legs and shirt sleeves...


Nullifying the Word of God for the sake of academic reputation...

This is a post showing how (it seems to me) shame over the Bible's history of Creation has led to the (maybe) decline of Covenant Theological Seminary. But first, a short back-story...

Some time back I had a man in my congregation who had grown up Baptist and was pursuing graduate studies in science. One weekend he was home visiting his childhood church and he came under the influence of John Armstrong who--whether through preaching or conversation, I don't know--convinced him to stop graduate studies in science and begin graduate studies in theology. Being PCA at the time, I encouraged him to go to the PCA's Covenant Seminary over in St. Louis and he matriculated there a year or so later.

Watching him across the years is part of the reason I've warned people to avoid Covenant. There's more to say than this, but two things are worth highlighting... 


Jonesing for bestiality...

For truth has such a face and such a mien,
As to be lov'd needs only to be seen.

- John Dryden

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.

- Alexander Pope

It took about twenty years for Evangelicals to change our view of sodomy from horror and shame, to tolerance. And now we've moved beyond tolerance to a mincing advocacy that masquerades as Christian sensitivity and compassion.

Ten years ago, Covenant Theological Seminary's professor of theology and Christian ethics, David Jones, was telling the future pastors of the Presbyterian Church in America that sodomy was a victimless crime that should be legalized. He was so far above fear of administrative discipline by Covenant's president or trustees that he took his liberation movement into the pages of Christianity Today. It was in those same pages that Tony Campolo's wife promoted sodomite marriage as a better alternative to sodomite promiscuity. Both positions demonstrate a similar (and I can't stand this word) mentality.

Covenant didn't condemn Jones' jonesing for the repeal of sodomy laws and Tony Campolo didn't silence his wife, so now these destroyers have won...


Amazon and pastoral care...

There are two views of the pastoral ministry that are diametrically opposed to each other and locked in conflict. The competing views, though, aren't spoken of or written about, and the conflict passes without public notice. Jeff Bezos highlights the conflict in this explanation he gave of Amazon's view of customer relations:

Interviewer: Two years ago, you bought Zappos. Was that an attempt to absorb their so-called culture of happiness and customer service?

Bezos: No, no, no. We like their unique culture, but we don't want that culture at Amazon. We like our culture, too. Our version of a perfect customer experience is one in which our customer doesn't want to talk to us. Every time a customer contacts us, we see it as a defect. I've been saying for many, many years, people should talk to their friends, not their merchants. And so we use all of our customer service information to find the root cause of any customer contact. What went wrong? Why did that person have to call? ...How can we fix it?

That, good reader, is the view of pastoral ministry prevailing in our Reformed churches today. I say this from long and close observation. Most Reformed men run from intimacy...


The blessing of Roger Nicole and his lectures on the authority of Scripture...

This past year, my dear friend and father-in-the-faith Dr. Roger Nicole went to be with the Lord. Other than family members, there are only a couple birthdays recorded each year on my calendar, but one of them has been Dr. Nicole's. His teaching at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary was in a category far beyond any professor I've sat under before or since (and I've had some superb profs).

I'll never forget Dr. Nicole's lectures in Systematics I on the doctrine of Scripture. One day he began by asking our class a series of questions probing our knowledge of the book of Psalms...


Rebellion is of a fabric...

The seers will be ashamed And the diviners will be embarrassed. Indeed, they will all cover their mouths Because there is no answer from God. (Micah 3:7)

We keep saying rebellion is of a fabric. Rebellion against God's Order of Creation is inextricably bound, as apples to the apple tree, to rebellion against God the Father Almighty. For different reasons, egalitarians and complementarians alike deny it, but time is exposing their shared deception.

The man who rebels against God's creation of Adam first, then Eve, is defying God just as the man who denies God made Eve, not Steve, for Adam is defying God. Which is to say this has never been a collegial debate over kephale or authentein...


The good shepherd knows his sheep--by name...

CNPC:1 (Tim) Two weeks from now, we'll be holding the ClearNote Fellowship Pastors Conference. It will go from Thursday dinner to Friday afternoon, so it'll be no problem for you to be home for Lord's Day worship. If you're an elder or pastor, or aspire to those offices, we invite you to attend. (Since God has ordered these offices be held only by men, please understand registration is limited to men.)

Our subject is pastoral care. Thursday night, my brother, David, will preach on...