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...

Remove faith and zeal from a man and his understanding of the Reformers is one-dimensional. He may be able to translate them from the German or French, parse their verbs, footnote their references, and produce a critical text of their works, but his aversion to risk is fatal to his carrying on even one of their reforms in the present day, let alone recognizing and battling the wicked, godless, fat, corrupt, hellish, whorish, beast-like, arrogant, demonic wolf devouring his own flock today.

And how do you recognize such a man?

You note those who studiously avoid the gap in the wall of our own time and place. You make note of his refusal to see the carnage or name the enemy responsible for the breach. Earth will pass away before you'll find him taking up arms in defense of the enemy's prey.

For him, life and ministry are one perpetual Memorial Day. Twenty-one gun salutes, parades, engraved slabs of limestone, recitations, battle reenactments, resolutions passed; it's quite the show, which pleases Hell. The Devil is content for his past humiliations and defeats to be celebrated in exchange for those celebrations keeping ministers gelded and presbytery meetings copacetic.

Anything to keep the peace.

Dad told the story of studying Pauline theology under C. T. Craig back in the forties at Union Seminary in New York City. He said Craig did a superb job opening up the Biblical text of the Pauline epistles, but then at the end of the class he said something like, "Well, that's Paul's doctrine. Now back to the real world." Dad was so very disappointed that he made the decision not to follow through on his plans to matriculate at Princeton Seminary. He said, "I decided I did not want such men training me to be a pastor."

Liberal unbelief keeps the peace as effectively as conservative cowardice. One votes Democratic and the other Republican; one has woman pastors and the other woman officers; one opposes the discipline of sodomites while the other the discipline of fornicators and adulterers; one buys books from John Knox and IVP while the other from Zondervan, Baker, and P&R; one smokes dope while the other smokes nicotine; one uses the RSV while the other calls it the ESV; one belongs to SBL while the other belongs to ETS and SBL; one composts while the other recycles (or claims to); one won't eat meat while the other won't eat gluten. But it's all a morality play.

Both sides are equally committed to peace in our time—at any price.

The arrogance of unbelief corrupts scholars' understanding of Scripture as slothfulness and the love of security corrupt pastors and elders' understanding of both Scripture and the Reformers. Only men committed to failing in the right direction of the good fight of faith will ever understand our Lord Jesus Christ, His prophets and Apostles, and His Own Magisterial Reformers. No church officer ought ever to be allowed to utter the Reformers' names unless he is able to lift up his shirt and show us his scars.

Unless, that is, he somehow has the inconceivable good fortune to be called to the ministry in a time and place where there is no enemy of God, no rebellion, no slothfulness and love of comfort within the Church, no slaughter of the unborn, no woman's rebellion, no petting or intercourse among the elders' children, no weak men who refuse to carry the honor of Christ in their home and marriage, no fellow presbyters who betray the doctrine of Hell and the Fall and Creation and Original Sin and Adam's Federal Headship, no pastors who promote woman officers, no fathers molesting their sons and daughters, no woman wearing man's clothing, no woman refusing to bear children or nurse her young, no mother leading her children in rebellion against their father's discipline, no grandfathers molesting their grandchildren, no sons hitting their mothers, no grandmother being murdered by starvation—you know, that sort of thing you read about in all the Old Testament prophets.

Surely you get my point.

Reformed pastors who make a show of laying garlands on the tombs of dead reformers while studiously avoiding any warning or condemnation in their sermons, any discipline in their session meetings, any specificity or authority in their counseling should be gagged so no one need ever again hear them give lip service to Luther or Calvin.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

Liberal unbelief keeps the peace as effectively as conservative cowardice. One votes Democratic and the other Republican- money quote. You are a prophet and a poet

Liberal unbelief keeps the peace as effectively as conservative cowardice. One votes Democratic and the other Republican- money quote.

Which is to say one objectively does more good than the other.

David,

I think that Tim's point is that the one does more good than the other in terms of how fast they want to drive off the cliff:

"This is the same phenomenon which caused one wit to observe that if the liberals in our Congress were to introduce a bill to burn down the Capitol, the conservatives would counter with a bill to phase the project in over the course of three years. When one group wants to drive us over a cliff at eighty miles an hour, it is hardly a pragmatic response to insist on fifty miles an hour. This is why 'pragmatic' temporizers of all ages have never liked the discovery that pragmatism can be convicted by its own standard -- it does not work. Nothing ruins a thriving party of consensus like being hosed down with the ice cold water of truth. And nothing makes the builders of consensus more unhappy" (For Kirk and Covenant, p. 170).

Sticking with the Republicans because they're taking us over the cliff slower than the Democrats reveals the underlying belief "since we're going over the cliff anyway." This is not faith.

Sticking with the Republicans because they're taking us over the cliff slower than the Democrats reveals the underlying belief "since we're going over the cliff anyway." This is not faith.

It isn't neo-gnosticism.

Didn't Sproul nail it when he announced his February 2013 "No Compromise" Orlando conference? 50 years of Adam & Eve on the Pill has inadvertently laid bare an utterly feckless and faithless church. Will Sproul publicly rend his heart (if not also garments) for buying into the Pagan culture and standing idle while a few evils escape from Pandora's box for the sexual pleasure and ease of Christian heterosexuals? In this Moral Mudslide, was it really possible that homosexuals wouldn't also want in on the 6,000 year old exclusive marriage "club"? Perhaps Sproul et al will slam shut Pandora's box on February 21st by simply Saying No to the Pill and its bedeviling offsping: Contraception, Abortion and Sterilization (CAS).

Returning to Luther;s and Calvin's understanding of contraception would be huge step forward.

I've responded to the above couple of comments in a new post titled, "The need for pastors in our pulpits and session meetings...."

Excellent post, thankyou.

Makes me ask what tack is best with those more unlearned pastors outside Reformed denominations who in reality don't realise the depth to which they have succumbed to worldly thinking with regard to a number of the modern sins on your list. The whole culture of 2.1 children (if you're lucky) is a good example - those outside the US conservative evangelical camp likely know nothing of the whole issue about birth control.

And what about their flocks - who are so unaware of the seriousness of some of these issues (having not even heard of many of them).

However, as this article from Russell Moore points out, even today there are still significant variations in birthrate between comparable Christian movements. The PCA didn't get a mention, but if you found yourself with a birthrate below groups like the Pentecostals, it might be time to ask why.

http://www.russellmoore.com/2006/09/07/baptist-born-baptist-bred/

He's onto a really good point too, about encouraging the teenage males to think of themselves as future fathers. You can't enjoin the call of marriage and family onto young women without at the same time calling young men to the corresponding responsibility of marriage and fatherhood. I was brought up to believe that the highest thing I could ever aim for as a Christian male was to be a Family Man; I am not sure how much this is being done today.

Dear Henry,

You may have forgotten about one part of Christendom (although  I believe a considerable number of those who follow this blog don't consider them Christians) that are aware of these issues: theologically conservative Roman Catholics. Our city has a Roman Catholic radio station -- believe me, no one who listens to that station for very long has no doubt about their church's stand on these issues and how they show they are true based on the Bible.

Dear Henry, Given the time demands in my next couple of weeks, I'm sorry not to be able to respond on anything more than a superficial level.

My preaching on this sort of subject is always more tender and I work to keep the cookies on a lower shelf since, when I preach, I am focussed on the flock whereas Baylyblog is usually focussed on shepherds--pastors, elders, deacons, and Titus 2 women. Concerning preaching, though, I think it's best to focus the intense condemnation on abortifacient methods of birth control while exhorting always and evermore that children are a blessing from the Lord and happy is the man whose quiver is full. Then we are more specific in premarital and marital counselling, as well as our weekly men's discipleship teaching ministry called David's Mighty Men.

And by the way, full disclosure should lead me to say here that there are certain exceptional cases where I have endorsed the use of contraception by couples in the church. Of course, those exceptions are aimed at situations where there is some danger to the mother and her family.

Sorry this is all I'm writing, but likely this is best handled with conversation in person, anyhow. And that's part of the purpose of our annual Clearnote Pastors Conference--to have time to sit and talk through pastoral challenges and methods of reform. I hope men reading this will come, although I know you're too far away to consider it. Our next conference is this coming February 21-22 here in Bloomington, and our theme is "Preach the Word."

By the way, we're happy to have both pastors and elders attend the conference, as well as men aspiring to these offices.

Merry Christmas, dear brother!

Ross,

Thanks for the Moore article.  I breaks my heart to read it because it hits so close to home.  Takes me back to 18 wanting to know what it meant to follow Christ but not knowing and being told, "You're 18, you can make your own mistakes now."

And later when my third child was in the womb - within earshot of my wife - someone had said, "Clint and Ginger should have a whole herd of kids" - and the response being, "No, I don't even think they should have this one."

I should have left that house right then - should have shown my wife that I will not tolerate the denigration of her exalted role as mother.  And I should have stood up for my unborn son.  But I didn't, because by then I had my own guilt, never standing up for what is right and still reaching for the brass ring.  Old idols die hard.

It was said very clearly - do not marry - fornicate if you need to, murder your unborn children if you need to but GET THAT DEGREE - GET THAT GREEN!  To be Christian is to look Christian - to look "good".  Weren't the Bradys Christians? 

I will always wish I had done what I knew was right - embracing the prospect of being a broke 19 year old with my first child and a blushing bride.  I have only myself to blame but I wanted (still want) that green. 

Today I end up wanting to scream from the rooftops to the kids coming of age now that COLLEGE DOES NOT EQUAL GOD!  MONEY DOES NOT EQUAL GOD!  STATUS DOES NOT EQUAL GOD!  HAVE FAITH - TRUST HIM!

@Clint

I think this is cyclical: up until the 1970s, pastors would probably have been encouraging young marriage, certainly in the Baptist/Pentecostal/IFB contexts. After the 1970s, when the negative consequences of some early marriages were beginning to surface, pastors started telling their young people to ensure that they had their stuff sorted out before getting married (ie, being sorted out emotionally, and certainly for the men, being prepared for a career). By the time I came of age in the mid-1980s, no pastor I knew at the time was encouraging early marriage; they'd seen too many go bad. As a case in point, I can think of a wedding my father officiated at when the couple were 21 and 20 or so; it only lasted for two children and six years. 

A further complicating problem is that there aren't enough young Christian men to go round; in that if there was a large surplus of Christian men, it would be a lot easier to direct the young women into getting married and having babies. 

Add new comment