Pastors and their sinecures...

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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 big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!