Wednesday, December 06, 2006

So much for being a truth-broker

In his book, No Place for Truth, David Wells argues that pastors ought to be brokers of truth. That is, truth is our stock in trade. We deal in revealed truth. We try to persuade people to believe it and live on the basis of it. Because of that, truth should be honored in all of our dealings with people. If we want them to believe us when we preach, we must speak honestly at all other times, as well.

Of course, this is true for every Christian. "Therefore, putting away lying, each one speak truth to his neighbor, for we are members of one another" (Ephesians 4:25; cf. the 9th commandment, etc.). But it is particularly true for ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A man who gives his word and then unashamedly and unrepentently breaks it discredits himself in the eyes of thinking people. Likewise a man who presents himself and his credentials less than honestly.

If I told you that years ago I was with the NASA space shuttle program you would have every reason to accuse me of dishonesty when you learned that all I meant was that I once took my family on a trip to the Kennedy Space Center. Similarly, if I present myself as "Dr." So-in-so when in fact I have not done the formal academic study that is associated with that title, you are entitled to call me a deceiver.

All this is put into stark relief by the case of a North Carolina pastor who was recently relieved of his pastoral duties after being arrested last month for "possession of a firearm by a felon." This story would be hilarious if it weren't so sad. After admitting that his doctorate was basically a title that he simply purchased from a diploma mill, Jerry Wayne "Dusty" Whitaker asked this astounding, rhetorical question, "Does me having a 'Dr.' in front of my name mean any less because I bought it?"

One can better understand how he could think like this by considering the way that he represented himself and his past affiliation with Federal Marshals. Whitaker was very careful never to claim that he had actually served as a U. S. Marshall. Instead, in his own words, this is what he said, "I worked with the federal agencies.... That was because they transferred me between prisons, hospitals and trials. It was when I was in prison."

I am grateful that this is an extreme and unusual example of ministerial dishonesty But it does serve as a warning and reminder that those whose responsibility it is to proclaim God's Word as pastors must seek to be honest in all of our dealings both in and out of the pulpit.

Pray for Mr. Whitaker and his family and former church. They need huge doses of real Christianity. You can read the whole story in the Biblical Recorder.

43 comments:

farmboy said...

It's interesting that you reference David Wells regarding this unfortunate episode. In either "No Place for Truth" or "God in the Wasteland" Mr. Wells sets his sites on the professionalization of theological education, noting that the Master of Divinity essentially replaced the Bachelor of Divinity. He goes on to note that the Master of Divinity is more properly thought of as a professional degree, not a traditional master's level program that assumes previous, extensive undergraduate preparation. Mr. Wells moves on from the Master of Divinity to the Doctor of Ministry noting that it is most properly thought of as continuing professional education, not a traditional doctoral level program. In support of Mr. Wells' observations note that the Master of Theology is a master's program in the traditional sense and it is typically pursued after completing the Master of Divinity.

Similar programs of professionalization have taken place in both law and business. You can still find a few old attorneys who hold the Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB). This degree has been replaced by the Doctor of Jurisprudence (JD), which is most properly thought of as a professional degree. Note that the advanced degree one pursues after completing the Doctor of Jurisprudence is the Master of Laws (LLM). This is similar to the Master of Divinity, Master of Theology progression. In business the Master of Business Administration is most properly thought of as a professional degree, not a traditional master's level program.

Mr. Wells does not explore the area of honorary doctorates. Most of the Doctor of Divinity degrees presented today are honorary, not earned.

Based on the above, what does the title "Doctor" really signify? It could represent an honorary doctorate from a Bible college, a Doctor of Ministry, or a Doctor of Philosophy in Ancient Near East Studies from a Big 10 institution. Isn't there much wisdom to the Baptist tradition of using the titles "Brother" and "Sister", as these titles emphasize that we are all equal in the sense that we are all redeemed children of God? As an academic, my experience is that there is an inverse relationship between the quality of a person's doctoral degree and the extent to which the person demands he be referred to as "Doctor". Based on tradition, I prefer to reserve the title "Doctor" for those who hold the Doctor of Medicine degree. As my dad still says, "You can call me anything but late for supper." Let your "yes" be "yes" and your "no" be "no"...

Oh for church congregations with sufficient theological literacy that they can thoughtfully, reasonably and carefully evaluate any pastoral candidate on the substance of his theological knowledge. After all, all the credentials in the world mean nothing if the person holding them does not possess the mastery that typically goes with those credentials.

scripturesearcher said...

Dr. James White's new and very needful book entitled PULPIT CRIMES - THE CRIMINAL
MISHANDLING OF GOD'S WORD deals with this ~ and a lot more.

Powerful book! I highly recommend it to all lovers of God and His Word, and especially those in leadership positions.

Tom said...

Farmboy:

Well put. Your observation is the same as my own. I remember when two of my children were arguing about whether daddy really was a doctor. The older one finally won with this painfully honest observation: "He is a doctor, but not the kind that can really help you."

Wells also has an excellent essay on all of this called "The D-Min-ization of the Ministry" in No God But God by Guiness and Seel.

Gordan said...

Hmm. Gotta hand it to the guy for finding a creative way to deal with the past, without really dealing with it. LOL

I myself, in the same vein, once worked with the DUI enforcement unit of the Orlando, Fl. police department. I was such an outstanding candidate, they allowed me to work with them when I was only 17. In my more mature years, I've also worked with the New Mexico State Police on some much more minor traffic violations, involving radar gun speed traps.

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Ascol,

I wholeheartedly agree with you: were it not so tragic for Church and community, not to mention the old boy's wife and family, what a humorous anecdote to demonstrate our radical nature.

It seems Whitaker lied about his past in order to avoid telling the truth about his history, an interesting ethic, if nothing else.

Wells' book is sobering. I trust your evening well. With that, I am...

Peter

Greg B said...

Brothers, We Are Not Professionals
Greg

mark said...

The saddest aprt of the article is its last sentence (quoting the former pastor): "I doubt I'll ever darken another church door again or preach a sermon," he told the News.

Gordan said...

Mark,

In God's providence, the fact that he probably won't preach again may be a wonderful blessing to the churches in general. Would to God that more frauds would be tossed out. Just as God whittled down Gideon's army until the number seemed ridiculously small, IMO Christianity as a whole would be better off if the same sort of weeding out process happened in our day.

volfan007 said...

back in the old west, preachers regularly carried guns into the pulpit. i am glad that i dont live in that time, and maybe this ole boy should have learned that this aint the old west.

there are times when i wished that i had carried a gun into deacon meetings...lol...just kidding.


volfan007

Highland Host said...

When Dr. Gill was awarded an honourary D.D. from Aberdeen, he said, "I neither thought it, nor bought it, nor sought it."

centuri0n said...

Just to pile-on here, one of the most telling anecdotes about ministry and academics I have ever heard comes from the mouth of John Piper, who is a prophetic voice in the church no matter what you think of Da Gifts.

It's his personal story regarding why he is a pastor, which he recounts in his MP3s on Romnas 9. Whyile he was a professor who was teaching future pastors, he realized that God was not to be put in a box: the Glory of God was not the subject of academic dissertations, or a means for making a living through critical essays, but in fact the purpose of the church and the obligation of the believer.

Piper resigned from teaching immediately, and was blessed with the pastorate he serves in today. In that, his vision for making God glorfied in a people has only been emboldened over the years.

Let me say that this is why buying a doctorate is wrong -- not because it cheapens the academic credential, or it somehow misrepresents one's education or skill: it is because it glorifies Me and not God. You have have your degrees -- buy them off-shore if that's what you want. But when you collect these things rather than glorify God who is worthy of all honor and power and glory, you are an idolater.

This is what is wrong here -- not some professional ethical violation, but robbing God of glory. The right direction is to shuck off the credits of man for the purpose of giving God credit, giving God what is due to Him.

Tom said...

Good words, Cent! Thanks for putting this in the proper light.

Greg B said...

Centurion:
I wish I had your incisive whit (not humor, but wisdom). Even my reference to JP's book did not get at the HEART of what this sad story is about, nor did my explanation to my wife earlier this morning. The SIN hear is not so much breaking the law, or misleading a congregation, but doing things for self and not for our Creator, Savior and Sustainer.
Greg B

C.T. Lillies said...

greg b

Regarding your comment about being a professional...I had a friend once who, in a discussion about churches and pastors got irate. Someone mentioned the fact that they had hired a new pastor at the Nonesuch So. Baptist Church. He said, "Pastors are not hirelings they are called. The hireling flee-eth." (he was from the south)

All:
If the fellow hadn't lied about it and he was in fact acting on a conviction (no pun) that he was to be a Pastor would it be any different?

Josh
"...the word of God is not bound."
--2 Timothy 2:9

GUNNY said...

""Does me having a 'Dr.' in front of my name mean any less because I bought it?""

Uh ... as one lazily working on a PhD and being severely beaten down in the process, I'd have to say YES.

However, I have wondered if folks would start calling me Dr. or whatnot at church afterward. I don't think I'd like it.

Even now my students and Providence Church peeps call me "Gunny" and I see no need to change that.

Yet, I can understand the need for credentialing in some circles and the need for some organized and/or formal training for the pastorate.

But, I'm reminded of a scene in the movie Pay It Forward where Helen Hunt asks Kevin Spacey if he went to some fancy ivy league school, to which he responds in the affirmative. She then asks, "Think you can stop rubbing my nose in it?"

We want to be careful to not widen the perception of gap between laity and clergy.

Like Bruce Dickinson (yes, the Bruce Dickinson), I put my pants on one leg at a time, just after that I'm making gold records.

Sometimes pastors perpetuate the myth that we're some category of uberChristian and titles can certainly feed that misconception.

Greg B said...

CT Lillies: I am not sure I get it. If he were honest about his lack of education or his "record with the law enforcement community" and not dumb about breaking parole/effects of his sin, I would hope it would be different. After all, he would have been a different person than the guy who is now going back to jail.
Greg

G. Alford said...

Gentlemen,

As a Southern Baptist Pastor this is a topic that has often caused me a measure of concern.

I was recently asked by a young lady from a Lutheran church background if one had to go to seminary to be a Southern Baptist Pastor. (I assumed from her question that this is the norm for Lutheran Pastors)… Anyway this question lead to a lengthy discussion about Baptist Church Autonomy and the reality that in our denomination a congregation was free to call whomever they desired regardless of the amount of their formal education. So that in our denomination we have pastors that have multiple (earned) Doctorate degrees, and we have pastors that are high school dropouts. Her response was “Oh”… and it was clear that she was not impressed. I fear that many outside of the Baptist tradition do not have a good opinion of us.

I do not have any answers here… and I am not sure there are any to be found. Perhaps we need some kind of SBC clearinghouse that will do a credentials and background check…like a “CARFAX” service for prospective Pastors?

Grace, Truth, Blessings

Greg B said...

Dear Gunny: Like your example.

G. Alford: The less our Convention does the better. I have a MDiv (and have never worked in a church, not ordained), but I have met men that had no or little college and they could shepherd the pants off of me. Your Lutheran friend should have been more impressed. I think the fault lies with the church. They should independently check the credentials and background of any candidate. In our day and age it isn't hard to find if someone is telling the truth on references, former jobs, education and legal record.
I have come to question the entire way we choose pastors. It is too much a hireling/results type of thing. More needs to be coming out of the local church to lead the local church. I am not sure a big change can happen without a change in practical theology.
Grace Alone,
Greg
Greg Bailey

C.T. Lillies said...

Greg I think you get it just fine.

Josh
"...the word of God is not bound."
--2 Timothy 2:9

Greg B said...

I might add I have nothing against Seminary based education. I am very blessed by my time at SEBTS, but my church did nothing to prepare me and had no thought of me but to approve me and send me. Only a few friends in the church kept any contact with us through those years. Was it any surprise that when I graduated and wasn't sure what to do with myself, I didn't return there.
Greg B

SelahV said...

Well, speaking of no degrees. My husband was saved at 33. Deacon at 34. Called at 36. Graduated Boyce Bible School at 38. Served in his first church for 6 years, second 2, third 7, forth 9 years. In each church he followed a DR. In each church to this day, he is hailed as the best pastor they ever had. He is not their best preacher. He was not the best administrator. But he truly was the best pastor. During each full-time position he served as a Hospice Chaplain in our areas. He spent more hours with his flock than he did sleeping.

I'm so proud of him and his love for the Lord and His sheep. And I get to live with him forever. And that is just so kewl!

Degrees are paper and ink. What matters is the man and Whom he serves after the ink is dry. (and of course who he is during the process of obtaining the degrees is as relevant as who he is afterwards)

While I have the utmost respect for any person who submits to the rigors of higher education, I am always most impressed with the man who adds to his knowledge, Godly wisdom and love. For without those two ingredients, knowledge is but a clanging cymbal. May God continue to enrich you with His Wisdom as I sit at your feet. SelahV

J.D. Rector said...

G.Alford: Your comments are interesting. Nonetheless, in light of the "doctrinal-conformity" that is being enforced by some of the trustee boards, (i.e.... the IMB on baptism by the appropriate personnel and SWBTS and the IMB on tongues), I fear a SBC clearinghouse would not be good at this time.

I may be over-reacting here... what does another brother or sister think?

From one who is not a "doctor"....
;)
J.D. Rector

GUNNY said...

Thanks, Greg.

I also have no ax to grind regarding formal education for ministry. However, it is what it is ... a classroom education. It is not a guarantee of much beyond the meeting of certain requirements.

That being said, I think my criticism is not of the institutions trying to teach, but of the churches who tend to punt away training of the leaders of the next generation by assuming that can only happen in a seminary. Often those churches do a subpar job of preparing those people to the extent they can prior to seminary.

The result is folks in seminary who really are, in my mind, not as far along as they could/should be when they matriculate.

I'm thinking they should have a really good handle on biblical content, the spiritual disciplines, basic aspects of personal holiness, and the role of the local church in the world before stepping on the campus.

But how many of our SBC churches know and teach that stuff?

Hey, I went to seminary for what I couldn't really get on my own or in church (e.g., language study, interaction with men of knowledge and scholarly acumen, etc.).

I didn't need them to read me the Bible like some sort of child. I'd read it. I had some questions and didn't know as much as I thought I did in some areas, but I didn't walk into seminary expecting "an extreme makeover" during my three years there.

The makeover is extreme, but it's a lifelong process and we need to see our churches in the SBC raising the bar of the rank & file brother or sister in the pew (through discipleship in addition to solid preaching & teaching), so that when God raises them up for positions of authority they will be warmly received by God's people.

Hey, more could be said, of course, and I'm another with more questions than answers. I just hope I can keep my tongue and cynical heart in check to the point where I'm part of the solution and not just part of the problem by presenting criticisms void of concern or cogitations for improvement.

Thanks again to Tom for this arena of ideas.

GUNNY said...

P.S.

Highland Host said...

When Dr. Gill was awarded an honourary D.D. from Aberdeen, he said, "I neither thought it, nor bought it, nor sought it."

For the record, if there is anyone out there with the capacity to grant an honorary degree, I won't turn it down. I won't necessarily buy it, but I wouldn't want to hurt your feelings, so I'd take it any day of the week ... and twice on Sundays.

Greg B said...

Gunny:
I think we share something here. Seminary or Bible College is a great thing, but most of us showed up at ground zero when we should be somewhere above 50%. Basic Bible. A little understanding of Biblical and Systematic. Some practical experience (read Pastoral Care).
All I was, was a 6th grade SS teacher, lead a teachers (secular school) prayer group, sang in the choir and had taught 1 small group study that fell apart after I had already been approved. It was felt as if it was very much your term, let me add to it... "punting on 2d down." The formal education should be getting the first on 3 and 4 or less. That being said, I do have a fantasy of earning a D.Min in Biblical Counseling someday. At the rate I am going, it will be in time to take Social Security.
Greg

Greg B said...

Dear Selah:
If your GH (Godly Husband) is half as good as you think (you had better be biased in his favor!:):):)), he is what a Baptist Pastor is supposed to be. Education in the school or past station means little. It is all about the changes God makes in the man and the special call, talents and spiritual gifts He gives us.
Greg

SelahV said...

Dear Bro. Greg B,
Oh my yes, I am biased in his favor. His patience and tolerance in dealing with difficult, divisive situations within our churches (which all of us have some challenges in our ministries) surpassed so many of pastors who resigned and left their churches for "higher" grounds with "greener pastures". He always believed if God wanted him somewhere, He knew where he was. I venture to say that he has experienced as many if not more than the situations I read about in blogs across the land.
What amazes me about him, is his ability to control his tongue and emotions. (At times I have accused him of not having emotions, lol) But probably what I appreciate most about him is his ability to love the unloveable--without regard to how unloveable they are. His greatest gift is that of a servant, his humility that he most likely knows far less than anyone else, gives him an incredible advantage in tending the sheep.
If I were to state one thing that most pastors today might consider a weakness in him, it is his absence at the weekly "pastor/coffee/chats". He said he had difficulty there because he rarely had anything to add to the boasts of how many another had in church and S.S. their previous week.
I told him he had plenty to add, but chose to be silent where he had nothing to boast about but in the Lord. He laughs.
He loved more than anything a weekly bowling team he participated in with fellow pastors of various faiths. He particularly loved the gentle chiding and the fun of just being together.
I could go on forever sharing how great he is, but he'd not want me to do that. One last thing, one of his congregations' favorite and most notable phrases he used repeatedly when preaching on hurt feelings, bitter attitudes, grudges, differences of opinion, and past grievances, was "Get over it! It's over!" I can't tell you how much he lived his own words. He says there is too much to do today to be carrying around yesterday on his back. See? I told you he is wonderful. Many blessings in the Lord as you all finalize preparation for our Lord's day. SelahV

Greg B said...

From what I have read and what I have gleaned from conversing with many fine pastors, they share your husbands feelings about some pastoral get togethers and associational meetings. Too many numbers, too many programs, not enough God, not enough sharing and caring about each other and the flocks. I agree, he has plenty to offer to his local fellows that are caught up in the Success Syndrome of ministry. That comes from a very good book from R. Kent Hughes and his wife.
Greg

GUNNY said...

I don't want to taint the great conversation with my paltry offering, but I couldn't hold back on this one, from my new buddy and kindred spirit, Greg:

"From what I have read and what I have gleaned from conversing with many fine pastors, they share your husbands feelings about some pastoral get togethers and associational meetings."

There's a greater than zero chance that those who attend such in my area will never read this so I think I'm safe ...

Folks, I don't go to many of these, but lots of 'em ... I'd rather take a kick in the head ... with an iron boot.

They are a beating of the highest order and the conversation always centers around the three Bs: butts, bucks, and buildings. If you're not increasing in those areas, you can't run with the big boys.

"Run along little boy, while the grownups talk serious ministry."

Bill Moore said...

Please allow me to add a bit of a twist to this conversation with what are admittedly rambling thoughts.

I agree the sin of pride too often motivates ministers to pursue a doctorate in order to gain the prestige of holding the degree and being addressed "Doctor." I vividly remember being in a DMin seminar almost 20 years ago and hearing a fellow student say during a break, with all seriousness, that he was looking forward to being called "Doctor" by the members of his church. Unfortunately, too many have had their egos massaged by pursuing the DMin.

While pursuing a PhD years later, I recognized that anyone seeking this doctorate for the purpose of being addressed "Doctor" is at least the first cousin of a moron, if not actually a moron himself. The seemingly endless reading and writing, the seminars and colloquia, the papers and presentations and critiques, comps, and the dissertation and its defense--all for the purpose of being called "Doctor"? Don't misunderstand--I value all the training I received and all I learned, but just to be called "Doctor"?

That said, there can be pride exhibited in declaring that "I'm not going to let others call me 'Doctor'." "I refuse to be called 'Doctor'." Unfortunately, too few recognize that the term simply designates a highly trained teacher, with the word coming from the Latin docere, to teach.

This brings me to consider how low the esteem of the pastorate is in our culture and in too many of our churches. Esteem is not measured by the acknowledgment of degrees, of course, but there is almost a reverse response toward ministers. An older Baptist once said in my presence that he refused to call any pastor "Doctor." He would call anyone trained in the healing arts or any academician with a PhD "Doctor," but he refused to call a pastor "Doctor."

The emphasis upon the practical in MDiv training, along with the proliferation of the practical DMin, has, in my opinion, had a harmful effect upon how ministers are viewed. Our churches have so many men who are merely motivators and pop psychologists and do little teaching of the Scriptures, except where those scriptures appear to deal with felt needs, that ministers are viewed not as teachers and spiritual leaders but as point men to "grow" the church. "Git-r-done" is too often the unspoken motto of 21st-century Baptist ministry.

Being called "Doctor" is simply a non-issue with me. Being trained in the Scriptures, being gifted to teach the Scriptures, leading a holy life, instructing in law and gospel, overseeing with other elders the spiritual health of the church, loving those entrusted to our care, seeking to love God--such matters as these are the issues with which we are to be consumed. When all is said and done, we are "unworthy servants" (Luke 17:10).

Bill

Stan said...

farmboy,

I really appreciate your points about the silliness of all these degrees, both in and out of the church. However, as a fellow academic and a lover of truth, I take exception (most folks call it "nit-picking" :-) ) to reserving "doctor" for physicians "based on tradition." If anything, tradition is on the side of reserving it for teachers! The word itself comes from the Latin for "teacher". My understanding is that it goes back to the earliest days of the university and denotes one who is trained to the level of teaching others, whether in theology, philosophy, or medicine.

The term "doctor" also has a venerable history in the church to refer to those who teach. In fact, the office of doctor is enshrined in the Westminster Assembly document on "Presbyterial Church Government". Of course, an office in the church is far different from an academic degree!

Just to be clear, I've never once introduced myself as "doctor." The only time I was ever called doctor by my colleagues was for about two weeks after I delivered my daughter at home before we could get out the door! :-)

SelahV said...

Hello Greg B: In the beginning of Dr. Ascol's post, he offers (I think) his take on the book by David Wells. I haven't read the book. Maybe you have. Anyway in regard to pastors being "truth-brokers", Dr. Ascol explains: "That is, truth is our stock in trade. We deal in revealed truth."

He is talking about various truthes pastors share from the Bible, correct? Not just the "Truth" (as in "I am the Truth and the Way"), but truth learned from the "Truth" (as in Jesus), correct?

Then Dr. Ascol says, "We try to persuade people to believe it and live on the basis of it." And in this sentence, I assume "we" can mean all Christians as well as pastors, don't you think? And what I wonder, Greg, is: in that sentence, the word "persuade" has been argued on other blogsites as something Calvinists do not hold as possible in the process of an elect having salvation. (I can't give an exact place I read it, as I read alot of comments on alot of sites. Please believe me when I say I saw it debated, apologized or argued.) I understand that it is our responsibility as Christians and pastors to present the Word, preach the Word and teach the Word--but it is not our responsibility to persuade anyone, is it, according to Cavinists? (I may not be correct here because I'm not completely versed in what it means to be a Calvinist. But I'm learning.) So is the word "persuade" as used by Dr. Ascol in this post, subject to another meaning here?

I find that commentors on sites seem to be trying to persuade others to trust one person's theology over another's theology. And each person (pastor or Christian) seems to have their own idea of what "revealed truth" is. I don't argue with the idea of someone else's truth as it is revealed to another per se, but I find the idea that we are to persuade others to believe one "revealed truth" over another's "revealed truth" as a very complex idea, indeed.

Also, Dr. Ascol says, "Because of that, truth should be honored in all of our dealings with people. If we want them to believe us when we preach, we must speak honestly at all other times, as well."

That one statement, to me, is the most important statement of this whole blog. Because of "that", (as in our stock and trade--sharing Jesus and the teachings of Jesus), "we must speak honestly at all other times...". Honesty is very tricky. The world's view of us is so picky that when one thinks they are being honest, another may think they are lying. And to me, that is the hardest thing in this world to figure out, don't you think? When you share something you believe is 100% accurate, and someone else thinks what you are sharing is not accurate, the "truth" as you know it, then becomes a lie. But is it really a lie? Scary stuff. Especially when we are evangelically minded, don't you think? I like you Greg B. SelahV

SelahV said...

Hello Greg B: In the beginning of Dr. Ascol's post, he offers (I think) his take on the book by David Wells. I haven't read the book. Maybe you have. Anyway in regard to pastors being "truth-brokers", Dr. Ascol explains: "That is, truth is our stock in trade. We deal in revealed truth."

He is talking about various truthes pastors share from the Bible, correct? Not just the "Truth" (as in "I am the Truth and the Way"), but truth learned from the "Truth" (as in Jesus), correct?

Then Dr. Ascol says, "We try to persuade people to believe it and live on the basis of it." And in this sentence, I assume "we" can mean all Christians as well as pastors, don't you think? And what I wonder, Greg, is: in that sentence, the word "persuade" has been argued on other blogsites as something Calvinists do not hold as possible in the process of an elect having salvation. (I can't give an exact place I read it, as I read alot of comments on alot of sites. Please believe me when I say I saw it debated, apologized or argued.) I understand that it is our responsibility as Christians and pastors to present the Word, preach the Word and teach the Word--but it is not our responsibility to persuade anyone, is it, according to Cavinists? (I may not be correct here because I'm not completely versed in what it means to be a Calvinist. But I'm learning.) So is the word "persuade" as used by Dr. Ascol in this post, subject to another meaning here?

I find that commentors on sites seem to be trying to persuade others to trust one person's theology over another's theology. And each person (pastor or Christian) seems to have their own idea of what "revealed truth" is. I don't argue with the idea of someone else's truth as it is revealed to another per se, but I find the idea that we are to persuade others to believe one "revealed truth" over another's "revealed truth" as a very complex idea, indeed.

Also, Dr. Ascol says, "Because of that, truth should be honored in all of our dealings with people. If we want them to believe us when we preach, we must speak honestly at all other times, as well."

That one statement, to me, is the most important statement of this whole blog. Because of "that", (as in our stock and trade--sharing Jesus and the teachings of Jesus), "we must speak honestly at all other times...". Honesty is very tricky. The world's view of us is so picky that when one thinks they are being honest, another may think they are lying. And to me, that is the hardest thing in this world to figure out, don't you think? When you share something you believe is 100% accurate, and someone else thinks what you are sharing is not accurate, the "truth" as you know it, then becomes a lie. But is it really a lie? Scary stuff. Especially when we are evangelically minded, don't you think? SelahV
P.S. I like you Greg B., or I wouldn't be asking you this stuff.

Seth McBee said...

Isn't this why we are told as teachers that we will be held to a sticter judgment? Also we should all aspire to be like Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:1 when he said to imitate me as I imitate Christ.

Also Ezra 7:10 says that Ezra not only studied and interpreted but lived what he preached.

May we all do the same

SelahV said...

Hey Seth! I agree! SelahV

Greg B said...

Selah:
I am in a hurry as I am at work, but in a word, Calvinists to try to persuade both as a purely evangelistic endeavor and to bring people to what we believe is the Biblical God-Centered view is Reformed or Soveriegn Grace Theology. There are strains that do not (mainly the hyper calvinists and a few "mainstream" calvinists who have some influences of that school who would not do so with as much vigor-the fear many have about Calvinism). Now, most self-professed Calvinists would be careful not to arm twist or emotionally manipulate when persuading. Present the facts of the gospel passionately, present them with God, but let the Holy Spirit do the convicting and convincing. My explanation is purely my own, and not the most informed, Tom and several other men on this forum would do a better job, but that is what I experience, see and have found through some study. I'll spend some more time with your post and see if I was on or off. Forgive me if I was

Greg B said...

Dear Selah:
Obviously I didn't get right on your post. I believe you do your best to find the truth and then you tell others. As you learn more, you may have to adjust truth or add to it. I doubt there is anyone on this board who teaches, preaches or discusses and witnesses who hasn't looked back and said, "I meant well, but I didn't tell it correctly." Or "I did God the best I could then with what I knew." I do think one who seeks to tell others the truth about God must study and struggle through the scriptures (don't wait to share, but share what you know), and incorporate all of what you can learn and glean while trying to take your self out. In soveriegn grace issues, that is trying not to overemphasize human merit and autonomy (my Americanism kept me from taking Soveriegn Grace seriously for a many years (as a Christian and as an unsaved churh goer). I hope this grafts to my first answer in a way that is helpful.
GUNNY:
You know, one of the things I respect about my pastor, is how he is able to keep relating with other pastors who are not like minded. I hope I can learn that from him. If not and I end up serving in a church I would avoid most denominational and associational things like the plague. Some of the things I have been exposed to and heard of make me think I would be more at home with my very liberal chaplaincy friends.
Greg B

C.T. Lillies said...

This is a good and necessary thread.

I've known a lot of "preacher boys" who when through high-school in their local youth group, graduated from Nonesuch Baptist University then went from Seminary to the pulpit and fell on their face--flat and hard.

Thanks all for laying out the cold reality that ministry is in on the church house floor not in the bell tower.

Josh
"...the word of God is not bound."
--2 Timothy 2:9

Greg B said...

Seth:
Great answer right from the source.
Bill Moore:
I really wish I had gone out of my way to meet you when I was in Greer. You are in Clinton, SC aren't you. I was a member of ARBCA church Grace Baptist of Taylors and Rod Wilton was a good buddy of mine (Mush Creek near Travelers Rest). You put the higher education issue where it belongs. A helpful thing and sometimes necessary, but something the human heart (Calvins "idol forge") will misuse for its own ego.
Greg

Bill Moore said...

Hi Greg,

I am in Clinton. I would have enjoyed our getting together.

Participating in a blog is the next best thing.

Blessings,
Bill

WorshipLeader said...

Brother Tom,
I just got my copy of Boyce's Abstract of Systematic Theology and am reading it right now. I picked it up at Southern's Library just before they were all gone. Judging by the size of the display on which stood only about 4 or 5 more copies, I think many are excited to get their hands on this new edition. I just wanted to send you a thank you and let you know they're certainly selling (even over the semister break!)
Thanks
Ron

GUNNY said...

"GUNNY:
You know, one of the things I respect about my pastor, is how he is able to keep relating with other pastors who are not like minded. I hope I can learn that from him. If not and I end up serving in a church I would avoid most denominational and associational things like the plague. Some of the things I have been exposed to and heard of make me think I would be more at home with my very liberal chaplaincy friends.
Greg B"


That's good bull, Greg B. I think part of that is just being winsome and being able to play well with others.

It's kind of funny, but I am a part of this local pastors association of various flavors and am good friends with two Lutheran pastors, one ELCA and the other Missouri Synod. However, I will often have to sit between them because they have a hard time not going to Fist City with each other over various eccelsiastical and theological issues.

Oddly enough, I will often get more out of those meetings than with my fellow SBCers.

I think the key to working with those that are not likeminded is expectation and honesty. I don't expect my liberal friend to be a raving Republican inviting me to a bonfire of Hillary Clinton memorabilia. I don't expect him to punch people out who won't affirm inerrancy.

Now, he knows I do affirm such and we discuss the issues and others, but in a spirit of respect and all that good stuff. That doesn't mean we're not passionate, but dialogue with disagreeable people really shows, in my mind, the power of the cross to pave the way for such decorum.

Remember, he can still be my brother and be looney tunes. That doesn't mean I don't try to sway him away from the dark side, but it does mean I treat him as I would like to be treated (Matt 7:12).

Greg B said...

Family arguements are the hardest to deal with.