Saturday, January 27, 2007

When Ministry is Difficult

The following is a scenario for student pastors but it is applicable to all in ministry. Perhaps we can share how we would handle it and gain insight from each other as ministers. Perhaps you have had a similar incident and can share your wisdom with us. May iron sharpen iron.

Johny Redding, a junior in HS, arrives in your office on Wednesday afternoon. He has been saved for 5 months. He shares the following with you.

“Pastor ______, I recall you sharing in our student meetings on Sunday nights that God is in control of all things and that He sees all things and hears all things and knows all things; and that He is good.

As you know, my close friend Julie Bloom was raped and murdered two weeks ago. She was special to me; we were both baptized on the same Sunday. I am confident she was praying to God while she was being tortured and killed…so I know God heard and saw and yet did nothing!!!

Had I heard and seen, I would have stopped such evil. But He chose to do nothing while watching one of his daughters suffer and die. I am sorry but I can no longer serve a God like that, and I just wanted you to know, I will not be coming back.”

What do you say?

Friday, January 26, 2007

A Quick Fulfillment to my Prediction

It has been a busy week and I have not had the time to work on another post. However, I did reread my December 6th post, and was amazed at how quickly and accurately others have fulfilled my predictions. I have posted it again below. Enjoy

What to look for in a SB Blog Post

Last year a stir was created in the SBC over apparent Theological Issues. This summer this controversy was extended from Baptism/Tongues to Alcohol and even women pastors. At GuardianMinistries we are systematically addressing these issues and explaining why Southern Baptists have always stood where we stand today. Nevertheless, as more conversation takes place as to the validity of the historical position of SB on these issues, I imagine the ones who initiated this controversy will switch tactics.

I feel quite confident that when those generating the controversy realize they can’t win the theological debate they will begin a more subtle political maneuver of playing on individual’s emotions. However, this ploy will also fail, for Southern Baptists are smarter than that.

Nevertheless, the following is what I expect to see in the future:
1. Accusations or insinuations of a Pope or puppet-master in the SBC. These accusations or insinuations will have no merit other than the imaginations of conspiracy-theorists in our convention. However, the lack of merit will not stop some from making such attacks.
2. Emotional pleas for individuals who have been “apparently” mistreated or “left out”…and yet in reality the individuals will usually have brought their isolation on themselves (***the latter is not so much the case in some of the current discussions, hence the word I used was "usually"***).
3. Claims of “narrowing parameters” will be consistently made as a scare tactic to Calvinists and young pastors.
4. Emotional pleas to make the tent wider will be made.

With this in mind here are my suggestions for reading blogs:
1. If there are insinuations in a blog post that there is a pope or power-master in the SBC, ask yourself, “Did the blogger site any evidence WHATSOEVER or does he/she just expect us to trust their conspiracy theory?”
2. Did the blog post deal with any theological issue or was there some “tug” on people’s heart-strings for a certain political movement or personality in the SBC?
3. If there is a claim that SB are “narrowing parameters,” ask yourself, “if any evidence is given, or if this is a scare tactic born out of conspiracy-theorists?”
4. If you read a plea to make the tent wider, ask yourself, “at what cost to truth do we want peace?” Ecumenicalism is not evil and Christians should cooperate with other denominations, but there is a reason I am a Southern Baptists and I have no desire to lose our identity in order to pay Charismatics or Moderates to be our missionaries.

My hope is that all SB blogs will deal with the issues rather than personalities or conspiracy-theories. With that in mind we will soon begin our look into the issue of Baptism.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Should our Seminaries be like the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond?

Once again we shall tackle the issues that face the SBC. And once again we shall pursue truth, wherever it leads. It appears that the latest ploy in broadening our SBC tent is to cause our seminaries to be more like the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. Allow me to explain.

None of our seminaries have women teaching Biblical Studies, Theological Studies or Pastoral Ministry (the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond has women doing so). It appears that our seminaries have a rationale for such. The BFM2000 states: “the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” Apparently, our seminaries believe that if the office of the pastor is limited to men, then those who teach men how to pastor should be men. Further, there appears to be an assumption that Biblical and Theological Studies are a vital part of pastoral training.

Since the CBF has no statement of gender qualification concerning the office of the pastor it is very reasonable that women would teach Biblical Studies and Pastoral Ministries; which is what we find at BTSR.

I say, “let the CBF teach as they so desire, but please don’t ask our SBC to buy into CBF policies.” It appears that is exactly what some bloggers would have us do. I stated, long ago, the uproar in the SBC has more to do with broadening the tent, than some imagined narrowing that is supposedly taking place. Surely, the latest blog frenzy has demonstrated the validity of my statement.

I am grateful for the leadership of all six of our seminary Presidents in this area.

Why one President was singled out, when his actions are in step with the other five, is a question only those who singled him out can answer. But to a bystander, it certainly appears far more political than theological.

Some have valiantly argued that Dr. Patterson’s view, that a woman should not teach a man the Scriptures in the local church, was the genesis for not recommending tenure to a very qualified Hebrew Scholar. However, their efforts in maligning him in such a way flies directly in the face of the clear statement which Dr. Klouda herself claims Dr. Patterson shared with her: “He essentially said that his perspective and understanding in this regard was that in the teaching role in the school of theology, where we’re training pastors, those teachers should also be qualified to be pastors. Therefore, those teachers should be men,”

In other words, he felt men should teach men about pastoring and Biblical Studies is a large part of pastoral training.

Godly Southern Baptists certainly disagree on numerous issues, and women teaching men the Scriptures in the local church is one of those issues. However, for me, this issue is not essential to who we are as SB (BFM). Perhaps that is why the BFM2000 committee did not choose to make a statement either way (for or against women teaching men in the local church) and yet they did make a statement excluding women pastors. (By the way, it goes without saying that women sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with lost persons is not the same as women teaching men the Scriptures in the local church).

Our seminaries (all 6 of them) apparently take the statement excluding women pastors and apply it to those who teach pastors how to pastor. This appears to be the root of the action at SWBTS, not an individual’s belief concerning women teaching men in the local church.

This also explains why our seminaries are different than BTSR in this area, for the seminary in Richmond has no problem with women pastors. Perhaps, some of my blogging brothers believe women can teach men how to be pastors without compromising the integrity of the BFM2000…however, when they continually find themselves on the same side of issues as the CBF, one wonders how broad they want our tent to be.

While I feel women teaching men in the church is not an essential doctrinal issue, I will gladly share my perspective. I confess I find myself in concert with John Calvin and John Gill on this issue (two of my favorite commentators). I further confess that I do not believe that functional submission lessens one’s essence, for Christ submitted Himself to the Father and yet maintained His essential equality.

Let me share, up front, that there are numerous things I wish God had not stated (a confession of both the limitation of the human mind as well as the rebellion of the human will). And yet, when God gave His Word He did not ask my opinion or approval. His Word stands no matter what I think.

Personally, I think women usually study and teach better than men. But that has no bearing on what Scripture says. Further, I think women are stronger than men in many, if not most, ways. I also believe men and women were created equal in essence (Genesis 1:27; Galatians 3:28). Further, I think the main problem in most churches is not that women desire to teach men, but rather that there are few Godly men to be found. In fact, I have found that most problems in marriages and in churches have more to do with men not fulfilling their roles of loving their wives and leading their families than women usurping anything.

Nevertheless, I believe Scripture teaches women are to submit themselves to their husbands in their functional role within marriage (Ephesians 5:22-35) and I further believe Paul extends women’s functional submission, established at creation, to exclude them from teaching men in the local church. This is the clear reading of 1 Timothy 2:12.

In fact, I think one will be hard-pressed to find a conservative Scholar BEFORE the modern era of women’s rights who interprets 1 Timothy 2:12 in any other way. Surely, modern preachers and 20th century scholars who desire to be more in sync with political correctness than Scriptural fidelity will gladly submit Scripture to societal norms. Further, many well-meaning preachers may have unknowingly submitted to their own enculturation. But, it is telling that conservative Biblical scholars before the 20th century seem to be in agreement that 1 Timothy 2:12 forbids women from teaching men in the local church. Allow me to quote from both John Calvin and John Gill (John Calvin’s genius is well known and I don’t think I can improve on Wade Burleson’s commendation of John Gill’s Scriptural genius).

“Ver. 11. Let the woman learn in silence,.... The apostle goes on to give some other instructions to women, how they should behave themselves in public worship, in the church of God; he would have them be learners and not teachers, sit and hear, and learn more of Christ, and of the truth of the Gospel, and to maintain good works; and he would have them learn in silence, and not offer to rise and speak, under a pretence of having a word from the Lord, or of being under an impulse of the Spirit of the Lord, as some frantic women have done; and if they should meet with anything, under the ministry of the word, they did not understand, or they had an objection to, they were not to speak in public, but ask their own husbands at home; see 1Co 14:34. And thus, they were to behave….
Ver. 12. But I suffer not a woman to teach….They may teach in private, in their own houses and families; they are to be teachers of good things, Tit 2:3. They are to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; nor is the law or doctrine of a mother to be forsaken, any more than the instruction of a father; see Pr 1:8. Timothy, no doubt, received much advantage, from the private teachings and instructions of his mother Eunice, and grandmother Lois; but then women are not to teach in the church…” (John Gill)

11. Let a woman learn in quietness….After having spoken of dress, he now adds with what modesty women ought to conduct themselves in the holy assembly. And he first bids them learn quietly…this he immediately explains more clearly, by forbidding them to teach.” (John Calvin)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

What happens when I die?

The Bible teaches that everyone has sinned. That truth is evident. The Bible also teaches that when we sin, we break God’s universal law and offend our Creator. In so doing we have defied His authority and declared ourselves lord of our world. We have, in essence, become God’s enemy.

Since God is perfect, He cannot be in the presence of sin; He cannot be tainted with it. He is, in a very real sense, allergic to sin.

He has created a place for sinners, where His presence is not. The Bible calls this place hell. It is an eternal lake of fire, a bottomless pit, and outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. The Bible further teaches that the soul of man is everlasting. Therefore, without intervention on God’s part our soul, at death, enters an eternal hell.

And yet, the Bible has been called “God’s love letter to man.” Although God is holy and cannot be in the presence of sin, He does love the sinner and desires to have a relationship with him/her. Therefore, in order to provide a way for such a relationship, while maintaining His essence (His Holiness), the triune God devised a plan in eternity past. In this plan the second person of the Godhead, the Son - Jesus Christ, at the appointed time would leave His heavenly dwelling and come to earth to be born of a virgin, to live a perfect life (as a man), and to pay man’s penalty for sin. Jesus did so. Born of the virgin Mary, Jesus lived 33 years without sinning. Then in six hours on the cross He paid the eternally penalty for all men. Only an infinite God could do so, only man could die for man’s sin. Thus, the God man Jesus Christ.

A story from history helps to illuminate Christ taking our place.

At the turn of the 19th Century in a small one-street town in Arizona there lived a Blacksmith: a loner, who was avoided. One holiday, the entire citizenship, except for one man, had a celebration. The Blacksmith stayed in his shop, at the opposite end of town. During the festivities a child strayed near the shop. A lady looked toward the child and shrilled in terror. A coyote was eyeing the young lad. Everyone knew that a coyote this close to town, at mid-day, meant rabies. The coyote sprang for the child yet was snatched in mid-air by the Blacksmith who immediately broke its neck; yet the damage had been done as the unsung hero drew back his bloodstained arm. The blacksmith died a slow, painful death.

He had taken the lad’s place. Jesus took ours.

One might ask, “If Jesus died for every man does every man go to heaven?” No. If you were dying of thirst and I purchased water and offered it to you, you would still have to accept my gift.

The Bible teaches that in order to accept the free gift of salvation one must trust his life totally into God’s hand. It is not enough just to believe that Jesus dies on the cross for one’s sins and arose from the dead. One must believe that truth to the extent that he/she trust his/her live into His hand.

So, “what happens when I die?”

It depends. The Bible teaches, the moment we breathe our last breath our spirit will immediately go to one of two places. Either an eternal hell or an eternal heaven.

If it is your desire to go to heaven, then trust your life into God’s hands. It is as simple as accepting His gift and trusting Him. It can be done, by honestly praying: “God I confess that I am a sinner, I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, I believe that He appeased your anger, removed my sin and took my place, I believe He arose from the dead. Jesus come into my life and be my Lord and Savior. In Jesus name, Amen.”

The prayer does not save you, but rather the trusting of your life to God. If you did trust God with your life, please, leave a comment. I will get in touch with you and share what to expect with the wonderful changes God has begun in your life as well as some material to help you in your new relationship with Christ.