Thursday, December 02, 2021

The “Qualifications” of a Bishop

Having been reliably informed that the requirements for the office of bishop set forth in I Timothy 3 “are the requirements for a perfect preacher,” I embarked on an in-depth Bible study to find out to which qualifications the churches could refer for the less-than-perfect preachers who are currently available. I thought I might have found it in Titus 1, but then realized it sets forth the same requirements as I Timothy 3, obviously for the perfect preachers. So, I dug deeper. After a diligent search, I finally found the requirements in Judas’s seldom-read epistle to the Laodiceans. For your benefit, I share it here.

Laodiceans 3:1-8

1. Having failed in my efforts to collect the funds to come to you (the bag being empty): these things I write unto you, that you mayest know how you oughtest to behave yourselves in the church of Laodicea.

2. This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a well-paying position with the bestowal of great honour.

3.  A bishop then must be shameless, the man of one wife, more than one, or none; possessing a good education and appropriate credentials; willing to move quickly when hostility rises; apt to leech;

4. Not given to dry and lengthy speech, but eloquent, concise, and funny; deserving of a valuable salary package; well-dressed, not threatened by deacons;

5. One that driveth a fine chariot, is schooled in kissing babies, and apt to fool old women;

6. Even so must their wives be mothers of several children, while looking as if they never had any; apt to flatter, play the piano, organize the women’s auxiliary; full of zeal and zest;

7. Moreover let the bishop be photogenic, having an impressive resume, not a novice (for there are small insignificant churches for others), recommended by seminary leaders. Moreover he must have a good report of wealthy businessmen; all these qualifications, lest he be an embarrassment to the rich and prospering church in the thriving metropolis of Laodicea.

8. Finally, my brethern and sistern, though I write in the tongue of men and angels who use gendered pronouns, let nothing be construed as meaning any persons cannot serve in the office of bishop in the church. Progress be with you. Fare ye well.

No more shall there be a problem finding someone to meet the necessary requirements. We need not look for Paul’s perfect preacher. Judas’s recommendations will work just fine!

The Stench of 1973

News outlets yesterday reported that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked, “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?” [This in reference to “what if” the Court overturned abortion rights as they currently stand interpreted.]

I find that statement intriguing in light of how the abortion right was created. I wonder how she views the “reading” of the Constitution and the “political act” of the Supreme Court in 1973 when the majority found the right to abortion which they were unable to read in the Constitution.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

The Husband of One Wife

“the husband of one wife” 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:6

I recently read an online essay about divorce, remarriage, and the qualifications for the ministry, focusing on the phrase “the husband of one wife.” I choose not to link to it, since the author displays a certain amount of hubris in his viewpoint that it unnecessary and off-putting. Nevertheless, this turns my thoughts to this post – not a lengthy tome, but something just to point out another option seldom discussed.

This writer and numerous others would point out three main ways to view the phrase “husband of one wife.”[i]

  1. “The husband of one wife” is a condemnation and prohibition of polygamy
  2. “The husband of one wife” is a condemnation and prohibition of divorce and remarriage[ii]
  3. “The husband of one wife” means the kind of husband a man is to his wife

The first two are clear enough. I think there is little or no misunderstanding of them. The third is a newer model and may require some explanation. This third view says that phrase (μιας γυναικος ανδρα/ανηρ) literally means “one woman man” or “one wife husband.”[iii] This is usually explained as referring to the kind of husband a man is to his wife – one devoted to his wife.[iv]

As normally presented, most of the writers indicate the three ways are mutually exclusive – either not a polygamist, or not divorced & remarried, or not undevoted to his wife. It seems few consider that Paul struck on a phrase (under inspiration, of course) that can encompass all the positives and exclude all the negatives.

The historical research I have done indicates there was very little polygamy and much divorce practiced in the Roman Empire.[v] However, if a case of polygamy came in question, Paul’s phrase would eliminate that person as a qualified candidate for bishop. When the rampant divorce problem came in question, Paul’s phrase would eliminate that person as a qualified candidate for bishop. When a situation of a bad (undevoted) husband who has managed to avoid divorce came in question, Paul’s phrase would eliminate that person as a qualified candidate for bishop.

Therefore, this brief contribution is to assert that Paul uses the phrase “the husband of one wife” to umbrella several issues, rather than present an either/or distinction that must be chosen to the exclusion of the others.

[i] A fourth way “the husband of one wife” is viewed, is that it is a requirement that a bishop/elder/minister must be married.
[ii] This might be divided into three camps: The husband of one wife is a man (1) only who has never been divorced and remarried; (2) only who has not been divorced and remarried since salvation; (3) only who, if he is divorced and remarried, is covered under “the exception clause” of Matthew 5:32 & 19:9.
[iii] A helpful comparison, often missed, is 1 Timothy 5:9, where the similar phrase is used of the widow (but with, obviously, the gender roles reversed: ενος ανδρος γυνη “one man woman” or “one husband wife”).
[iv] This view (usually) allows for divorce and remarriage in the ministry, though I am at somewhat of a loss to understand how one who divorces his wife to marry another is a “one-woman man.”
[v] For example, see The Environment of Early Christianity, by Samuel Angus (New York, NY: Scribner & Sons, 1915): “Divorce was frightfully common…Men could put away their wives for the slightest cause, and women could as easily divorce their husbands…Marriage lost its sanctity: it was lightly entered upon because easily annulled.” (pp. 15, 46)

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

A. Nunnery...was a “landmarker”

I have previously posted about two well-known Southern Baptist ministers being “Landmarkers”. This had a background of some person or persons thinking they should not be considered Landmarkers.
My basis for the label rightly applying to Burleson and Carroll is because they both held Landmark ecclesiology. For example, I wrote:
Carroll was not a “Landmark” come-out-er, but he was a “Landmark” stay-in-er. He held all the tenets of classic Landmarkism – Baptist church perpetuity, rejection of alien immersion, and so on.
Part of the problem in these discussions may revolve around how a writer uses the terminology (though perhaps sometimes the writer simply wants to rescue a hero from an ecclesiological belief with which the writer disagrees). Sometimes there is confusion over the use of terminology. Certain Southern Baptists revile both the term and the belief that it represents, and apply it only to those who left the convention. (This does not really work, because there a churches and preachers currently in the SBC who hold Landmarkism or Landmark ecclesiology.)

Studying the life and works of A. Nunnery provides an excellent case study of the confusion of terminology. The Oklahoma Baptist Historical Society, in selecting Nunnery as a sort of “dishonorable” member of their Hall of Fame, identified Nunnery as a Landmark Baptist.
“Alonzo Nunnery...was an early day Oklahoma pastor and the owner and editor of a statewide newspaper The Baptist Worker. He was a leader among the Landmark Baptists...” [“Oklahoma Baptist Historical Society, Annual Meeting - October 8, 2016, Minutes,” The Oklahoma Baptist Chronicle (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Eli H. Sheldon, Editor), Autumn 2016, Volume LIX, Number 2, p. 29.]
“From the beginning of his paper, Nunnery was harsh on the new state convention and its directors and other officials. Nunnery was a devoted proponent of Landmark theology.” [“Alonzo Nunnery (1861-1939),” a 2016 Hall of fame Monograph; article by Luke Holmes from The Oklahoma Baptist Chronicle (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Eli H. Sheldon, Editor), Autumn 2016, Volume LIX, Number 2, p. 20.]
While I disagree with some of the aspersions cast toward Alonzo Nunnery, I agree that they correctly identify him as a Landmark Baptist when that terminology is considered as referring to a certain Baptist belief about the nature of the church. However, when A. Nunnery used the term “Landmark” or “Landmarker” he always meant “the others” and never himself. To him it represented those who opposed Conventionism, not those who held a certain ecclesiology with which he in fact agreed.

Nunnery held Landmark ecclesiology. He opposed a number of goings-on in the Baptist General Convention in Oklahoma. He seems to have never doubted the propriety of having a Baptist convention, if it operated correctly. In fact, when he and others split from the BGCO in 1920, they also called their body a convention. Nunnery debated at least four Baptists that he personally identified as Landmarkers: H. M. Cagle in 1911; C. A. Smith and G. W. Crawford in 1916; and Ben M. Bogard in 1917. He affirmed that mission work through Conventions, by means of Boards, was scriptural.

If someone asked Alonzo Nunnery if he were a “Landmarker,” he would have answered, “No.” Despite that answer, Nunnery held a view of the church that is identified as Landmark ecclesiology, and he held it plainly, forcefully, and without equivocation.

Monday, November 29, 2021

A Report to Shine Light in Darkness, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

The Professor, in Prosperity; a Golden Image in the House

From the writing of John Angell James (1785-1859) in The Christian Professor Addressed: in a Series of Counsels and Cautions to the Members of Christian Churches (New York, NY: D. Appleton and Co., 1838, excerpts from pages 218-239).

I know how to abound.—Phil. iv. 12
It is not the possession of wealth that we should dread; but the inordinate desire, the dishonest means, the undue love, and the covetous hoarding of it. I am quite aware, that it is difficult to have money and not love it; hard indeed to have a golden image in the house, and not worship it. It is also quite evident that covetousness is indeed the sin of the church. In this commercial age and country, where men often rise from the workman to the master, and from nothing to affluence; where the career is open to all; and where, once engaged in the complexity and onward impulses of a large business, it is so difficult to so or slacken the pace, there is imminent peril of professing Christians forgetting their high vocation, and living only to get riches. We see them toiling and panting in pursuit of the golden object of ambition, apparently as eager to obtain it, as any who do not profess as they do, to seek first the kingdom of God; enlarging their desires with every addition to their gains; and then extending their mean to the limit of their desires...
Professors, take as it were a bird’s eye view of the dangers [wealth] throws in the way of travellers to eternity. Does it not produce the pride of life so opposite to the humility and poverty of spirit, which is essential to the nature of true religion? Does it not generate a worldly-mindedness, which makes its possessor contented with things seen and temporal and disposes him to mind only earthly things?— Does it not lead to a prevalent feeling of independence, so unlike that habitual trust and reliance on God, which the Scriptures require? Does it not originate and keep up, both the care and perplexity of getting, and the anxiety of disposing; and thus exhaust the vigor as well as time, upon worldly objects, leaving the soul neglected, impoverished, and defrauded? Does it not draw the Christian from the means of grace? Does it not corrupt the simplicity of the mind, and the gentleness of the character?…

[Prosperity] is the green and flowery mount from which many have slid down into the bottomless pit; for it has proved to many the occasion of apostacy...
…the more you have of earth, the less you have of heaven; your gain here will be a loss to you there.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

All praise to Him

1. All praise to Him Who built the hills;
All praise to Him the streams Who fills;
All praise to Him Who lights each star
That sparkles in the sky afar.

2. All praise to Him Who wakes the morn,
And bids it glow with beams new-born;
Who draws the shadows of the night,
Like curtains, o’er our wearied sight.

3. All praise to Him Whose love hath given,
In Christ His Son, the life of heaven;
Who gives us, for our darkness, light,
And turns to day our deepest night.

4. All praise to Him in love Who came,
To bear our woe, and sin, and shame;
Who lived to die, Who died to rise,
The all-prevailing the sacrifice.

5. All praise to Him Who sheds abroad
Within our hearts the love of God:
The Spirit of all truth and peace,
The fount of joy and holiness.

6. To Father, Son, and Spirit now
Our hands we lift, our knees we bow:
To Thee, blest Trinity, we raise
E’en here, in exile, songs of praise.

The above hymn is by Horatius Bonar (1808-1889), a minister in the Free Church of Scotland. The hymn traces God the creator and sustainer of his world; the loving Father who gave his Son to die for our sins, Jesus who willingly gave himself as our sacrifice, and the Holy Spirit who sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts. The hymn is in Long Meter and has been attached to several different tunes, including Rockingham by Lowell Mason (circa 1830). In recent times (2017) it has been rewritten with a new tune by Matt Merker and Bob Kauflin.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

A PE Teacher and a Trans Policy

“I’m a teacher but I serve God first, and I will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it’s against my religion. It’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God.” 

“This case is not about how schools should treat students who struggle with gender dysphoria...It is about whether public schools can punish a teacher for objecting, as a private citizen, to a proposed policy, in a forum designated for the purpose of considering whether to implement such policies, where the policy would force him to express ideas about human nature, unrelated to the school’s curriculum, that he believes are false.”

Friday, November 26, 2021

4 Reasons Spurgeon Died Poor, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Count your blessings

Hymn by Johnson Oatman, Jr. (1856-1922)

1. When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

2. Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.

3. When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

4. So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,

Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.
1 Chronicles 16:34
  • Thanksgiving 2021 -- “Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States, and Thanksgiving 2021 occurs on Thursday, November 25.”
  • Pilgrim-Wampanoag Treaty Established, March 29, 1621 -- “These Independents believed God should only be worshipped according to the commands of the Bible, a belief held by other Separatists and Presbyterians, a doctrine known as “the regulative principle of worship”. The congregation left England for the Netherlands, where such dissenters found a warm welcome. In 1620 a portion of Pastor John Robinson’s congregation pioneered another move, this time to the New World.”
We thank thee, heavenly Father, 
For every earthly good;
For life and health and clothing,
And for our daily food.

O give us hearts to thank thee,
For every blessing sent;
And whatsoe’er thou sendest,
Make us therewith content.

And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
1 Timothy 6:8

No. 189, p.183 in The Children’s Hymnal with Tunes (John Ireland Tucker, editor. New York, NY: F. J. Huntington & Co., 1877)

Here is a standing reason for thanksgiving. Although we may not always be healthy, nor always prosperous, yet God is always good, and, therefore, there is always a sufficient argument for giving thanks unto Jehovah. That he is a good God essentially, that he cannot be otherwise than good, should be a fountain out of which the richest praises should perpetually flow.
The constant tenor and spirit of our lives should be adoring gratitude, love, reverence, and thanksgiving to the Most High.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18