How Shall He Take Care of the Church of God?

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Phil D.

Puritan Board Junior
The problem is if these brethren are prepared to sustain Taylor as qualified for the ministry in opposition to the word of God, he should not submit to them in this.

It's already been asked or at least alluded to, but essentially remains unanswered: You are convinced that your reading of the passage in question is very obviously the correct one, but how do you account for the fact that the vast, vast majority of Christian theologians and exegetes throughout history, including virtually all Reformed stalwarts, have concluded otherwise? Are they simply dull in understanding, or do they have less than honorable motivations/prejudices - or else what? Does the fact that you are virtually alone in your interpretation at least give you pause?
 

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
The problem is if these brethren are prepared to sustain Taylor as qualified for the ministry in opposition to the word of God, he should not submit to them in this.
This is quite remarkable, Blake. Taylor wishes to be ordained and installed in an OPC congregation. Presuming that the local congregation and the presbytery know all the facts on the ground, and they determine that he is otherwise qualified (in view of the other things I mentioned above), then Taylor must either tell them they're all wrong or, better, never allow the process to proceed because he knows that Paul forbids his entry into office. I take this to be your view of the matter.

The bottom line for you here, then: Taylor should read Paul in the Pastorals, take him seriously, and know that he is not qualified for gospel ministry or special office in the church. No man but one who has a wife and a household (biological, adopted, or something along those lines) should ever consider serving in any special office, no matter how much the church might encourage, or even implore, him to do so. The church, in so doing, is being faithless, as is he in seeking and accepting such office. This is your view.

Peace,
Alan
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
I have to say, I am shocked that no one has mentioned that the OP's misapplication of Paul's principle would make our Lord Jesus Christ unqualified for the pastoral office.
 

Parakaleo

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have to say, I am shocked that no one has mentioned that the OP's misapplication of Paul's principle would make our Lord Jesus Christ unqualified for the pastoral office.

Christ occupied the unique and extraordinary office of Mediator/Redeemer. God set him apart in an extraordinary way and attested to his office with signs and wonders. Christ pointed to these signs when John's disciples came asking if he is "he that should come" (Matthew 11:1-6). As such, his calling and qualification are beyond question. You could say much the same about the apostle Paul regarding his calling and office.

Surely, you recognize two things:

1. “God, in his ordinary providence, maketh use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at his pleasure.” (WCF 5.3)
2. The fact God works without, above, against ordinary means in notable cases does not give a church court the authority to sidestep the means God has set down for their ordinary proceedings.

Brother, it is no slight or insult against Christ or Paul to say they are not qualified for lesser church offices in the ordinary sense. All those who follow Christ as Head of the Church and heed Paul as Christ's apostle openly acknowledge these persons to be qualified in the extraordinary sense.
 
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Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
I have to say, I am shocked that no one has mentioned that the OP's misapplication of Paul's principle would make our Lord Jesus Christ unqualified for the pastoral office.
As Mason noted he did, and in something I wrote years ago refuting FV's argument that a father's faithfulness ineluctably secures that of wife and children, I addressed it: if so, I argued, what did this mean about Judas's defection? Was Christ unfaithful? God forbid! Similarly here.

These sorts of arguments always argue too much, no? Paul addresses the situation of marriage and family as it's so common and prevalent among special officers in the church. He argues that their faithfulness in private things is a gauge of their faithfulness in public ecclesiastical matters. This prompts some then to inappropriately conclude that he's requiring that this particular situation must prevail in all cases, rather than instructing us how to assess the private (which may involve other estates; this is not exhaustive) as a clue to performance in church office.

Peace,
Alan
 
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fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
As Mason noted he did, and in something I wrote years ago refuting FV's argument that a father's faithfulness ineluctably secures that of wife and children, I addressed it: if so, I argued, what did this mean about Judas's defection? Was Christ unfaithful? God forbid! Similarly here.

These sorts of arguments always argue too much, no? Paul addresses the situation of marriage and family as it's so common and prevalent among special officers in the church. He argues that their faithfulness in private things is a gauge of their faithfulness in public ecclesiastical matters. This prompts some then to inappropriately conclude that he's requiring that this particular situation must prevail in all cases, rather than instructing us how to assess the private (which may involve other estates; this is not exhaustive) as a clue to performance in church office.

Peace,
Alan
Exactly. Is there no irony to believing Paul created a standard that he was unable to fulfill? If that is so, how is he qualified to set forth the standard?
 

Parakaleo

Puritan Board Sophomore
Exactly. Is there no irony to believing Paul created a standard that he was unable to fulfill? If that is so, how is he qualified to set forth the standard?

Brother, bear with me a little here.

If Paul were a man called to an ordinary office in an ordinary manner, the irony of him presuming to set standards for others to attain to that office which he himself did not meet would be thick.

Yet, if Paul were a man called to an ordinary office in an ordinary manner, who would he be to set authoritative standards in the church at all? I can't set authoritative standards in the church. You can't set authoritative standards in the church. We were set apart in an ordinary manner to an ordinary office.

God elevated Paul to an extraordinary office by means of an extraordinary calling. God confirmed this calling by signs, wonders, and power to minister authoritatively for Christ. You see, God qualified Paul in these extraordinary ways for extraordinary service in the church, apart from ordinary means, which God is entirely free to do.

As an apostle, fully qualified by God's extraordinary calling, Paul is guilty of no hypocrisy in carrying out his calling by revealing God's requirements for the ordinary qualification of a man for office in the church.
 

MChase

Puritan Board Freshman
Brother, bear with me a little here.

If Paul were a man called to an ordinary office in an ordinary manner, the irony of him presuming to set standards for others to attain to that office which he himself did not meet would be thick.

Yet, if Paul were a man called to an ordinary office in an ordinary manner, who would he be to set authoritative standards in the church at all? I can't set authoritative standards in the church. You can't set authoritative standards in the church. We were set apart in an ordinary manner to an ordinary office.

God elevated Paul to an extraordinary office by means of an extraordinary calling. God confirmed this calling by signs, wonders, and power to minister authoritatively for Christ. You see, God qualified Paul in these extraordinary ways for extraordinary service in the church, apart from ordinary means, which God is entirely free to do.

As an apostle, fully qualified by God's extraordinary calling, Paul is guilty of no hypocrisy in carrying out his calling by revealing God's requirements for the ordinary qualification of a man for office in the church.

It is very strange for Paul to boast in the superiority of his celibate condition if it were not only extraordinary but ordinarily unlawful.

By this logic, a continually profane and greedy man could be an apostle or elder in the early church because of some ‘extraordinary’ calling.

Further, the apostles had extra requirements for office, not fewer. This is implicit in Peter’s confession that he is an elder. Yes, he is an elder and meets those qualifications but exceeds just those because he has seen the risen Lord.
 

danekristjan

Puritan Board Freshman
This discussion is not going anywhere really because it starts with the OP assuming his interpretation is the correct one.
 
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Parakaleo

Puritan Board Sophomore
It is very strange for Paul to boast in the superiority of his celibate condition if it were not only extraordinary but ordinarily unlawful.

By this logic, a continually profane and greedy man could be an apostle or elder in the early church because of some ‘extraordinary’ calling.

Further, the apostles had extra requirements for office, not fewer. This is implicit in Peter’s confession that he is an elder. Yes, he is an elder and meets those qualifications but exceeds just those because he has seen the risen Lord.

Not meeting the qualification of "ruleth well his own house" by not having a house to speak of is not unlawful, anymore than being a novice is unlawful. I don't know where you are getting the idea I am saying it is immoral or unlawful to be unmarried? Or to be childless?

While God is free to work without, above, against his ordinary means, he is not free to approve of that which is at all times sinful. This implies that his ordinary means contain things that are positively added by God for good order and God "working around" these things in extraordinary situations is not sinful. This would not imply that church courts can sidestep God's stated means in their ordinary proceedings.

I am well aware that we speak of the lesser offices being subsumed in the higher offices, but typically we speak in terms of the functions being subsumed. It's not as if the lesser offices themselves are contained within the higher offices, like a Russian nesting doll situation. At least, that is not how I have heard men speak about it.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
For me, I still have trouble not seeing I Corinthians 7 having any bearing on the question and Paul as only extraordinarily called to his office despite not being otherwise qualified. Paul recommends singleness in part "that you may serve the Lord without distraction" (NKJV v. 35). This may refer to only the type of service or attending upon the Lord (KJV) in un-ordained offices, but he also says "I wish that all men were even as I myself" (v. 7) and "But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am" (v. 8) earlier in the same passage. I recognize the passage is largely for a particular season in the church, but why would Paul give reasons that singleness enables us to serve without distraction in the church and enjoin other men to be single as well if that would disqualify them from the offices of the church as he holds?
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Brother, bear with me a little here.

If Paul were a man called to an ordinary office in an ordinary manner, the irony of him presuming to set standards for others to attain to that office which he himself did not meet would be thick.

Yet, if Paul were a man called to an ordinary office in an ordinary manner, who would he be to set authoritative standards in the church at all? I can't set authoritative standards in the church. You can't set authoritative standards in the church. We were set apart in an ordinary manner to an ordinary office.

God elevated Paul to an extraordinary office by means of an extraordinary calling. God confirmed this calling by signs, wonders, and power to minister authoritatively for Christ. You see, God qualified Paul in these extraordinary ways for extraordinary service in the church, apart from ordinary means, which God is entirely free to do.

As an apostle, fully qualified by God's extraordinary calling, Paul is guilty of no hypocrisy in carrying out his calling by revealing God's requirements for the ordinary qualification of a man for office in the church.
Except that the apostles did not see themselves as occupying a separate extraordinary caste from others - hence Peter's telling inspired remark in 1 Peter 5:1 "fellow elder," John's reference to himself as "elder" (2 John 1, 3 John 1) and Paul's reference to himself as "minister" (Romans 15:16).
 

MChase

Puritan Board Freshman
Not meeting the qualification of "ruleth well his own house" by not having a house to speak of is not unlawful, anymore than being a novice is unlawful. I don't know where you are getting the idea I am saying it is immoral or unlawful to be unmarried? Or to be childless?

While God is free to work without, above, against his ordinary means, he is not free to approve of that which is at all times sinful. This implies that his ordinary means contain things that are positively added by God for good order and God "working around" these things in extraordinary situations is not sinful. This would not imply that church courts can sidestep God's stated means in their ordinary proceedings.

I am well aware that we speak of the lesser offices being subsumed in the higher offices, but typically we speak in terms of the functions being subsumed. It's not as if the lesser offices themselves are contained within the higher offices, like a Russian nesting doll situation. At least, that is not how I have heard men speak about it.

You seem convinced of your position against all logic from others on the board. That’s fine I guess, but I will be bowing out.

I will note that the Regulative Principle not only includes those things that are commanded but approved example. I don’t know of any other New Testament minister save The Apostle and High Priest of our Confession who’s ministry is commended in the manner that Paul’s is. If Paul isn’t an example, who is?
 

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
Exactly. Is there no irony to believing Paul created a standard that he was unable to fulfill? If that is so, how is he qualified to set forth the standard?
Right, Fred!

Two who famously made a whole set of religious rules that neither kept were Mohammed and Joseph Smith, who also have many other similarities.

@Parakaleo. Blake, I am unconvinced that what you cite from the WCF (chapter 5) has anything to do with the case, and is certainly not dispositive. Quite simply put, marriage and family are not something inherently virtuous as are the other character qualities on the list. All the other negative and positive qualities stand on their own and must be in evidence for the man to be fit for office. In other words, one must be "sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable..., " whatever one's life circumstance. Similarly, he must be a "one woman man," faithful if married to his wife, not a skirt-chaser or randy if not married. Household management is, as Daniel Ritchie previously noted, something that's discernable in all, whether married with children or not.

The concern, then, is not that one be married and have a family, as such, but if one is, that should be taken into account in assessing fitness, as should one's life situation (single, married without children, etc.), whatever it may be. Life situations do not bestow virtue, including the circumstance of marriage/family. The character qualities necessary for ministry are gifts and graces of God, extending to the whole of one's life, including his marriage and family (if he has such), the customary estate of most office-bearers. This has been the view of the church and you've brought nothing to us in this discussion to prompt revision.

Peace,
Alan
 

Aspiring Homesteader

Puritan Board Freshman
This is an unnecessary, cheap, and off-topic comment.
It was said with the lightest of hearts, brother.

The tone, redundancy, and overall ridiculousness of this thread (at this point) could use some lightening up. Don’t take it so seriously.

That said, my apologies if you were personally offended, brother.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
It was said with the lightest of hearts, brother.

The tone, redundancy, and overall ridiculousness of this thread (at this point) could use some lightening up. Don’t take it so seriously.

That said, my apologies if you were personally offended, brother.
Fair enough. My apologies for misunderstanding.
 

Parakaleo

Puritan Board Sophomore
Quite simply put, marriage and family are not something inherently virtuous

The reason men who have never governed their own families are not qualified is because they lack the track-record of good family governance that Paul says is a prerequisite for holding ordinary offices in the church. Not having a track-record of able family governance simply means there is insufficient data on which to proceed. It's not like I have said having a wife and family conveys some kind of qualification completely on its own!

I think some here feel it is a slap in the face to tell a man he is not currently qualified for church office, but this is exactly what you would tell a novice.

Riddle me this. A novice presents himself as someone desiring office in the church. You give him the biblical counsel, which is to allow for time to pass so that he can continue to learn and be tested over an extended period before proceeding. He asks why. You give him Paul's reasoning straight from 1 Timothy 3:6, "...lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil." He asks what else, other than a solid track-record over an extended period of time, could satisfy your mind that the danger of him being lifted up with pride is sufficiently mitigated. You answer as you did before, because you know that nothing in the world is capable of removing the label "novice" from a man other than observation of growth in grace in him over an extended period of time. Accepting anything less than this would subvert Paul's requirement that the man not be a novice.

I come forward to you men, saying the same type of conversation as the one above should take place with a man who has never governed his own house. Why? Knowing that nothing in the world is capable of satisfying the requirement that a man rule his own house well other than a man having his own house and ruling it well, I dare not subvert Paul's requirement that the man knows how to rule his house well. I know many claim that a variety of indicators or comparable life experiences are valid substitutes for meeting this requirement, but they tacitly transform a concrete requirement into more of a suggestion.
 

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
I think some here feel it is a slap in the face to tell a man he is not currently qualified for church office, but this is exactly what you would tell a novice.
I've no hesitancy to do so, Blake. A man is not to be a novice to enter special office means that he is not to be a newbie without any sort of demonstrated graces and gifts. It's pretty plain that a new man is a new man and you're not to put someone new to the faith and untested altogether in office.

Paul never says that a man must be married and must have children (or a household in some fashion). If a man does have a wife and kids, assess his governance there; if he doesn't, assess other things in his private life to see how he orders his private world. What would be the equivalent of this for the newbie? This is not to say that we might not disagree on this board as to what constitutes a newbie in every case, but we'd all agree that such a novice should not enter upon office. The same cannot be said of the other case, where few are agreeing with you that no men except those married and with a family (of some sort) should apply.

I am not reluctant, and I have no reason to suspect others are, to tell a man that he is not, or not yet, qualified for office. I've done it many times!

Peace,
Alan
 

Parakaleo

Puritan Board Sophomore
So do you kiss other people at church or not?

I have been giving some additional thought to this. A couple things.

First, I don't presently kiss brethren at church. I greet brethren warmly, "kissing" them after a manner with words, facial expressions, handshakes, etc. It is not to my credit, nor is it to the church's credit, that Paul's instructions are not followed word-for-word. In fact, I suspect we will see a return to this practice in the church during future periods of Gospel prosperity. Maybe your position is that it doesn't really matter, because it's borderline silly to worry too much about a quaint or colloquial expression given by Paul that never carried his expectation that it would be received as a permanent command?

Whatever a person wants to argue about the "holy kiss" injunction, the case bears little resemblance to Paul's injunctions in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Paul's expectation for how the "holy kiss" instruction would be received by the churches is one question; Paul's expectation for how the "one that ruleth his own house well" requirement would be received by Timothy and Titus is another question entirely. These are different injunctions given in different contexts to different audiences and for different reasons.

What about Timothy and Titus? Will no one raise their hand and say, with all confidence, that Timothy and/or Titus could have been perfectly at ease in receiving these instructions from the apostle, then turning around and ordaining reputable men in the churches who had never been married, never governed their own houses, etc.? Anyone?
 

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
Will no one raise their hand and say, with all confidence, that Timothy and/or Titus could have been perfectly at ease in receiving these instructions from the apostle, then turning around and ordaining reputable men in the churches who had never been married, never governed their own houses, etc.? Anyone?
✋

Yes, they could have been perfectly at ease in doing what you describe.

The Greek μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα means "one woman man," not requiring marriage but faithfulness and honorability in dealing with the opposite sex. And everyone--married or not, family or not--has a household that they govern, i.e., they have private affairs that they handle.

The apostle wants the domestic, private situation to be in order and well-managed, whatever the estate of the person. That is what these qualifications mean.

Peace,
Alan
 

Parakaleo

Puritan Board Sophomore
The Greek μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα means "one woman man," not requiring marriage but faithfulness and honorability in dealing with the opposite sex.

I conclude the very opposite. There is no confusion as to the number of wives the man is to have; the number is one.*

You have also claimed a man who has received special gifting from the Lord to remain a single man his entire life is not necessarily disqualified from church office. How would such a man pass through the filter of the requirement he be a "one woman man"?

*Earlier, I granted that a man who had proven himself a reputable governor of a wife and family in times past but, in God's providence, no longer has a wife or family in his life, may be considered qualified under Paul's question/challenge in v. 5, which could be seen to control the present-tense of vv. 2 and 4.
 

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
You have also claimed a man who has received special gifting from the Lord to remain a single man his entire life is not necessarily disqualified from church office. How would such a man pass through the filter of the requirement he be a "one woman man"?
A married man would show faithfulness in regards to this requirement by having and holding only the woman to whom he's married. Certainly, this would, as many have noted, forbid polygamy.

As I've said before, and some of this may have been in our private correspondence, an unmarried man would manifest this quality by not being a skirt-chaser, a randy, a gadabout, someone unfaithful and dishonorable in his dealing with the opposite sex. This is not hard to gauge.

Paul was not married at the time of I Corinthians and following (certainly he was not when he wrote the Pastorals). Since he, as an apostle, held the fullness of all church office(s)--the apostolate never being less in any respect than the ministerium, having the extraordinary gifts that the ministerium ultimately will not and yet lacking none of the ordinary graces and gifts required for the ministerium, and by extension, the other offices--it's inconceivable that any quality for merely ordinary office was not fully present in Paul, as a paragon of extraordinary and ordinary office(s).

Paul was not married. Thus ordinary office-bearers do not have this requirement, because it pertains to the ordinary office aspect of Paul's ministry, as one who holds, as do all extraordinary office holders, both the extraordinary and the ordinary office(s); hence Peter can style himself as a presbuteros, but I can't style myself as an apostolos: Peter and Paul are all that I am but I am not all that they are. The notion that you or I would have some ordinary office qualifications that the apostles lacked is manifestly absurd.

Paul did not lack the quality of being a "one woman man," but he need not have ever been married to have been qualified in this way. Or to govern his household well.

Peace,
Alan
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
"One woman man" means more than the number of wives. It is indicative of a man's view of sexuality. But again, if you are comfortable excluding Jesus, Paul, and countless other Church Fathers who never married for office, it is clear no one here is going to dissuade you. Your view also makes a mockery of Paul's comment in 1 Corinthians 7:8.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
I have been giving some additional thought to this. A couple things.

First, I don't presently kiss brethren at church. I greet brethren warmly, "kissing" them after a manner with words, facial expressions, handshakes, etc. It is not to my credit, nor is it to the church's credit, that Paul's instructions are not followed word-for-word. In fact, I suspect we will see a return to this practice in the church during future periods of Gospel prosperity. Maybe your position is that it doesn't really matter, because it's borderline silly to worry too much about a quaint or colloquial expression given by Paul that never carried his expectation that it would be received as a permanent command?

Whatever a person wants to argue about the "holy kiss" injunction, the case bears little resemblance to Paul's injunctions in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Paul's expectation for how the "holy kiss" instruction would be received by the churches is one question; Paul's expectation for how the "one that ruleth his own house well" requirement would be received by Timothy and Titus is another question entirely. These are different injunctions given in different contexts to different audiences and for different reasons.

What about Timothy and Titus? Will no one raise their hand and say, with all confidence, that Timothy and/or Titus could have been perfectly at ease in receiving these instructions from the apostle, then turning around and ordaining reputable men in the churches who had never been married, never governed their own houses, etc.? Anyone?

My point was this: you don't (nor do I) give a holy kiss because you are contextualizing that passage. You aren't interpreting it woodenly. You are, however, interpreting the other passage woodenly because your view excludes most of the church throughout history (including some apostles).
 

Parakaleo

Puritan Board Sophomore
Your view also makes a mockery of Paul's comment in 1 Corinthians 7:8.

Brother, this is offensive and without charity. I fully subscribe to all of Paul's comments in 1 Corinthians 7. No damage is done to Paul's comments in 1 Corinthians 7 for me to say ordained office in the church is limited to those who have demonstrated upright governance of their own households, per 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, because Paul does not conclude or even infer that single-for-life-men, with all their gifts and strengths, are therefore prime candidates for ordained service in the church. He simply says they are favored differently than married men in that they may abundantly concentrate their hearts and efforts upon the Lord's things in general. Which is excellent and praiseworthy. However, you can't take what Paul says about single-for-life men being favored for their ability to serve the Lord in general and conclude this means they are also favored or qualified for serving the Lord in ordained office. Again, a glowing recommendation for serving the Lord in general, even from the apostle Paul, does not equal a recommendation for serving the Lord in ordained office.

I say it is without charity because I think if you had spent two minutes in my shoes and looking at the relevant passages through the lens of, "Okay, what if Paul really is being literal about the requirement a man rule his own household well?" you might have arrived at the explanation I offered above as a remote possibility to account for 1 Corinthians 7 and not have called my view "a mockery".
 
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