Candidate chosen to replace John Piper as Pastor of Preaching and Vision

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The Bethlehem elders are announcing to the congregation their candidate for Associate Pastor for Preaching and Vision and, God willing, John Piper’s eventual successor as the church’s senior pastor.

Jason Meyer, 36-year-old Assistant Professor of New Testament for Bethlehem College and Seminary, is the elders’ recommendation for congregational consideration and vote at a special May 20 all-church meeting.

Update on John Piper’s Transition

See also: Jason Meyer: Candidate to Succeed John Piper

James K's picture
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Jason Meyer is incredibly

Jason Meyer is incredibly smart. His book on the end of the law is one of if not the best I have ever read. You can't read and understand this book and still believe in covenantism.

http://www.amazon.com/The-End-Law-Covenant-Commentary/dp/080544842X/ref=... ]End of the Law

I wish Bethlehem would come full circle in their ecclesiology and not leave this to a vote. The elders should confirm him and be done with it. Nowhere in the Bible will you find a vote for pastors. Sigh...

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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Looks like an orderly transition plan

Looks like an orderly transition plan

Jason Meyer's curriculum vitae (saw it someplace in the above documentation) is impressive.

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James K wrote: Nowhere in the

James K wrote:
Nowhere in the Bible will you find a vote for...

On what basis do you insist that we need to find that something was done in the first century church for it to be done today?

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Jonathan, I am going to side

Jonathan, I am going to side with NT principles on this. Elders choose elders. The membership do not vote. I know that is a baptist sacred cow, but that thing is fat and ugly with open sores.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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Refresh me James ... Where in

Refresh me James ... Where in the NT do elders choose elders?

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A Matter of Baptist Polity

Yes, a congregational vote is part of the foundation of Baptist Polity. It's one of many reasons we're Baptists and not deep water Presbyterians.

James K wrote:
Jonathan, I am going to side with NT principles on this. Elders choose elders. The membership do not vote. I know that is a baptist sacred cow, but that thing is fat and ugly with open sores.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

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Quote: Refresh me James ...

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Refresh me James ... Where in the NT do elders choose elders?

What about Titus 1:5, where Titus is told by Paul to finish what he started and appoint elders in every town?

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Rob Fall wrote: Yes, a

Rob Fall wrote:
Yes, a congregational vote is part of the foundation of Baptist Polity. It's one of many reasons we're Baptists and not deep water Presbyterians.

I understand your thinking Rob. However, I specifically said NT polity. Can you show me where the early church voted on anything, much less elders? If not, maybe stop elevating it to biblical polity. By the way, the alternative to congregational vote isn't only Presbyterianism.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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Larry wrote: Refresh me James

Larry wrote:
Refresh me James ... Where in the NT do elders choose elders?

Larry, I am glad you asked.

1 Thess 5:12-13 is one place that came to mind.

12 Now we ask you, brothers, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you,
13 and to regard them very highly in love because of their work.

In this text, whose job is it to lead?

In this text, whose job is it to admonish?

Do you think that leadership includes the preparation and training of those who will one day take over the duties of leader?

Those who are equipped to lead have been given the responsibility to do so. This includes training their replacements. The NT knows nothing of voting in church for anything. The idea of the sheep voting in the shepherds is tragically misguided at best. If the leadership of a church can't replace itself, then they aren't really the leaders.

This was originally praise for Meyer and just a lament against the process. I am willing to continue this discussion, but you will have to give an example of voting for pastors at some point. Let us leave the arguing from silence to the presbyterians and other paedos.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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Joel Shaffer

Joel Shaffer wrote:
Quote:
Refresh me James ... Where in the NT do elders choose elders?

What about Titus 1:5, where Titus is told by Paul to finish what he started and appoint elders in every town?

Joel, don't take all the fun out of this.

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1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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James K wrote: Jason Meyer is

James K wrote:
Jason Meyer is incredibly smart. His book on the end of the law is one of if not the best I have ever read. You can't read and understand this book and still believe in covenantism.

http://www.amazon.com/The-End-Law-Covenant-Commentary/dp/080544842X/ref=... ]End of the Law

I wish Bethlehem would come full circle in their ecclesiology and not leave this to a vote. The elders should confirm him and be done with it. Nowhere in the Bible will you find a vote for pastors. Sigh...

An example of their system of voting was in casting lots for an apostle to take the place of Judas. When was the last time you cast lots in your church...or is this only applicable to voting for apostles? Why not take THIS biblical pattern to choose your elders or pastors. It has scriptural backing and as far as I know no prohibition against it. Anyway I can't imagine that Jesus is fussed over this. I CAN see Him however shaking His head and saying...'O children, children'.

Richard Pajak

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James and Joel, Thanks for

James and Joel, Thanks for the verses. However, I don't see anything in those verses about elders appointing elders.

Titus 1 is the closest, but that isn't elders appointing elders. In the most favorable reading to you, you have one apostolically appointed representative appointing elders in other churches (not his own). If I recall correctly, neither of you would favor a single elder with the authority to appoint things by himself. And I doubt that either of you believe that there are apostolically appointed representatives circulating in churches today. So on that account, the Titus passage would not in your favor.

1 Thessalonians doesn't even address the appointing of elders, so any attempt to use that to argue for a self-perpetuating office of elder is clearly outside the text.

Yes, elder should train future elders, lead the church, etc. No one would dispute that. But that's a long way from saying that the NT teaches that elders should select elders.

So again I ask, do you have any passages in support of the idea that elder select elders?

As for church voting, I won't rehash that long discussion here, but simply point you to the places in the NT where the congregation makes a decision ... or fails to make a decision as the case may be (Matt 18, Acts 6, 1 Cor 5, 2 Cor 1). To me, it is very hard to construct a polity that ignores these seemingly clear commands to congregations to do something together, and it is hard to imagine a means by which a congregation does something as a congregation without some form of voting. But again, this is an old issue, well hashed out and IMO thoroughly answered both here at SI and in reams of literature.

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Larry, that isn't the only

Larry, that isn't the only text. You are just being dismissive. Since you are indeed arguing from silence, and the perpetuity of the elders is a responsibility of the leadership, then the conclusion is that elders choose elders. The sheep do not choose the shepherd, they follow him.

Matt 18:17
If he pays no attention to them, tell the church.

The church doesn't vote on anything here. They are told something. What are they told? They are told that he is to be treated as an unbeliever.

Acts 6:3
Therefore, brothers, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we can appoint to this duty.

This might be the closest thing to voting, but if you notice, the Apostles are the ones who appoint them. At best, the brothers are a nominating entity for deacons.

1 Cor 5:3
For though I am absent in body but present in spirit, I have already decided about the one who has done this thing as though I were present.

The decision was already made. They weren't voting on what to do with the man. They had to carry out what the decision already was.

2 Cor 1

I am not sure what you are referring to here.

So the sum is that no voting exists in any of those texts. It seems that you want there to be, so you see it as such. In each instance, it backs up my view. The elders really are the leaders.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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Richard Pajak wrote: James K

Richard Pajak wrote:
James K wrote:
Jason Meyer is incredibly smart. His book on the end of the law is one of if not the best I have ever read. You can't read and understand this book and still believe in covenantism.

http://www.amazon.com/The-End-Law-Covenant-Commentary/dp/080544842X/ref=... ]End of the Law

I wish Bethlehem would come full circle in their ecclesiology and not leave this to a vote. The elders should confirm him and be done with it. Nowhere in the Bible will you find a vote for pastors. Sigh...

An example of their system of voting was in casting lots for an apostle to take the place of Judas. When was the last time you cast lots in your church...or is this only applicable to voting for apostles? Why not take THIS biblical pattern to choose your elders or pastors. It has scriptural backing and as far as I know no prohibition against it. Anyway I can't imagine that Jesus is fussed over this. I CAN see Him however shaking His head and saying...'O children, children'.

Good question Richard. Lots were cast in the Old Covenant time. There is nothing to state that he should have done that when he did. In fact, Christ said to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father. He didn't say to replace Judas. Regardless, casting lots would be more biblical than voting.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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Is it legitimate to argue

Is it legitimate to argue that although Titus was asked to appoint elders it does not state HOW he was to do so?
He could have had discussions with elders and the members of the body.

Richard Pajak

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James, How exactly does

James,

How exactly does Meyer's book rule out covenant theology? I think it holds problems for dispensationalism more than the other way around. I really enjoyed the book and thought it was great in detailing what exactly Paul taught was new in the new covenant -- which Meyer claims is now. Are you saying he is advocating NCT or something?

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

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Bob, who said anything about

Bob, who said anything about dispensationalism? His views certainly are more in the NCT than anything else. NCT is decidedly not CT. He didn't get into Israel so maybe he is Progressive Disp.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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Quote: Larry, that isn't the

Quote:
Larry, that isn't the only text.
That was the only one brought up. If you have more, put them forth and let's have a look at them.

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Since you are indeed arguing from silence
I haven't argued at all, have I? In fact, I haven't said anything about how elders should be selected or affirmed. I merely asked about your statement.

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and the perpetuity of the elders is a responsibility of the leadership
Returning to the question, where does this come from in the Bible?

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Matt 18:17
If he pays no attention to them, tell the church.

The church doesn't vote on anything here. They are told something. What are they told? They are told that he is to be treated as an unbeliever.

Selective quoting, eh? Why not finish the verse? "If he does not hear even the church ...." That means the church has to speak as the church and the church has to be rejected. The elders cannot speak for them. Now, how does the church speak as one? That requires some means, doesn't it?

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Acts 6:3
Therefore, brothers, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we can appoint to this duty.

This might be the closest thing to voting, but if you notice, the Apostles are the ones who appoint them. At best, the brothers are a nominating entity for deacons.

So how does the church select them? There has to be some mechanism for figuring out who the church has selected, right? What is that mechanism?

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1 Cor 5:3
For though I am absent in body but present in spirit, I have already decided about the one who has done this thing as though I were present.

The decision was already made. They weren't voting on what to do with the man. They had to carry out what the decision already was.

No, the decision hadn't been made. In fact, that was exactly the cause for condemnation in v. 2. Again, you selectively quote Scripture rather than dealing with it all. Paul says "You should have put him out but you were arrogant." How would they (the congregation) have done that apart from some means of speaking as a body?

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2 Cor 1

I am not sure what you are referring to here.

Sorry, it is 2 Cor 2 where there was a punishment inflicted by the majority.

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So the sum is that no voting exists in any of those texts.
Really? How does the congregation do things then? There is some means of the congregation making a corporate statement or decision. What is that?

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The elders really are the leaders.
I agree, but that's not the point here.

Suffice it to say that Baptist polity and congregational government has been around for a very long time and has survived without much difficulty the types of arguments you are putting forth here. I have read them (many times ... Ted tried valiantly) and have yet to find them convincing.

Two final things:

1. When you say "elders are leaders" you are not addressing congregational polity. I agree with you.

2. You have to find some mechanism by which the congregation makes a statement in accord with the passages above. That is typically by some sort of vote.

But this is off topic for this thread ...

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I know James K will disagree

I know James K will disagree with me, but I have concluded that the N.T. gives some basics of church polity, but not all the detail that some would like to insist upon. For example, thinking that the roles of Timothy and Titus are reduplicated today by church elders. And, the N.T. doesn't seem to make what is described a prescription for all times. If that is the case, why did the second century Christian church go pretty quickly to a monarchial bishop? The generation that followed the apostles didn't act as if the N.T. prescribed the polity that some many, many, many years later what to think it does. So, hold the whatever church polity you want, just be humble about it.

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Larry, we have gone back and

Larry, we have gone back and forth for years on issues, but you are above this line of reasoning. Your position is an argument from silence no better than the paedos. You have concluded that the only way for a church to speak as one, they must have voted. That is just bad. You want to see the vote so bad, you are willing to say such things hoping no one catches it I suppose.

1. Matt 18

I didn't need to quote the whole passage, nothing changes. The elders tell/inform the church of the disciplined person. The church then acts with one accord toward that brother. There is no need to vote on anything. The church must follow the leaders. In your scenario, the leaders could put him forth to be disciplined and the church vote not to. That is...insanity.

2. Acts 6

Again, this is the closest you could come to a vote, but even then, the church's vote was not the deciding factor. The elders still had to actually appoint who they chose. This is a nomination. Even so, another argument from silence. This is not how we baptists determine theology. Leave that to the covenantists.

3. I Cor 5

You need to reread this passage, especially verse 3.

"For though I am absent in body but present in spirit, I have already decided about the one who has done this thing as though I were present."

Decision was already made. The church was to obey, not decide if they agreed.

4. 2 Cor 2

Of course the punishment was by the majority. However, that the church acted in obedience to Paul says nothing about a vote.

It is the responsibility of elders to not lay hands on anyone hastily. This would require that they are the ones who choose the next elders.

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Suffice it to say that Baptist polity and congregational government has been around for a very long time and has survived without much difficulty the types of arguments you are putting forth here.

Red herring unless maybe your point was that bad theology can survive.

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1. When you say "elders are leaders" you are not addressing congregational polity. I agree with you.

Yes I am. Those who subject the leaders to the whims of the majority lack any NT support.

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2. You have to find some mechanism by which the congregation makes a statement in accord with the passages above. That is typically by some sort of vote.

I agree. That statement is obedience to what the elders have decided, exactly what Matt 18 and I Cor 5 are about.

I am done unless you can provide some text to support your views.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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James how do you suppose the

James how do you suppose the majority expressed their opinion/will in 2 Cor 2?

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I already explained Greg.

I already explained Greg. They expressed their will by their obedience to what Paul commanded.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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Let me finish with this

Let me finish with this one.

Quote:
Your position is an argument from silence no better than the paedos.
I have yet to make an argument regarding the selection of elders, so it isn't an argument from silence. It's not an argument at all.

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You have concluded that the only way for a church to speak as one, they must have voted. That is just bad. You want to see the vote so bad, you are willing to say such things hoping no one catches it I suppose.
I have no desire to see a vote. I don't really see any other way for the church to speak as one, and you still haven't offered one.

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I didn't need to quote the whole passage, nothing changes. The elders tell/inform the church of the disciplined person. The church then acts with one accord toward that brother.
The passage says nothing about the church acting, but rather about the church speaking (If he refuses to hear the church). How does the church make a statement to the person that can be refused to be heard by the guilty party? What is the mechanism for that? It can't be merely ignoring him, because how would the person "refuse to hear" that? How does the congregation make that statement?

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Acts 6 ... This is a nomination.
And how is that nomination made known? How do the apostles identify the seven men selected by the congregation? How does the congregation make them known? You keep avoiding that issue.

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3. I Cor 5 ... Decision was already made. The church was to obey, not decide if they agreed.
Did you read v. 2? They should have done this without Paul, but they sinned by failing to take congregational action.

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4. 2 Cor 2 ... Of course the punishment was by the majority. However, that the church acted in obedience to Paul says nothing about a vote.
That makes no sense. What did they do as a majority? They inflicted a punishment. What was that punishment? It seems they excluded him from the church by an action of the majority, and now they are being told to welcome him back in.

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It is the responsibility of elders to not lay hands on anyone hastily. This would require that they are the ones who choose the next elders.
No it doesn't. It could be exactly what ACts 6 describes with the deacons where the congregation selects them and the elders lay hands on them in ordination and approval.

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Those who subject the leaders to the whims of the majority lack any NT support.
Who is suggesting this? Congregational polity doesn't do this.

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That statement is obedience to what the elders have decided, exactly what Matt 18 and I Cor 5 are about.
I don't think that does justice to the passages at all. 1 Cor 5 is directed to the church for their failure to put him out, not the elders. In Matt 18, the church has to speak in a way that can be refused to be heard.

But even in your case you have the same problem you accuse congregationalists of. You say that elders could put a person forward for discipline and the congregation could reject that (i.e., disobey the elders). And that is exactly what would have been the case in 1 Cor 5 ... the congregation there is the one who failed to act.

But what is strikingly absent in these passages is any reference to the elders doing these things. In fact, the elders appear neither in Matt 18 nor in 1 Cor 5. You have to read that into the passage to get them there. To quote you, you are so intent on finding elders doing this, that you include them in the passage even though they aren't there.

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I am done unless you can provide some text to support your views.
I don't think you have given any reasonable answer to the problems the text presents for you. You still haven't given any passage where the elders select elders. You haven't explained how the elders are absent in these passages that tell the congregation to do something.

And I think that leaves us where we always leave it ... no answers that can tell us how the church does these things that the church is commanded to do.

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A majority expressed their

A majority expressed their will that the offender should be welcomed back, while a minority expressed their will that he should not be. The will of the majority became the decision of the body.

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Pastor of Adult Ministries

Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Religion
Liberty University Online