The church is the pillar and ground of the truth - not the pastor!

26 posts / 0 new
Last post
Offline
Since
Thu, 2/11/10
Posts: 2410

Tags: 

pvawter's picture
Offline
Since
Sat, 3/24/12
Posts: 181
Interesting stuff, and spot

Interesting stuff, and spot on!

James K's picture
Offline
Since
Sun, 8/29/10
Posts: 941
In Kevin's mind, a person can

In Kevin's mind, a person can teach false doctrine, but at least he has the integrity to do so by the dictates of the church.

Paul never saw this coming:

1 Timothy 1:3

As I urged you when I went to Macedonia, remain in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach other doctrine

2 Timothy 4:3

For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will accumulate teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new.

You can't make this stuff up.

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.

pvawter's picture
Offline
Since
Sat, 3/24/12
Posts: 181
Where did Kevin say anything

Where did Kevin say anything about the church sanctioning false teaching?

Jim's picture
Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 6729
James K "made this stuff up"

pvawter wrote:

Where did Kevin say anything about the church sanctioning false teaching?

James K wrote:

In Kevin's mind, a person can teach false doctrine, but at least he has the integrity to do so by the dictates of the church.

You can't make this stuff up.

James K "made this stuff up"

James K's picture
Offline
Since
Sun, 8/29/10
Posts: 941
It is important to think

It is important to think through the implications of congregationalism.  Kevin somewhat has (or worse, fully has) and is okay with it.  If a congregation wanted to recognize infant baptism (a false doctrine), then the pastor should be a good little hired hand and preach within those confines that the church ordered.  The hired hand will perpetuate false doctrine, but at least he will have his integrity according to Kevin.

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.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture
Offline
Since
Thu, 6/4/09
Posts: 1806
James,

James,

You misunderstand and misrepresent congregationalism. If we flip your application, the elders can decide to preach a false doctrine, the the congregation should be good little sheepies and submit within the confines that the church leadership ordered. The dictators will perpetuate false doctrine, but at least the congregation can hold their heads high that they didn't rebel against their leaders. 

 

Of course, this is no more true of your system than the tripe you are pushing about congregationalists. If the elders in your church structure colluded to accept false doctrine, you would advise the members of that church to confront the error and then leave if it couldn't be corrected. The same is true congregationally. If the congregation chooses to move in a new direction doctrinally, the pastor(s) confronts the error and then leaves if it cannot be corrected. The implications you decry are just as possible and plausible in either system. As Jim said, you're making this stuff up.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

James K's picture
Offline
Since
Sun, 8/29/10
Posts: 941
Chip, has Kevin argued

Chip, has Kevin argued multiple times that the church congregation is the final authority on choosing its own officers and setting the parameters of doctrine?  Has he also argued that the pastor must preach within those confines to be a man of integrity?

So here is a Exhibit A:

Congregational church chooses its new pastor.  Church is KJVO.  Pastor is KJVO.  Pastor reads Kevin's book on bible versions and no longer is KJVO.

What would you tell the pastor to do at this point?  What would you tell the pastor to do in both cases of church acceptance or rejection of his belief?

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.

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 3574
James

So here is a Exhibit A:

Congregational church chooses its new pastor.  Church is KJVO.  Pastor is KJVO.  Pastor reads Kevin's book on bible versions and no longer is KJVO.

What would you tell the pastor to do at this point?  What would you tell the pastor to do in both cases of church acceptance or rejection of his belief?

James, 

No congregationalist is going to tell Pastor X not to begin teaching on and addressing the issue; KJVO (which I'm interpreting here as KJV-Inspired and not just KJV Preferred) would be aberrant doctrine and heresy.  It would demand a response by the Pastor/Shepherd of the congregation.

Congregationalism is not a form of government that makes a pastor the slave to the 'mob' where a simple majority drive all decisions. You can be a congregationalist in ecclesiology without buying into the fiction that some present.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

James K's picture
Offline
Since
Sun, 8/29/10
Posts: 941
Agreed that it is aberrant

Agreed that it is aberrant theology.  The pastor sees the light though in this example.  What would you recommend he do, since he is now in conflict with the church?

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.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture
Offline
Since
Thu, 6/4/09
Posts: 1806
James K wrote:

James K wrote:

Agreed that it is aberrant theology.  The pastor sees the light though in this example.  What would you recommend he do, since he is now in conflict with the church?

He should meet with leaders in the church, be they unofficial or official, and attempt to persuade them to come along with his change. If this cannot be accomplished, he should leave. Similar, I assume, to the advice you would give to a congregant in an elder led KJVO church who suddenly sees the light and finds himself at odds with the elders.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

James K's picture
Offline
Since
Sun, 8/29/10
Posts: 941
Chip, who are the leaders in

Chip, who are the leaders in the church he should meet with in your understanding (presumably not other pastors).  Is there room in your congregationalism to have another layer between the pastors and the nonpastors to help oversee doctrinal matters?

Is there a NT example, precept, or command for pastor to leave the church like that and not carry out his God ordained responsibilities of teaching right doctrine?

Since now I have been accused of not understanding congregationalism, I would like to know the scriptural basis for how this all works itself out.

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.

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 3574
I Timothy 3

Chip, who are the leaders in the church he should meet with in your understanding (presumably not other pastors).  Is there room in your congregationalism to have another layer between the pastors and the nonpastors to help oversee doctrinal matters?

You mean the Deacons and Elders from I Timothy 3? Yep, we've got them too Smile

We have one pastor at our church, and we have a team of deacons/elders to assist him; we operate on a first among equals principle - anyone who is an elder has the same exact standing as the pastor. They make decisions jointly and then, if necessary, address or inform the congregation of the needs/issues.  The congregation almost always unanimously approves what the deacons/elders request or say, but there's no coercion.  When there have been major mistakes by the board(s), they go before the church, explain what happened and why, and inform the church.  Differences of opinion and practice are addressed and resolved privately, as per Romans 12:18, or, if necessary, Matthew 18. All of these people are all re-evaluated each year by the congregation to ensure that they are living according to the biblical principles outlined in the Pastoral epistles.

When I mentioned Romans 12:14-18 in the other thread, it's because I've seen it practiced for over 5 years.  We've never had a major issue in the time that I've been there, and we've worked through both issues with the congregation by the elders and issues with deacons/elders by the congregation - I was a part of one of the conversations.  If a deacon/elder does run into issues, we ask them to take a leave of absence while they work out the issue.  We always push for and hope for resolution in any case unless the sin is clear and flagrant - then we have to move into a church discipline mode.  There are times in the past where the church has disciplined and removed deacons or even elders, but that was a very rare situation where there were no other choices.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Offline
Since
Wed, 1/18/12
Posts: 76
Kudos to Kevin Bauder

This is a very well written piece, and very much needed. I hope it will be widely read. Thanks Dr. Bauder!

Chip Van Emmerik's picture
Offline
Since
Thu, 6/4/09
Posts: 1806
James K wrote:

James K wrote:

Chip, who are the leaders in the church he should meet with in your understanding (presumably not other pastors).  Is there room in your congregationalism to have another layer between the pastors and the nonpastors to help oversee doctrinal matters?

Is there a NT example, precept, or command for pastor to leave the church like that and not carry out his God ordained responsibilities of teaching right doctrine?

Since now I have been accused of not understanding congregationalism, I would like to know the scriptural basis for how this all works itself out.

James,

Officially, the leadership would include the elders, not the deacons, from my perspective. Unofficially, you will also have influential people in the church who probably should be involved in a discussion like this as well even though they have no official capacity other than their membership.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

James K's picture
Offline
Since
Sun, 8/29/10
Posts: 941
Jay, I don't see anywhere

Jay, I don't see anywhere that Deacons have leadership roles.  I don't see anywhere the first among equals principle.  I don't see anywhere that the position of elder or deacon is up for a yearly evaluation by the congregation.  To put this bluntly, just how much of yours and my ecclessiology not even in the NT and are our solutions to these problems undercutting the rightful place of scriptural authority?  It is a serious matter to consider.

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.

James K's picture
Offline
Since
Sun, 8/29/10
Posts: 941
Chip, consider what you just

Chip, consider what you just said.  You have the pastors, a tier of representative people, then everyone else.  That isn't even what Kevin is arguing for.  Where in scripture should a pastor step down because the church doesn't agree?

This is the entire matter: who has final authority within the church in case of a doctrinal or practical conflict.  Across the board without exception, the final decision is always laid at the feet of the apostles and elders.  Never once does the church have authority over the apostles and elders.  NEVER.  ONCE.

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.

James K's picture
Offline
Since
Sun, 8/29/10
Posts: 941
As people come into the light

As people come into the light of plural elders, they will inevitably question what elders are supposed to do.  As they look into the NT, they will change out of congregationalism.  I wish you all well in your continued studies.  Ties may be broken, but the freedom found in the truth is worth it, because you will be walking in obedience to Christ.

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.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture
Offline
Since
Thu, 6/4/09
Posts: 1806
James K wrote:

James K wrote:

Chip, consider what you just said.  You have the pastors, a tier of representative people, then everyone else.  That isn't even what Kevin is arguing for.  Where in scripture should a pastor step down because the church doesn't agree?

This is the entire matter: who has final authority within the church in case of a doctrinal or practical conflict.  Across the board without exception, the final decision is always laid at the feet of the apostles and elders.  Never once does the church have authority over the apostles and elders.  NEVER.  ONCE.

James,

We are now full circle, and I think we have exhausted the conversation we can have. The question is who has the final authority. In Matthew 18, Acts 6 and 1 Corinthians 5 the decision rests with the congregation. You do not accept that interpretation of those passages as I do not accept the interpretation of the passages you have used. We are at an impasse and must each stand alone before God to answer for our convictions.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 3574
Good questions

James, 

Good questions, so let me take them in part:

Jay, I don't see anywhere that Deacons have leadership roles. 

Well, they are referred to in Philippians 1:1:

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:

and Paul clearly has some role in mind for them in Timothy 3:8-13.  So what role, exactly, should they play in the church?  In our church, they deal primarily with the logistical issues of the church.  The Elders are the ones that get involved with doctrinal matters and are also de facto deacons (so there's no board vs. board issues).  Financial issues, like the budget, and prepared by all the deacons and elders (along with team leaders - so the AWANA people get their say, for example).  Furthermore, elders are tested as deacons before they can become elders, as per 1 Timothy 3:10.

 I don't see anywhere the first among equals principle.​

I can't get into this now, but where do you see a strong, central leader that stands alone in the NT?  Other than Christ?

 I don't see anywhere that the position of elder or deacon is up for a yearly evaluation by the congregation.

We do this to ensure that each of the elders and deacons are still living according to the qualifications outlined in I Tim. 3 and Titus 1.  It's an extra-biblical practice, but so is installing someone as an elder and never worrying about their character again (as many Baptist churches do).

To put this bluntly, just how much of yours and my ecclessiology not even in the NT and are our solutions to these problems undercutting the rightful place of scriptural authority?  It is a serious matter to consider.

I'm not sure what "undercuts the rightful place of Scriptural authority" with this process.  Can you explain a little more?  I'd be interested in feedback from other SI readers as well if they see this and want to take that charge seriously.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 3574
Our Policy

This is the policy that we have at my church (specific to elders).  I am reproducing it here in case I have been unclear.

5. RE-AFFIRMATION, REVIEW, CORRECTION, REMOVAL (Matthew 18:15-20; Galatians 6:1-4; 1 Timothy 5:19-20).

A. Reaffirmation: Elders are to be reaffirmed as to their qualifications each year by the membership at the Annual Business Meeting.

  1. If an Elder receives less than a 95% vote of reaffirmation, he is to be reinvestigated as to his qualifications.
     
  2. A reinvestigation of qualification begins with asking those who gave a no confidence vote to:
    1. ​talk with the Elder about the reason(s)
       
    2. bring the matter before the Elders, with the accused Elder present, to either affirm the accusation of lack of qualification or affirm that the concern has been resolved
       
    3. If less than two people come forward to meet with the Elders to bring formal charges, then the matter will be dropped.

B. Accusations: Elders may be subject to accusations at any time of the year.

  1. The accusations must be made by at least two people.
     
  2. Those making the accusations should meet first with the Elder in question to express their concerns.
     
  3. If there is no resolution in private or the matter would disqualify the man from continuing as an Elder, the matter is to be brought before all the Elders for investigation.

C. Annual Review

  1. Each Elder is subject to annual review by the other Elders. Those found negligent or incompetent to carry out their responsibilities may be subject to Correction and/or Removal as outlined in paragraphs d & e below.  If an Elder is accused as in a. or b. above, the matter is to be investigated by the other Elders, searching for all relevant facts to determine the truth or falsity of the accusations.  If the accusations are determined to be false, those making the false accusations are to be rebuked, with church discipline carried out if there is no repentance.​
     
  2. If the accusations are determined to be true, the Elders are to determine if it is a matter of disqualification from being an Elder or a matter of correction.
     
  3. Disqualification would be for no longer meeting the character qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9, or serious negligence of responsibilities, or no longer holding to the church’s Statement of Faith.​
     
  4. Correction would be for misunderstandings, errors of judgment, minor matters that do not demonstrate a failed character, etc. An Elder that is corrected is to receive it with all humility and demonstrate the fruit of repentance.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

James K's picture
Offline
Since
Sun, 8/29/10
Posts: 941
Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

 

James K wrote:

 

Chip, consider what you just said.  You have the pastors, a tier of representative people, then everyone else.  That isn't even what Kevin is arguing for.  Where in scripture should a pastor step down because the church doesn't agree?

This is the entire matter: who has final authority within the church in case of a doctrinal or practical conflict.  Across the board without exception, the final decision is always laid at the feet of the apostles and elders.  Never once does the church have authority over the apostles and elders.  NEVER.  ONCE.

 

James,

 

We are now full circle, and I think we have exhausted the conversation we can have. The question is who has the final authority. In Matthew 18, Acts 6 and 1 Corinthians 5 the decision rests with the congregation. You do not accept that interpretation of those passages as I do not accept the interpretation of the passages you have used. We are at an impasse and must each stand alone before God to answer for our convictions.

I agree that we have come full circle on this.  I still cannot see how:

1. Telling the church in Matt 18

2. The congregation nominating deacons

3. Telling the church in 1 Cor 5

amounts to any kind of authority on their part, but I understand your point, and see you order things accordingly.  May you be richly blessed.

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.

James K's picture
Offline
Since
Sun, 8/29/10
Posts: 941
Jay,

Jay,

1. I believe that deacons are to serve in whatever capacity the elders see fit.  In Acts 6, they were needed for a specific function.  The word itself doesn't indicate a leadership role.

2. As for a strong, central leader in the NT church, I could imagine you have a few in mind (Peter, James, or Paul), but that idea is certainly unclear.  I think of 1 Peter 5 where Peter simply refers to himself as a fellow elder.  So I would not recognize a Pastor with an elder board as a biblical concept.  All pastors are elders, all elders are pastors, and all are equal.

3. As for the evaluation of elders, this would result in how you view authority within the NT.  If the congregation has the final authority on matters, then you would subject the leaders to the congregation.  That very idea though removes and undercuts the pastoral authority.  It creates unbiblical situations that require more unbiblical practices.  In 1 Tim 3, the pastor is to manage his own family well, because if he can't do that, then how can he the church of God.  Think through that direct comparison and implication.  Is there anything in Scripture that allows for a congregation to eject the pastor?  Where scripture speaks, we speak.  Where scripture is silent, should we still speak?

4. As for undercutting scriptural authority, my point is simply this: Jesus is Lord of the church.  He placed His apostles in charge.  The scripture is the perfect record of apostolic teaching.  Therefore, scripture alone is the authority on all matters.  When we practice things, it is always tempting to come up with our solutions to our problems.  Rather than looking to scripture to solve our problems, we should first look to scripture to see if the problem is one we created, so we can correct the source error.

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.

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 3574
Couple of last questions, then

Jay,

1. I believe that deacons are to serve in whatever capacity the elders see fit.  In Acts 6, they were needed for a specific function.  The word itself doesn't indicate a leadership role.

I don't know about this - Jesus clearly delineates that the greatest leaders are servants (Mark 10:41-45).  Paul points to Jesus' service to all through His redemptive work in Philippians 2:6-11 as the single greatest thing done in the world.

2. As for a strong, central leader in the NT church, I could imagine you have a few in mind (Peter, James, or Paul), but that idea is certainly unclear.  I think of 1 Peter 5 where Peter simply refers to himself as a fellow elder.  So I would not recognize a Pastor with an elder board as a biblical concept.  All pastors are elders, all elders are pastors, and all are equal.

Yes, I see what you're saying here.  I mentioned yesterday that we operated on a first among equals ecclesiology, but the more I thought about it, the more inclined I am to say that all the elders (and deacons) are equal on ruling matters, but it's also obvious that Pastor is looked at as the human head.  I wonder where the delegation of tasks in Acts 6 fits into your view, though.

3. As for the evaluation of elders, this would result in how you view authority within the NT.  If the congregation has the final authority on matters, then you would subject the leaders to the congregation.  That very idea though removes and undercuts the pastoral authority.  It creates unbiblical situations that require more unbiblical practices.  In 1 Tim 3, the pastor is to manage his own family well, because if he can't do that, then how can he the church of God.  Think through that direct comparison and implication.  Is there anything in Scripture that allows for a congregation to eject the pastor?  Where scripture speaks, we speak.  Where scripture is silent, should we still speak?

It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on 'authority'.  I think that we are looking at the word from different sides, but I'm not sure that you're treating authority as 'power' or something else.  Again, I point to the church itself as pillar and ground for this warrant.

4. As for undercutting scriptural authority, my point is simply this: Jesus is Lord of the church.  He placed His apostles in charge.  The scripture is the perfect record of apostolic teaching.  Therefore, scripture alone is the authority on all matters.  When we practice things, it is always tempting to come up with our solutions to our problems.  Rather than looking to scripture to solve our problems, we should first look to scripture to see if the problem is one we created, so we can correct the source error.

I really don't see what I've said or talked about here that is a violation of Scripture, and would appreciate any further input as to how it violates Scripture.  I don't see a problem that we've created because we have deviated from Scripture, and certainly don't think that this is an example of coming up with some kind of human solution to fix an error.  This process has been in place for more than 10 years, and we've never had any significant stresses.  We did, however go through a period before that were the Board of elders/deacons was in charge of the church and were trying to run it.  That lead to the expulsion of other elders and deacons, as I mentioned above (and others have been asked to join or step down from the board since).

I appreciate the back and forth...thanks for sharing your thoughts.  

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

dcbii's picture
Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 1012
Authority to remove Elders

James,

If the authority to remove an elder (or accept an accusation from 2 or 3 witnesses) does not reside in the congregation, then in a congregation that is small and has only one qualified elder, where do you argue it resides? Who evaluates an elder for fitness when he doesn't manage his own family well (and who makes that determination)? Or do you argue that a church should have at least 3 elders or it should not exist?

Dave Barnhart

alex o.'s picture
Offline
Since
Thu, 5/24/12
Posts: 161
scope of 1Tim. 3.15

It seems Dr. Bauder takes "truth" in a broad scope. Certainly the local church does NOT embody truth the way Christ embodies it. Nor is the local congregation infallible as is the scriptures (Jn. 17-"your word is truth").

So how are we to take "truth" in 1Tim.3? I think it is along broad lines of the common confession that recognizes Jesus as the redemptive seed that was to come (the following verses).

There have been many Christian congregations throughout the years that have held different ideas. What was the distinguishing feature that made them pillars of the truth? Again: recognition of Jesus as the Christ.

I don't know how else to take 1Tim. 3.15 and have not heard a better explanation.

1Cor. 12.28 gives the hierarchy of officers in the church. It seems that "teachers" are the current heads of local churches. This is probably elder rule.

Dr. Bauder seems to be saying that the teachers have more authority than individual congregates but that a consensus of congregates trumps the teacher. I will have to see more development of this idea before acceptance.

On both sides of this issue has exhibited censoriousness toward the other side. There is sometimes room for this and I have done the same in times past. However, sometimes it is best to explain the scriptures and let the Holy Spirit do the convicting. After all, we must individually stand before Christ's judgment.