Can’t Have it Both Ways

Had a conversation with a guy who fancies himself a minister the other day. He introduced himself and immediately began to talk about everything that’s wrong with the church, especially the church in the US. And he’s traveled so he’s knows this all too well. So this is why he’s not a member of any local church. He just goes where God leads him. He allows the Holy Spirit to disciple him. You see, you don’t have to be a member of a local church because you are the church.

He proceeded to ask me if being a pastor was a gift or an office. I said that it was both. He disagreed and said that men, especially men in the US, have made it an office when it’s really a gift. He appealed to Ephesians 4:8-11. I agreed that pastors are gifts from Christ to the church, and then I noted that Paul said that if anyone desires the office of overseer he desires a good work (1 Tim. 3:1). And I explained how overseer and pastor are synonymous.

He countered by saying that he doesn’t take Paul’s word over Jesus’. I then had to alert him to the fact that he appealed to Paul in order to say that pastors were gifts. The same Paul who said that pastors were gifts in his letter to the Ephesians told Timothy that the office of the overseer was a good thing. So he was caught and tried to change the subject. I didn’t let him off so easy. I just told him that he’s free to believe whatever he’d like to believe but that he can’t have it both ways. Paul’s an authority on the subject or he’s not.



3 thoughts on “Can’t Have it Both Ways

  1. Dear Nick,

    That is an excellent answer. I was surprised that he did not claim that I Timothy 3 (or any of the Pastorals) was not written by Paul.

    This attitude is prevalent among most of Christianity. Frequently, “I know what the Bible says, but…”, or variations thereof. There is also the attitude to elevate the words of Jesus over against the words of Paul, Peter, OT, etc. This is because people want to make distinctions in the revelation of God. God has revealed Himself in various ways and methods, but in these last days has revealed Himself in His Son; that includes the rest of the NT. Finally, as Baptist preacher, I remind myself that the Bible is the sole authority on all that it “teaches” (not just faith and practice) with priority given to the NT. The latter “with priority given to the NT” allows me to address the teaching, dare I say heretical, of the cults, LDS, JW’s, SDA, etc.

  2. Sounds creepy but you should take a look at your ‘office’ reference. “πιστος ο λογος ει τις επισκοπης ορεγεται καλου εργου επιθυμει.” Not really an ‘office’ in that since… And why are people so afraid to be accountable to a local body of believers?…

  3. Rev. Bryant: I didn’t get the impression that this particular individual knew much about the issues of NT authorship.

    I think one of the biggest problems that we all face is having a so-called canon within a canon. I try to respect all that Scripture says while attempting to understand what was said and who it was said to. I don’t place the same emphasis on dietary regulations given to Israel as I do to Pauline imperatives given to the church.

    Drew: I’m not sure which sense you have in mind. BDAG says επισκοπος frequently “refers to one who has a definite function or fixed office of guardianship and related activity within a group.” That’s how I understand “office.”

    As far as the reason folks are afraid to be accountable I’d chalk it up to selfishness ultimately. These types wanna do what they wanna do when they wanna do it. Accountability puts a big strain on such “freedom” (which is really bondage anyway).

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