Russell and Duenes

Some Musings: Healthcare, Pastors with Unbelieving Children, The Prophets

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I have nothing to add to the millions of words that have already been written about the Court’s actual decision in the Obamacare case. In my view, there was nothing surprising about the decision. Americans have been opting for statist tyranny over liberty and freedom for many decades now, and so why should we expect different notions from our Supreme Court justices? And anyone who thinks that Obamacare, once implemented, is going to improve American healthcare and control healthcare costs over the long run simply needs to look at the great efficiency, vision,wisdom, competence, and cost-effective means by which government runs all of its programs. The Court has only given the American people what they want, namely, more enslavement to government bureaucrats. And in November, we’ll find out if they want even more.

In a post I wrote a bit over two years ago, I said: “Titus 1 says that the elder in the church should have “faithful” or “believing” children, who are “not accused or charged with dissipation or rebellion.” 1 Tim. 3 says that an “overseer,” which I would take to be essentially equivalent to an elder, “must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?) Now I try to imagine myself, or some other man, as one who has been in pastoral ministry most of his young life. He’s earned an Master of Divinity (MDiv) or even a Doctor of Ministry (DMin), and doesn’t have a lot of other job qualifications. He’s even seen a good amount of “fruit” in the church he pastors or serves as an elder. And this man’s children reject Christ and rebel against his authority. They are clearly not believers by any outward manifestation. Now, the Bible says that such a man should not be an elder, overseer, or pastor (for I can’t see any biblical argument for pastors to be excluded from the above Scriptures while elders and overseers aren’t. I’m not even sure that a pastor and an overseer could be distinguished biblically.). He’s disqualified. I take that to mean that whether the church asks him to step down or not, he should step down. But he’s highly invested. His whole “career” has been the pastorate. He’s not qualified for other jobs. Should he still step down?” I was thinking about this post the other day, and wondering if I’d changed my view. I don’t think the biblical teaching can be denied, but I tried to imagine myself being in the position I described above, namely, a pastor who has always and only been a pastor and who is not qualified to do anything else. I imagined, say, a pastor who has been in “vocational ministry” for 21 years, is now 45, has a wife, a 17, 14, and 10 year old to support, and I thought, “Surely he is not called to abandon his duty to support his family in order to step down.” I do think the issue is more complicated than I have made it. Perhaps there is a problem with the way we do pastoral ministry in our modern world. Perhaps we have too many “vocational” or “professional” pastors. But Paul does say that certain men should make their living from the gospel. But should we nullify one teaching of the Scripture in order to uphold another? I don’t know. I know how I would feel if I were a pastor and had a disobedient and unbelieving child in my home and believed I needed to step down. Perhaps that is something I might make allowance for when I enter the ministry, knowing that it could be a possibility. Just throwing out ideas.

On the topic of pastoral ministry and church, I’ve been in a study lately of the prophet Micah. I find the prophets challenging, not least because they are prophesying to a theocratic nation, founded and based upon the holy law of God. I find myself unattracted to opposite interpretive poles when it comes to the prophets: One pole being the interpretation wherein Jesus fulfills the OT prophets and so, in Christ, the OT prophets are relevant only insofar as they point to faith in Christ. This seems to leave us with mental agreement with the prophets, but no application, since the prophets are essentially superseded. The other being the “social gospel” approach to the prophets, where modern Christians try to turn Amos, Micah, Isaiah, and the rest into preachers of socialism and the enlargement of the modern state for handling the “compassion” and “justice” of which the prophets speak. This view conflates life in ancient Israel with life in a modern, secular nation-state, and they are not the same thing. Yet that’s the problem. We are Christians, living in predominantly urban areas, in a highly complex modern economy, with complex and varied social interactions that take us many miles from our homes, governed by strangers in our seats of power, far removed from political and economic decisions that affect our daily lives in ways we cannot fathom, separated from our extended families, sequestered away from the poor and destitute – for the most part – enjoying wealth on a scale far beyond what anyone else in previous history could have comprehended. At least that’s true in America. So I find myself asking: What lessons are we to learn and apply from the prophets? And when I say “we”, I mean, “we, the church.” I don’t me simply “me”, the individual. Are our churches even structured in such a way that the message of the prophets could hit home and be applied by us? If not, how would our church systems and structures have to change? Do we care to think about how they would have to? What kinds of repentance would it require? What does “worldliness” mean in Micah’s preaching? Cussing, having extramarital sex, watching “bad” stuff, lying to others, not going to church, and not paying one’s tithe?



Written by Michael Duenes

June 29, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Posted in Duenes, Reflections

One Response

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  1. Funny, we studied Micah recently too! It seems to me that although God doesn’t judge modern nations in the same way that he judged OT Israel (because of his unique covenant relationship with that people), he still wants modern nations to adhere to those same moral standards, because those standards are unchanging, whatever else may change. Therefore, although the prophets may not function precisely as a “warning” for us, they still serve as something of a guide about all the pitfalls a nation may fall into, and what behaviours a nation should avoid.

    To make it clearer: just because God doesn’t have a legal/covenantal obligation to judge a nation (as he did with OT Israel) doesn’t mean he doesn’t want all nations to obey his everlasting rules.


    June 29, 2012 at 7:49 pm

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