Denominationalism would be the greatest threat to its own existence if men would take the Bible as the standard of authority in all matters, especially faith and practice. With the New Testament so readily available, everyone is without excuse when it comes to the divine standard (2 Peter 1:3). God has clearly revealed in His word that He desires and demands that men lead in the public assembly. It is so clear that Paul uses the words “do not suffer/permit a woman to teach/usurp authority over the man” (1 Timothy 2:12). The demand for silence from the passage before mentioned is in reference to teaching or usurping authority over the man. When it comes to those two things- the woman should keep silent. I know it is not absolute silence, because women are commanded to sing. Auditors of the text have to be balanced and fair with the scriptures. Paul would call this “cutting straight or rightly dividing the word of God” (2 Timothy 2:15).
When it comes to “pastoring” a congregation, the Bible sets the divine standard for who is to do the work. The inspired penman stated relative to the office of a Bishop/Elder/Pastor, “For this reason I left thee in Crete, that thou should set in order the things that are lacking, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the faithful word HE hath been taught, that HE may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and convince the gainsayers” (Titus 1:5-9).
This passage of scripture isn’t alone in its demands for a “pastor”, but it is enough. The other text (1 Timothy 3:1-7) agrees with the Titus account. They both demand a pastor be a man. The word is “aner”, which means “male or husband”, having reference to gender, is used in this text. God, set the standard on who would lead His people, and He chose men. Now, many argue today that the Bible is old, outdated and antiquated. These same people better get ready to make the same claim about Jesus. If the Bible is old, outdated and antiquated, Jesus Christ is too. As long as Jesus is relevant, His word is too. Paul, in the Timothy text (1 Timothy 2:13-15), explains that this injunction has nothing to do with “eastern culture” and everything to do with Eden. Paul goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden when delivering this expectation. As long as Jesus is relevant, so will be the text relative to the corporate makeup of the body and her governance.
The Brilliance of God
God in His omniscience saw the forecast of rebellion within the church. He even warned the elders from Ephesus about the departure to come. God took great care in preserving His word whereby men can, and do, identify the New Testament church. The “seed of the kingdom” is the word of God, and when that word is planted, it grows kingdom fruit. It is by the authority of the New Testament men are able to measure any religious body, and know without any reservation if that body is what God would have it be.
There is a chart below regarding the “ordination of women”. This author believes the chart is very informative regarding the denominational landscape with the role of women. It has been discussed above that the New Testament church is identified in part by the way it is governed, and the position it takes with the role of women. The church of the Bible is identified by its origin. The church began on Pentecost day, the first after the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 2:41-47). It began in Jerusalem (Joel 2:32; Isaiah 2:3; Luke 24:47). It would come in the days of “these kings” (Daniel 2:44) denoting that the Kingdom/Church, the one that is found in prophecy, the one that was in the eternal mind of God (Ephesians 3:11), would begin during the reign of the Roman Empire. It was built by Jesus (Matthew 16:18). These all are very specific geographical statements and time statements that help people identify the church of the Bible. If a church began after Pentecost, started by some man other than Jesus, in some other place than Jerusalem, or is governed and worships contrary to the New Testament, it is not the New Testament church. Jesus didn’t die for it, and He is not coming back to deliver it to the Father, but rather, He will pluck it up (Matthew 15:13).
A Pew Research Finding
The above chart was published in a 2014 article written by David Masci. The chart lists who do and do not ordain women to preach for or lead congregations (2014). The American Baptist Church did (2014) but the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) did not (2014). This one doctrinal issue (role of women) is not exhaustive in determining if a church is the New Testament church, but a church that ordains women cannot be the New Testament church.
It is now interesting that the “SBC” is entering a yearlong study on the word “pastor”. The convention (which is another article all together) was held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. It was riddled with scandal. The convention was addressing a massive problem of sexual abuse and coverup, electing a new president (worthy of another article), and deciding if they are ready to allow women to “pastor”. This is where they decided they need a year to study the issue. Twitter lit up like a Christmas tree over all the scandalous actions. One person begged people to get into the room for vote because “they were trying to steal the presidential election”. That sounds all too familiar to our society, yet is completely foreign to scripture. This is the kind of mess men make when they venture from the word of God.
This author wonders what there is to study relative to the word “pastor” or the Biblical qualifications of one. Did the Bible leave the issue in “muddy waters”? That position is disgusting because it is an attack on Gods ability to communicate. God is the ultimate communicator. God created communication and language. If anyone is to take the Biblical cannon seriously, they must conclude that “God said what He means and means what He said.” The words God used have meaning, and He clearly defined His own terms. When God said a pastor is a “husband, man, he”, then He has left no room for what anyone might “study” to reach another conclusion. This old trick has been used to bring in the instrument (which the Baptist have no issue with), but the Lord’s church has fallen victim to this kind of announcement. “We’re going to study issue X”, and low and behold after the study, an announcement is made that a conclusion has been reached. Somehow, the study always turns up a conclusion that is contrary to sound doctrine.
The SBC is obviously giving heed to the change agents. We will have to wait and see what their study turns up, but the word of God is settled, whether the Baptist realize it or not. “Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in Heaven” (Psalm 119:89). The Baptist may restudy the gender role and the liberals among the Lord’s church may restudy the instrument, but Gods word is settled!
One twitter user (@VirgilWlkrOMAHA) said, “In the SBC, the word “pastor” means a male pastor unless your church sends enough money to the convention. Then they’ll need a year to review if the word “pastor” can include a woman. I guess they have decided to forget about what the Bible says.” It is a sad state of affairs when money and social pressure make the difference on where men will stand regarding Gods revealed will. Another twitter user (@macbrunson) said, “When the @sbc Baptist debate the NT meaning of pastor and need an extra year study it tells me all I need to know about the direction. It’s straight down!” Janet Mefferd (@Janet_Mefferd) stated, “Lessons for the SBC from the mainline: Once a denomination goes pro-pastrix, it is just a short hop to pro- LGBT. Why? Because the false social- justice hermeneutic used to justify the first error is the same one used to justify the second.” Here, Janet, makes the claim that as soon as the Baptist find room for women pastors, they will also find room for the LGBT leadership. They come through the same door- the “same study.”
If the word of God is the final authority and is already settled, doesn’t it follow that simple terms with concrete definitions are not up for debate?
Isn’t it logical to deduce that any church that doesn’t follow the New Testament in its origin, originator, worship, government, doctrine, is not the church of the Bible?
This author submits that the Southern Baptist and every other denomination miss the mark on one or more of these identifying markers, therefore they are not the church you read about in your New Testament.
If you could identify the church that belonged to Christ, would you belong to it?
Would you leave the writings of men who explain away the plain teaching of the Bible?
Would you accept the Bible and Jesus on their terms?
If so, reach out below, and lets study this most important topic together.
God bless you.