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Should a Pastor Continue in Ministry If His Child Proves to Be an Unbeliever?
Christian Post ^ | 03/17/2012 | John Piper

Posted on 03/17/2012 10:27:37 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

The following is an edited transcript of the audio.

Should a pastor continue in ministry if one of his sons, arriving at a mature age, proves to be an unbeliever?

Well, as you know, that hits close to home. So maybe the best thing I can do is tell you the way the elders at Bethlehem managed this, because that's me.

When that happened, I went to the elders and I said to them, "Here's the situation. I think my son needs to be pursued by the elders as far as you can, and then he needs to be excommunicated if he doesn't respond." He was 19 years old.

And so for I forget how many months they did this. Maybe six months or so. And I said, "I am willing to step back and go on a leave of absence, or resign, or whatever you think appropriate in this situation." They never faced this before with any theological thoroughness.

So for those months they were pursuing him, talking with him. He was working for one of the elders at the time, and they had some conversations. And we were studying the issue, because it says in Titus 1:5-6 that the children of elders should be pista (faithful). Tekna is the neuter word for "children" in Greek, and pista agrees with it. So it is "faithful children."

Now if you just absolutize that as "they must be believers" then not only would I have had to resign, but every pastor would have to resign until his children become believers. (I'm giving you one of the arguments against it. Children become believers, they're not born believers-unless you have a very unusual view of baptism as an infant baptizer.)

So the idea would be that you can't be a pastor until they become believers-say, nobody with children under six should be a pastor. Or another take would be that if they profess faith and then walk away from it you have to leave the pastorate.

Well the elders studied that through and they wrote a paper. It was just a two page thing that said that a pastor shouldn't resign on account of an unbelieving adult child. [Editor's note: This paper isn't available, but you can read another similar one by Justin Taylor.]

And so they let me press on, but we did follow through with the discipline. And God was merciful to, I believe, use that letting go to awaken and restore. And I'm thankful for it.

So I don't think the point of those stipulations in 1 Timothy and Titus is to lead to the quick resignations of pastors, but to discern whether a man has a maturity and a giftedness to lead a well-ordered family. That's what it's for.

How can you manage the flock if you can't manage your household? And good management doesn't mean perfect outcome. It didn't for God, and it doesn't for us.


TOPICS: Evangelical Christian; Mainline Protestant; Ministry/Outreach; Moral Issues
KEYWORDS: pastor; unbeliever
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
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1 posted on 03/17/2012 10:27:46 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Yes, of course he should. God doesn’t have grandchildren, everyone must come to Christ on their own, even PKs.


2 posted on 03/17/2012 10:30:29 AM PDT by reaganaut (Ex-Mormon, now Christian "I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: SeekAndFind
.


Paging Rick Santorum ...
Paging Rick Santorum ...
Paging Rick Santorum ...


Pastor Santorum ... Please pick-up on the White Courtesy Phone in the Hotel Lobby ...



.
3 posted on 03/17/2012 10:32:32 AM PDT by Patton@Bastogne (Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin in 2012 !)
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To: Patton@Bastogne

Is that you Bill Maher?


4 posted on 03/17/2012 10:35:27 AM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: SeekAndFind

Why would anyone follow a pastor and not Jesus Christ? What would Jesus do?


5 posted on 03/17/2012 10:38:13 AM PDT by Dallas59 (President Robert Gibbs 2009-2011)
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Comment #6 Removed by Moderator

To: Dallas59

Well, when Jesus was active in His ministry, even his family members did not believe in Him. See John 7:1-5


7 posted on 03/17/2012 10:42:29 AM PDT by SeekAndFind (question)
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To: SeekAndFind
How foolish to think a child's faithlessness is a millstone to hang around the parents' necks!   Parents are responsible not to neglect their children's abberant behaviors and to foster their education, but who is of a mind that faith itself was handed down as a work of the parents? Do you not know the simple truth that faith is gift from God?
  - Ez. 18:2-3; Eph. 2:8-9

HF

8 posted on 03/17/2012 10:43:43 AM PDT by holden
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To: SeekAndFind
How can you manage the flock if you can't manage your household? And good management doesn't mean perfect outcome. It didn't for God, and it doesn't for us.

This conclusion is key. I am a Southern Baptist boy. In my younger years, I knew a lot of guys who felt call to preach. They began their ministerial careers, often called to be pastors of churches. Now these were young men leading churches with older, sometimes old, men who were deacons. And in those days, if the pastor and his household didn't perform perfectly, they were often invited to resign and move on or do something else other than be a pastor.

If they couldn't keep perfect credit or flunked out of school (a high range possibility being a pastor and driving perhaps hundreds of miles to preach twice on Sunday then driving home, arriving early Monday morning or later in the day) or otherwise performing poorly according to the legalistic expectation of deacons and otherwise not-understanding members of the communities, these men were told they did not have it as pastors and so please go home and do whaatever does not require preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As I got older, I began to see and understand that these perceived failures were not the same thing as Paul talked about. Christian liberty does not mean that deacons should demand the resignation of a pastor otherwise faithful in his church if he is not necessarily suited to being a college student.

I believe the church leadership in this case were extremely wise men who collectively studied the matter and came to a wise conclusion. These men are a blessing to a busy pastor. As the writer said, may their tribe increase. May faithful pastors who preach the Word of God increase.
9 posted on 03/17/2012 10:46:08 AM PDT by righttackle44 (I may not be much, but I raised a United States Marine.)
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To: SeekAndFind

How many young people (young adults in this case) question their religious upbringing?

Many of them. Including all denominations.

Then comes this scenario — just suppose this young man becomes a Catholic and then brings his pastor father and his mother and brothers and sisters to the Catholic Church.

Would we mourn that?

I think this pastor is acting not out of love, but out of trying to protect his own reputation. (Isn’t that called self-centeredness?)


10 posted on 03/17/2012 10:52:08 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: holden

If your a Christian, and have not had someone who you hold dear reject Jesus Christ, than you probably have not talked enough to those you hold dear about him.


11 posted on 03/17/2012 10:54:16 AM PDT by right way right (What's it gonna take?)
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To: SeekAndFind

There was no word for cousins in the Hebrew language. So the word “brothers” was used. Those were townspeople who did not believe in Christ because they knew he was a carpenter from Nazareth.


12 posted on 03/17/2012 10:56:06 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: righttackle44

The Old Testament tells us about two JUDGES who the people of Israel look up to to bring them God’s message -— Eli and Samuel.

Unfortunately, both of them had bad ( in the case of Eli, really evil ) children.


13 posted on 03/17/2012 10:58:27 AM PDT by SeekAndFind (question)
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To: SeekAndFind

“How can you manage the flock if you can’t manage your household?”

Perhaps that’s the key. If the young man (he’s 19, not a child), is still a part of the household that might create a problem. I don’t see how a pastor could be held responsible for a grown child living on his/her own.


14 posted on 03/17/2012 10:59:37 AM PDT by SuzyQue
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To: SeekAndFind

Jesus came for the sinners, not the righteous.

Another way of saying it — those who are well do not need a physician, those who are sick are the ones who need a physician.

May the Great Physician, Jesus Christ, lead this young man to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.


15 posted on 03/17/2012 10:59:49 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

The Gospel of John was written in GREEK, not Hebrew.

In each instance when brothers were mentioned as it relates to Jesus, the specific Greek word for “brother” is used. While the word can refer to other relatives, its normal and literal meaning is a physical brother. There was a Greek word for “cousin,” and it was not used.


16 posted on 03/17/2012 11:03:29 AM PDT by SeekAndFind (question)
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To: cripplecreek
.


Is that you Bill Maher ?


"Lighten up, Francis ..."

I am a Christian ... "Saved by Christ's Grace", evangelical, pro-life, Believer ...

You're invited to read my dating profile "Shakespeare1564" at www.POF.com if you have any doubts ... dittos for www.Christian Mingle.com ...




Rick Santorum is "genuinely" confused ...

He's NOT running to succeed Billy Graham or James Dobson ...

Santorum is "supposed" to be running for President ...



While I genuinely respect Santorum's religious (spiritual) sincerity ....

I sense that Santorum's "playing" the Protestant Christian Evangelical voters ...

albeit that Santorum's fellow Christian Roman Catholics don't really seem to have much use for him ...



George Bush 43 handled questions about his spiritual life very well ...

Bush-43 declared that he was a practicing Christian Believer, acknowledged that Christ had saved him ... despite his quasi-wrecked life ...

and then he left it at that ...



Pastor "Little Ricky" Santorum should be taking notes ...

but he's too arrogant to do that ...



.
17 posted on 03/17/2012 11:07:14 AM PDT by Patton@Bastogne (Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin in 2012 !)
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To: right way right
.


If your a Christian, and have not had someone who you hold dear reject Jesus Christ, than you probably have not talked enough to those you hold dear about him.


With all due respect, that is utter nonsense ...



How much teaching, time, love, grace ... did Christ invest in Judas Iscariot ?

What was the result ?

Judas rejected not only Christ's (one-on-one) presesence ... but betrayed Christ to murder and death ...



Paul's epistles are clear on this subject ... on who actually becomes a Christ Follower ...

"Seeing Christ's Light" ... is completely a GIFT from the Holy Spirit ...

God the Father ... in His own wisdom ... decides who recieves that "gift" of spiritual revelation ...

and who doesn't ... like Judas Iscariot, for example ...


.
18 posted on 03/17/2012 11:13:23 AM PDT by Patton@Bastogne (Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin in 2012 !)
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To: Salvation
"There was no word for cousins in the Hebrew language. So the word “brothers” was used."

The Koine Greek word used was adelphi which doesn't mean brother so much as it means brotherhood or brotherly.

The clearest way to refute these claims is to construct a genealogy of the Apostles from Scripture. When done this proves that the so called "brothers" of Jesus had different fathers and since we know that Joseph was still alive when Jesus was 12 (the Temple visit) we know that there was insufficient time for Joseph to have died and Mary to remarry multiple times to satisfy the Gospel geneaology for the various brothers and named fathers.

19 posted on 03/17/2012 11:15:45 AM PDT by Natural Law (If you love the Catholic Church raise your hands, if not raise your standards.)
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To: SeekAndFind

God calls us, not the pastor. Each of us has to work out our salvation and Christ will be waiting when we earnestly seek Him. All the parents can do is continue to pray for their child.


20 posted on 03/17/2012 11:17:41 AM PDT by rabidralph
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To: SeekAndFind
There is something very wrong here.

All I can say is an old saying from a priest. Father Payton.

Photobucket

A family that prays together stays together!

If this Reverend prayed continually with his family from babe to teenager years. Christ takes care of the rest. I know a family two doors down from growing up. They always prayed together. What a devout faith . I ate over at times. The father would not only say thanks for dinner but would have everyone of his kids and guests say specific thanks in our lives. What we were grateful for to Christ. That made me think as a kid with things deep down inside. It never leaves you.

It is these little daily prayers that add up to a mature faith in Christ.

21 posted on 03/17/2012 11:19:15 AM PDT by johngrace (I am a 1 John 4! Christian- declared at every Sunday Mass , Divine Mercy and Rosary prayers!)
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To: Patton@Bastogne

No, I was not clear. I was refering to the amount of people you talk to, not just pounding verbally on one person.

Nuff said.

Your statement about the “gift” is true.


22 posted on 03/17/2012 11:24:41 AM PDT by right way right (What's it gonna take?)
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To: SeekAndFind
"Here's the situation. I think my son needs to be pursued by the elders as far as you can, and then he needs to be excommunicated if he doesn't respond."

I have a problem with the statement - Jesus' answer to why he hung around with the low lifes was that the sick needed the doctor, not the well. I can see keeping a non-believer from taking an official position in the Church, or even refusing communion (although I don't see a valid reason for it), but allowing him to be surrounded by believes gives him a much better chance of deciding to be saved. Some of the most effective evangalists I've herad started out as atheists and became true believers by learning more as they set out to prove God didn't exist.

23 posted on 03/17/2012 11:35:52 AM PDT by trebb ("If a man will not work, he should not eat" From 2 Thes 3)
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To: SeekAndFind

Ex-communicated? Do you mean “banished” from the community? If so, good grief that’s harsh. Because ex-communicated in the Catholic Church means not being able to take Holy Communion. Is that what you mean?

Here, from Wikipedia: Excommunicated Catholics are still Catholics and remain bound by obligations such as attending Mass, even though they are barred from receiving the Eucharist and from taking an active part in the liturgy (reading, bringing the offerings, etc.). However, their communion with the Church is considered gravely impaired. In spite of that, they are urged to retain a relationship with the Church, as the goal is to encourage them to repent and return to active participation in its life.


24 posted on 03/17/2012 11:37:11 AM PDT by Ge0ffrey
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To: right way right

my apologies if i sounded harsh ...


25 posted on 03/17/2012 11:39:10 AM PDT by Patton@Bastogne (Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin in 2012 !)
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To: johngrace

“Copy that, Houston !”


26 posted on 03/17/2012 11:40:18 AM PDT by Patton@Bastogne (Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin in 2012 !)
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To: SeekAndFind
This is an anti-Mormon post, isn't it?

You need to hold your fire until Myth is actually the nominee.

27 posted on 03/17/2012 11:52:49 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Government is the religion of the sociopath.)
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To: johngrace

My old pastor’s daughter is not a Christian. She was adopted as an infant. She was homeschooled, but for college, she went to Berkeley. While there, she made it a mission to meet her birth parents.

She made a strong connection with her birth father, and he was not religious.

It’s been really hard on my old pastor’s wife.


28 posted on 03/17/2012 11:58:27 AM PDT by luckystarmom
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To: SeekAndFind

It is notorious that the children of clergy are problematic, likely for many and manifold reasons. Many turn out okay, or even accomplished. Some, like Frederick Nietzsche, Malcolm X, Kim Il-sung, Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia, less so.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_children_of_clergy


29 posted on 03/17/2012 12:01:11 PM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy ("It is already like a government job," he said, "but with goats." -- Iranian goat smuggler)
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To: SeekAndFind
Henry's commentary on the passage in regards to the children:

"And, as to his children, having faithful children, obedient and good, brought up in the true Christian faith, and living according to it, at least as far as the endeavours of the parents can avail. It is for the honour of ministers that their children be faithful and pious, and such as become their religion."

1Ti 3:4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 1Ti 3:5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),

So I believe the rule is whether or not the child has been elected by God, is God's choice. But the Pastor's responsibility is to raise obedient children, 5th command, and to actively petition the Lord to show mercy on his children and elect them if it be His will. Just as one would expect a Pastor to do so for those who sit under his care.

30 posted on 03/17/2012 12:04:49 PM PDT by uptoolate (Republicans sure do like their liberalism)
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To: Patton@Bastogne

No ploblem.


31 posted on 03/17/2012 12:05:36 PM PDT by right way right (What's it gonna take?)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

I read this also and think it’s a bit absurd. The “child” is an adult. One of the most oft told Biblical tales is of the prodigal son.

We, I am including any person of faith regardless of denomination, have all lost hope and faith at some point. It may come over disaster, personal misfortune, death, disease or any other obstacle known to man since time began. However brief, fleeting or long lasting people of faith have questioned their faith; even Mother Teresa.

The need for people to question their faith or have it questioned by others is the entire basis of original sin. I would dare say those who question whether a man can keep another man, or in this case son, faithful by their standards are acting in a fashion that only God Himself is capable of judging.

Faith in God is like water flowing, we frequently follow the path of least resistance. I have more faith that a misbegotten soul will find his way around an obstacle of faith the way water eventually finds its way around a large rock in a stream than a man coercing him to do so or else.


32 posted on 03/17/2012 12:06:19 PM PDT by PittsburghAfterDark
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To: righttackle44

What the passages from Timothy and Titus is that our system is broken and we should generally be selecting pastors from the mature,godly men of the congregation instead of looking at professional pastors fresh out of Bible school.


33 posted on 03/17/2012 12:10:58 PM PDT by freedomfiter2 (Brutal acts of commission and yawning acts of omission both strengthen the hand of the devil.)
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To: Salvation

Brothers. Not cousins. They are listed by name—one of those listed being Joseph (named after his father). Mary’s other kids. They didn’t believe because, well, would YOU believe your older brother was the Son of God? They thought Jesus was nutty.


34 posted on 03/17/2012 12:41:33 PM PDT by madison10
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To: SeekAndFind

I suppose it depends on whether you think there is such a thing as free will. Catholics believe that no one can be saved without God’s GRACE, but that we are free to accept or reject that grace. Calvinists believe that we are saved or damned entirely by God’s will, and nothing we do can change that.

The child of a good family is far more likely to turn out good than the child of a rotten family. Nevertheless, you cannot force anyone to be good. It’s always possible for a child, well brought up, to turn away when he comes of age.

Less likely, certainly, but always possible.

In Deuteronomy, God offers His Covenenant to the chosen people. He tells them that “This day I have set before two paths: life and death. Choose life.” But they always have the option to choose to turn away.

As the Archangel says in “Paradise Lost”, “Freely we serve, / Because we freely love, as in our will / To serve or not.” True love involves the free choice of the one who loves—not forced conformity, which is not love but slavery, as Augustine points out.


35 posted on 03/17/2012 12:50:55 PM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: reaganaut

If everyone must come to Christ on their own then WHY should a pastor resign because offspring lives in unbelief??? That makes NO sense. A pastor should be well versed in the Bible and should be able to teach the flock. Other than that I see NOTHING in New or Old Testament to suggest that one cannot be a good pastor just because one’s offspring exercises free will


36 posted on 03/17/2012 1:09:03 PM PDT by Nifster
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To: Nifster

If everyone must come to Christ on their own then WHY should a pastor resign because offspring lives in unbelief??? That makes NO sense.

- - - - -
I completely agree with you. Read my post again. The “Yes, he should” was in response to the question “Should he continue in ministry” that is the title of the thread. I was not stating he should resign.


37 posted on 03/17/2012 1:26:02 PM PDT by reaganaut (Ex-Mormon, now Christian "I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: right way right

No, he shouldn’t continue in ministry? Why not? (read the question asked in the thread title).


38 posted on 03/17/2012 1:28:15 PM PDT by reaganaut (Ex-Mormon, now Christian "I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: reaganaut

I got overly enthusiastic... I know you and I were saying the same thing. Sometimes I get on a roll and I just look darned silly.


39 posted on 03/17/2012 1:36:03 PM PDT by Nifster
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To: right way right; holden

If your a Christian, and have not had someone who you hold dear reject Jesus Christ, than you probably have not talked enough to those you hold dear about him.

- - - -
Oh that is just plain silly. All the talking and preaching won’t necessarily make someone ‘get it’.

I grew up in a Christian family, going to church, I knew all the stories, read the Bible, etc, etc...and I ended up joining a cult (Mormonism) because I never really ‘got it’. I heard a lot about it, I thought I was a Christian, but I was ‘churched’, I never really accepted Christ or ‘got it’. I didn’t know that at the time however.

So, enter Mormonism, it was actually through my experiences in Mormonism and my loss of faith in it, that I realized what Christianity really was, how I needed a Savior personally and I gave my life to Christ and truly believed in him. It took me being Mormon for me to actually get being a Christian (and no Mormons are not ever Christians, it isn’t possible).

So, it is ridiculous to blame the pastor for his son not being a Christian and just as ridiculous to think that the father didn’t talk about Jesus enough with his son.


40 posted on 03/17/2012 1:36:31 PM PDT by reaganaut (Ex-Mormon, now Christian "I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: Patton@Bastogne

Bingo!


41 posted on 03/17/2012 1:41:06 PM PDT by reaganaut (Ex-Mormon, now Christian "I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: Natural Law; SeekAndFind; Godzilla

Ummm...no. And that is a huge leap in order to support the Catholic teaching of the perpetual virginity. I really don’t get why Catholics hold on to that doctrine so tightly, it isn’t biblical and frankly Spiritual marriage isn’t Godly.

Why is it so hard to grasp that a married couple (Joseph and Mary) had sex and children?

BTW, considering the issues with liberals in the Catholic church, your tagline is silly. I know plenty of non-Catholic Christians with higher standards than almost every single Catholic I know.


42 posted on 03/17/2012 1:45:02 PM PDT by reaganaut (Ex-Mormon, now Christian "I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: SeekAndFind
...those stipulations in 1 Timothy and Titus

Here's a question. Do those stipulations actually refer to pastors? When I read the Bible it seems those passages refer to elders or deacons.

I've pondered this and have come to the conclusion that Jesus gave the gifts to the church, one of them of being a pastor. Elders and deacons on the other hand are appointed by man to be overseers. They must have the qualifications stipulated in the Bible.

43 posted on 03/17/2012 1:46:52 PM PDT by stars & stripes forever (Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord!)
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To: Natural Law; Salvation; SeekAndFind; All

The Koine Greek word used was adelphi which doesn’t mean brother so much as it means brotherhood or brotherly.

- - - -

Correction it is Adelphos, not adelphi, and most often means physical brother but can also refer to symbolic brethren in a few NT verses. The choice of using aldephos, which most commonly means physical brothers in the NT is a reflection of the development in Christian theology early on that Christians share the same (spiritual) Father through adoption and in that way are literal brothers and sisters.

Outside of the Bible, it almost ALWAYS refers to physical brothers


44 posted on 03/17/2012 1:51:40 PM PDT by reaganaut (Ex-Mormon, now Christian "I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: Natural Law; Salvation; SeekAndFind; All

*Adelphoi not Adelphos. Same meaning though, diff part of speech. typing error on my part.


45 posted on 03/17/2012 1:52:49 PM PDT by reaganaut (Ex-Mormon, now Christian "I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: yefragetuwrabrumuy

What does your screen name mean? Every time I see it I read “you forgot to get the bunny” in lolspeak.


46 posted on 03/17/2012 1:57:32 PM PDT by reaganaut (Ex-Mormon, now Christian "I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: stars & stripes forever

“...those stipulations in 1 Timothy and Titus
Here’s a question. Do those stipulations actually refer to pastors? When I read the Bible it seems those passages refer to elders or deacons.”

I agree, the provisions in 1st Tim. 3 refer to elders and deacons and in Titus 1 to elders. Not to preachers.


47 posted on 03/17/2012 1:58:40 PM PDT by SharpRightTurn ( White, black, and red all over--America's affirmative action, metrosexual president.)
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To: madison10

Especially with mom always saying “why can’t you be more like Him!?!” (joke)


48 posted on 03/17/2012 2:00:16 PM PDT by reaganaut (Ex-Mormon, now Christian "I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: Nifster

LOL, understood. I do the same thing, brother.


49 posted on 03/17/2012 2:03:39 PM PDT by reaganaut (Ex-Mormon, now Christian "I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: freedomfiter2
. . . be selecting pastors from the mature,godly men of the congregation instead of looking at professional pastors fresh out of Bible school.

Unfortunately, most churches do not have mature, godly men who also know the Word of God, and also have the gift of teaching. On the other hand, Timothy was a young man, a professional pastor supported by his church, and Paul told Timothy not to be intimidated by the older man.
50 posted on 03/17/2012 2:35:10 PM PDT by righttackle44 (I may not be much, but I raised a United States Marine.)
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