Author Archives: sethdunn88

About sethdunn88

Christian, Husband, Father, Alabama Fan, Accountant (in that order). I am currently studying to complete a MDiv in Apologetics at the New Orleans Theological Seminary.

A Baptist Bama Fan Considers Tua Tagovailoa’s Tongues

It was either late Monday night or early Tuesday morning. I do not remember which. I was more focused on the situation than the time. I found myself sitting on the couch in my basement in fervent prayer. I was praying, by name, for Andy Pappanostas and JK Scott. I did not know the name of their long snapper but I was praying for him, too. The Alabama Crimson Tide had possession of the football in Georgia Bulldog territory as the final seconds of the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship game were ticking away. The game was tied and all Alabama needed to complete an improbable comeback and win a fifth national championship in nine years was for the long snapper to make a good snap, JK Scott to make a clean hold, and Andy Pappanostos to make a straight ahead 36-yard field goal. Such a kick was well within the range of almost every college place kicker, including Andy Pappanostas. Pappanostas choked. He missed the kick wide left as time expired. It wasn’t even close. Despite my prayers for Andy Pappanostas, Alabama and Georgia went to overtime.

After this miss, I thought for sure Alabama was going to lose, given that UGA’s kicker, Rodrigo Blankenship, has ice-water in his veins and is one of the best kicker’s in the country. Yet, Alabama did not lose. After Blankenship made a clutch 51-yard field goal in overtime to put the Dawgs ahead, Tua Tagovailoa retook the field. Tagovailoa, the Tide’s true freshman backup quarterback, had come into the the game at halftime to replace an ineffective Jalen Hurts. Down by 13 points, Tagovailoa, after not having taken a meaningful in-game snap all season and being plunged into the pressure-cooker of the biggest arena in college football, had already led the Tide to what is being hailed as a “miracle comeback.” On Alabama’s first offensive snap of overtime, no one was open. Tagovailoa should have thrown the ball away but instead he tried to scramble away from pressure and ended up taking a 16-yard sack. It was second down and a mile. A first down seemed improbable. Even if Alabama got some yards back on the ensuing plays, Pappanostas could not be depended upon to make a kick to tie the game. The Tide, it seemed, was doomed. On the Tide’s next play, Tagovailoa became an Alabama football legend. On a play called “Seattle,” the young quarterback looked off Georgia’s safety Dominick Sanders, turned his head quickly to the left, and then threw a perfect dart to a streaking freshman receiver named DeVonta Smith. Having blown by Georgia cornerback Malkom Parrish, Smith was wide open. He caught Tagovailoa’s pass in stride and scored a game-winning touchdown.

For a moment I sat in stunned silence, in near-disbelief of what I just witnessed and waiting to see if there was a flag on the play. There wasn’t and what I saw really happened. I burst out of my basement door, barefoot and running as fast as I could into the street, screaming “Praise Jesus, Praise Jesus, Praise Jesus, Roll Tide! Roll Tide!” into the cool night air. I do not know how many of my neighbors I woke up. I don’t usually get that excited. I’m pretty sure God isn’t overly concerned with who wins football games…but I sure am. I am a lifelong, die-hard Alabama fan. A psychologist recently analyzed me. Her report read, “Mr. Dunn exhibited some unusually excessive interest in specific topics (e.g. Alabama football)…” I love the Tide. I even pray for them to do well. As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one praying during the game. Tua Tagovailoa was praying, too.

Tua Tagovailoa arrived in Tuscaloosa as highly touted recruit from Hawaii, an elite high school quarterback. He chose the University of Alabama from among a number of other big time schools who had offered him a scholarship to play football. Though Tagovailoa saw limited playing time during the seasons, there were two things every Alabama fan knew about him when he took the field in the 2nd half: (1) he can really sling the football and (2) he is very religious. He paints his eye black into the shape of the cross. He’s been called the “Tim Tebow of Hawaii.” When he came to campus for recruiting visits; he attended church with Nick Saban. The religiosity of Saban and the state of Alabama as a whole influenced his decision to come and play for the Crimson Tide. When interviewed immediately after the end of game on ESPN, Tua Tagovailoa didn’t pass up a chance to publicly praise God:

“First and foremost, I’d just like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. With him, all things are possible. That’s what happened tonight.”

Christian media outlets jumped at the chance to highlight the fact that a prominent football star was giving God all the credit in his big moment. For example, the Christian Index ran a story entitled “Two Freshman Quarterbacks Giving Credit Where Credit is Due.” Index staff writer Scott Barkely wrote:

In the hours after last night’s National Championship game, we saw examples from two quarterbacks who far exceed the title of “freshman.” Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa …thanked Jesus Christ, his Lord and Savior. It’s nothing new for athletes to credit God after a big win. But let’s be honest, sometimes those shout-outs seem less-than-genuine when stories creep out regarding their personal lives. And given the platform athletes receive, a genuine witness becomes even more important… (Georgia Quarterback Jake Fromm’s) family has strong faith roots at Southside Baptist in Warner Robins, an Independent Baptist church, as well as an endearing relationship with Pastor Jerry Walls, a die-hard Bama fan. As such, Fromm is quick to talk about Jesus and his relationship with God.”

Fromm trusted God in his defeat. Tagovailoa trusted God in his victory. Barkley is right to point out the importance of a platform and a genuine personal life to back up a Christian testimony. By all accounts, Tua Tagovailoa is a polite, centered, peaceful, and moral young man. However, should he propped up as an example of virtue in Christian media? Not knowing where Tua went to church (other than visiting Nick Saban’s Catholic Church), I wasn’t so sure, even after hearing him thank Jesus on the big stage. Having researched the matter, I have found that Tagovailoa is a member of Message of Peace Church in Ewa Beach, Hawaii. The church is a member of the Hawaii Conference of the United Church of Christ. I know little of this denomination but it does fall within Trinitarian orthodoxy. However, I’m convinced that Tua Tagovailoa is not someone to be looked to as a hero of Christianity. As it turns out, he’s a charismatic. When interviewed about how he stayed poised in a high-pressure situation, Tagovailoa shared the following statement:

“I was praying. I was speaking in tongues. It kept me calm. I would say my poise comes from my faith. I just pray for peace.”

I’ll not dispute that Tagovaioa’s prayers for peace were answered (nor did his natural talent, confidence, and practice time go to waste). However, it’s alarming that the “Tim Tebow” of Hawaii engages in the contra-biblical modern-day charismatic practice of talking in tongues. From a biblical standpoint, “speaking in tongues” means to speak in another intelligible, extant language. The biblical Greek word λῶσσα when used in the context of speaking refers to “the language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations.” It does not refer to the gibberish spewed out by adherents of the modern day post-Asuza charismatic movement. It is unfortunate that such a pious young man as Tua Tagovailoa has been taught this errant belief. I certainly don’t expect a 19-year old quarterback to know any much more theology than what he’s been taught at his local church and Tagovailoa is getting attention for doing the right thing, thanking God. However, his admission of using “tongues” presents parents with an opportunity to explain to the thousands of young people who now look up to Tagovailoa that the modern charismatic practice of “speaking in tongues” is a serious error, one which is no doubt offensive to the Holy Spirit. Christian celebrity is dangerous to be sure. There’s no doubt that Tua Tagovailoa is a better behavioral role model than the Alabama players who were using profanity and playing with poor sportsmanship during and after the game (I’m looking at you Bo Scarborough and Mekhi Brown). Tagovailoa seems like a hardworking true sportsman and genuinely polite young man. However, bible-believing Christians don’t need to make heroes out of charismatics just because they thank Jesus on TV. The Church needs charismatics off of TV.

Superstar athletes or not, we can all thank Jesus in the King’s English. Hopefully, everyone reading this who is not a Christian will consider repenting of their sins and submitting to the risen Christ as the Lord of their lives. As for me, I’ve already done that and, if the Lord blesses me with another child, I’ll probably still name him Tua.

Roll Tide.

https://podomatic.com/embed/html5/episode/8674125?autoplay=false

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

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Gender and the Pastorate in Baptist Churches: A Debate

The debate text below is intended to help Christians think through the issue of gender and the pastorate in Baptist churches.  

RESOLUTION

Resolved, that in Baptist Churches, the role of senior or preaching elder or pastor (for the purpose of this debate senior/teaching and preaching elder and pastor titles all refer to the role of proclamation in a local church) is a gender specific role restricted to male believers.

FOR

The resolution must be affirmed.  New Testament ecclesiology, considered in light of Baptist beliefs about the divine inspiration and authority of scripture, makes it clear that the role of teaching elder (or senior pastor) is restricted to male believers within Baptist churches. This assertion rests upon the following three propositions:

  • Baptist churches are designed to adhere to the New Testament church model.
  • The New Testament Church model proscribes female eldership and prescribes male eldership
  • Baptists believe the Bible, including the New Testament, is the authoritative and divinely inspired word of God.

If Baptists are anything, they are Biblical.  “Baptists have a long held belief that they ought to do church in the same way the New Testament churches did…Baptists believe that the Bible contains specific teachings about how they ought to organize and govern the church.”[1]  This is certainly not a new belief.  “Even the briefest glance at early Baptist writings confirms that they sought to draw their teachings directly from Scripture…they consciously and conscientiously sought to draw every teaching and practice from Scripture…One could wipe out all the religious groups of the seventeenth century and there would be the Baptists tomorrow.”[2]  Since Baptist churches strive to reflect the New Testament church model, one must consider what a New Testament church looks like (in regards to eldership) when considering the resolution.  Because “sometimes the Bible describes patterns of action and belief that are to be followed”[3] better than it pictures them, it is best to consult the Pastoral Epistles to do so.

Female eldership was specifically proscribed by the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to Timothy.   Regarding positions of authority within the church, Paul writes, “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man.”[4]  Specifically regarding eldership, the Apostle Paul declares that elders must be “above reproach, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, gentle, peaceable, and free from the love of money.”[5] All these things both men and women can be.  However, these are not Paul’s only prescriptions.  Elders must also be, “the husband of one wife.”[6] Obviously, this is a requirement that a woman cannot fulfill. Paul’s Epistle to Titus echoes these remarks.[7]  Paul’s requirements for deacons in 1st Timothy are quite similar to those of elders; he also requires them to be “husbands of one wife.”  This statement does not denote the exclusion of women as Deacons in the way that Paul’s previous statement about Elders being the husband of one wife does.  This is because Paul specifically addresses female deaconship requirements by stating, “Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, temperate, and faithful in all things.”[8]  (Because Polyandry was not a part of Paul’s culture, a statement requiring female deacons to be wife of one husband would have been preposterous to include in the epistle.)   Thus, Paul clearly allows for a virtuous male or female to serve in the capacity of deacon, but forbids women (no matter how virtuous) from serving in the capacity of the authoritative role of Elder.   Nowhere does any other New Testament author contradict Paul’s proscriptions or prescriptions for the office of Elder.  Nowhere else in Paul’s own Epistles does Paul himself contradict or confuse his instructions to Timothy and Titus (though the message of Galatians 3:28 is misconstrued by some as doing so).  The New Testament clearly presents a church model that exhibits exclusive male eldership.

Though there is some disagreement about the confessed degree of Biblical inerrancy among Baptists, readily observable Baptist groups universally agree that the New Testament is the divinely inspired word of God.  Thus, the New Testament church model (which proscribes female eldership) is a divine one inasmuch as Baptists are concerned.  Because God Himself is immutable[9], it does not logically follow that His divinely inspired New Testament Church model is mutable.  Thus, although the role of women in society in general has greatly changed since the time of the New Testament’s writing (thanks in large part to the Biblical message itself); the Biblically prescribed role of women Christians remains the same.   So, too, does the Biblically prescribed role of male believers.  New Testament ecclesiology limits church eldership to male believers; Baptists affirm that New Testament ecclesiology is divinely inspired.  Therefore, the resolution must be affirmed.

 

AGAINST

The resolution requires one to recognize that a blanket restriction upon all Baptist churches can be imposed; this is incongruent with the very nature of such churches.  Due to the congregational and confessional nature of Baptist churches, this resolution must be scrapped in its entirety as nonsensical.  Therefore, it cannot be affirmed.  This assertion rests upon the following three propositions:

  • A Baptist church is congregational.
  • A Baptist church is confessional.
  • Recognizing a restriction across all “Baptist churches” requires one to step outside the congregational and confessional scopes and recognize a creed and extra-congregational authority.

There is no Episcopal or Presbyterian authority from which the decision to restrict a church role may come in a Baptist church.  “Baptists have objected to both of these systems of church governance.”[10]  Baptist churches are congregational. “Congregationalism locates the authority of the church in each local body of believers.  No person or organization is above or over it except the Lord Jesus Christ alone as its head.”[11]  Restrictions upon church roles (upon anything!) in a Baptist church come from within the church itself.  While a body of local believers is free to restrict the role of teaching elder to male believers in its own church, it cannot step outside of its congregational limitations and do so for another church.  Thus, while a local Baptist church may say, “The role of teaching elder is restricted to male believers at our church,” it cannot say, “The role of teaching elder is restricted to male believers in Baptist churches.”

Not only would making such a statement be discordant with congregationalism, it would be creedal in nature.  “Baptists have always been confessional.  The difference between a confession and a creed is that, in a confession, one declares what he believes.  One declares it freely and without coercion.  In a creed, one declares what he must believe, or, more specifically, what others must believe.”[12]  While an individual Baptist may declare, “I believe that the role of teaching elder is restricted to male believers,” he cannot say, “Others must believe that the role of teaching elder is restricted to male believers.”

Because the resolution requires one to step outside of the bounds of congregationalism and confessionalism it must be entirely dismissed as nonsensical.  Thus, the resolution can’t even begin to be considered.  It would make more sense for one to argue for or against a resolution that says, “Yetis should be restricted from throwing snowballs at mountaineers who attempt to scale the Himalayas.”  Non-congregational and creedal Baptists, like Yetis, do not exist.  However, unlike Yetis and other mythical creatures, a non-congregational and creedal Baptist is a logically impossible being akin to a square circle or a married bachelor.  The resolution cannot be affirmed because the resolution itself is absurd.

REBUTTAL TO FOR

The propositions “Baptist churches are designed to adhere to the New Testament church model” and “Baptists believe the Bible, including the New Testament, is the authoritative and divinely inspired word of God” are integral to the argument for the proposition.  While these propositions themselves are true, the overall argument to affirm the resolution completely ignores the fact that the New Testament church model is a congregational and confessional one.  The argument to affirm the proposition hinges on the proposition, “The New Testament Church model proscribes female eldership and prescribes male eldership.”  The congregational and confessional nature of Baptist (New Testament) churches must be considered before any proscriptions and prescriptions about eldership that are apparent in the New Testament.  It is not the Apostle Paul, Timothy, or Titus who call persons to fulfill the role of elder in a Baptist church, but the members of the individual church itself.  If the members of an individual Baptist church do not confess to an interpretation of the New Testament that prescribes exclusively male eldership, it is unlikely that the role of elder will be gender-restricted in their church. Thus, to say that “in Baptist Churches, the role of senior elder is a gender specific role restricted to male believers,” requires the recognition of a universal confession of scriptural interpretation across all Baptist churches that simply does not exist.

This nonexistence is evidenced by the positions of numerous Baptist churches affiliated with American Baptist Churches USA and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF).  Both of these organizations affirm female eldership and churches affiliated with these organization exhibit female elders.  Even the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), whose confession of faith states, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture,”[13] is not devoid of affiliated churches with female senior elders.  Currently, a job advertisement for a Senior Pastor role at First Baptist Church Murfreesboro listed on the SBC’s website reads, women and men are encouraged to apply.”[14]  Clearly, in practice, there is no universal restriction against female eldership in Baptist churches.  The congregational and confessional nature of Baptist churches precludes such a restriction.  Even the SBC recognizes this by stating, “The Baptist Faith & Message and resolutions are not binding upon local churches.  Each church is responsible to prayerfully search the Scriptures and establish its own policy.”[15] Churches that call a female to the role of senior elder may be incorrectly interpreting Paul’s scriptural prescriptions, but this assessment has no bearing whatsoever on the affirmation of the resolution.  Under congregational and confessional church polity, they are free to do so.  The theological soundness of their dubious interpretation of scripture is irrelevant.  Therefore, the argument for the resolution is unsound and the resolution itself cannot be affirmed.

 

REBUTTAL TO AGAINST

Baptist churches are confessional.  Baptist churches are congregational.  These propositions are factual.  However, the proposition “recognizing a restriction across all Baptist churches requires one to step outside the congregational and confessional scopes and recognize a creed and extra-congregational authority” contradicts the former propositions.  Recognizing that Baptist churches are confessional recognizes a restriction on creedalism in Baptist churches.

Recognizing that Baptist churches are congregational recognizes a restriction against hierarchical and Presbyterian church polity in Baptist churches.  Therefore, it’s counterintuitive to assert that it isn’t logical to recognize a restriction within Baptist churches because they are congregational and confessional in nature.  The restrictions against non-congregational church polity and creedalism themselves come from an extra-congregational authority…the New Testament.  The very reason that Baptist churches are Congregational in the first place is that such is the model of the New Testament church.  The very reason that Baptist churches exposit confessions instead of adhering to creeds is their recognition of the authority of scripture alone.  To be Baptist is to confess the authority of the New Testament.  Therefore, since the New Testament is the basis for Baptist polity and it addresses gender roles in Eldership, the resolution is not nonsensical.

The argument against the proposition (or, more accurately, for the absurdity of the proposition) is an attempt to run an end-around the clear biblical requirement of exclusively male eldership in the local church.  The idea that gender restriction within the Baptist church represents some kind of logically impossible abstraction is absurd in itself.  Churches in New Testament times were Baptist in polity and their elders were exclusively male (or at least meant to be exclusively male as far as the Apostle Paul, was concerned).  A church with gender-restricted eldership isn’t some kind of logically impossible abstraction, it’s an actuality.  There are numerous such churches.  These churches recognize that “a church should have three biblical offices”[16] of elder, deacon, and church member and that “only qualified men can occupy the office of elder-pastor.”[17] This is the church model based upon the authority of scripture.  A New Testament church restricts the role of teaching elder to male believers.  If anything is logically impossible, it is a Baptist church that doesn’t adhere to the New Testament model.  In no way does congregationalism or confesionalism limit the scope of Baptist polity.  The New Testament itself restricts the role of elder to male believers.  Congregationalism and Confessionalism do not somehow trump the authority of scripture.  The argument against affirming the proposition is invalid.

FOR CONCLUSION

The rebuttal to the affirmation is based on the idea that scripture is up for interpretation.  This idea that “every Christian has the freedom and right to interpret and apply scripture under the leadership of the Holy Spirit”[18] is a flawed one.  This idea, which is advocated by the female-elder-affirming CBF, assumes that scripture was meant to be interpreted.  It’s true that the New Testament was written in a first century language and that modern Christians must linguistically “interpret” that first century language in order to translate the text into their own modern languages.  However, the theology espoused by the New Testament is not and was not open to interpretation.  The first century language of the New Testament was quite clear to first century church members.  They certainly weren’t “interpreting” gospels and epistles.  Modern translations are just as reliable to modern readers; even renowned textual critic Bart Ehrman affirms this.[19]  The idea that individuals have the freedom to do anything (sin, deny God, etc…) should not be confused with the fact that individuals do not have the right to do anything.  Scripture is not open for theological interpretation; it’s not meant to be interpreted, it’s meant to be followed.  If a Baptist church truly desires to reflect the New Testament church model it will prayerfully search the scriptures and establish a policy that limits eldership to male believers in accordance with clear, reliable, New Testament theology.

 AGAINST CONCLUSION

The resolution itself is nonsensical due to the congregational, confessional nature of Baptist churches.  Congregationalism and confessionalism aren’t restrictions, they are realities.  These realities are steeped in the example of the New Testament church model, which shows that only the individual members of a specific Baptist church can set church requirements and restrictions; those requirements and restrictions are limited in scope to that specific church.  The resolution considers Baptist churches in general.  Therefore, to affirm the resolution requires one to step outside the bounds of his own authority and make a decision for all Baptist churches in addition to his Baptist church.   The resolution must be scrapped in its entirety because making such a decision is nonsensical.  Because the resolution must be scrapped, it cannot be affirmed.

[Contributed by: Seth Dunn]

WORKS CITED

American Baptist Churches USA. “10 Facts You Should Know About American Baptists.” http://www.abc-usa.org/. http://www.abc-usa.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=CcFkb6m2ftM%3d&tabid=432 (accessed April 9, 2012).

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Frequently Asked Questions about the Fellowship. http://www.thefellowship.info/About-Us/FAQ (accessed April 9, 2012).

Dagg, J. L. “A Manual of Church Polity.”

Driscoll, Mark & Gerry Breshers. Doctrine: What Christians Should Beleive. Crossway Books, 2010.

Hankis, Chad Owen Brand and David E. One Sacred Effort: The Cooperative Program of Southern Baptists. Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2005.

McBeth, H. Leon. The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness. Broadman Press, 1987.

Richard R. Melick, Jr. “Women Pastors: What Does the Bible Teach?” http://www.sbclife.net. May 1998. http://www.sbclife.net/articles/1998/05/sla5.asp (accessed April 12, 2012).

Southern Baptist Convention. FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions . 2012. http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/faqs.asp#9 (accessed April 10, 2012).

—. SBCJobSearch Description. March 12, 2012. http://www.sbc.net/jobs/jobdetail.asp?ID=6424&type=church (accessed April 10, 2012).

—. The Baptist Faith and Message. 2000. http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfm2000.asp (accessed September 15, 2011).

Vestal, Daniel. “Why I am Baptist.” Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. http://www.thefellowship.info/cbf/files/e5/e563f5c1-71d2-46a5-915f-0989d00491d9.pdf (accessed April 10, 2012).

Wardin, Albert W. The Twelve Baptist Tribes in the USA: A Historical and Statistical Analysis. Nashville: Fields Publishing, 2007.

Wikipedia contributors . “Pastoral epistles .” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. April 3, 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Pastoral_epistles&oldid=485356349 (accessed April 10, 2012).

Wikipedia contributors. “Polyandry.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. April 9, 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Polyandry&oldid=486408759 (accessed April 10, 2012).

Wingerd, Daryl. Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus – A Critical Review. 2006. http://www.ccwtoday.org/article_view.asp?article_id=69 (accessed April 10, 2012).

 

[1]  (Hankis 2005) p. 28

[2]  (McBeth 1987) p. 63

[3] (Hankis 2005) p. 28

[4] 1 Timothy 2:12

[5] 1 Timothy 3:2-3

[6] ibid

[7] Titus 1:6-8

[8] 1 Timothy 3:11

[9] Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17

[10]  (Hankis 2005) p. 23

[11]  (Dagg n.d.) p. 279

[12]  (Vestal n.d.)p. 5

[13]  (Southern Baptist Convention 2000) – The Baptist Faith and Message

[14]  (Southern Baptist Convention 2012) – Job Description

[15]  (Southern Baptist Convention 2012) – FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

[16]  (Breshers 2010) p.318

[17] Ibid p. 320

[18]  (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship n.d.) – Frequently Asked Questions about the Fellowship

[19]  (Wingerd 2006)

A Woman in “Pastoral Ministry” at my Seminary Graduation

Two weeks ago, I had the joy of graduating from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) with a Master’s of Divinity in Christian Apologetics. Studying there for the last eight years has been a blessing. During my time at NOBTS, I have learned a great deal about understanding, teaching, and defending the Christian faith. The school’s faculty has taught each of my courses in accordance with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 (BFM 2000) and each one of my instructors and professors has exhibited a genuine faith and a love for the Lord and His people. Additionally, my tuition was affordable and a variety of class offerings made earning a degree through a distance learning program feasible. Sitting in the chapel on December 16, 2017 with my fellow graduates was a very happy occasion indeed. Unfortunately, it was marred by my school’s implicit denial of (biblical) Southern Baptist doctrine in the form of one of the graduates in the Church Leadership Certificate Program.

At face value, the Church Leadership Certificate Program is great. According to the school’s website, the program “was founded to respond to the needs of church by preparing believers to serve more effectively in their church and their community.” Certificates are offered in Biblical Ministry, Biblical Teaching, Church Music, Church Ministry, Pastoral Ministry, Preschool and Children’s Ministry, Advanced Preschool and Children’s Ministry, Ministry Wives, Christian Education, Church Planting, Women’s Ministry, Advanced Women’s Ministry, and Pastoral Ministry in African American Church Studies. I would personally recommend that those serving in various ministry capacities obtain this type of training if getting a full degree is not convenient or affordable for them. My own wife has taken several courses in the “Ministry Wives” program, from which I believe she benefited. Unfortunately, the Leadership Certificate Program has not exhibited biblical fidelity in the area of Pastoral Ministry.

During this month’s ceremony, I witnessed a female graduate from the Pastoral Ministry Program. This came as a shock to me given that women are not biblically eligible to hold the pastoral office. Article VI of the BFM 2000, entitled “The Church,” states:

“A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.

The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.”

Although the Southern Baptist Convention’s official statement of faith denies that women are eligible to fill the pastoral office, its own seminary has granted a woman a certificate of leadership in “Pastoral Ministry.” At NOBTS, teachers are required to teach according to the BFM 2000. In fact, students are surveyed at the end of each course in order to ensure that their teachers have done so. How is it that a woman was allowed to earn a leadership certificate in Pastoral Ministry? There is of course no requirement for students at NOBTS to be Southern Baptist, or even Baptist, to enroll. It is understandable, in academic setting, that there will be a diversity of theological views even among evangelical students. There is certainly nothing wrong with a Southern Baptist Seminary granting an earned degree to a Methodist or Presbyterian student in subjects such as Counseling or Biblical Languages. However, it is downright unethical for a Southern Baptist Seminary to certify a woman as fit for “pastoral ministry” no matter what her denomination. What is the message in doing so? “We don’t believe you are fit to be a pastor but here is a certificate in pastoral ministry.” These women don’t need to be encouraged but corrected. How does certifying unequivocally unqualified “pastors” fulfill the great commission? The BFM 2000 is clear (as is the Bible): women are not to be pastors. Training them to be such, to the point of granting them a leadership certificate makes no sense. It is the acceptance of plain and simple liberalism. Southern Baptists did not fight the battles of the Conservative Resurgence so that its seminaries could train women for the pastorate. NOBTS needs to stop this practice immediately. There are a variety of opportunities and roles for women to train for in the church. Pastor is not one of them.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Sin in the 1st Degree: Simple Proof that Freemasonry is Inherently Wicked

Are most “Christian” Freemasons actually faithful servants of God who don’t truly understand what Freemasonry is all about?  Does participation in Freemasonry become sinful only at the highest levels, where the most secret esoteric knowledge is revealed?  Is the average Mason who never progresses past the first few degrees really aware of how wicked the craft actually is?  Questions like these can often be pondered by conflicted family members, church members, and pastors who are faced with confronting a professing Christian about his participation in the religion of Freemasonry.  No one wants to believe the worst about a fellow professing Christian and, thus, it can be the case that Christians excuse their Masonic familiars with one justification or another.   However, this should not be the case.  To be a Freemason one must become a Freemason.  Because the steps taken to be initiated into the fraternity are inherently sinful, membership in the Masonic lodge itself is inherently sinful.  To state the matter simply, one cannot be a Freemason and not be in sin.  A simple examination of the first degree of Freemasonry shows this to be plainly true.

Upon his initiation to Freemasonry, a candidate is asked by the Junior Deacon of the Lodge, “Who goes there?”  The candidate’s conductor (the Senior Steward of the lodge) is expected to answer as follows:

“A poor blind candidate, who desires to be brought from darkness to light and receive a part of the rights and benefits of this right worshipful lodge, erected to God and dedicated to the Holy Saints John.[1]

This something no one should be able to say about a Christian man; Christians do not walk in darkness.  Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me will not walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12).  The terrible irony of the Masonic statement above is the declaration that the Masonic lodge is dedicated to John the Baptist and John the Evangelist (“the Holy Saints John”), the latter of whom is the very author who recorded Christ’s words about being the light of the world.   Of John the Baptist, John the Evangelist wrote, “He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him.  He was not the Light, but came to testify about the Light.”  (John 1:7-8).    John the Baptist testified about Jesus Christ being the Light of the world.  All Christians have fellowship with Jesus, the Light, and thus cannot be walking in Darkness.  Yet, the Masonic lodge expects candidates to state that they are “lost in darkness and seeking the light of Freemasonry,” as if there is some source of light that the candidate needs other than Christ Himself.  It gets worse from there.  The following is the oath taken by candidates entering the first degree of Freemasonry:

“I, ________, of my own free will and accord in presence of Almighty God and this right worshipful Lodge erected to Him and dedicated to the Holy Saints John, do hereby and hereon, do solemnly sincerely promise and swear I will always hail, forever conceal and never reveal any of the secret arts, parts or points of the mysteries of Freemasonry which have been, may now or shall hereafter be communicated to me in Charge as such, to any person in the world, except it be to a true and lawful brother free Mason, or in a legally constituted lodge of ancient free and accepted Masons, and not unto him nor them therein until after due, trial, strict examination or lawful information, I shall have found them legally entitled to receive the same.  I, furthermore, promise to swear that I will not write, indite, print, paint, stamp, stain, cut, carve, mark, or engrave the same upon anything moveable or immoveable under the canopy of heaven, whereby the least word, syllable, letter of character thereof may become legible to myself or intelligible to others, and the secrets of Freemasonry be unlawfully obtained, and that through my unworthiness.  To all of which I solemnly and sincerely promise and swear to keep and perform the same, without any equivocation, mental reservation or secret evasion of mind in me whatever, binding myself under no less a penalty than having my throat cut ear to ear, my tongue torn out by its roots, and with my body buried in the rough sands of the sea, a cable’s length from shore, where the tide ebbs and flows twice in the twenty-four hours, should I ever knowingly or willingly violate this, my most solemn obligation as an entered apprentice, so help me God and keep me steadfast in the due performance of the same.”[2]

This is a bloody oath.  Rather than just simply giving his promise to keep the secrets of the lodge, a candidate swears upon a created thing (in this case his own body).  In the oath to the first degree, the candidate goes beyond letting his yes be “yes” and his no be “no”.  To do so, he must disobey the Lord Jesus Christ, who said,

“But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.  Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.”  (Matthew 5:34-37)

The Masonic candidate swears an oath by his head.  He directly disobeys Jesus.  Jesus said that this kind of oath is “of evil.”  To enter even the first degree of Freemasonry, a candidate must disobey Jesus.   A Christian simply cannot disobey the Lord Jesus and resolve that his act is anything less than sinful.  This is not a matter of liberty or conscience.  It is a matter of sin.  To enter the first degree of Freemasonry, to become a Mason, a man must sin.  To be a mason is to be in sin.  Without extensive research or complex theological argumentation, this is proven.  It is an open and shut case.  Freemasonry, as demonstrated by the obligations of its first degree, is inherently sinful.  To make matters worse, the “Christian” men who take the first degree’s obligation must then entice and facilitate other men to do the same in order to perpetuate their organization.  Freemasonry is founded in sin and perpetuated by it.

So what is the Christian to do about the fellow member of his church who is at the same time a professing Mason and a professing Christian?  He is to call him to repent.  He is to demand that he forsake the lodge, for the tenets of biblical Christianity demand as much.  Unrepentant Freemasons must be removed from membership in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Any church member or pastor who says otherwise and allows Freemasons to remain in church unchallenged, fails at his sacred duty.  This issue, like any issue of sin, is a hill upon which to die.

It may be difficult, but it is time for you to have a conversation with any professed Christian you know who claims to be a Freemason.

“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17

 

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

[1] Harris, J. (1983). Freemasonry: The Invisible Cult in Our Midst. Towson, Maryland: Jack Harris. (p. 32)

 

[2] Ibid (p 35-36)

The Teachings of the Lodge and the Teachings of the Bible.

Did you know that Freemasonry is religious?  To be a member of a Masonic Lodge, a man must profess faith in a Supreme Being and the eternality of the soul.  Masonic Lodges elect a chaplain and use a sacred text (usually a Bible) as part of the “furniture of the lodge.”  Masonic Lodges are intended to mimic Solomon’s temple.  When a Master Mason dies, he is entitled to Masonic funeral rites.  These rites include a petition for the departed Mason to enter the “Celestial Lodge.”  According to Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia, Freemasonry is a “mild religion” (p. 512).  Christians should ask, “Do the teachings of the Masonic religion agree with the teachings of the Bible?”

Salvation

The Bible teaches that a man is saved by the grace of God, through faith in the finished work of Christ and not by his own works.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that none may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Freemasonry teaches that a Master Mason can get to Heaven by living a “pious and virtuous life.”

Funeral rite language from Akin’s Lodge Manual with the Georgia Masonic Code (p. 138)

The Nature of Man

The Bible teaches that man is inherently sinful and evil from birth.  Without the grace of God, a man is unable to seek righteousness.  No one is good but God.  Only through Christ can men be empowered to do good works in the eyes of God.

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5

“And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Mark 10:18

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

The Message of Freemasonry is “Making Good Men Better” (Masonic Messenger, April 2014).  Freemasons seek to use the tenets of Freemasonry to build their own spiritual temple, to make themselves better through the practice of Freemasonry.  Freemasonry teaches that men who don’t know Jesus can make themselves better.

Syncretism

The Bible teaches that people should not mix false religion with the true religion of God.  The Ten Commandments require that man have no other gods before Yahweh and that man make no graven images.  The officers of a New Testament Church are pastors and deacons.  There is one high priest, Jesus, who is mediator between God and men.  God is a jealous God.  It is not acceptable before God to practice Christianity and another religion.  Christ and His church are to be held in the highest esteem.

“You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” Deuteronomy 4:2

Masonry teaches that one may become a high priest by advancing through the degrees of Masonry.  Doyle Franklin Williams was a member of the first Baptist Church of Emerson, Georgia where he was a deacon and the Music Director.  He was also a member of Emerson Masonic Lodge #738 where he served as the Worshipful Master.  He also served as the “High Priest” of Cartersville Royal Arch #144.  In Freemasonry, there are hymns of praise to the lodge and Freemasonry is considered the highest institution on Earth.  The Lodge is to be held in the highest esteem.  Freemasonry encourages syncretism.

“No institution was ever raised on a better principle, or more solid foundation.  Nor were ever more excellent rules and useful maxims laid down that are inculcated in the several Masonic lectures.  The greatest and best of men, in all ages, have been encouragers and promoters of the art, and have never deemed it derogatory to their dignity to level themselves with the fraternity, extend their privileges, and patronize their assembles” Akin’s Lodge Manual With Georgia Masonic Code (p. 137-138)

 For more information on Freemasonry, contact us.

[Contributed by: Seth Dunn]

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Masonic Bartow Baptists: A Listing

As frequent readers of this blog are aware, I have been researching and writing about Freemasonry for some time. I have determined, after study, reflection, and communication with former Masons, that Freemasonry is incompatible with Christianity. Freemasonry is, in and of itself, a religious institution. Its teachings simply do not agree with the teachings of the Bible. As a matter of biblical holiness, no unrepentant freemason should be allowed membership in a New Testament Church. Much to my dismay, Masonic presence in the churches of the Bartow Baptist Association has been widespread. Several months ago, I sought a way to determine the extent to which Freemasons have influence in the Baptist churches here in Bartow County. Online obituaries provided an accessible resource for identifying Masons who had been members of Bartow Baptist Churches. The listing below is the result of my research into Masonic obituaries in Bartow County. The listing contains the name of every church in the Bartow Baptist Association as well as the names and titles of former Masonic members that I could identify.

Adairsville Baptist Church

Dr. Sidney Faith Hutcherson – Member. Adairsville Lodge #168

Max Landrum – Member. 10-year Mayor of Adairsville. Adairsville Lodge #168.

Jim Purvis –Deacon, Sunday School Teacher, Youth Leader. Shorter Alum. Adairsville Lodge #168

Hoyt Sutton – Member. Adairsville Masonic Lodge #168.

Atco Baptist Church

Roy Eugene Chambers – Member. Ordained Missionary Baptist Church minister. Cartersville Lodge #63 F&M. Past Master, Scottish Rite and York Rite – Daylight Lodge of Rockmart, Past Patron of Carterville Order of the Eastern Star #329.

Charles Hendricks, Sr. – Deacon, member of the willing workers Sunday School class, Chair of the senior care ministry. Cartersville Lodge #63. Past Patron of the order of the Eastern Star #329.

James Robert Morris – Lead usher. Cartersville Lodge. Past Master, Past District Deputy, Past Grand Tyler for the state of Georgia, Lodge Secretary, Past Patron of the order of the Eastern Star #329.

Jimmy Rampley – Member. Cartersville Lodge #63. Yaarab Temple.

Arthur Lee Woody, Sr. – Member. Adairsville Masonic Lodge #168.

Bethel Crossroads Baptist Church

No Masonic members were identified in my research. Doyle Williams, the former music director of First Baptist Emerson was buried in the cemetery of this church.

Brandon’s Chapel

No Masonic members were identified in my research.

Cartersville First Baptist Church

Ella Dee Crabtree – Member. Order of the Eastern Star and Rebekah Lodge of Georiga #28. Wife of James Crabtree.

Corey Wayne Godfrey – Member. Aragon Davitte Masonic Lodge # 513.

Rev. Charles L. Goss, Jr. – Member. Ordained graduate of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Cartersville Masonic Lodge #63

Cassville Baptist Church

James D. Kimsey – Member. Adairsville Masonic Lodge #168.

Cedar Creek Baptist Church

Howard Garland – Member. Adairsville Masonic Lodge #168.

Connesena Baptist Church

Hugh Dennis Jenkins – Member. Kingston Masonic Lodge #394.

Corinth Baptist Church

Rev. George Chastain –Chastain was the former pastor of Corinth Baptist Church. His obituary stated “Masons will serve as honorary pallbearers.” His son-in-law, Lamar Pendley, is known to be a Mason in Bartow County.

Rev. Hubert Ortel Cabe – Cabe was the former pastor of Corinth Baptist Church.[1] Stilesboro Lodge #260.

CrossPoint City Church

No Masonic members were identified in my research.

Euharlee Baptist Church

Calvin Harold Miller – Member. Euharlee Masonic Lodge #457. Past Master.

Expedition Church

No Masonic members were identified in my research.

Faith Baptist Church

No Masonic members were identified in my research.

First Baptist Church of Emerson

John Carroll Hale – Deacon. Emerson masonic Lodge #738. Past Master.

Doyle Frank Williams – Deacon and Music Director. Emerson masonic Lodge #738. Past Master. Cartersville Royal Arch Chapter #144. Past High Priest. Yarab Shrine Temple. Order of the Easter Star. Past Worthy Patron.

Floyd Creek Baptist Church

Lessie Free – Former member, pianist, organist, Sunday School Teacher. Chapter #321 Order of the Eastern Star, Appreciation Certificate from John W. Akin Masonic Lodge. Widow of William Free.

William Harry Reagan – Buried at Floyd Creek Baptist cemetery with John W. Akin Masonic Lodge Masons serving as pallbearers.

Ray Earwood – Attending at time of death. Rockmart Lodge # 97 F. & A.M

Friendship Baptist Church

No Masonic members were identified in my research.

Glade Baptist Church

No Masonic members were identified in my research.

Glade Road Baptist Church

No Masonic members were identified in my research.

Grace Baptist Church

Billy Cline – Member. Stilesboro Lodge #260. Cartersville Shrine Club.

Jerry Edward Ray – Member. Cartersville Masonic Lodge #63

Daniel Webster Turner, Sr – Member. Cartersville Masonic Lodge #63

Greater New Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church

No Masonic members were identified in my research.

Kingston Baptist Church

Bill Blankenship– Member. Kingston Lodge #394.

Ronald Coleman Casey – Chairman of Deacons. Former mayor of Kingston. Kingston Lodge #394. Shriner.

Lake Point Church

No Masonic members were identified in my research.

Macedonia Baptist Church

No Masonic members were identified in my research.

New Hope Baptist Church

William Craig – Funeral and burial at the church. Acworth Lodge #176.

Arthur Lee Hightower – Deacon. Acworth Lodge #176.

Oak Grove Baptist Church

No Masonic members were identified in my research.

Olive Branch Community Church

No Masonic members were identified in my research.

Oothcalooga Baptist Church

No Masonic members were identified in my research.

Peeples Valley Baptist Church

No Masonic members were identified in my research.

Pine Grove Baptist Church

Ray Jackson Popham – Trustee, Sunday School Teacher, choir member. Former Cartersville School Board member. Cartersville Masonic Lodge #63

Rev. Hubert A. Woodward – Former Pastor. Cartersville Masonic Lodge #63

Pleasant Hill Baptist Church

Vance Sanford Hyde – Men’s Bible Class teacher. East Floyd Lodge #728. Order of the Eastern Star 501.

Racoon Creek Baptist Church

No Masonic members were identified in my research.

Rowland Springs Baptist Church[2]

C. Duncan– Member. Fort Campbell Masonic Lodge #486.

Fred Gunn, Jr – Member. Former Adairsville Chief of Police. Cartersville Masonic Lodge #63

Robert Hobgood – Member. Cartersville Masonic Lodge #63

Snow Springs Baptist Church

Rev. Julie Dennie Adcock – Deacon. Scoutmaster of Adairsville Boy Scout Troop #12. Adairsville Masonic Lodge #168, Past Master. Shannon Masonic Lodge #100.

Charles “Sonny” Jones – Deacon, Treasurer, Sunday School Superintendent. Bartow County Associate Magistrate Judge. Adairsville-Bartow County School Board Member. Masonic Lodge #168, Past Master. Rome Yaraab Shrine.

Tabernacle Baptist Church

Denny Kennedy – Funeral held at the church. Cartersville Masonic Lodge #63. Cartersville Royal Arch #144.

Odas Alton Kiser – Deacon and Church Trustee. Cartersville Masonic Lodge #63. Yaraab Shrine Temple. His wife was the director of Director of Preschool and After-school programs at the church and a Pre-school Sunday School teacher.

F.G. Lankford – Deacon. Cartersville Masonic Lodge #63.

Marvin Vernon Mitchell – Member. Cartersville City Councilman. Cartersville Masonic Lodge #63. Yaraab Shrine Temple.

Taylorsville Baptist Church

Charles Garrison – Deacon, Sunday School Director, Choir Member. John W. Akin Lodge #537.

James Roy Lanier – Member. John W. Akin Lodge #537.

Alfred C. Morgan – Member. John W. Akin Lodge #537.

The Church in the Hills

No Masonic members were identified in my research.

The Stone Church

No Masonic members were identified in my research.

Trinity Baptist Church

No Masonic members were identified in my research.

Unity Worship Church

No Masonic members were identified in my research.

Wofford’s Crossroads Baptist Church

No Masonic members were identified in my research.

Given that Freemasonry is a secret society, the reader should keep in mind that the pastors and non-Masonic members of the county’s Baptist churches may be completely unaware of the wicked nature of Freemasonry. Furthermore, pastors who are aware of the sinful practice of Freemasonry may be under immense pressure from Masonic church members, Masonic deacons, and their family members to turn a blind eye to the practice of Masonry within the church body. Pastors can face losing their jobs for taking a biblical stand. If you have questions about Freemasonry, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or your pastor. If you know of a Freemason who is a member of your church, you are under biblical obligation to call him to repentance under the tenets of Matthew 18. Make no mistake; Freemasonry is not a harmless fraternity. Do not be deceived; it is not the case that only high-level members understand the sinful nature of Freemasonry. A man must sin to even take first Masonic oath. You can find a resource to assist you calling Masonic church members to repentance here.

Read over the names on this listing and consider it deeply that these men are dead. No one will ever have a chance to call them to repent before they face the judgement of their maker. While Masons still live, the best way to demonstrate Christ’s love to them is to call them to repent.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

[1] “Corinth Baptist Church” is a common church name. It was not made explicitly clear in this Bartow County native’s obituary that he served as pastor of Corinth Baptist in Cartersville. He was a member of Center Baptist Church when he died.

[2] As a matter of disclosure, I am a member of this church. Since these church members are dead, I am obviously unable to approach them privately under the tenets of Matthew 18.

Teacher and Pastors: Thoughts on Compensation, Education, and Experience

In my town there are two public school systems – Bartow County and City of Cartersville. The average annual salary for a teacher in the Bartow County school system is $54,342 per year. The average annual salary for a teacher in the City of Cartersville school system is $58,908. As is the case with any population of employees, the average is calculated using the higher salaries of more experienced and educated employees and the lower salaries of less experienced and educated employees. There is also, of course, the merit of individual employees to consider, which can vary wildly from teacher to teacher. There is, however, one thing that all the teachers in both systems have in common – a base level of education. No one can get a job as a teacher in either school system without a bachelor’s degree. Those teachers who go on to earn a master’s degree are able to demand a higher rate of pay than those who do not. The more educated and experienced the teacher, the more he will be compensated. Sensibly enough, the citizens of Bartow County expect that the individuals charged with educating the children of Bartow County are themselves educated. But what about the expectations of Bartow’s Christians? Do they expect that their pastors, especially their youth pastors, be educated and compensated in a manner commensurate with public school teachers? It is my contention, given that one of the primary responsibilities of pastors is teaching, that they should. But are they?

At my church’s recent conference to discuss the 2018 church budget, one of the items up for review was staff salary. My Southern Baptist church employs two full time ministers – the pastor and the minister of students and families. Technically speaking, the latter does not hold the title of “pastor”. However, he does perform duties that are pastoral in nature and is commonly referred to as the “youth pastor”. To be clear, nowhere in the Bible will anyone find the titles “youth pastor”, “executive pastor”, “education pastor”, or “senior pastor”. Such titles are, for lack of a better term, made up. They are also quite novel to church history. In the most basic sense, there are two offices in a New Testament Church: Deacon and Pastor/Elder/Overseer. Nevertheless, it is the reality in the modern church that certain functions have been assigned to certain specialty “pastors”. The “youth pastor” is tasked with evangelizing and educating young people (or, in some unfortunate church contexts, babysitting and entertaining them). The gravity of such a task cannot be underestimated. The “youth pastor” at my church has earned a masters degree from one of our denominational seminaries. (The same is true of our “senior pastor”.) Coming out of our recent budget meeting, I couldn’t help but wonder if our “minister of students and families” earned a salary commensurate with local middle and high school teachers since his job is quite comparable to theirs.

There happen to be two public school teachers who serve as deacons at my church. One teaches Math at a public school within our county. Another teaches Science at a public school in an adjacent county. I do not know if either man has a masters degree but both are roughly the same age as our “youth pastor” (I believe they are slightly older). In the state of Georgia, the salaries of public employees are publicly available and published online. I decided to look up the salaries of these deacons and compare them with the salary our church pays our minister of students and families. Both of the deacons earn roughly 30% more salary than the man tasked with teaching the youth of our church. Science and Math are indispensable subjects and the importance of teaching them to young people is paramount. However, teaching the Bible to young people is of no less importance. Does the world value teaching Math and Science to young people more than churches like ours value teaching to the Bible to the same?

Numbers don’t lie.

Our church is blessed to have an educated youth minister, an actual theologian. Many churches are apt to place an uneducated and inexperienced individual in charge of youth ministry. Such “youth ministry” has a tendency to be event and entertainment-driven and is, at best, focused on moralism and making an often ill-defined decision for Christ. This is certainly not optimal.

Consider the biblical qualifications for holding the pastoral office (“youth” or otherwise):

  • Above reproach,

  • The husband of one wife

  • Having children who believe

  • Not accused of dissipation or rebellion.

  • Able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

That describes what I would call a “grown man”. If a church chooses to hire a man to oversee its youth ministry in a pastoral way, it should pay that individual like a grown man, especially if he is as well-educated or better-educated than those public schools have charged with teaching youth. (There should be no such thing as a 20-year-old “youth pastor” whose most relevant previous “Christian” employment is working the cash register at Chic-fil-A!) There is a great battle in the world for Christian young people. Christian parents should certainly not abdicate the primary responsibility they have for discipling their children to any paid minister but if they do belong to a church that chooses to hire a “youth pastor” they need to ensure that they hire a mature, educated theologian…and pay him accordingly.

How much money does your church’s youth pastor make? How much is he worth?

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.