Sometime ago I was talking to a dear brother in Christ and we were discussing various topics. The topic of shepherding (i.e., pastoring) came up and he mentioned that he would call my wife a “pastor” out of respect for my service to the body of Christ. I gave him a perplexed look and began to tell him the position that he was taking, although sincere, was not biblical. He stated that he knew he could not prove this from sacred Scripture but that he believed this was right position to take in regards to my service of being the teaching elder at this fellowship. As I continued to give a reason from God’s word how his position could not stand muster, he defended his belief with logical reasoning, which went something like this:
Person: “You are the pastor right?”
Me: “Yes, I am.”
Person: “You are married right?”
Me: “Yes, I am.”
Person: “You and your wife are considered one flesh, right?”
Me: “Yes, we are!”
Person: “So, if you and your wife are one flesh, then you are the pastor, then this means that your wife is the pastor also.”
He was serious about his position, and I was speechless.
When it comes to building our theology we must do so with what God has revealed in His Holy word and not by any other means. Let us draw some observations as to why it is beneficial to use God’s word for being a firm solid theology.
- God’s word is God breathed: Paul tells Timothy that it is God’s word is “inspired” (lit. “God-breathed”) and is useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). The result of this usefulness is that the believer will be equipped for all the good works God has for His saints (v.17). Simply put, God’s word is the only thing that can equip the saint for the work of His saints, because God wrote His word to the human authors. To use our logic to build our own theological framework is to actually minimize what God wrote through these authors to communicate.
- Logic is a gift from God, but logic is not God-breathed: Logic is a gift of God, given to man, so that we may glorify Him and love our neighbor. However, what should govern this gift given by God is Scripture, not logic itself because logic is not theopneustos (i.e., “God-breathed). This is what happened with the person I was discussing the issue of shepherding. He commented, before he gave me his logical argument, he could not prove his position from Scripture, affirming his own belief, and at the same time rejecting what revealed Scripture teaches regarding elders (i.e., “pastors”).
- Building a theology from logic may lead to a faulty practice: It is important to have a healthy theology, because from a healthy theology flows healthy practices. However, building a theology from logic (or any other position) may cause us to develop a practice that is against God’s word. For instance, consider this logical argument below:
P1: Anything that is of the world is sin.
P2: The Christian is to avoid sin.
P3: Dancing is a part of the world.
P4: We are Christians.
*IP: We are to be “pure” in this world.
P5: We are to avoid sin.
Therefore, we are to avoid dancing.
*IP means “implied premise.”
It is indeed true that as believers in Christ we are to avoid and contend against sin. God word clearly instructs us to do so. Yet in God’s word there is not a single passage that states that dancing is a sin, or that dancing should be avoided because it leads to sin. This is an argument that has it roots in faulty logical presuppositions rather than God’s word. As a result, fellowships and Christian institutions have been erected, and with very good intentions, where this rule must be followed if one is to be in good standing with a fellowship or institution. However, this rule, and many other rules like these that the church embraces, could come, not from sacred Scripture, but from a theological position based in logic.
Let us seek, as believers in the faith, to be a people who places little trust in our logic and ideas about God and what He has taught, and lets strive to all be students who seek to build our theology by what God has revealed in His written word. It is the only thing that equips us for good works for one another and our neighbor, it should govern and guide the gift that God has given us to glorify Him, and it keeps us from faulty practices that minimize His world and demand works God never intended or required for His people.
I end this article with a quote from Psalm 119:9-16 below:
9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. 10 With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments. 11 Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. 12 Blessed are You, O Lord; Teach me Your statutes. 13 With my lips I have told of All the ordinances of Your mouth. 14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on Your precepts And regard Your ways. 16 I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word (NASB).
Until next time…
Soli Deo Gloria!