WITHOUT BIBLICAL BASIS
By Wayne Camp
Authors note: The following message was preached at the Annual Pastors and Missionaries Conference of the American Baptist Association in 1970. It is presented here basically as then. I have done some editing but have left it basically the same. Some of the churches in the ABA, with which I then fellowshipped, had women doing almost anything men did in church services except preaching. The independent, sovereign grace churches with which I now fellowship do not have that problem but many who read this on the WWW will not be of that number. Wayne Camp
TEXT: Matthew 15:1-3 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, 2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. 3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
In our first scripture, we see the concern of the Pharisees for the traditions of the fathers, To them it is very important that no tradition of the fathers be broken. Baptists are not without their traditions. Some of these are good. All that agree with the Bible are good. Those that do not should be abandoned. We should lay aside every weight. I have chosen to speak on the subject: BAPTIST BARNACLES WITHOUT BIBLICAL BASIS.
I am aware that it is not popular to be negative. In fact, I am opposed to 100% negativism. We love to blast the communists, the Catholics, and the weak-kneed Protestants and their "glorious" ecumenical movement. However, one treads on dangerous ground when he dares transgress the tradition of the elders. I would remind you that we are not to be so concerned with the traditions but as Jesus reminded the Pharisees: "Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?"
I trust that all of you are aware of what a barnacle is. I am also sure that you know of the damage they can do and the expense they can cause.
Barnacles are marine animals that grow on rocks, wharves, floats, ships, shales, turtles, and almost any other surface covered by water. They are a nuisance to boat and ship owners because they retard the passage of vessels through the water and because they tend to speed rusting and corrosion of metal hulls unless removed regularly.
I suggest that we have some barnacles, some weights, that we need to lay aside because they hinder our work and our race.
Stopford A. Brooke said: "IF A THOUSAND OLD BELIEFS WERE RUINED IN OUR MARCH TO TRUTH WE MUST STILL MARCH ON."
One Baptist barnacle that is without Biblical basis is
THE DISPARAGEMENT OF THE BISHOPRICK
The apostle declares: "If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work" (I Tim. 3:1). He enforced the statement with the expression, "This is a true saying."
A STUDY OF THE WORDS RELATING TO THE OFFICE
When one examines the words that refer to the office of a pastor, he sees the real position of the pastor. It is worthwhile in the study of our subject to look at these words and their meanings.
The first word that I desire to consider is EPSIKOPE. This word refers to the office itself. Thayer says, "the overseer or presiding officer of a Christian church. Oversight, overseership, office, charge."
Secondly, let us note the word PRESBUTEROS. This is the word that refers to those who presided over the assemblies of the churches. Acts 11:30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul. Acts 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. The reader is also encouraged to look at Acts 15:2, 4, 6, 22; 16:4; 21:18; I Tim. 5:17-19; Titus 1:5-7; II John 1; III John 1; I Pet. 5:1.
Thirdly, there is the word EPISKOPOS. This word refers to the one who fills the office. The word is translated bishop in the KJV. It refers to an overseer and is used of Christ as the bishop of our souls, the Overseer of our souls. 1 Peter 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. It is used to refer to the overseer, or Bishop, of a church. Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons. 1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach. Titus 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre.
The fourth word we mention is POIMEN. This is a herdsman, a shepherd, a feeder. John 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, [and] one shepherd. The word we use more for this is Pastor. It is used to refer to the feeder of the flock. Greek authorities also say that it refers to the presiding officer, the director, the manager of a Christian assembly. Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.
The last word to consider is PRESBUTERION. This is the word that is used for a presbytery. It is a body of elders, pastors, or bishops. It does not include deacons or others. It is a body or council of pastors. I Tim. 4:14.
A STUDY OF THE WORK OF THE PASTOR
If we are to understand the barnacle under consideration, we must come to a conclusion as to the Biblical work of a pastor. I am not asking what you think is the pastor's job. I dare say that a survey of this audience would be very confusing to a person who was seeking to find out what his duties as a pastor are.
First, I would say that the work of the pastor is a good work. The work of the pastor is a heavenly vocation. The task of calling men from the sordidness of the worldly walk to a godly life is not to be taken lightly. It is a good and glorious work.
Second, the work of the pastor is also one which carries tremendous responsibilities. One is overwhelmed when he realizes the tremendous load that God placed on his shoulders when He laid His hand upon him and planted a burning desire in his heart that could only be cured by declaring the Word of God.
The pastor has a responsibility to feed the flock. He must present the bread and water of life to the unsaved. He must present the sincere milk of the Word to the Christians. He must also present the meat of the Word if he is to see his congregation come to maturity and full growth. Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. Feeding the flock of God is a great undertaking.
The pastor must also set a proper example before his flock. People will not do as we say. They will do as we do. Their standards of morality will seldom surpass those of the pastor. 1 Corinthians 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 1 Timothy 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
Third, the pastor is to fulfill the ministry which he received from God. Colossians 4:17 And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it. The pastor must make full proof of his ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-5 I charge [thee] therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. It is not enough to be one who reproves and rebukes. It is not enough to be a teacher of doctrine. It is not enough to be evangelistic. Our ministry is deficient and our congregations will be malnourished if we do not make full-proof of our ministry. One of the most awesome responsibilities of the pastor is to oversee the congregation over which God has placed him. Stephen Olford, in his book, Heart Cry For Revival, says:
The third menace which confronts us is what I term Democracy GONE AWRY. For some time I have kept this to myself until I could analyze the situation accurately and prayerfully. Then I came across one pastor after another who expressed the same views and, still later, I was brought into touch with writings which have corroborated my growing conviction. Our founding fathers never intended that democracy should be an excuse for the contempt of authority and the refusal to recognize God-ordained leadership.
I realize that I may hear the cry of "dictator" and "Nicolaitanism" but I would remind you that this latter error was the ascendancy of pastors of large churches over the pastors of smaller churches. "Some of the bishops or pastors," says Dr. J. M. Carroll, "began to assume authority not given them in the New Testament. They began to claim authority over other and smaller churches .... Here was the beginning of different orders in the ministry . . . ." It is wrong to assume too much authority over a congregation. It is just as sinful on the part of the preacher not to do his job and exercise his leadership that is Biblical. Listen to Paul's instruction on these matters. Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. Hebrews 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of [their] conversation. Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that [is] unprofitable for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-14 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. [And] be at peace among yourselves. 14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all [men]. There can be no doubt that there is what is known as pastoral authority. Because some assume too much, it is sad how many do not take their God-ordained position as spiritual ruler of the assembly over which God has placed them.
I mention one other responsibility of the pastor. He is to preach the Word. 2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. It is sad that a division was made between II Tim.3:l6-17 and this verse. The Bible is God-breathed. It is the writing of God. Every one of the 1189 chapters is inspired. There are 31,163 verses in the Bible, and the Holy Spirit directed the writing of every one of them. All Scripture is inspired and the God-called preacher has a task of preaching the God-breathed Word. We must declare the whole counsel of God.
One of the biggest barnacles of our great work is the disparagement of the bishoprick. This has been the result of democracy gone to seed. It is the result of yearly elections of pastors that result in electioneering and politicking. It has often been the result of not setting a salary and of using the collection to keep the pastor humble. Our tendency to revolt against one extreme by going to another is also a cause of the disparagement. When the Catholics set up their hierarchy, we swung to the other extreme. The Campbellites teach baptismal regeneration, and we react by teaching that baptism is not important. Some teach falling from grace, and some of our people come up with the idea that "you can be saved and do anything you want to, sin all you want to." The Catholics set up a hierarchy; we revolt by making the pastor a despised worker rather than a God-called, God-placed overseer. When the attendance is down, it is time to call a pastor. When some problem occurs in the building program, blame the pastor. When some spineless, fable-loving church member drops out of service, give the pastor a piece of your mind. This barnacle is reflected in an experience I once had. The church which I was pastoring was calling an evangelist to preach a revival meeting. I suggested that we needed to pay more for the revival since the evangelist would have to travel some distance. I pointed out that the amount that had been suggested would not even cover the expenses incurred in the trip. A brother said, "That is just his hard-luck for being a preacher." He tried to retract it and say he did not mean it but he did mean it and in an unguarded moment had let it slip out.
Another reason that we have trouble with this barnacle is a second barnacle that I want to discuss.
THE AGGRANDIZEMENT OF THE DEACONSHIP
Deacons were originally appointed as table waiters. They were to serve the tables of the poor and widows. There is no New Testament authority for their having any special authority or unction for service in spiritual matters of the church. I disagree with the idea that the deacons are over the material things of the church and insist that we must have Biblical authority if we teach such. I would like to approach this division of my message by asking three questions. Should deacons be asked to sit on a presbytery? Is it necessary to have the deacons serve the Lord's Supper? What is the scriptural work of the deacon?
It had never before occurred to me to question something that had been practiced every place that I had ever attended an ordination service. The deacons were always invited to sit on the presbytery with the pastors. I assumed that the brethren would not practice something which could not be found in the Scriptures. After all, do we not accuse in strong language the gradual growth of the dogmas of the Catholics from practice to tradition to doctrine?
This investigation began when I determined to preach a series of expository messages on the book of I Timothy. This called for a study of many Greek words. In dealing with I Timothy 3:1-7, a study of all the words that refer to the pastoral office was made. A PRESBUTERION, according to Thayer, is a body of presbyters. A PRESBUTEROS in the Christian church refers to those who presided over the assemblies or churches. Thayer sets forth good evidence that the word is interchangeable with the word EPISKOPOS which is translated, bishop. "The title EPISKOPOS denotes the function, PRESBUTEROS the dignity; the former was borrowed from Greek institutions, the latter from the Jewish," says Thayer.
A. T. Robertson held the same opinion, it was found, and so the research was on its way. Other matters were brought into the study. Are deacons required to serve the Lord's Supper? Are they over the material things of the church? What is their duty as outlined in the Bible?
Should deacons sit on a presbytery?
In response to letters written, several brethren verified that there was not one New Testament Scripture which would warrant deacons sitting on a presbytery. Dr. Fred G. Stevenson said:
"Bro. Guthrie associated the word deacon with service in common things such as supplying tables, excluding them from any special service in the spiritual matters. I did not find that the authorities agree with him as to this meaning of the word. However, I think he was right in limiting the office of deacons as such to service in material things. I am not positive, but I believe the allowing of deacons to sit on councils to ordain preachers is an innovation of the last generation. I do not believe there were any on the council when I was ordained in 1933. I know I have heard the argument against it to the effect that one cannot impart something he does not have himselfthat is the gift of grace to preach, imparted by laying on of hands."
"In short I agree with your conclusion, and believe the placing of deacons on councils is merely an effort to exalt as many men as possible in our church activities."
Dr. Hoyt Chastain said:
"The question concerning PRESBYTERION. In my opinion the word does NOT include the deacon. I do not know of any case in the New Testament that [sic. in which] deacons were invited to be on the council. This is a TRADITION as far as I am concerned."
Dr. Chastain is recognized as a Greek authority in our work. He says that the practice of inviting deacons to sit on a presbytery is TRADITION.
Dr. A. T. Powers said:
"I think the practice of having and not having deacons on the ordaining council is more geographic than anything else. I have worked in places where this was frowned upon."
Dr. Conrad Glover said:
"I cannot cite you to any Scripture that would warrant deacons to sit on a presbytery to ordain a preacher. However, it has been a common practice in this area as long as I can remember to invite them to do so--it has become common law (writer's emphasis) in our churches here, by long usage without objection."
Please note that it has "become common law."
Dr. L. D. Foreman said:
"I am quite positive you have struck upon a very important fact and I would encourage you and anyone else who has energy, knowledge and the intestinal fortitude to pursue this thing and to teach our young ministers that they, in turn, may teach their churches .... Actually, I think we are doing the deacons a disservice by making them on an equality with pastors."
According to Ungers Bible Dictionary, a presbytery is "the order or body of elders (pastors) mentioned in connection with the ordination of Timothy. 1 Timothy 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
In discussing the authority of churches to elect and commission her own officers, Dr. J. R. Graves says:
"No neighboring churches were called upon to send their officers to ordain these men (Paul and Barnabas); nor can we bring ourselves to believe that a number of ministers (note that he did not say 'ministers and deacons') belonging to this church ordained and gave them 'credentials,' bearing their individual signatures; the record of the church alone was the visible proof of their ordination, and it is given.
"A church may, if she sees fit, invite as many ministers [not ministers and deacons] as she pleases to advise and assist her officers in this work, but she must allow them no authority in the matter" (Old Landmarkism, What Is it?, p. 47).
In Baptist Faith and Roman Catholicism, Wendell Holmes Rone discuses the offices of the church. Concerning the office of a deacon he said, "They are chosen by the whole congregation and are ordained by the ministry." Concerning the office of a pastor he said, "The church, through a Council of Ministers, formally authorizes the exercise of the gifts bestowed by God upon the one ordained." Rone makes no mention, in this case, of deacons on the presbytery. He said it is composed of ministers.
A question concerning deacons arose in the Catholic church many years ago, and the Council of Nice made this declaration: "Nor is it permitted to deacons to sit among the presbyters, as that is against rule and order" (Eusebius, p. 59, appendix).
When Dr. Ben Bogard was ordained there was not a single deacon on the presbytery. His ordination certificate reads: "This is to certify that at the request Of the Woodlawn Baptist Church, Union Co. Ky., we whose names appear below, Baptist Ministers in good standing in our respective churches and regularly ordained to the work of the gospel ministry, having organized ourselves into a presbytery, did after a full and careful examination of Bro. B. M. Bogard and being fully satisfied as to his fitness for the work, with the full consent and approval of the church, ordain him to the full work of the gospel ministry in the Baptist churches. Done January 15, 1889."
In an article in the Baptist Way-book entitled "Ordaining Preachers" Dr. Bogard says:
"The method or ordaining a preacher is to invite a council of preachers (emphasis mine)a presbyteryand the church through this council examines the candidate for ordination concerning his call and qualifications for the gospel ministry. After a careful and prayerful examination which would fittingly be accompanied by fasting, if the presbytery deems the candidate worthy of ordination, the church is notified."
Dr. Bogard held that a presbytery is a council of pastors. He never mentions inviting deacons to sit on the council. Deacons are not presbyters and cannot be part of a presbytery if the Greek is respected at all.
As to where this tradition originated, the best information that the writer was able to find indicates that it came from the Episcopalians. This Protestant group places prospective ministers in the office of deacon to train and observe them. The deaconship is a probationary office in which one prepares for the ministry. It then seems to have traveled through the Northern Baptist Convention, the Southern Baptist Convention, and into the work of Landmark Baptists. In one generation it has become law in the churches of the Landmark type. If it is not recognized as tradition which has no Biblical basis one wonders where it will lead.
Do the Scriptures teach that a deacon is to help serve the Lords Supper? It should be noted that there is nothing wrong with deacons assisting the pastor in the serving of the Lord's Supper. In fact, they are the logical men for the work if the pastor needs help. However, there is nothing that says that they must be the ones who do it .
An interesting article from the "Baptist Commoner" is found in volume two of the Life And Works of Ben M. Bogard, page 502.
"The church at ______________ has five ordained deacons and two were appointed on trial to fill out the quorum. Now, the five ordained deacons claim that the two unordained have just as much authority to participate in the distribution of the Lord's Supper and to assist in baptizing as they have. To this the pastor dissents, holding that the brethren thus appointed are only candidates for the office of deacon and therefore should be debarred from assisting in the ordinances. Please answer us as soon as you can in the 'Baptist Commoner'."
Dr. Bogard answered,
"I learn something new almost every day. I never heard before of appointing deacons on trial. The passage that says for deacons to approve themselves does not mean for a man to prove himself in order to become a deacon, but the deacon, after he has become a deacon, should prove himself worthy. I never heard before that it is any part of the duty of deacons to assist in baptizing than it is any other brother or sister. In all the baptizing that I have done the sisters assisted the female candidates the best they could and the men assisted the male candidates the best they could, with no thought of whether it is the duty of a deacon or not. Some deacons have assisted me in that way, but so have others. That is no part of the deacon's office work.
"I have heard some who thought that it is the deacon's duty to pass the bread and the wine in the Lord's Supper, but I do not believe that it is any more their duty than it is the duty of anybody else. However, there is some coloring to that idea since the deacons are to serve tables. The serving of tables, however, does not mean the Lord's table, since the tables of the poor are referred to. The deacon's one duty is to look after the poor. The deacons were appointed for that one purpose. See Acts, 6th chapter.
"The two brethren who are on trial are not deacons yet and will not be till they are ordained. Their being on trial is itself an unscriptural device and does not make them deacons in any sense. Let them be ordained and then they will be deacons. When they are ordained they, together with the other five, should quit thinking they are to help administer the ordinances and get down to a deacon's business, that of looking after the poor. It might be a part of the deacon's business to raise the money for the pastor, for that would be serving tables and in a sense, looking after the poor, but to administer the ordinances or to assist in such work is no part of their duty, any more than it is any other brother's duty."
Dr. Thomas Armitage, pastor of the Fifth Ave. Baptist Church of New York City and Author of History Of The Baptists, (Dryan Taylor and Company, New York, 1886. pp. 131-133.), said:
"So the more strict brethren (Acts 6) took it into their heads that their poor were overlooked, and with the true instinct of modern Baptist Grumblers, they began to fill the church with complaints that the distribution of bread was not even and fair. The adjustment of this business so diverted the attention of the apostles and consumed their time, that they asked the church to select seven men from their own ranks, who should 'help,' 'wait,' and 'serve' at the provision-tables, and they would confirm the popular choice. They also laid down clearly the qualifications for the work. They must be 'of good report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom; discrete, having the confidence of the people; being marked for consecration, integrity, sound judgment, and impartiality; all this, although their duties were purely material, or as Jerome expresses it, they were 'attendants on tables and widows'."
Armitage further declares:
"The fact is most marked that those officers at a heathen feast whose duty it was to serve the portions of food which were eaten, were called the 'deacons.' One officer slew the victims; another offered them in sacrifice or cooked them; then the third officer served the flesh to the devotees. This fact is very suggestive as showing the unpretentiousness of the office and title, as may account for the sacerdotal air which superstition has thrown around the diaconate in some communions. This election created a new office in the church, but not a new order in the ministry, as that term is now used. Alford (Dean) warns his readers (on Acts VI) 'Not to imagine that we have here the institution of an ecclesiastical order in the ministry so nameddeacons. In modern parlance they were laymen before their election and they remained so after. The reason given for the creation of the office was, that the Apostles might be relieved from those duties (table waiting) which interfered with their full ministry of the Word. One set of ministers was not created to help another to do the same work, but duties that were not ministerial or pastoral were separated from those that were, and given into other hands. So that the deaconship was not probationary to the eldership."
Armitage makes another interesting point when he says:
"The instructions given to the deacon in the Epistles, show the functions of his office to have been the same in the latter period of the Apostolic Age that they were when the office was created; and it nowhere appears that they exercised the pastoral or ministerial office. Even in matters relating to the relief of the poor they were not supreme. When Paul and Barnabas brought relief to the poor saints at Jerusalem, they delivered the gift to the 'elders' and not to the deacons: and no deacons assisted in the call, deliberation, or decisions of the advisory council at Jerusalem. Paul's associations there were all with the elders and not the deacons of the church, showing that the deacons held no rank in the pastoral office. Thirty years after their office was formed, he instructs them, and enjoins them precisely those qualifications for filling it, which were needed in one whose business it was to go from house to house dispensing alms, an d none other."
In the "Baptist World" of October, 1967, Dr. L. D. Foreman relates:
"One church member even asked the question, 'How can we observe the Lord's Supper since we have no deacons? Would it be right to borrow some deacons from another church?' This person did not know that it isn't any more the place of the deacon to serve the Lord's Supper than it is any other man of the church. These are some traditions that Baptists should free themselves from and that right quick."
As to the office of a deacon, Dr. J. R. Graves said:
"The deacons of apostolic churches were temporal officers, appointed and set apart to take care of the temporalities of the churchnot to take part in the ministry of the Word. See Acts vi:7; I Tim. iii:8-14. The qualification, aptness to teach,' is not required of deacons, because it is not their duty to preach the gospel." (The New Great Iron Wheel, page 156.)
In Volume I, page 320 of The Baptist Encyclopedia, published in 1883, Cathcart, the editor, says:
"DEACONS. The word DIAKONOS means an attendant, a servant, one who waits upon guests at a table. The first deacons were elected at Jerusalem by the church of that city at the request of the Apostles, that they might minister to the necessities of the poor saints, or as Luke says, 'that they might serve tables'."
"When complaints were voiced that the widows of the Hellenistic Jews were being neglected in the distribution of daily food," says Tenney (New Testament Survey, Eerdmans; page 239), "the apostles suggested the appointment of qualified men to oversee this part of the church's activity."
In Neander's History of the Christian Religion and Church, Boston, 1851, Sec. American edition, p. 156.), Neander says:
"Later, it came about in large cities that the original number (of deacons) was greatly exceeded, so that in the sixth century, in the time of the emperor Justinian, the principal church in Constantinople could count a hundred deacons; and it was now attempted to obviate the objection that this was a deviation from the apostolic usage by maintaining that the deacons of this period ought not to be compared with those of the apostolic institution. The latter were only a temporary order, designed for the dispensation of alms to the poor;and, in support of this view, an argument, on an insufficient basis, was drawn from the changes which, since those times (apostolic), had taken place in the business of the deacons, and in the management of the church funds."
Since the apostolic age, since the time of the completion of the Bible, since the days of inspiration there has been a change in the work of deacons. This came about by tradition and the exaltation of men by men, or of men by themselves. Neander remarks on this matter also,
"Although the deacons, according to the original institution, were to occupy a position far below that of the presbyters, yet it so happened in many districts that they sought to exalt themselves above the latter." (Author's emphasis).
Earl Cairns, Ph.D., author of Christianity Through the Centuries (Zondervan, 1954, P. 88.) says,
"The dispensing of charity of the church was the major task of the deacons. Later (emphasis mine) they aided the elders by giving the elements of the communion to the people."
According to Cairns, some of the practices that are now exercised by deacons began as early as the middle part of the second century (about the time the Montanists separated themselves for purity's sake).
"Information concerning the order of worship in the middle part of the second century is much more complete, and is to be found in the First Apology of Justin Martyr and the Didache. Their service which was held on 'the day of the sun,' started with reading of the memoirs of the apostles' or 'the writings of the prophets' for a period 'as long as time permits.' An exhortation or homily, based on the reading, was then given by the 'president'. The congregation then stood for prayer. The elements of bread and water and wine' were dedicated by thanksgiving and prayers to which the people responded by an 'Amen.' The deacons then distributed the elements to the people. After the service they also took them to the homes of those unable to be present at the meeting. They finally took up a collection for aid to widows and orphans, the sick, prisoners and strangers. The meeting was then dismissed, and all made their way to their homes."
Baptists believe in the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures for matters involving church order, practice and doctrine. Baptists, especially Landmark Baptists, also believe in the authority of the Scriptures in matters of church polity and practice. One is reminded of the statement that Dr. Chester Tulga made in Chicago, Illinois, in 1964. He said, in essence, "If you stand in your pulpit and deny the inspiration of the Scriptures, you are in danger of losing that pulpit. By the same token, if you stand in that same pulpit and insist on the authority of the Scriptures you stand in danger of losing it."
Almost without exception, authorities and scholars agree that there is not one single Biblical statement which would allow deacons to sit on a presbytery. Likewise, there is no evidence that the deacons in the New Testament period did many other things in their official capacity which deacons assume are their responsibilities today. It is quite evident that the Biblical function of deacons was the care of the poor and widows with the funds of benevolence raised for that purpose by the church. There is nothing wrong with their leading out among the laymen in the building program. There is nothing wrong with their serving the elements of the Lord's Supper. However, Baptist churches need to know, Baptist pastors need to know, and Baptist deacons need to know what the Bible has to say on the matter. If Landmark Baptists are not careful and alert about these traditions, deacon boards will be running the churches and ruling the pastors in much the same way as they do in some Southern Baptist Churches. Another interesting but alarming result of this research was that on the heels of the exaltation of deacons followed the exaltation of women to the office of deaconess. Could it be that the next generation will see this in Landmark Baptist Churches?
I have pastored some wonderful men who occupied the office of deacon. I have never called one a "long-horned deacon" or anything disrespectful. This research did not result from "deacon trouble." It is the result, as stated in the beginning, of an expository study of First Timothy. When, in the course of the study, the truth that a presbytery is a council of pastors (not pastors and deacons) came to light, an obligation to be absolutely honest with the congregation compelled me to preach it and to research it further. Stopford A. Brooke said, "If a thousand old beliefs were ruined in our march to truth we must still march on." I had to step on some of my own old beliefs in this study but truth is worth it all. We do not need this Baptist Barnacle!
THE ENCROACHMENT OF FEMINISM
In recent years there have been many innovations in the world of religion. As previously mentioned, with the rise in power and authority of the deacons there followed the office of the deaconess. The American Baptist Convention has, for some time, had women in this office. They are now in their pulpits. Dr. Edwin T. Dahlberg of Delmar Baptist Church, St. Louis, Mo., said:
"We cannot afford to have a system of perpetual purdah (the Moslem practice of secluding women from public observation) in the Christian church. Rather than limiting the women of the church to quiet influences behind the ecclesiastical screen while the men take over all public responsibilities, we should place the gavel of the church in feminine hands also, in order that there may be added to the convention rostrum, the pulpit, and the highest policymaking councils of twentieth Century Christendom the radiant grace and initiative of our finest church women."
On June 15, 1953, Dr. Riley B. Montgomery, President of the College of the Bible, an institution of the Disciples of Christ wrote:
"We believe that women should have the same right to ordination for any position in the church that is accorded to men. Our educational program is planned on the basis of this belief. Though the function of ordination among Disciples of Christ is a function of the local church, the College of the Bible shares in this responsibility with the local churches when they are ordaining graduates from our institutions. We would recommend women to the local churches for ordination as readily as we would men."
The American Baptist Convention has had three women presidents. They ordain women to the ministry. Dr. Reuben E. Nelson writes:
"If a woman member of the church [Baptist] gives evidence of being 'called' to the ministry, is of excellent Christian character and reputation, exhibits such gifts as make her capable in preaching and pastoral work, she is ordained on the same basis as a man."
Baptists must accept the Bible as the authority in all matters. Expediency is not the criterion on which to base a decision in this matter. The popular trend is not the criterion. The Bible is God's inspired authority and we must appeal to it for an answer. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
What does the Bible say? The Bible says that women are to be silent in the church assembly. 1 Corinthians 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but [they are commanded] to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
Dr. A. T. Robertson, urging patience and understanding in the matter, says,
"There is no doubt at all as to Paul's meaning here. In the church the women are not allowed to speak (LALEIN) nor even to ask questions. They are to do that at home (ENOIKOI). He calls it a shame (AISCHRON) as in 11:6. (cf. Eph. 5:12; Titus 1:11)."
There are those who advocate the idea that these restrictions were done away in the life, death, and teachings of Jesus Christ. Note however, that Paul says, "As also saith the law." Paul was writing this side of the law; he was writing this side of the cross. Never was there a stronger advocate of the passing of the law than Paul, but Paul teaches that this restriction was still in force. Wives were still to be in subjection to their husbands and women are to be silent as far as teaching, preaching, prophesying, or speaking in tongues is concerned when in the public assembly of the church.
The Greek word used here is SIGATOSAN. This is the third person, plural, present indicative of sige which means silence or quietness. For women to lead out in any portion of the public worship service of the church is to violate the injunctions of the Holy Word of God.
The Bible teaches that a woman should never be placed in a position of leadership or teaching which would place her over the men. 1 Timothy 2:11-12 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. This simply means that women are not to be allowed to occupy any position which would put them in authority over men. They should not be allowed to teach a class in which there are men. They should not lead a choir if men are in it. They should not lead a congregation in singing if men are present.
The Bible teaches that women are to be in subjection to their husbands. 2 Peter 3:1-2 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in [both] which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour. A lady once complained to me, "But, Bro. Camp, my husband does not know how to be the head of the house. In a case like this should the woman not take care of the matter?"
I replied, "Dear lady, you have insulted your own intelligence. You are admitting that you married a 'dumb cluck' who is not man enough to be master of his own house." I want to emphasize: "A bossy, domineering woman is just as much a freak as is a sissy, feminine type man."
The Bible teaches that men are to lead in the public praying in the church. 1 Timothy 2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. . The Greek word used in this verse is ANDRAS, the accusative plural of ANER. Thayer says that this word is used "with reference to sex, and so to distinguish a man from a woman, with reference to age to distinguish an adult man from a boy."
A. T. Robertson says, "The men in contrast to women' (GUNAIKAS) in v-9. It is public worship, of course .... The point here is that only men should lead in public prayer who can lift up 'clean hands' (morally and spiritually clean)."
I do not mean to imply that a woman could not pray at all in service. If a chain prayer were conducted where she would be expressing the burden of her own heart and not leading the assembly it would probably be in order for her to pray. Certainly, she would pray silently!
The Bible teaches that men are to be pastors; men are to be deacons. 1 Timothy 3:1 This [is] a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. , 1 Timothy 3:12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
Our task is to follow the Bible as closely as possible, not as distantly as possible! We have not ordained a woman as pastor or deacon but there is a trend in the same direction that others have taken. Let's beware of this barnacle that it not continue to grow.
THE ADVANCEMENT OF HYPER-EVANGELISM
There are many conversions (?), but little godly sorrow and repentance. Vance Havner said: "We have made it easy for hundreds superficially to 'accept Christ' without ever having faced sin and with no sense of need. We are healing slightly the hurt of this generation, trying to treat patients who do not even know they are sick. We used to sing 'Amazing Grace' with a fervor that is sadly lacking nowadays because we knew the meaning of that line, 'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear'."
Havner further stated, "We need to beware of conversions that begin too lightly." He also declared, "Repentance is almost a lost note in our preaching and experience and the lack of it is filling churches with baptized sinners who have never felt the guilt of sin or the need of a Saviour."
Our commission is three-fold. Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen. We need to be zealous in making disciples. We need just as much zeal and concern in leading them to follow the Lord in baptism. Then, with the same zeal, the same determination, we need to teach them the "all things" of the Word of God.
THE COMPLACENCY OF
Revelation 2:1-7 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4 Nevertheless I have [somewhat] against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
We must also guard against this barnacle. It is as damaging as any other. When complacency sets in, when people chew on the biscuit of orthodoxy and dry up evangelistically they are in danger.
Their service becomes mechanical. W. A. Criswell says: "They are getting faultily faultless, icily regular, and splendidly null." Dr. A. J.Gordon, discussing the spiritual condition of the churches of Boston said, "Ecclesiastical corpses lie all about us. The caskets in which they repose are lined with satin and are decorated with solid silver handles and abundant flowers. Like the other caskets, they are just large enough for their occupants with no room for converts. These churches have died of respectability and have been embalmed in self-complacency. If, by the grace of God, this church is alive [referring to the Clarendon Street Baptist Church], be warned of our opportunity or the feet of them that buried thy sisters will be at the door to carry thee out."
If our churches are encrusted with this barnacle, we must follow the admonition of Jesus and repent. Orthodoxy without evangelism and enthusiasm for the service of God endangered the position of the Ephesus church and I am convinced that Christ is still opposed to it today.
Let us never become so proud that we are unable and unwilling to admit that we have our faults. Let us not think that "we have need of nothing." We must occasionally scrape off some barnacles if we are to have the glorious future which can be ours.
NOTE: I am considering revising and enlarging this message. If you know of a barnacle that needs removing send me your suggestion and I will consider it. Click below to send me E-mail.
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Last updated on Friday, March 04, 2011