Journal Article Critique, James McCord’s “The Biblical Doctrine of Human Depravity”

JOURNAL ARTICLE CRITIQUE

of

McCord, James I. “The Biblical Doctrine of Human Depravity.” Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education, Interpretations Article (April 1947): 142 – 153.

  THEO 525 LUO (fall 2011)

Systematic Theology I

 Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary

 Anthony D. Padgett

 August 24, 2011

            The topic of this article is the doctrine of human depravity or “total depravity” as view by the author and as seen in the bible. The author believes that total depravity “refers to the consequences of a severed relationship rather than to a substantial defacement. Not something in man but man’s being itself is twisted.”[1]  His view is all men are not “as bad as they can be, but that all men are sinful and that their sin extends to the whole of their very being.”[2] The author views the sin in man as being a “misuse of our highest endowment,” the ability to companionship with God.[3]

            The author points out that there are two difficulties when one turns to the Bible for the doctrine of man as a sinner. First, God is the subject of the Bible, not man. So why would one look to the Bible for the doctrine of man when it is simply a message to man. Secondly, one should not look to Adam as the key figure in the biblical doctrine of man, but to Jesus Christ. Jesus conquered sin, 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” McCord rightly states “the biblical understanding of man begins and ends in God.”[4]

The author continues with sin being a central problem of the Gospel account, and even though sin is in both the Old and New Testaments it does not mean that sin originated from nature only a byproduct.  Sin is not native to man’s nature but comes second to the relationship that has been broken between God and man. McCord uses both the story of Eden in Genesis and the parable of the prodigal son in Luke to show that sin in both stories presupposes communion and the ending results where alienation.[5]

The author makes it clear that in no way does the Bible attempt to explain the origin of sin, only that Adam was the first recorded occasion of man’s sin. The author continues to explain that the Bible does not point the origin of evil to any specific supreme source in opposition to God, nor does it point to God himself. Sin is not from God; sin enters into goodness and quickly digs to the very core of one’s being by free will and personality.  God’s work was beautiful, pure, and full of good as seen in Genesis 1:31. Man’s sinful nature cannot be explained and remains one of the most unfounded facts about man in the world God created.[6]

The author explained in great detail how sin is not from God nor was it made by God. He illustrated very clearly that all men are sinful by our very nature and that it is not only on the surface but to one’s very being. No statement by the author clearly expresses his feelings more so than, “total depravity, therefore, refers to the consequences of a severed relationship rather than to a substantial defacement. Not something in man but man’s being itself is twisted.”[7]

From this article the reader should have a clearer understanding or view of total depravity and man’s sinful nature. God did not create sin in man, for what God created was good, man created sin by not having that relationship with God.

 


[1]  McCord, James I. “The Biblical Doctrine of Human Depravity.” Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education, Interpretations Article (April 1947) 152.

 

[2] Ibid.

 

[3] Ibid. 144.

 

[4] Ibid. 143.

 

[5] Ibid, 144.

 

[6] Ibid, 151.

 

[7] Ibid, 152.

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Christs superiority to that of the Angels in the book of Hebrews

Liberty University

 

 

 Research Paper

Christs superiority to that of the Angels In The Book Of Hebrews

A Paper Submitted To Dr. Mark Rathel

In Partial Fulfillment Of The Requirements For

The Course NBST 654

Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary

By

Anthony D. Padgett

JONESBOROUGH, TN

Thursday, Feburary 20, 2011

Contents

Introduction  ———————————————————————————————- 1

God’s Son, Jesus Christ ————-——————————————————————– 2

Angels Worship The First Born ——————————————————————— 3

The Angels are Servants —————————————————————————— 4

Jesus As Ruler ——————————————————————————————– 5

Jesus The Creator ————————————————————————————— 6

Jesus At The Right Hand Of God ——————————————————————– 7

Jesus’ Message Over The Angels  ——————————————————————- 9

Jesus’ Authority Over The World To Come —————————————————- 9

Jesus, Even Suffering Death Is Superior To The Angels ———————————– 10

Conclusion ———————————————————————————————— 11

Bibliography ——————————————————————————————— 12

 

 Introduction

The author’s targeted audience is both Jewish believers and Jewish non-believers. Throughout the book of Hebrews the author shows comparisons between the New Covenant and the Old Covenant, and between Jesus and about others including Moses, priests, and angels. The author is trying to show both the believers and non-believers that the New Covenant and Jesus are better than anything they have seen or heard of in the past, that he is a better counselor and priest, and that He is all we will ever need for our salvation. The author knowing that his audience is well versed in Old Testament scripture uses that to his advantage; he often quotes the Old Testament to clarify his points, insure that they have a clear understanding of where they have been, where they are now and just how important the Son of God is compared to anything they have seen in the past.[1]

One of the first major things that the author of Hebrews points out is Jesus’ superiority. This includes Christ’s superiority over the prophet, Moses, Joshua, Aaron, and the angels. The author wants to make sure that his audience understands the importance of Jesus’ superiority over others, so much so that he spends much of the first five chapters explaining it. Out of those five chapters he spends more verses on Jesus’ superiority over the angels than any of the others mentioned. Maybe it is because the author’s audience, Jews of the time, had such a hard time understanding how Jesus could be superior to the angels in light of all their knowledge about Old Testament scripture and lack of understanding about Jesus being the Son of God and above all things.

 

God’s Son, Jesus Christ

            In Hebrews 1:5-13 there are seven Old Testament quotations pointing to six different reasons Christ is superior to angels.[2] First, Hebrews 1:5 (KJV) says, “For to which of the angels did He ever say, ‘Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee’? And again,’ I will be a Father to Him, and He shall be a Son to Me.” The author is proclaiming that no angel has ever been called the son of God, and this alone sets Christ apart and gives Him that unique relationship with the Father.[3]  The reality that Jesus is superior to angels is not really significant to us today; we know that, but it was an issue with the Jews at the time. The author in bringing in quotes from the Old Testament is to represent the superiority of Christ to the Jews by using scripture they have knowledge of and have already heard. The first quote is from Psalms 2:7 (KJV) “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” The angels in the past might have be called “the sons of God,” as a group but never as individuals or in these terms as to give them any type of status. [4] We can see an example of angels and their place when we look at the angel Gabriel and his message to Mary in Luke 1:32 KJV, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.”[5] Even before Jesus was born the angels were proclaiming Him as the “Son of the Highest.” The fact that God called Jesus His son alone provides evidence that Jesus is superior to the angels.

The second quote is from 2 Samuel 7:14 and come from the prophet Nathan to David, “I will be his father, and he shall be my son.” It forms “part of one of the great Messianic predictions of the Old Testament.”[6] Arthur W. Pink puts it this way, “This was God’s promise concerning the Messiah, David’s Son a thousand years before He appeared on earth.”[7]

This verse had limited fulfillment during the reign of Solomon, it wasn’t eventually fulfilled until Jesus Christ was declared to be the Son of God.[8] This again shows that Jesus is the Son of God and puts His authority over the angels.

Angels Worship The First Born

            In Hebrews 1:6 is the next reason why Jesus is superior to the angels, and again here is the third quotation from the Old Testament. Psalms 97:7 “And when He again brings the first-born into the world, He says, ‘And let all God’s angels worship him.’” This refers to the second coming of the Son of God. God is saying that in the future an event will become obvious, and He will bring His Son to earth again, for the second time. Jesus has already come to earth once, and God declared Him to be His Son when he raised Him from the dead. God is now saying that when Christ returns victoriously to earth, the angels will even fall down and worship Him.[9] This is seen in the authors’ words as he quotes in part Psalms 97:7 “And let All God’s angels worship him.”

The title firstborn may be traced back to Psalm 89:27, “I shall also make Him My first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth.” Jesus was first-born in His position to God; He has the honor and glory of being the Son of God. Therefore, in Hebrews 1:6, the term “first-born” can only refer to the position of Christ as the Messiah.[10] God has appointed Jesus Christ as His heir. This truth again points to the fact that Jesus Christ is superior to everyone, including angels because they are commanded to worship him.[11] Up until now the verses have shown Jesus’ superiority in “name and dignity,” however the upcoming verses will show the inadequacy of the angels in their nature and rank.[12]

The Angels are Servants

The fourth confirmation that Christ is superior to the angels can be seen in Hebrews 1:7, this clearly shows the angels as servants. The author says, “And of the angels he saith, ‘Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.’” The fourth Old Testament quote comes from Psalm 104:4. The author placed it here most likely to show a distinction with the fifth quotation, by “contrasting the evanescence of angels with the eternity of the Son.”[13] It is important to note that in the quotation from Psalms 104:4 it says “his angels’ spirits, and his ministers.” They are God’s “spirits” and “ministers” and He is their Head.[14] However, his main intention “is to show that the angels are made and not begotten, and that they are as insubstantial and mutable as wind and fire, and that they do not give orders but carry them out.”[15] The author seems to be stressing that angels are servants or ministers and that they are simply sent out to accomplish Gods purpose and work. This is similar to Jesus’ work but with less authority, since they cannot give the orders but merely carry them out. Jesus has the authority to do both, give and carry them out, as he is the Son of God and over the angels.

Jesus As Ruler

            The fifth quotation is set to contrast the role of angels with the positions of Jesus. Notice that verse 8 begins with the word “But,” which indicates a complete distinction from verse 7.

Hebrews 1:8 quotes directly from Psalm 45:6-7 that celebrates a royal wedding, the words used are in part to the bridegroom who in all probability was a prince in of the house of David;[16] “But of the Son He says, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom.”[17] This passage is very important in understanding Christ’s authority over the angels and His place in Heaven. Pink describes it this way, “This supplies us with one of the most emphatic and unequivocal proofs of the Deity of Christ to be found in the Scriptures.”[18] Psalms 45 quoted here in Hebrews 1 is nothing short of perfect. Verse 6 tells of the angels and the commandment to “worship” the Son of God, now it is shown that this is God.” It is no miracle that the author of Hebrews structured his words in such a perfect order, it was through divine intervention.[19] Also, His “scepter” which is known as the badge of royalty and the emblem of authority is “righteous”. This is His “kingdom” plainly stated; His “scepter” denotes His rule and authority. According to verse 8, His rule is absolutely righteous, void of lawlessness. This is true of His character, both of God and man.[20] The words of this chapter were placed in such a way that they build off of each other, one connecting to the other, showing the prominence of the Son of God over the angels.

Jesus As Creator

            The author of Hebrews identifies the sixth confirmation of Christ’s superiority in Hebrews 1:10-12, emphasizing that Christ is the Creator of all things, and as God, He is forever unchanging. The author again quotes from the Old Testament (Psalm 102:25-27), in order to let his audience understand more clearly. He says,

 

“And Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thy hands; they will perish, but Thou remainest; and they all will become old as a garment, and as a mantle Thou wilt roll them up; as a garment they will also be changed. But Thou art the same, and Thy years will not come to an end.”

 

Hebrews 1:2 had already shown Christ as the Creator. So, the author again lets his audience know this fact, to show that Christ is far superior to angels, who are only messengers of God’s word, and that it was Him whom created them.[21] The author also says, “they will perish, but Thou remainest.” This verse points out another reason Jesus is superior to the angels, His quality of being timeless and eternal or unchangeable. Everything around Jesus can perish, the earth and the heavens, even the angels, but Jesus is eternal and everlasting.[22] Pink explains the Creator verses the angels this way, “The Creator is more excellent than creatures; Christ is the Creator, angels are creatures; therefore Christ is more excellent than angels. That Christ is Creator is here proved; that angels are creatures, has been show in verse 7.”[23]  Pink further explains that this verse answers the question in verse 4 “as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” The answer is yes, verse 5 He is the Son, verse 8 He is God, and in verse 10 He is Lord, all of which are above the angles.[24]

Further, the author of Hebrews says “thou shall fold them up.” This clearly shows Jesus’ power over all creations. He has the power to change, keep, or destroy anything He so chooses. Jesus is the “Most High” and clearly is over all creation including the angels.[25]

The author then returns to his original point made earlier, Hebrews 1:12 says, “But Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail.” Earlier he said “Thou remaineth” which pointed to Jesus’ eternity but now he says “Thou art the same” which shows Jesus’ reliability. He continues by saying “Thy years shall not fail” showing that Jesus was, is, and always will be to come. Christ is. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). No angel can ever claim that![26]

Jesus At The Right Hand Of God

 

The author continues in Hebrews 1:13-14 to stress the point of Jesus’ superiority, using the seventh Old Testament quotation from Psalms 110:1. Verse 13 says “But to which of the angels has He ever said, Sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.”  This verse is a rhetorical question; the Jews would have already known that God never said this to any angel. The right hand is the position of authority, privilege, and responsibility that would come with being the “first-born.”[27]

Jesus is told to “Sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool” This is a biblical picture and reference to things that had occurred throughout biblical times. In the Old Testament, when a king was defeated in battle, he was taken before the conqueror, where he would be placed on the ground and the conqueror would step on the back of his neck, symbolizing the positions of victory and defeat. The same will be true for Jesus. Every person who opposes Jesus will be brought before Him and will have to answer for their sins; Jesus will claim victory over all.  All creation will be subjected to Him and will answer to Him, including all the angels; no one will be escaping the victory of Jesus.[28] In verse 13, Christ is sitting at the right hand of the Father, in the position of preference and authority.  Then in verse 14 is where we first see the position of the angels; “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” This is where we see the official function of the angels. They are not servants as we would normally think; they are dignitaries who have an official function to carry out before God. This function, “to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation,” is a picture of their dignity. They do what is necessary for those of us who are about to inherit our eternal salvation, and are portrayed as our servants during this process.[29] There should be no doubt that with Jesus sitting at the right hand of God and with the description given by the author of Hebrews in these two verses, that Jesus is superior to the angels in all aspects.

Jesus’ Message Over The Angels

            In Hebrews 1 the author focused on Jesus and His superiority to that of the angels, and he provided a sevenfold proof of Jesus’ superiority over them. Now in Hebrews 2 he continues to follow that same line, only focusing more on Jesus’ message, and that it too is also more important than that of the angels. The author warns them that if they focus too much on the message delivered by servants (angels), they will miss the bigger message delivered by the Master Himself, that of salvation. Bruce described it this way, “the great salvation proclaimed in the gospel was brought to earth by no angel, but by the Son of God himself. To treat it lightly, therefore, must expose one to sanctions even more awful than those which safeguarded the law.”[30] The message of salvation was so important that God did not leave it to the angels to deliver, but to His Son.  This is another clear indication of Jesus’ superiority over the angels.

Jesus’ Authority Over The World To Come

The author in Hebrews 2:5 says, “For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.” The author picks up in Hebrews 2:5 exactly where he left off in Hebrews 1:14, with Jesus’ superiority over the angels. In Hebrews 1 the author showed through the seven Old Testament quotations, which his audience would have been familiar with, that Jesus was superior to the Angels. Now in Hebrews 2:5 he talks about the “world to come.”  This is when there is no more Jerusalem because it has been destroyed and the gospel is spread to the ends of the earth. Notice here again that the author makes the point that in the world to come it will not be “in subjection to angels.” That He, being God, did not leave that authority to the angels, but to the Son of God as the author explained in Hebrews Chapter 1. Again the author is making it clear that Jesus has authority over the angels.[31]

Jesus, Even Suffering Death Is Superior To The Angels

Hebrews 2:9 can be a very confusing verse for many. The author has previously told us in Hebrews 1 that Jesus is superior to the angels in all aspects, however now in verse 9 he tells us that he has been made “a little lower than the angels.” This is the first mention in the book of Hebrews to this point of Jesus by name. It is used here to center attention upon his humanity, his sin-prone nature. It is this that makes Jesus temporarily lower than the angels and which also makes possible his death on behalf of all.[32]

The author then quickly tells of the benefits for Jesus’ death and suffering and why God allowed it. Bruce explains it this way, “It was his making Jesus, through his sufferings, perfectly qualified to be the Savior of his people.” Jesus was made “a little lower than the angels” so that He could experience death and suffering, the angels could not. It is important to note that this was just for “a little while” and was so that Jesus could pay the price for our sins upon the cross, not to remove him from his position as the Son of God, but to make him a little lower for a short time.  Pink, I believe describes this best, “what scripture teaches is that in becoming man Christ

took upon Him a nature that was capable of dying. This angels were not; and in the respect He was, for a season, made lower than they.”[33] It is because Jesus suffered and died on the cross for our sins and was made “a little lower than the angels” for a time, that makes him superior to the angels. He not only was superior to them as listed in Hebrews 1, but experienced things that no angel has ever experienced. Through the suffering and death he understands us better and knows how we feel in our times of need. No angel can ever claim to experience or feel like we do; no angel will experience death like we will. Jesus never gave up his position; he only obeyed God by His own design.  Pink describes it this way, “The end in view fully justified the means. Only by the Son tasting death could the sons of God be delivered from the ruins of the fall’ only thus could the righteousness and mercy of God be reconciled.” Only by making Jesus a little lower than the angels for a short time could He become our Redeemer, which is far superior to any angel.

Conclusion

            The author’s audience, the Jews, seemed to have struggled about a great deal of things. They had trouble understanding the Old Covenant verses the New Covenant, and they had trouble understanding exactly who the Son of God was and his authority. They had heard stories about angels from the Old Testament and knew they were from Heaven and sent by God. They believed they understood their authority and place in heaven and regarded them as “sons of god.” Yet now the author of Hebrews is saying, disregard all others you have followed or listen to in the past, they are not as important as the “Son of God” and that He is superior to any one of them. Not that they weren’t significant in their own right, God had ordained them and sent them head of Christ to do His work, but they including the angels are nothing compared to the message and authority that Jesus holds.  The author has proved his point: Christ is superior in all aspects of His existence.

 

 

 

Bibliography

Barclay, William, The Letter to the Hebrews, Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press,

2002. Kindle Electronic Edition.

 

Bruce, F. F., The Epistle to the Hebrews, Grand Rapids, MI. William B. Eerdmans Publishing
Company, 1990.

 

Calvin, John, Commentary on Hebrews, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, Grand
Rapids, MI. Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Kindle Electronic Edition.

 

Guthrie, George H., The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, Grand Rapids:
Zondervan Corporation, 1998.

 

Montefiore, H. W.  A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, Guildford, London. A. and C.
Black Publishers, Reprinted 1979.

 

Pink, Arthur W., An Exposition of Hebrews, Blacksburg, VA. Wilder Publications, 2008

 

 


[1] William Barclay, The Letter to the Hebrews, Louisville, KY.  Westminster John Knox Press, 2002.  Kindle Electronic Edition: Chapter 1, Location 253-62.

[2] F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, (Grand Rapids, MI. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990), 52.

 [3] George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, (Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan Corporation, 1998), 68.

[4] Bruce, 53.

[5] Ibid.

  [6] Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, (Blacksburg, VA. Wilder Publications, 2008), 34.

 [7] Pink, 34.

 [8] Guthrie, 68.

 [9] Pink, 36.

 [10] Bruce. 56.

  [11] John Calvin, Commentary on Hebrews, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, Grand Rapids, MI. Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Kindle Electronic Edition: Chapter 1, Location 741-51.

  [12] Pink, 36.

 [13] Bruce, 59.

 14] Pink. 37.

 [15] H. W. Montefiore, A Commentary on The Epistle to the Hebrews, (Guildford, London. A. and C. Black Publishers, Reprinted, 1979), 46.

 [16] Bruce. 59.

 [17] Guthrie, 70.

 [18] Pink, 38.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid. 39

 [21] Pink, 46.

 [22] Ibid.

 [23] Pink. 45.

 [24] Ibid. 44.

 [25] Ibid. 45.

 [26] Ibid. 47.

 [27] Barclay, Location 873-83.

 [28] Ibid. 883-91.

 [29] Pink, 47- 48.

 [30] Bruce, 67.

 [31] Pink. 60.

 [32] Pink. 66.

 [33] Ibid.

Do we try to put God in a box?

Do we try to put God in a box?

I believe at times we do, well at least we try! However, let me clarify this statement by saying we can NEVER put Him in a box.

So what do I mean? I bet that most of you can tell me exactly what order of service your church has every Sunday. For you worship leaders out there, I bet you can tell me at least by Wednesday what songs you are going to sing next Sunday morning. I bet you even have your ushers come down for offering around the same order of service each Sunday, and how about if you want to meet someone from a different church at a restaurant, every give someone a time to meet? Is this not all putting God in a box?

Do we really believe in our minds that what we call church service is anything like what He calls church? Do we really believe God is so uncreative and predictable? We will be touched in ways we cannot even grasp when we are in His house and in His present.

Below is somewhat of an exaggeration, but I think you will get what I am trying to say.

Dear God; Here is our bulletin

We of the church called (insert name) will be having our regular weekly meeting this coming Sunday.

We cordially invite you to attend this meeting, providing you could possibly consider the following:

From 9:00 – 10:00 we have small worship (Sunday School) classes. This is where we discuss our lesson and talk about the Bible.

From 10:00 – 10:30 we will be singing praises to You and your Son. Perhaps the Holy Spirit too. So during this time please join in, but do not interrupt the program so lovingly prepared by our worship team.

From 10:30 – 10:40 we will be collecting our gift which we offer to you. (It really is the minister’s salary some would say).

From 10:40-11:15 we will be listening to the well prepared sermon our Pastor will deliver this week, so please sit quietly and listen to what he has worked so hard to prepare.

From 11:20-11:35 we will probably be offering some more singing and perhaps silent prayer or what some call an invitation.

From 11:40 -11:50 ? we will possibly have to listen to some important announcements to do with church activities or programs.

From 11:55 – 12:15 so then the important and main topic of the day is where we want to go eat

You are welcome to make Your Presence known anytime during this service providing you follow our carefully laid out agenda.

OK, again I know this is an exaggeration, but does it not fit into at least many of the models we see for a church service?

What would happen if the worship leader actually came into service without prepared songs and only played what God laid on his heart at the moment? How about the same with the pastor, let him speak from his heart about what God just placed on it because of maybe a need he heard that morning or something? What if we did offering at the beginning instead of the end? What about doing worship and praise at the end of service after being fed his word from the pastor? What if we just threw away the clock and ended when God said it was time?

My point in all of this is that we focus so much on the service, songs, praise, and time that we try to limit what God can do. We try and put him in a box. Our God is so much bigger than any order or program, bigger than any song or message. What would really happen if we just simply let God take control over our services? I think it would be bigger than anything we have ever seen!!!

What you can learn about being a Christian from the Andy Griffith Show!

Even though there are very few direct references to the Bible, the show is filled with positive morals and principles that our taught throughout scripture. Each episode was meant to have a good moral theme that was played out in the story line. The show was intended to show values such as character, responsibility, honesty, and often integrity. Several Bible studies have been written and are focused on episodes of the show.

The very first episode that aired was “The New Housekeeper.” One of the key scenes is what is known as Opies Prayer. He is seen in his bedroom before going to bed praying this prayer, “God Bless my Pa, my bird Dickey and my dog Gulliver and my lizard, also wherever it is he ran away to, and Barney Fife and my white mouse and Jerry, Tommy and Billy and my snake. Amen.” This was focused around Matthew 21:22 “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” This set the tone for the entire length of the shows run.

Another episode “Man in a Hurry” was based on the fact that Mr. Tucker an out of town businessman’s car broke down and he wanted it fixed on a Sunday. Wally, the local mechanic refuses to fix the car on Sunday and Mr. Tucker gets upset and returns to Gomer for help. Of course Gomer is no help and Mr. Tucker gets mad and steals the truck making Andy arrest him. Instead of placing charges Andy takes him home for Sunday dinner. In a screen shot of Mr. Tucker on the porch and Andy and Wally in the background you can see a clear image of a cross on the door. The writers state that this was intentional to show a connection between Wally not working on a Sunday and the Cross of Jesus. During this same seen Andy points at what appears to be Wally but actually it is the cross. If you listen to the words of the story Andy really has no reason to be pointing. It was one small way of showing the shows religious tone without actually say it.

Most of the scenes from this same episode appear on the front porch of Andy’s home. As usual on the porch usually meant having the guitar out and signing. In this particular episode the songs were obviously Christian based because it was Sunday. They sing the song “The Church in the Wildwood” as well as many others. This would make one think of Psalms 13:6 “I sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”  As the show begins to end, Mr. Tucker has settled down and begins to relax at least too some degree. In one scene Opie gives Mr. Tucker a lucky penny that has been ran over by a train. As he accepts the penny Mr. Tucker reflects on the kindness showed to him and he even then finds an excuse to stay another night.

So what can be learned from this episode of Andy Griffith in the way of Christianity?

Patience, trials and tribulations will produce patience. James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Priorities, what consumes our time. Philippians 4:11-13 says, “Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in him who strengthens me.”

Appreciation of life; be still and silent, don’t make things complicated. Ecclesiastes 7:29 says, “This only have I found: God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes.” And Psalms 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God. I am exalted among the nations; I am exalted in the earth!”

Serving unselfishly; considering others and a attitude of humility. Luke 14:8-11 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited.  If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” And Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

So as you can see, a lot can be learned from each episode of the Andy Griffith show in relation to basic values and what it means to be a Christian. I challenge each of you if you have never done an Andy Griffith Bible study based on select episodes, you really need too. I will give you a whole new appreciation for good, simple, wholesome, TV shows. God Bless!

Challenges, and a family that inspires!

Challenges, we all face them. How we come through those challenges is how we define how well we responded to them. Some will end up for the best while others will end up for the worse, but all test us to our limits. Some families my go through many years without ever having to face a serious challenge, while others may face a challenge from the beginning with a difficult pregnancy or childbirth. While others may face those challenges down through the years or on an everyday bases, but it is safe to say we all face them.

The “challenge” is how we respond to those challenges. What is our reaction? Do we begin to unravel? Do we stand strong in our faith and convictions or do we begin to question everything we always believed? How we react in a lot of respects is just as important as the challenge we are facing, but both push us to our limits. What comes out of facing those challenges is inspiration, if not for us, for those around us. Inspiring others in the face of our challenges is no easy task, in fact could be one of the hardest things that can happen. Why you might ask? Because in the midst of our own challenges the last thing we are worried about is inspiring others. However, for those exceptional people (families) and through God’s abounding love and grace, it happens!!

A close family of friends has endured more than any one family should ever have too. Years ago a son, brother, and friend was diagnosed with cancer. The news came as it would to any family as a great shock and disbelief. The family bonded together and rose to the challenge and through it all never lost their focus, Jesus. Even after this dear friend lost his leg to this horrible disease he became an encouragement to all as he played basket ball with only one good leg and a prosthetic. His demeanor and resolve for our Lord never wavered and in fact he became one of the most popular youth leaders I have ever known. His life was a story that God wanted him to share.

As time went by he married, became an uncle, a youth pastor, and a friend like no other. He worked hard spreading God’s word and love at every opportunity. After many years some of this would all change when once again he and the family found out he was again going to battle cancer. What I mean by some things changed is that he never stopped spreading God’s word and love. He again took every opportunity be it in the hospital, home, church, or at Walmart to spread God’s love and word. He looked at his “challenge” as an opportunity and audience to share God’s word; he never changed, just pushed forward. He once said to some family members that he was glad it was him and not someone else in his family or that he loved, he faced it with the courage and strength that only come from God.

Sadly, he passed, but he left a source of encouragement for those who knew and loved him. So often as others have faced challenges since his passing they quickly are reminded of his steadfastness and love for the Lord and how he faced every day with passion and courage. It is hard not to have a challenge in front of you and not think of this dear friend’s courage and passion.

Now that would be a great ending in itself, but the story doesn’t stop there. See that same family has for many years now been challenged again. The nephew of this man, a now 8 year old boy, has been faced with more challenges than any young child should ever have too. His parents have been faced with decision that no family should ever have to make. Yet, this family still never wavers in their love for our Lord and gives Him all the glory and praise for everything. I can only assume that they too gain some strength from the brother, son, husband, and friend that left this undeniable legacy of encouragement and faith that cannot be shaken or ever mistaken; his life still impacts those who knew him.

This family is still deep into this challenge and only God knows how this story will end. But there is one thing that is so evident to all who know them. They have been, are, and will be a source of courage to others around them. What they have been through and the faith they have showed is an inspiration to all around. Their faith in our Lord and their courage has impacted so many that it is hard to understand or even at times believe. However, there is one thing I must say, this family never set out to be such an inspiration, who would knowing the challenges they have faced, but God has used them in a mighty way and I believe will continue too!

So, I leave you with this, pray for this wonderful Adcock family and specifically Josh. Lift them and bathe them in prayer for the challenges they still face. And the next time you feel like you are challenged and simply can’t make it, think of the courage that this family so abundantly shows and their love for our Lord, what an inspiration to all. God Bless!

The Church ought to be a place of forgiveness and restoration, but many divorced folks find no second chance at their church!

Below is a commentary I found that takes a slightly different approach to this much debated topic. It clearly looks at the Bible and the topic of divorced men being deacons and uses the “present tense” arguement. If we clearly read the Bible as written does it not use the present tense? Doesn’t that mean currently, now, in this day and moment? It says nothing about a man’s past, if it did I would say all serving deacons now days would be unfit to hold office!

Commentary by: Rev Hodge.

Can divorced men be pastors or deacons?

I’ll bet you said the answer is “NO”. Many churches and denominations will not allow a person who has ever been divorced and remarried to hold the office of Pastor or deacon in church. But where in the Bible does it say that if a man has been divorced and remarried that he cannot be a deacon or a pastor. If you say it is found in 1 Timothy 3:2 which states: “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;” And in verse 12 which states: “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. “ I guess I missed it. I do not see where either verse says that you cannot be a deacon or a pastor if you have been divorced and remarried.

In some churches people who are divorced are considered so outside the spiritual realm that they cannot even be a member of that church. Some churches don’t even like them to attend. So where did this stigma and doctrine come from? The source is the miss interpretation of two verses that we just read. “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;” …. “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.”

Let’s look at the whole passage for Scripture for just a moment. First for the Bishop or Pastor: “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”

Then for the deacon: “Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

Being a pastor or deacon, is a special calling to a special office. No one wants to diminish the seriousness of the teaching in God’s Word or the importance of God’s plan and desire for “one man and one woman for a life time”. However, God’s plan was seriously jeopardized by the fall of man.

The first thing we need to know is that ALL these Qualifications are ‘Present Tense’.…Covering a man’s present life. If a divorced and remarried person can never be a deacon or pastor…than that is the only one of all of these qualifications for the pastor and deacon in First Timothy that goes back over a person’s entire life….even before they were saved! Even if the divorced person was the innocent party, some would say this bars them forever from these offices! The fact is, all of these qualifications are ‘present tense’, meaning… in this person’s present life.

Certainly there are things that will keep a person from this special calling. However to issue a blanket statement or policy is also to declare untrue what may well be a true God given calling that such an candidate may have. None of us have been ‘blameless’ over our entire life, for example. To take the view this passage is going back over a person’s entire life to look at their marital status is just not what the passage is saying! These qualifications refer to the present life of a man. Most deacons and pastors do not meet the “…ruling their children and their own houses well.” But they are still allowed to be pastors and deacons. Why allow a man to be a deacon or pastor who does not meet this qualification but not let a man who has been divorced and remarried?

Where is murder, adultery and fornication? Why are they not included in these qualifications? Are you telling me that divorce disqualifies someone from holding either of these offices but murder is OK, you can still be a pastor or deacon? Adultery and fornication are alright, go ahead and do them and later repent and we will still let you be a pastor or deacon.

One well known pastor was caught with a prostitute (adultery) twice and his church organization that will not allow a divorced person to be a pastor or a deacon asked him to undergo counseling for one year and they would reinstate him as a pastor. But not the poor guy whose wife divorced him. You cannot be serious!!! Where did these values come from? They came from a misunderstanding of what “husband of one wife” means.

The irony is, that some people who have been ‘married’ for years, but yet have been flirtatious, even had affairs in the past, or promiscuous before marriage, are still allowed to be pastor or deacon later on, but not the poor guy whose wife left him to perhaps run off with another man! To deny a Divine call of a man who, like all other men are broken vessels, has experienced the tragedy of divorce for legitimate reasons, that is, fornication, adultery, or abandonment by the female spouse; it could then be said that one is also denying the will of Almighty God.

What does ‘Husband of one wife’ mean?

In order to understand what Paul actually meant, it is vital that the Greek text be examined. The words with which we are interested in the Greek are, “Mias gunaikos andra” (“Husband of one wife” ). A literal translation of this passage would be “a man of one woman.” There is no word in Greek for our word “husband.” The word for “man” here is aner, the word for a male individual. When this word is used in a context of the marital relationship, it has the meaning of “husband.” The words “wife” (woman) and “husband” (man) are used without the definite article in the original language text, which emphasizes character or nature. Therefore the structure of this passage could easily be translated “a one-wife sort of husband.” Kenneth Wuest expresses this view in his translation of this passage, “He must be a one-wife kind of man in that he isolates and centralizes his love upon one women and that forever.” The phrase ‘husband of one wife’, was a phrase, common in that day, which meant a pastor or deacon had to be a ‘one woman type of man’…. not a ‘flirt’ or a ‘ladies’ man’…for obvious reasons!

Wuest Says in his WORD STUDIES IN THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT (Volume 2, p53); “The entire context is one in which the character of the bishop (pastor) is being discussed. Thus, one can translate, “a one-wife sort of a husband,” or “a one-woman sort of a man.” We speak of the Airedale as a one-man dog. We mean by that, that it is his nature to become attached to only one man, his master. Since character is emphasized by the Greek construction, the bishop should be a man who loves only one woman as his wife.”

In a culture where men were frequently tempted toward unfaithfulness, Paul made it clear that an elder in the church was to be a “one-woman man”—loyal to his wife and to her alone. Paul stressed the character and nature of a godly man in these verses rather than marking a single experience in his life for inspection.

Chuck Swindoll says in his EXCELLENCE IN MINISTRY study Guide on First Timothy (page 41) “…phrase literally reads, “one-woman man.” As simple as that sounds, it has been the subject of numerous interpretations….(some) have interpreted the phrase to mean that a candidate for overseer must never have been divorced in his life, including in his unsaved years. But this seems to be too restrictive…in light of Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:9, where he permits–though He does not promote–divorce on the grounds of sexual immorality. So what does ‘husband of one wife’ mean? Taken in its most basic sense, it means that an overseer, if married, must be married to only one woman (which excludes bigamy, polygamy, and homosexuality) and must be devoted to his wife (which excludes promiscuity and an unhealthy marriage).”

Spiros Zodhiates one of the greatest Hebrew and Greek scholars says in his HEBREW-GREEK KEY STUDY BIBLE in the footnotes on page 1475 under 1 Timothy 3:2; “The expression mias gunaikos in known in Greek grammar as…’a one-woman’s husband,” not a ‘ladies’ man, in other words. The total context speaks of the moral conduct of the bishop and the deacon. He should be totally dedicated to his wife and not be flirtatious.”

As John MacArthur Jr. notes in his NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY ON FIRST TIMOTHY page 104-105; “Paul is not referring to a leader’s marital status…rather the issue is his moral, sexual behavior. Many men married only once are not one-woman men. Many with one wife are unfaithful to that wife. While remaining married to one woman is commendable, it is not indication or guarantee of moral purity. Some may wonder why Paul begins his list with this quality. He does so because it is in this area, above all others, where leaders seem most prone to fall. The failure to be a one-woman man has put more men out of the ministry than any other sin. It is thus a matter of grave concern. …Others maintain that Paul here forbids remarriage after the death of a spouse. As already noted, however, this standard, like all the rest refers to moral character, not marital status. Further, the Scriptures permit and honor second marriages under the proper circumstances….Still others hold that this qualification excludes divorced men, from spiritual leadership. That again, ignores the fact that Paul is not referring to marital status. Nor does the Bible forbid all remarriage after a divorce. In Matthew 5;31-32 and Matthew 19:9, our Lord permitted remarriage when a divorce was caused by adultery. Paul gave a second occasion when remarriage is permitted, when the unbelieving spouse initiates the divorce. (1 Cor. 7:15). While God hates all divorce (Mal. 2;16) He is gracious to the innocent party in those two situations. Since remarriage in itself is not a sin, it is not necessarily a blight on a man’s character.”

Another aspect of the construction of these verses concerns the use of the word “must.” It should be noted must controls the entire section of the qualifications of the elders. With this in mind, it is important that all the qualifications be treated with the same emphasis. It seems that this characteristic (husband of one wife) is usually judged on a harder scale than many of the other conditional qualities.

Should we also disqualify a man who’s children are not always “under control?” The Scriptures tell that an Pastor or deacon “must have a good reputation with those outside the church” (I Tim. 3:7), should the church then investigate any bad feelings on the part of others toward the proposed candidate? In a sense, the answer to both of the above questions is yes; all the qualifications are very important. Yet, there is an aspect of this matter that can not be overlooked, the possibility that these qualifications were given as guidelines; not as unbending standards of measure.

The aspect of the relativity of the qualifications of the Pastors and deacons can be seen by comparing the lists of qualities given to Timothy and Titus. These two lists are virtually the same in all manners except one; in the forbidding of a recent convert. Paul does not give this qualification to Titus who was ministering in Crete. Perhaps this is because the church in Crete was a young church and did not have any members who had been believers for a very long time. The principle here is that the ideal Pastor or deacon will live up to all of Paul’s standards, yet there must be a provision that allows a person to minister where the need arises; regardless of whether or not he perfectly fulfills the qualifications. If this is the case, then the qualification of “husband of one wife” should also be viewed somewhat relative.

When examining the qualifications of a pastor or deacon, it is important to look at the overall idea of the passage as well as the specific grammar and construction. These qualities were meant to show that a leader in the church must be a godly man. The Pastors and deacons of the church were to act as examples, to the church and the community, of Christ-like living. This is seen in Paul’s first qualification, which most believe to be the key to all of the other specifications, “An overseer, then, must be above reproach.” This condition sets the tone for the remaining qualifications, including the question of marital status.

It is important to look at the overall godliness of the prospective elder. All too often, Pastors and deacons are chosen on the basis of availability and willingness to serve, abilities and “work related” activities. Many church leaders are chosen because they are experienced businessmen or because they are influential in their community. Although these are characteristics that are “handy” to have available, they are not nearly as important as true godliness. If the Church is to have an impact on this world, it must strive to understand these important passages. Although a definite interpretation of this qualification for elder cannot be given, Paul’s warning stands clear; a godly church needs godly leaders. We must be very careful who we entrust with this responsibility.

What About the Old Testament?

Some believe a passage in the Old Testament also prohibits Divorced men to serve in the Church. The passage is Leviticus 21:7 which list certain requirements for the Old Testament priests under the Mosaic Law and they were not to marry a divorced woman. “They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his God.” (Leviticus 21:7)

Some would automatically assume from this passage that a New Testament Pastor cannot be divorced or remarry. However, if one wants to hold that position, he runs into some difficult problems from this passage because it also states in v18-19 that the following physical characteristics also barred a man from being a priest: “For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, Or a man that is brokenfooted , or brokenhanded ,” Lameness, blindness, a broken foot, a broken hand, a bad back, a dwarf, or ‘he that hath a flat nose’! The fact is, the qualifications for a priest was under a different dispensation than we are in the New Testament Church. Otherwise, men with bad backs or flat noses would be out of the ministry!

Deacons or Ministers with bad backs or flat noses need not apply…. This reasoning which says a divorced person could never be pastor or deacon would allow a person convicted earlier in life of murder or other heinous crimes….or one who had molested children, to be a pastor or deacon later on in life, but the poor guy whose wife left him…..could not! Recall that the Apostle Paul in his former life as Saul was responsible for the imprisonment and death of great numbers of believers before he was saved! (Acts 26:10-11) Is divorce worse than what Paul did?

Why would it be improper to disqualify Paul from service for the hideous crimes and sins he perpetrated against God and His people before he was saved, and proper to disqualify another who was guilty only of a foolish choice in marriage partners?

Dr. John Rice says in his Book, DR. RICE HERE ARE MORE QUESTIONS, p339-340; “I believe that any of these major sins (wrong divorce, drunkenness, murder, etc.) can be forgiven and are forgiven when there is honest repentance. Then when God has forgiven and when one has done all he can do to repudiate and undo the sins of the past (which of course, can never be undone entirely and sometimes not at all), and when he has taken time to live it down and proved himself a dependable, trustworthy Christian so that his usefulness is not hindered by the past, then he might do whatever God calls him to do and whatever God’s people trust him to do….I do not believe in passing a rule that one who has ever been drunk can never be a deacon or preacher; likewise, I do not believe in passing a rule that one who has ever been divorced cannot be a deacon or preacher. And my reason is very simple; there is no such rule in the Bible.”

The logic is just not Biblical…. Remember a deacon is simply a ‘servant’ or ‘helper’ to the pastor to free him from everyday tasks of care of the church so he can concentrate on prayer and study of the Word of God. To say a man who has been divorced several years ago cannot even be a ‘Pastor’s helper’ or deacon, is just not what this verse is saying at all!

Even if a man was the guilty party of divorce several years ago, even after he was saved, this verse is not barring him from these offices! Remember, these are all present tense qualifications in the Greek. Certainly no candidate for pastor or deacon has been ‘Blameless’, for example, over his entire life!

But, the question is, has he been ‘blameless’ in the eyes of the public in the past few years and above reproach? Remember if this ‘NO DIVORCE DEACON/PASTOR VIEW’ is correct, than this is the only one of these qualifications that goes back over a person’s entire life! The Greek verb tense is the same on all of these, however, and refers to a person’s present life.

It is amazing to me how some good folks have taken a self-righteous view of this verse and interpret it to mean a poor person who has been divorced and remarried has committed the UNFORGIVABLE SIN in some Christian circles! Someone has sarcastically said, ‘If you want to stay in the ministry, you’re better off to murder someone than to divorce someone…..they will forgive you of MURDER, but not divorce!’

What about the innocent party……I have heard some say, “Well, there is no such thing as the ‘innocent party’ in a divorce…there was probably failure in some ways to both parties..” That is an unfair statement. You do not know that. To say that divorce is always the ULTIMATE FAILURE OF THE HOME and that both parties are always to blame is just not fair!

I think of Charles Stanley as the First Baptist Church of Atlanta who has a powerful ministry on radio and TV called ‘IN TOUCH’. His wife walked out on him. He was not unfaithful. She just walked away. She filed for divorce. He still prays for her to come back. His Church asked him to remain and be their pastor.

Some folks who had been influenced by this poisonous teaching about divorcee, left the church because Pastor Stanley was DIVORCED! Radio stations in this area have canceled his radio program. He has remained at First Baptist Atlanta and at IN TOUCH and the ministry and church have grown and been blessed more than ever!

Many of the same preachers who scream vehemently against Divorced preachers and deacons hold a Scofield Bible high in the air and wave it backwards and forth. I wonder if they know that Dr. Scofield was divorced and remarried? The very place they should get help, they were ostracized even further! Someone has rightly said, the church is the only army that will shoot its own wounded soldiers.

Jesus Couldn’t serve as deacon in some churches….

The truth is that God himself could not even be a pastor or deacon in some self-righteous churches….without getting a special waiver. The Lord, you will recall, had a divorce (Jeremiah 3:8) from the nation Israel!

“And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.” (Jeremiah 3:8)

H.L. Ellison gives few good thoughts from his book DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE: “..One’s past history may not necessarily portray his present character. It is possible to have a good marital history of single marriage and have a ‘cat-calling’ character of wandering affections at the same time…On the other hand, it is also possible to have a sorrowful marital history of a broken marriage while having a personal character that is above reproach. The tragedy may not have been of his own making, as noted with the prophet Hosea…The passage in 1 Timothy 3:2….puts the emphasis where Jesus put it, on the heart and present character, rather than on outward record of marital history. The emphasis is not so much on what a man ONCE was, but what he NOW is….”

Ellison continues… “There is an inevitable inconsistency…. How far should these restrictions be carried? If they cannot be deacon or pastor, can they serve as usher? Collect offering? Or would that be too close to the duties of a deacon? Would they be allowed to pray or read Scripture from the pulpit, or give their testimony from the pulpit? Would that be too close to ‘preaching’? To press it further, would the divorced person be allowed to sing in the choir or sing a solo? Or would such a performance border too closely to the concept of ministry? I have not heard of any such church who restricts divorced folks from being deacons or pastors from contributing to the offering plate, however.”

A preacher who was ready to ‘clean house’, as he put it, declared that no person in his church who had a previous marriage could sing in the choir, hold any position in the church, or even serve as an usher! “I don’t believe in second marriages!” he said. A close friend of his (who had divorced and remarried) said to him in private, “I know you have only married once, but did you ever have a sexual relationship with another woman?” (Being close friends, neither considered this conversation too personal.) With some hesitation the pastor admitted there had been some involvement with…two women…long before he was married to his wife. “Well,” replied the other man, “you have been married to THREE women and never even divorced the first TWO. I have been married only TWICE, but I got a divorce!”

A man give his testimony about how God saved him from a very wicked life. Though raised in church, he had rebelled at an early age, became involved with gangs, got into drugs, cursed God, chased women, living with one than another, though he never legally married. Then he got saved, went to Bible School where he married a Christian girl, and is now an ordained minister.

We can all rejoice in what God has done for him. But there is a serious INCONSISTENCY here. The denomination which ordained him does not allow divorce and remarriage (in the ministry or in deacons). Had he married even ONE of these women he lived with, any marriage after that would not be ‘first’ marriage and ordination would have been refused!

The inconsistency of this double standard says, in effect, Don’t get married–just live with different ones. God will forgive this, and if you do finally get married it will be a first marriage. But if you marry and it doesn’t work out, you can never get married again…and certainly never be a deacon or minister!

H.A. IRONSIDE says in his book WHAT IS THE ANSWER? (Question 36); “Is it permissible for a man who has been twice married, the first wife having been divorced because of immorality….to hold the office of a deacon (or pastor)?” Answer: “….in the case such as you mention, the first wife has been divorced both legally and scripturally, ….the man is qualified for the office of a deacon (or pastor) if the life is otherwise right.”

Some of the most faithful men I have known have been divorced…. Some of the best men in my church over the years of my ministry have been men who have been through divorce and remarriage, and sadly, some of the biggest trouble-makers and hindrances to my ministry have been men who have been married for 20, 30, or 40 years to the same woman!

The Church of all places, ought to be a place of forgiveness and restoration, and many poor divorced folks find no second chance at their church! Many good folk are not being allowed to serve the Lord Jesus Christ in many churches just because some folks have not correctly interpreted this passage in 1 Timothy!

Think about it….. is it not reasonable to suggest that we reexamine our thinking, and carefully consider the possibility that the church has misunderstood what the Bible really says?

Choice of new pope signifies a call for a change in the way we think of religion and leadership.

Now anyone who knows me can tell you I am not Catholic, however my mom followed the Catholic religion for more than 30 years. But, the point of today’s blog is not about following the Pope, but what we can learn from the Cardinals and their choice of the new Pope? Could this be a small wake up call for other religions?

For the first time in history the cardinals picked from outside of their little group or click by picking Bergoglio. He made history as the first non-European pope of the modern era, the first from Latin America, the first Jesuit and the first to assume the name Francis. He was not seen by the mainstream media as ever really being considered for Pope even though he garnered 40 percent of the votes during last election for Pope Benedict. The new pope then quickly made another kind of history, breaking with tradition in his first public act before the 150,000 people packed into St. Peter’s Square. Rather than bless the crowd first, he asked them to pray for him. He did one more thing that many have not even heard about yet, he broke with another tradition by refusing to use a platform to elevate himself above the cardinals standing with him as he was introduced to the world as Pope Francis.

Even Bergoglio’s selection of the name of Pope Francis is “the most stunning” choice and “precedent shattering,” The new pope is sending a signal that this will not be business as usual. The name symbolizes “poverty, humility, simplicity” and rebuilding the Catholic Church. The man himself is a very humble man, has lived in a small apartment rather than the Cardinal mansion, rode the bus to work every day and even after being elected Pope the next morning he carried his own luggage and paid his hotel bill like he was just another every day man.

So what does this say to other religions around the world and more specific here in the USA? It’s time to quit doing business as usual and get things right. We need leaders who are humble and do not make it about themselves, leaders who do not fit into the status quo and good ole boy systems. We need leaders who are real, have had difficulties, and can relate to the congregations in which they represent. People are searching for real and honest relationships and for people they can relate too, not someone on a stick and who has for the most part always been above others. People are not looking for the churches of days gone by, they are looking for real honest and open churches where people are real and do not feel like those around especially leadership are above them.  We have to stop doing church as a business and realize that it is about people and relationships. The world has changed and now even the Catholics realize that they cannot keep doing church as usual. All religions would do well to learn from the election of the new pope and that people want change, they want real, they want honesty, and they want someone like them, faults and all. Someone they can relate too and is not seen as just another suit and tie, but as a real person that can relate to their struggles.  Just my two cents worth!!