The Presbyterian Fix

Scott Sauls (thanks to our southern correspondent) bemoans the pressures that pastors experience:

Studies show that pastors experience anxiety and depression at a rate that is disproportionately high compared to the rest of the population. Due to the unique pressures associated with spiritual warfare, unrealistic expectations from congregants and oneself, the freedom many feel to criticize and gossip about pastors with zero accountability (especially in the digital age), failure to take time off for rest and replenishment, marriage and family tensions due to the demands of ministry, financial strains and self-comparison, pastors are prime candidates for relational isolation, emotional turmoil, and moral collapse.

Studies also show that some pastors face unreasonable, even impossible, demands placed on them by their people. I am NOT one of those pastors, thanks to a church that both receives my gifts and embraces my limitations. All in all, the people of Christ Presbyterian Church treat me with extraordinary love and kindness. But, sadly, not all pastors are as lucky as I am.

Dr. Thom Rainer, a leading pastoral ministry guru, once conducted a survey asking church members what they expected from their pastors. Specifically, Dr. Rainer wanted to know the minimum amount of time church members believed their pastors should give each week to various areas of ministry, including prayer, sermon preparation, outreach and evangelism, counseling, administrative tasks, visiting the sick, community involvement, denominational engagement, church meetings, worship services, and so on. On average, the minimum amount of time church members expected their pastors to give to the ministry was 114 hours per week.

One solution to the problem is for congregations to adjust their expectations of pastors:

[I]t is time to once and for all remove your pastor from the pedestal where you and others may have been tempted to placed him. Under the right circumstances, we pastors can be some of the best friends and advocates. But we pastors make very, very bad heroes. Turning us into heroes not only hurts our churches, it also hurts us. When you put us on a pedestal and we fall, it hurts a lot more to fall from a pedestal than it does from the ground where everybody else is standing. Plus, only Jesus belongs on a pedestal. We pastors are shepherds…but we are also sheep just like everybody else. We have struggles and fears. We get depressed and anxious sometimes. We are at times unsure of ourselves, and we go through seasons wondering if we really belong in ministry.

I would have thought a Presbyterian pastor would have two solutions at the ready other than congregational lowered expectations. The first is a session that oversees a pastor and reminds him that the pulpit is not his show but a ministry shared by an assembly of officers. The second is a ministry based on word and sacrament so that what drives a church has less to do with the pastor’s charisma than with Word and Spirit. Pastors are only farmers — not public intellectuals. They only plant seeds. God waters, right?

Presbyterianism is the great antidote to celebrity pastors, if only people would stop looking at Presbyterianism as a social and cultural upgrade from being Baptist.

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89 thoughts on “The Presbyterian Fix

  1. “Pastors are only farmers — not public intellectuals. They only plant seeds. God waters, right?”

    Well, technically, pastors both plant and water…it is God who gives the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6-8)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dr. Hart says: “Everett, but where does the water come from?
    Think about it.”

    It won’t matter what I say, or how I say it Darryl. You’ll probably take me as pouncing on an opportunity to make you look bad, but I tell you it is not so. Who are you kidding with this? You messed up a famous passage of scripture because it is not that familiar to you because you do not spend time in the word because it’s not as important to you as television. A person’s true loves are what they spend their time and attention on.

    Now you can jump and down and feebly try to protest this point and all yer boys can come in here and make some idiotic assertions about… whatever, but that will still be the truth. This is a wholly correctable state of affairs Reverend Doctor. It looked for a minute there a while back like you were doin it. I rejoiced and pointed it out to my friends that hang around here with me that you don’t know so we could pray for you. (another thing that changed my mind about you btw)

    But alas, the wilderness journey plods on. That’s ok. I am going to continue to believe that He has more of Him planned for you than you do. The God of WCF I, II and III always gets His way. One day you just may find out who your real friends were all along.

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  3. D.G. says: Presbyterianism is the great antidote to celebrity pastors

    1 ) really, it has been? 2) are you saying the vicar per se is now Presbyterianism?
    gonna just keep sticking foremost, ultimately with the Lord (not that He doesn’t supply wisdom to men)

    21 so then let no one boast in men:
    4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? 5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.

    incredibly.. though… such regard for His own ‘ men’:
    22 all things belong to you, 23 and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.
    18 Let no man deceive himself
    16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are. 1 Cor 3

    from our Head Jesus, the entire body is being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, and grows with a growth which is from God. Col 2:19

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  4. @Greg

    It won’t matter what I say, or how I say it Darryl. You’ll probably take me as pouncing on an opportunity to make you look bad, but I tell you it is not so. Who are you kidding with this? You messed up a famous passage of scripture because it is not that familiar to you because you do not spend time in the word because it’s not as important to you as television. A person’s true loves are what they spend their time and attention on.

    The reason you get pushback Greg is because you do things like this. Let’s say that Darryl was wrong here. You have assumed why this near stranger has erred and imputed motives without evidence. Maybe he messed up that famous passage of scripture because the Bible just isn’t that important to him. Or maybe he messed it up because he had a student walk into his office just as he was getting ready to respond, and he didn’t get a chance to think about it as carefully as he would have liked. Or maybe he’s been reading through the OT for the last six months and its been awhile since he reflected on this passage. Or maybe there are a 1000 other things that could explain it. But you jumped on your one favorite hobby horse here. Or maybe, you misunderstand that passage. But by prejudging the situation and jumping in for the attack, you have shut down the possibility for any kind of reasonable engagement.

    yer boys can come in here and make some idiotic assertions about… whatever

    Nice.

    It looked for a minute there a while back like you were doin it. I rejoiced and pointed it out to my friends that hang around here with me that you don’t know so we could pray for you.

    This is just creepy and quite frankly, I will never reveal my identity to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. @Greg
    I might go further and suggest that in the context of this article (pastor burnout), there is a problem with Everett’s response. It wasn’t “a” pastor who planted and watered. It was one person who planted and another that watered. In other words there was a division of labor. The challenge that a lot of pastors face is the inability to delegate, so that they try to do too much and end up burnt out. The average length of ministry for pastors is something like 5yrs (or so I’ve heard). The value of a session is that the pastor is one elder among many. Ideally part of the session’s job is to make sure that the teaching elder is not spreading himself too thin. Perhaps letting some of the ruling elders water while the teaching elder plants (or vice versa).

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  6. @Ali
    Or maybe that presbyterianism is the most biblical implementation of church government (most closely adheres to what is described in the NT) and thus best ameliorates the all too human tendency to put man on a pedestal.

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  7. Or maybe that presbyterianism is the most biblical implementation of church government (most closely adheres to what is described in the NT) and thus best ameliorates the all too human tendency to put man on a pedestal.

    nothing wrong, and one ought think that, if convinced from His word and Spirit; however, if it, itself, is so much on a pedestal and defended that one does not assess malfunctions in it due to man’s sinful nature, nor apply lessons learned, then that would be unfortunate.

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  8. “The challenge that a lot of pastors face is the inability to delegate, so that they try to do too much and end up burnt out. The average length of ministry for pastors is something like 5yrs (or so I’ve heard).”

    sdb, I would say that five year stat has less to do with burnout and pressure and more to do with conflating human desire for the position with an actual call from God confirmed by the church over time. Venturing outside of one’s calling is usually short-lived.

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  9. I know why creepy people like me get pushback on sites like this sdb, thank you.

    I do favor Presbyterianism greatly

    I also do apologize for the flagrant hijack though. I’ve tried to avoid that.

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  10. Well, I certainly did not mean to call Darryl’s knowledge of scripture into question. I’m having flashbacks of my attempt at a speech in favor of committee placement. What was meant as a joke gets befuddled. My apologies. I’ll go back to doing what I know.

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  11. Uh, Greg, if you really believed in the call I would suspect you would adjust your public accusations and judgments against called church officers. Just a thought.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. The perfect solution for Presbyterian pastors would be to redistribute depression and anxiety. Isn’t that what sermons are for?

    But the extent that a Pastor is explaining the outside world to his flock is the extent to which a pastor needs to be a public intellectual.

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  13. DGH says “Presbyterianism is the great antidote to celebrity pastors”.

    TKNY says “I don’t think so”.

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  14. One could perhaps say that the aforementioned pastors weren’t Presbyterian enough. Isn’t that one of Darryl’s critiques, at least about TKNY?

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  15. The problem with TKNY is that he doesn’t confine ministry to word and sacrament. He is the guru each member has to visit in order to learn how to implement the right strategy to transform the city. If TKNY embraced Presbyterianism, he would have to cease to exist in his current form. He would decrease, and the word and sacraments (where Christ is found) would increase.

    A further problem is that the likes of TKNY, Tuillian, and other celeb pastors who speak at various conferences, promote themselves on the circuit, like it or not, rather than the local pastor of a local congregation who ministers the word and sacrament weekly. The conference tour is just that, a tour that generates the excitement of a concert while creating disinterest in attending the weekly means of grace distributed by a no-name pastor/session. Who has time to eat their broccoli week in and week out when they can have the sugar high provided by the next conference?

    D.G. couldn’t be more right. For those of you missing it, read the Scriptures (start with 1 Timothy) where you might learn a thing or two about the function/office of a pastor which is confined to preaching/teaching the word, and administering the sacraments. It’s there. Transforming the city and being a public intellectual? Not so much.

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  16. Petros, you know that TKNY doesn’t practice Presbyterianism, right? There are those who look at Presbyterian as a better brand than Baptist. And there are those who actually follow the Form of Government.

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  17. @DGH, well, either Presbyterianism works well in reality, or it doesn’t, right? The TKNY and Tullian phenomena illustrate that it doesn’t, apparently, provide the safeguards that you assert.

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  18. Maybe I’m just behind the times or something, but I’m confused by some of these references to Tullian. Isn’t he on the outs due to his (now double) philandering? Who among those high-nosed e-van types would hire him to come and speak these days?

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  19. Hi Dr. Hart,
    Thank you for your comments and observations. I have been attending a truly confessional church for about 2.5 years. I am struck by the power (in the NT sense of the word, not the high octane definition of “dunamis” we anachronistically assign to it today) found in the simplicity of a pastor doing only the “ordinary” ministry of word, prayer and sacrament. The church body is not frenzied, burned out or hyped up on themselves and true humility is evident in their lives as they cling to Christ alone. I can honestly say it is a true Reformation church.
    Anyway- the point is I appreciate the point you made. Thank you.

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  20. Petros, so now you apply standards of perfection?

    I thought you were a TKNY fan.

    If you want to see Presbyterianism by the book, come look at the OPC and be underwhelmed.

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  21. But pastors live in two kingdoms and have different “offices”. And the folks at Union couldn’t find the word “sacrament” in Timothy.

    https://www.uu.edu/events/ref500/speakers.cfm

    pastor Martin Luther–“When Christians went to war, they struck right and left and killed, and there was no difference between Christians and the heathen. But they did nothing contrary to Matthew 5;38-39 because they did it not as Christians. but as obedient subjects, under obligation to a secular authority.”

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  22. @DGH, was just trying to understand the words of the one who asserted “Presbyterianism is the great antidote to celebrity pastors”. (I’m not a TKNY fan, but not a hater, either.) But, ok, I realize you meant to say “the OPC is the only great antidote to celebrity pastors”.

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  23. I thought the poignant part of that statement was concerning the cultural upgrade. This is the case among many college kids I know and young adults. It’s like being Presby is hip. I think it is viewed as a culturally acceptable alternative to Dispensationalism (their upbringing) and FCA-megachurch-rocknroll (their friends). Which is true, but there’s more to being Presbyterian.

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  24. Petros,

    Darryl’s point is not that Presbyterianism makes it impossible for pastors to sin and fall (like Tullian) but that rightly practiced, it should cultivate among church members the right (and more limited) expectations of their pastors.

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  25. D. G. Hart says: Ali, go to an OPC GA and see.

    I don’t know DG, maybe, if you sent me a plane ticket, and it was sunny and warm there, but probably not.The only thing I know about your GA is Valerie Hobbs 2015 report
    .….which reminds, we ought keep praying away that our love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment Phil 1:9
    and speaking of, good one this am from one of your favorite sites:
    Prayer and sinning will never live together in the same heart. Prayer will consume sin, or sin will choke prayer. —J.C. Ryle

    Robert: Darryl’s point is not that Presbyterianism makes it impossible for pastors to sin

    but if he does, all is promptly handled according to the Lord’s instructions, and sheep protection is ultimate?

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  26. I don’t believe that Presbyterianism itself is the cure for celebrity phenomenon.Just like in broader evangelicalism, if the pastor in a Presbyterian congregation has some claim to fame among other Presbyterians( writes books about the”solas”; books against other strains of Christianity; child rearing; marriage…), then he will have a level of following as the expert and/ or model Christian husband, father, theologian).
    The ladies of the denomination will rib their husbands,”Why can’t you be more like him?!”.
    Haha.

    I saw this in the Doug Wilson camp and from the Westminster and White Horse Inn/ Modern Reformation camp as well.
    The Modern Reformation folks who decry “celebrity-hood” just don’t seem to recognize that they Too are celebrities.

    Yup, there’s always a first string and the rest of us are bench warmers.

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  27. Ali, “if you sent me a plane ticket, and it was sunny and warm there.”

    Oh, the sacrifice. Oh, the lack of a proof text. Oh, the high cost of discipleship.

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  28. D. G. Hart Oh, the sacrifice.

    weelll then, where’s my ticket !

    Susan Vader says:Yup, there’s always a first string and the rest of us are bench warmers.

    Hi Susan , hope you are well. the ultimate first string…..
    I will deliver My flock and they will no longer be a prey; I will make a covenant of peace with them and eliminate harmful beasts from the land so that they may live securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest,” declares the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick; but the fat and the strong I will destroy….the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes

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  29. Susan,

    You are touching on something important, and that is that people will naturally flock to a strong/famous leader. That is unavoidable. The question is finding a system that will, when rightly practiced, ameliorate those tendencies. Congregational and Episcopal governance ends up encouraging people to look to that one, strong leader, whether he is the pope, archbishop, or single-pastor leader. Presbyterianism when you have a true parity of elders, helps to mitigate against that.

    The problem in Presbyterianism is that it is easy to revert to a kind of pastor-led model wherein the parity of elders is just lip service. But that reflects our sinful tendencies; it’s not inherent to the system. I fear that other systems have it as an inherent feature. The RCC is the example on steroids when you have a pope claiming all sorts of powers and authority, at least traditionally. But it isn’t the only system wit h such a bug.

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  30. Susan, I think you deserve a ding here. But it’s rather short lived with all the audacity your camp claims for itself, which just creates its own religious celebrity. It doesn’t mean a cure per se (do better Presbyterians even think in terms of cures?), but unlike both broad eeeevangelicalism and Catholicism, Presbyterianism at least has the tools to beat back the vice of celebrity.

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  31. I would agree with you that if a denomination has its own court that it will judge , to the best of its ability( how good that is depends on many things), the doctrine of its leader’s. However, I disagree with the notion of general “courts”. Remember, I was excommunicated for failing to agree to some Reformed doctrines, but I didn’t have to abandon Christianity as a whole to remain a Christian. I just left one version because my conscience informed by my reason wouldn’t allow me to accept that those Reformed forefathers had understood Christianity theology.
    And had I been a pastor, I would have been examined in the URCNA court and found guilty, but unless that denomination speaks for God, I wouldn’t have been kicked out of Christianity. So what was the power in that ecclesial decision? What good is an earthly tribunal if it doesn’t have heavenly weight anathema, darn-it?

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  32. What good is an earthly tribunal if it doesn’t have heavenly weight anathema, darn-it?

    Who says that a Protestant tribunal doesn’t have heavenly weight, besides Rome, that is?

    Which decision has heavenly weight: Trent’s that anathematizes me or V2 that says I’m a separated brother and not anathematized?

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  33. Robert, I agree with your point about congregants having modest expectations of their leaders, and that any leader is prone to sin and fail. But, the point I was making was that it’s demonstrable that the Presby form of government hasn’t precluded the rise of its own celebrity pastors.

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  34. Petros, the few presby celebs (still in orbit or recently crashed to earth) are the product of the mind-altering fever swamp known as Flori-duh or the old RPCES wing.

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  35. Re: RPCES

    “Keller hails from the RPCES wing of the PCA, those descendants of the Bible Presbyterian Synod who grew tired of Carl McIntire’s antics but who retained much of his Christian America outlook. The southerners in the PCA were likely unaware that receiving the RPCES into communion would bring a form of religious social justice since they thought they had left such Protestantism behind in 1972 in the mainline church. But after thirty years of the Religious Right, most conservative Protestants in the United States are much less squeamish about calls to transform the nation. Still, the fact remains that the original boundaries of the PCA did not include social transformation or political activism.”

    https://oldlife.org/2010/06/30/tim-keller-should-join-the-opc-where-fighting-is-a-virtue/

    Also where PCA’s Covenant College and Covenant Theological Seminary came from.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. McMark, I have scanned that pdf file for the words, “struck” , “obedient”, “heathen”, “Christians”, “war “secular”, “authority” AND “Matthew.” “Struck” doesn’t occur at all and none of the others are in anything even close to the quote you posted.

    I’m not accusing you of anything except sloppy research. I have no reason to believe you are being intentionally deceptive, but as of right now, that quote doesn’t exist unless a primary source is forthcoming.

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  37. Robert says: “Which decision has heavenly weight: Trent’s that anathematizes me or V2 that says I’m a separated brother and not anathematized?”
    Check out THIS enlightening piece on the solemn RCC anathema from the early 20rh century, complete with full magisterial Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur.

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  38. But, the point I was making was that it’s demonstrable that the Presby form of government hasn’t precluded the rise of its own celebrity pastors.

    And the sky is blue. But who said it did, Petros? Your point is like saying the Constitution doesn’t preclude the rise of celebrity politicians. And?

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  39. Zrim, “who said it did”? That would be the host here, who wrote above “Presbyterianism is the great antidote to celebrity pastors.”

    “Antidote” = “something that prevents or counteracts injurious or unwanted effects”.
    Apparently not.

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  40. Hi Zrim,

    Thank you. Even though short lived, today after 3 yrs+ of comments, I achieved my first “ding”. 🙂

    I don’t know about Presbyterianism being able to push against celebrity pastor’s. I guess it depends on what is meant by celebrity-hood( is this a compound word?).
    I don’t have any problem with the effusion of good. I mean if anything has good, it’s because it is participating in The Good( By which we mean God), and so it should be shared. Maybe what we dislike is vainglory( trying to get glory for a good not possessed). That and a lack of reverence for what is Holy.
    I don’t know. I do know that if I would have lived during the lifetime of the apostles but after Jesus’s assention, I would have wanted to hear everything St. Peter and the others had to say. They would have been celebrities( in a good way) in my book:) I mean, I would have wanted to imitate St. Paul.

    The church has a hierarchy but it’s needed and not a competition. There are many members in the one body. Can’t be jealous….

    As for me, I don’t suffer from pastor wife envy, as in ” I wish I could have a house or dress or regular hair appts, or that year make and model vehicle, etc..like she does.” I might even my neighbor( a sin) but I don’t envy my pastor’s possessions.

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  41. Some pastor have rich friends and powerful magistrates on their sides. Think Falwell and Franklin Graham. But some of the “prosperity” folks need to show people how rich they are, so they split part of their franchises into profit-making division and pay taxes on that part.

    Some call it sphere sovereignty, others call it “vocation”. But pastors can also be parents and parents can also be killers. Don’t call it “schizophrenia”. Think of it as “balance”. Why be a fanatic about antithesis when you can coexist?

    “You ask whether a Christian, also, may bear the secular sword and punish the wicked, since Christ’s words, “Thou shalt not resist the evil,” are so clear and definite that the sophists have had to make a counsel of them. I answer, You have now heard two propositions. The one is, that the sword can have no place among Christians, therefore you cannot bear it among and against Christians, who do not need it. The question, therefore, must be directed to the other side, to the non-Christians, whether as a Christian you may there bear it. Here the other proposition applies, that you are under obligation to serve and further the sword by whatever means you can, with body, soul, honor or goods. For it is nothing that you need, but something quite useful and profitable for the whole world and for your neighbor. Therefore, should you see that there is a lack of hangmen, beadles, judges, lords, or princes, and find that you are qualified, you should offer your services and seek the place, that necessary government may by no means be despised and become inefficient or perish. For the world cannot and dare not dispense with it. The reason you should do this is, that in this case you would enter entirely into the service and work of others, which benefited neither yourself nor your property nor your character, but only your neighbor and others; and you would do it not to avenge yourself or to recompense evil for evil, but for the good of your neighbor and for the maintenance of the safety and peace of others. As concerns yourself, you would abide by the Gospel and govern yourself according to
    Christ’s word, gladly turning the other cheek and letting the mantle go with the coat, when the matter concerned you and your cause. ( Matthew 5:39 ,40 ) In this way, then, things are well balanced, and you satisfy at the same time God’s kingdom inwardly and the kingdom of the world outwardly, at the same time suffer evil and injustice and yet punish evil and injustice, at the same time do not resist evil and yet resist it.

    https://www.lutheransonline.com/lo/522/FSLO-1330610522-111522.pdf

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  42. Petros, you might be reading a bit too woodenly. Language is fluid. Doesn’t the context sort of imply to you that “antidote” doesn’t really mean “absolute fail safe”?

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  43. Susan, it would go a fair distance for you to admit some inherent downfalls to the RC system in this regard. It would actually suggest some maturity, the kind plenty of bred-and-buttered Cats have. Instead you say something about wanting to ape Paul and Peter. The church may “need its hierarchy,” but can’t you see how this gives rise to celebrity, the kind that results in embarrassing fawning when Francis comes to America? Doesn’t any of that silliness give you any pause? It doesn’t mean your whole conversion comes undone to admit it, but it would stretch your own credibility around here. You might even get more dings. And isn’t that really what everyone wants?

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  44. Susan, “I would have wanted to hear everything St. Peter and the others had to say.”

    You’d have had to wait a long time for Paul, Luke, and John to finish.

    So this is really about venerating Rome. Of course, Paul died there too. But he wasn’t there for Matt 16:18. Odd, since Mary wasn’t around for dogma.

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  45. I Corinthians 9: 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being NOT WITHOUT LAW to God, but UNDER THE LAW TO CHRIST,) in order to gain them that are without law.

    https://chantrynotes.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/how-presbyterianism-solves-everything-or-not/

    Romans 7: 4 Therefore, my brothers, you also were put to death in relation to the law through the crucified body of the Messiah, in order to belong to another—to Him who was raised from the dead—in order to bear fruit for God.

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  46. Zrim, Zrim, Zrim. You strain at gnats and overlook elephants. If you’re going to claim how Presbyterianism is an antidote to the phenomenon of celebrity pastors, it would seem to most people that you’d be obligated to address a) the existence of TKNY/Tullian elephants, or b) provide some kind of other evidence for the claim. Otherwise, you commit the Cat sin of merely claiming the “our church polity paradigm is superior”, notwithstanding the evidence.

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  47. Petros, and you seem to be completely ignorant of history. Like you don’t know by this point that what people call themselves may not be what they are? But heck, you’ve been partial to TKNY for a while and his Presbyterianism never put you off.

    First clue.

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  48. @DGH. Thanks for demonstrating the main point. Since you think TKNY/Tullian are not true Presby’s, the Presby form of church polity should have the intrinsic wherewithal to root them out. But, it doesn’t.

    You’ve got the same problem that you accuse Cats of having, to wit, that their polity accomplishes zippo in terms of ensuring unity/uniformity of belief.

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  49. Petros, word to the wise. The Constitution is great. But it doesn’t generate impeachment papers. Sometimes officers need to implement writings. You know. You word processor isn’t responsible for your odd comments.

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  50. Petros, the RC analogy is odd. The claim of superiority over there is “we’re right because it’s impossible for us to be wrong.” Over here it’s “while there are others who make a strong showing, we’re confident that ours is the best explication of holy writ, take it or leave it.” Which one sounds more sensible to you?

    But if you think the P&R claim has something to do with vanquishing the abiding effects of human sin, you’ve quite missed it. And there’s the explanation of TKNY/Tullian elephants, btw, no doctrine can overcome the realities of human sin. But some doctrines help deal with them better than others.

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  51. Zrim said:

    But some doctrines help deal with them better than others.

    Ding, ding. The doctrine of plural elders has within it the seeds to curb the celebrity tendency provided that it is actually followed. A model like episcopalianism doesn’t. It’s all about becoming the archbishop or whatever. See Rome.

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  52. and still thinking about the True Celebrity and true celebrity antidote-itude – coming to understand what one is to do with/think about ‘equality ‘ (other post) and ‘superiority’

    Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Phil 2:5-7

    and.. for who regards (anyone) as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? 1 Cor 4:7

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  53. Robert: seeds to curb the celebrity tendency

    meaning to say too about ultimate antidote-itude, (not mere sin restraint) isn’t it time for us all to really promote understanding/abiding by the royal law, the law of liberty, the law of the Spirit of life, the law written on our hearts as promised in the new covenant.

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  54. Fwiw, I’m a proponent of the plurality of elders polity. Yet, even that system of polity has proven to be demonstrably limited to guard against celebrity pastors (other than on paper, or in the OPC, of course). The practical reality is that, in group dynamics, it’s proven pretty tough for rank/file elders to avoid being tribal sycophants towards the gifted pastor/speaker. Reminiscent of the dynamics at certain curmudgeon reformed blog sites, where the tribe worships the ground of the blog site host and dares not challenge….

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  55. Petros, you mean the way you object to TKNY? Show us how it’s done, oh exemplar of examples.

    And please do keep facts straight — Susan, Mermaid, James Young, GregTT, Erik, VdT, Curt, and not to be missed, Peter.

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  56. This fits with the content at the Trump 2K post and the comments on this post, so I’ll post it here. https://calvinistinternational.com/2016/05/12/senate-presbyters-early-church-bishops/
    A thought provoking quote from Jerome (yes, that Jerome) in the article:

    The presbyter is the same as the bishop, and before parties had been raised up in religion by the provocations of Satan, the churches were governed by the Senate of the presbyters. But as each one sought to appropriate to himself those whom he had baptized, instead of leading them to Christ, it was appointed that one of the presbyters, elected by his colleagues, should be set over all the others

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  57. DGH, but of course, if you’re looking for the exemplar of examples, look no further than the OPC! I keep reading they’re the best.

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  58. DGH, actually, I share some of your heartburn with the eeee-world, which is indeed a mixed bag. You give more than sufficient voice to those things. But I’m a cafeteria-calvinist-eee guy….I like to pick/choose.

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  59. I’m a proponent of the plurality of elders polity. Yet, even that system of polity has proven to be demonstrably limited to guard against celebrity pastors (other than on paper, or in the OPC, of course). The practical reality is that, in group dynamics, it’s proven pretty tough for rank/file elders to avoid being tribal sycophants towards the gifted pastor/speaker.

    There’s the sin point again, Petros. I’m not understanding your point though. You more or less affirm Presbyterian polity but are dinging others who do too because it’s, what, not perfect in guarding against celebrity leaders? So let’s turn it around: why do you affirm a polity that isn’t perfect in circumventing human sin? Follow up: when did you stop beating Mrs. Petros?

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  60. Zrim, great, I accept your comments as your official retreat from the oh-so-humble assertion “Presbyterianism is THE GREAT ANTIDOTE to celebrity pastors”. If one recognizes the abiding effects of sin in this life, one might think it odd to propose presby church polity as the cure-all.

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  61. Petros, and you say I strain at gnats? You’re camped out on a simple expression.

    Will you blame a doctor for calling vaccinations “the great antidote to health afflictions” when all sorts of disease still pops up, even as you yourself are vaccinated? Like Ali might say, sheesh.

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  62. Petros, what about “practiced” don’t you understand. The Book of Church Order doesn’t do anything. Someone has to use it. With their understanding of the fall and the ongoing residue of sin in the pastor’s life, Presbyterians have all sorts of reasons for following presbyterian polity.

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  63. DGH, you sound like Susan when she admits to lack of “practice” in the RCC. Great construct….on paper. Or, can you cite some recent historical incidents where presby polity put the clamps on a budding celebrity pastor?

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  64. And for all his deviations Keller has been restricted to some degree by the PCA’s polity — malleable and squishy as it can be. An independent Keller would be a different animal altogether.

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