Out with the old?

When I was in the process of deciding to attend seminary, a pastor friend of mine warned me that, for apologetic purposes, seminaries often will require a great amount of reading from erroneous positions to the extent that such reading can displace reading from sound biblical resources; the result of such reading can be spiritually draining rather than spiritually edifying. For the most part, I have been greatly blessed by the reading requirements here at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; I have been encouraged and strengthened in my understanding of how to apply God’s Word. Most of the reading requirements for my Ministry of Leadership class this summer were no exception. Some readings required for this class were Humility by C.J. Mahaney, Manly Dominion by Mark Chanski, and Shepherds After My Own Heart by Timothy Laniak, all of which contain probably the best expositions of the biblical material in regards to their respective topics.

We were also required to read Aubrey Malphurs’ Advanced Strategic Planning: A New Model for Church and Ministry Leaders, which was a great disappointment, especially in comparison to the fine works mentioned above. John Piper once wrote a book titled, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals; Malphurs’ book could reasonably be named, We’re Professionals, Brothers! The book is, indeed, insightful when it comes to defining the mission of the church, which Malphurs asserts is defined by Christ in the Great Commission, and in offering practical advice on how to evaluate if a particular church is actually pursuing this mission. (It may be these sections that my professor had in mind when assigning this book.) The problem is that according to Malphurs, there are crucial areas of church life, such as church government and how worship is to be conducted, on which Scripture is intentionally ambiguous. In order to compensate for this ambiguity, Malphurs turns to secular business principles to supplement the biblical text.

The result can be illustrated with the following quote from the book: “Once a pastor reaches retirement age, he serves his ministry best by leaving. This may be sad, but it makes room for a younger person who will be better in touch with the current culture and the ministry paradigms that God is blessing.”

Forget over 35 years of ministry, John MacArthur, we need someone more “in touch!” And forget that R.C. Sproul preached what many consider among his best sermons at the last Together for the Gospel conference, what his church really needs is someone who knows all about “current culture!” This American emphasis on youth is irreconcilable with the appreciation in Scripture of those who are older and wiser; there is a reason that the New Testament refers to church leaders as “elders.”

The admixture of the secular with the sacred is indeed “strange fire,” which is unusual to find here in the curriculum at SBTS, but has been all too common within baptist circles.

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2 Comments on “Out with the old?”

  1. Darrin Says:

    Indeed, this is not even embracing secular methods in the absence of biblical guidance, but in opposition to it. How atrocious is the position that a young minister’s cultural savvy trumps an elderly one’s maturity in the faith! Oh that we would be more familiar with the culture, kingdom and ways of CHRIST, and care not a whit for the ways of this world. “Better in touch with the current culture and the ministry paradigms that God is blessing”? God can bless any “paradigm” He pleases, at any time! How about better “in touch” with the accurate dividing of the word of God, with Christ’s grace and mercy, with the ways of walking with Him daily in obedience, etc.? I agree, brother, this is disappointing teaching.

  2. Craig Says:

    I am glad that you are part of the “new” Leadership School at SBTS. I took classes under the old leader and like you, was very disappointed that the mainstay teaching of the class was secular business, rather than timeless truths from the Word. I am glad that Dr. Stinson is at the helm. I think Dr. Scott had the best idea for exposure to aberrant, unbiblical teachings; excerpt a chapter or two out of a secular or unbiblical teachers’ book, rather than forcing students to buy them and thereby advance the pocketbooks of these secular or unbiblical teachers. The point is still the same; setting the false against the true and seeing the stain of sin on the world, that we may beware the false and counter it in the church. Why have students waste precious time reading all the garbage when life itself isn’t long enough to read all the godly, edifying works by God’s saints through the years! Let us know the truth of God so thoroughly that when any false teaching rears its’ ugly head, it will be spotted immediately and called what it is. All the teaching and exposure of the false and the avoidance of it, though, will never teach one the positive actions of God. Let us be more concerned with becoming more Christ-like (positive actions such as exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit) than merely avoiding the negative influence of ungodliness that the false teachers propound.

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