Sunday, March 06, 2011

Not In The Bible Either, Rev. Sproul

A huge hat tip to Arthur Sido at The Voice Of One Crying Out In Suburbia for pointing out a post made by R.C. Sproul Jr. on the Ligonier Ministries website.  The title of Sproul Jr's post is "5 Things I'm Surprised I Can't Find In The Bible."  The title of Sido's post is "Make that six things" and you can use your imagination as to why.

Sproul Jr. lists five things that are relatively unclear in the bible.  They are: 1) Proper form of church government; 2) Proper form of a service of worship; 3) Proper form for preaching the word; 4) Proper way to move from single to married; and 5) More information on the incarnation and the Trinity.  But contained in Sproul's No. 1, Sido finds No. 6, with my emphasis added:

The Bible is crystal clear that women are not to rule in the church, and that we are to submit to the elders over us. See Hebrews 13 for the latter.  Thus the Reformers were correct to list discipline as a mark of the true church. If you are not under the authority of name-able specific elders, you are not part of the visible church and thus do not have a credible profession of faith. You should get under authority.
Sido has some choice things of his own to say about this, some of which I'll lift and place here:

It always bothers me and should always cause you to pay close attention when someone airily claims that a whole chapter of Scripture [Sido references Heb. 13 in his argument] supports the point they are making without attempting to engage in the text at all and you should especially be on guard when they make statements with enormous implications to your very salvation based on these sweeping generalities. The idea that if you are not a member of a “proper” local church with name-able elders who carry out church discipline that you don’t have a credible profession of faith is a dangerous and Scripturally untenable statement. It sounds sweet to the ears of those who embrace certain church traditions but to question the salvation of someone because they don’t cling to your ecclesiastical traditions is arrogant and prideful.

And he concludes with:

The lesson here is that just because someone refers to a passage of Scripture and is published by a famous ministry doesn’t mean you should just take them at their word, especially not when they are questioning the salvation of other Christians.
Now I want to bring up the point I was making in my previous post on Ezekiel 34.  God's sheep can be lost, scattered, dominated, sickly, diseased, broken, wandering and slaughtered all at the hands of shepherds who did not care properly for the sheep.  And God doesn't blame the sheep in that passage.  Many people today who aren't currently involved in a church, or maybe are but are minimally involved, or who even are completely involved but haven't "signed the dotted line" of the membership papers can all fall under the pronouncement of Sproul Jr. and others who believe similar things.  I love to hear Christians' testimonies and life stories.  It amazes me how many people - including devout pastors - have had short periods of time or even seasons of their lives without the kind of church involvement Sproul Jr. speaks about.  And for many of these people, myself included, having your spirituality, level of humility or even salvation continually questioned or doubted doesn't help the cause any.  Especially for those who are younger in the faith.  Men like Sproul Jr. need to stop the "my way or the highway" authority trip and see God's sheep for who they are.  God's.


  1. Well... At least you know of one church you don't want to bother with in considering a possible church home...

  2. Bill, you're right. I'm running out of churches to choose from.

  3. It just occurred to me that a lone church elder isn't under the authority of name-able specific elders, and therefore does not have a credible profession of faith. I wonder if that's why there's such a big push for a plurality of elders. ;)

  4. #2 - Proper form of a service of worship. The Bible forbids us to forsake the gathering together of the saints.

    Well un-be-kown to R.C. the very verse he begins to quote here - Heb. 10:24,25 does specify the form for the gathering of believers. He has picked a phrase out and ignored the rest. The form is "one another" communication. That's two-way communication, the opposite of lecture as he likes to do. "Let us consider how we can hire a highly trained Bible lecturer to spur us on to love and good works..." may be what R. C. reads in his Bible, but mine says "Let US consider how WE can spur one another on to love and good works, not giving up the habit of meeting as some is..." Mutual building 100% by the "royal priests" is God's design or form for His body's gatherings. It's that simple. How could R.C. miss that? I think we know.

  5. Since this is an authority question, is it not important to see such questions in a hierarchy? Hebrews was considered a disputed book in the early church. The Roman Catholics thought that canonicity could be determined by the church, settling the question forever. Lutherans rejected that idea. They said that the church decided this based on evidence, and where there was dispute, nobody could finally settle this beyond question. Their suggestion was that when dealing with a disputed book, we may use it to support doctrines found elsewhere, but not to define doctrines not found elsewhere. When harmonization was done, it would always be done in the direction of the book whose canonicity was unquestioned. This could be helpful here. The view that we can be certain of Hebrews rests on views of authority that are themselves questionable.