• Church,  New Testament

    Who Can Perform Baptisms in the Church?

    Who can perform the baptisms for church? Does it have to be an official pastor? Can a woman perform the baptism? These are important questions which have significant impact in the daily life of the church. The impetus of this article was reading a provocative article entitled, “The (In)significance of the Baptizer in the Early Church: The Importance of Baptism and Unimportance of the One who Baptized.” As the title suggests, the author argued that the evidence of the early church downplays those who baptize in the church. I think there is wisdom in not making the baptizer more than he ought to be. However, at the same time, it is inherently a theological issue that we ought to think through. Does it matter who baptizes in the church? I offer my reasoning in three simple points. First, Matthew 28:18-20 does not limit those who baptize to a special class.…

  • Church,  New Testament,  Theology

    Do a Pastor’s Children Need to be Believers? A Look at Titus 1:6

    According to the NASB, Titus 1:6 states that leaders in the church must have children who believe. In other words, a church leader who has children, must have children who believe (i.e., Christians). Leadership certainly is a high calling. The significance of leadership is magnified within the Church because of the importance of the Church as a unified witness of God’s plan of redemption to the watching world. For this reason, Paul clearly lays out two lists of leadership qualifications which give the standard of character for the would-be leader in the Church (1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). These lists are essentially the same, although a few differences exist. As noted above, the biggest difference is Titus 1:6, which seems to mandate that an elder have children who believe (i.e., Christian children). On the other hand, other translations choose the phrase “faithful children” instead of children who believe. A brief…

  • Apologetics,  Church,  Theology

    Why the Pope is not Biblical or Christian

    Is the pope the leader of the Christian world? I regularly interact with young believers who assume that the Roman Catholic Church is just a variation of legitimate Christianity, similar to the difference between Baptists and Presbyterians. However, the differences between Catholics and other Christians are very significant. Indeed, these differences are actually irreconcilable. That is why Protestants celebrate the Reformation every October 31. On October 31, 1517, a young priest by the name of Martin Luther posted 95 theses on a castle door in Wittenberg, Germany. These 95 theses were revolutionary and ended up being a partial catalyst for launching the Reformation away from the Catholic doctrine and teaching. Catholicism and a Different Way of Salvation One of the most significant differences between the Catholic church and those who broke away from Catholicism is the issue of salvation. Catholic theology teaches that man must work in cooperation to help…

  • Church,  New Testament

    Elder, Bishop, or Pastor?

    How do you refer to church leaders? Do you use the term elder, bishop, or pastor? If you are confused by these different denominational terms you are not alone. A bishop is typically equated with Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches, although Anglican and a few Lutheran churches also use the term. The term elder is often associated with the Mormon church and the young men you meet in ties on your front porch, though more evangelical churches are utilizing the term elder now. For most people, the term pastor is an easily-recognizable term referring to the spiritual leader of a church. I grew up in a baptist church that had a pastor, and assistant pastor, and a deacon board. It was not until high school that I was introduced to the idea of elder. When I began to study what the Bible had to say about church leadership, what I…

  • Christian Living,  Church,  New Testament

    Church Discipline: The Forgotten Pillar

    Little known to most people, the 1561 Belgic Confession gives three marks by which the true church is known: (1) preaching the pure gospel, (2) observing the sacraments (i.e., baptism and communion), and (3) practicing church discipline. Throughout church history, church discipline has been an integral component of God-fearing churches. However, a recent survey of pastors revealed that 55% of churches have never formally disciplined a member. Another 21% stated that, although the church had practiced church discipline, it was three or more years ago. Clearly, church discipline has fallen on hard times and is hardly viewed as a pillar of the church. There are a variety of reasons churches do not practice church discipline. One reason, sadly, is ignorance. In order to alleviate the ignorance, my goal in this post is to provide a simple template for following church discipline as taught in Matthew 18:15–17. Church Discipline Step 1:…

  • Church,  Review

    Book Review: Shattered Shepherds – Finding Hope in the Midst of Ministry Disaster

    Conflict is inevitable in life. Even for pastors and church leaders, difficulties are not absent. Some shepherds go through such terrible times in their ministries that it is akin to losing a loved one. For the most part there has been a lack of helpful resources for pastors who find themselves in such situations. Steve Swartz’ book Shattered Shepherds fills this gap. Drawing upon Scripture and his own painful experience, pastor Swartz deals with how a church leader ought to deal with the aftermath of a divisive and difficult situation in church. I was privileged to be able to go to seminary with Steve, and I am thankful for this new book which will help many pastors deal with painful issues that they have gone through. I definitely recommend it as a resource for church leaders who feel pained by others in the church. On the other hand, the book…