J Marshall on Elder Qualifications: Checklist? Or Portrait?

Jeremy Marshall asks us how we treat the “elder qualifications” passage in Titus and what kind of leaders we appoint as a result.

via Re-thinking the “qualifications” of elders: Thoughts on Titus 1.6-9 and elsewhere.

  1. The husband of one wife. This means that he has to be a dude, first. Beyond that, we tend to quibble over the meaning of “the husband of one wife.” Does this mean not divorced? Not divorced and remarried? Not polygamous? If his wife dies, he has to quit being an elder? If he was widowed and then remarried, does this “disqualify” him? But assuming that it is a dude and the particular church has a working definition of “husband of one wife,” they move on to the next checkmark.
  2. Having children that believe, who are not accused of riot or unruly. In practice this typically means that all his young ‘uns are baptized and aren’t as bad heathens as the preacher’s kids. Unless of course you’re “installing” your preacher as an elder.
  3. Not self-willed. This one seems to conflict too much with American boot-strapsism, so we sort of nod and chuckle and check this one off with our fingers crossed behind our backs, which is typically a source of grief and strife later on.
  4. No brawler, no striker … a lover of good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled. We tend to lump these all together into one category. Assuming Joe Bob meets qualifications 1 and 2 and hasn’t been in a fistfight since at least the early 1980s, and he’s a pretty good old boy, we’ll go ahead and give him a pass here, too.
  5. Not greedy of filthy lucre. But it helps if he is a successful businessman. 
  6. Given to hospitality. Is he apt to throw a good barbecue? Does his wife serve a mean casserole? Hospitality so defined is generally treated as a plus rather than a necessity. Check.
  7. Holding to the faithful word which is according to the teaching, that he may be able to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict the gainsayers. In practice this often means that he is capable of conducting a Bible class with Gospel Advocate Quarterlies.

The Conclusion to “My Week at the Full Armor Lectures” by Jeremy Marshall

“My Week at the Full Armor Lectures”
by Jeremy Marshal
the Shocking Truth:

From the Conclusion:
“When I wrote these, I wrote them
for children who were told that dancing is tantamount to sex.
For girls who were taught that their bodies were shameful by preachers who blamed Bathsheba for David’s sin.
For families where brothers and sisters were not even allowed to swim in the same pool for fear of arousing unnatural passions.
For those who have lived in constant fear of hell because of a soteriology that can only be described as, “Once saved, always in jeopardy.”
For those who have been deprived the comfort of the Holy Spirit’s presence in their life by preachers who told them that the Spirit dwells only in the Bible.
For entire families of preachers who have literally been kicked to the curb without notice because of a homiletical misstep or a personality conflict with a power-hungry eldership.
For those who have been told, “We will not even baptize you until you divorce your wife, because your marriage is unscriptural. It is better to break up your family than to burn in hell.”
For the women who have been “put in their place.”
For the LGBTQ family members who have spent hellish years trembling in the closet.
For the young alcoholic booted out of the Christian college without so much as an offer of help or treatment.
For the young man with a porn addiction who confided this to an elder and was threatened, “I’ll bet your momma would be real ashamed if she knew what you were doing.”
For the men with porn addictions who were told in the Open Forum of a Christian college lectureship: “I don’t see how it’s a problem. I love to go fishing, but if Jesus told me not to do it, I’d get rid of my rod and reel. It’s that simple, boys.”
I wrote these for everyone who has ever felt the need to pray, “Lord, protect me from my brethren.”