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Is Any Man Biblically Qualified to be a Pastor?

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Evangelicals are fond of saying that they are people of the Book; that the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God is the standard by which they live their lives. Pastors, in particular, demand that Christians and non-Christians alike obey the teachings of the Bible. Of course, Evangelicals talk a great game, but their lives suggest that they want “others” to practice what they preach, not themselves.

Take the Biblical requirement for a man to be a pastor. The Bible says in 1 Timothy 3:

 If anyone wants to provide leadership in the church, good! But there are preconditions: A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, cool and collected, accessible, and hospitable. He must know what he’s talking about, not be overfond of wine, not pushy but gentle, not thin-skinned, not money-hungry. He must handle his own affairs well, attentive to his own children and having their respect. For if someone is unable to handle his own affairs, how can he take care of God’s church? He must not be a new believer, lest the position go to his head and the Devil trip him up. Outsiders must think well of him, or else the Devil will figure out a way to lure him into his trap. (The Message)

Note that the text says “a leader MUST be.” Not hope to be, aspire to be, MUST be. Read the requirements carefully, asking yourselves if you know one pastor who meets these requirements? I know I don’t, myself included. Sure, I was a kind, thoughtful, caring preacher most of the time, but as my family and former parishioners can testify, there were times when I was anything but what Paul demands of bishops/elders/pastors in 1 Timothy 3.

I call on Evangelical preachers to do two things:

  • Admit that they are not, according to 1 Timothy 3, qualified to be pastors. These preachers should quit the ministry and get real jobs.
  • Admit that by continuing to be pastors, they are saying that they don’t really follow and practice the teachings of the Bible.

Of course, neither of things will happen. These preachers have businesses to run. Image matters. They will call on Evangelicals to ignore the writing of Bruce Gerencser, calling him an angry atheist who only wants to destroy “Biblical” Christianity. Lost in the discussion will be the fact that all I did was quote the Bible. If they have a beef with anyone it’s God/Jesus/Paul. Gawd, it’s awesome being able to say, hey your argument is not with me, but God. 🙂

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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    I used to think about the bible’s rules for being a Pastor too. Of course, back then, when fundy, I glossed over the fact that I knew one or two who were divorced or on their 2nd marriages. And that bit about your family, your children all needing to be followers of jesus….well, when I thought about it, practically every x-tian family I knew had at least one black sheep, one offspring who’d left the fold. But I can’t recall knowing any pastor who resigned and said he was disqualified from the job cos his teenage child had rebelled, dyed their hair purple, worn yoga pants, drank alcohol or even, shock horror, come out as gay. Funny how the bible’s rules can be so cherry-picked and disregarded when it suits!

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    Note that it only talks about men being pastors. The Southern Baptists that I grew up with took this passage to mean that women should be excluded from pastorship. There were similar verses for deacons, also men-only.

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Bruce Gerencser