Ep14 Titus 1:4p1 Common Faith

Today we continue in our exposition of Titus chapter 1. Yesterday we finished verse 3 by discussing how our Lord was manifested at the proper time as prophet, priest and king. Today we are going to continue by moving on to verse 4. Paul is finishing up his greeting and calls Titus his son in the common faith. Nick begins by discussing the nature of this common faith. The remainder of this show is dedicated to discussing the problems with the splintered nature of the Church today and what we, God’s people, must do to unite the body of Christ.

7 thoughts on “Ep14 Titus 1:4p1 Common Faith

  1. Mad Welshman

    Nick…If I heard you correctly, you are saying that demonationalism is a sinful state of affairs! Yet, even Paul and Barnabas had to split up because of different emphases in their evangelistic ministries. The history of the Church consists of groups splitting off from each other to minister more effectively. How could these divisions possibly be bad or, even worse, sinful?
    MW

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      That’s a good question. It does seem like there are times when stewards of God’s household have to split up in order to be most effective. In the context of the book of Titus, Paul left Titus on the island of Crete to put in order what remained while he went off to minister somewhere else. Certainly, it would have been good and fruitful for Paul to remain with Titus on the island; but, for some reason, Paul decided it was necessary for him to move on . . . definitely something interesting to ponder.

      Reply
    2. TRBC

      MW: You did hear me correctly – I do believe denominationalism (or more honestly termed: factionalism) is a sinful state of affairs. You and your anonymous replier have raised some interesting points.
      First of all let me say that the separation of Paul/Barnabas and Paul/Titus are different circumstances entirely. I think it would be hard to say that Paul leaving Titus was an example of “schisma” or the type of division that Paul chastised the Corinthians for. In that circumstance Paul simply left Titus to do what Titus was called to do. The doctrine of unity that we are promoting does not say that two elders or missionaries can never part ways. However, I will say the separation of Paul and Barnabas is more problematic. Not problematic because I think it damages my position – problematic because I think it may have been a sinful separation. Acts 15 says the separation arose out of a sharp disagreement. I find it difficult to determine conclusively whether or not it was sin based on the text but it certainly seems Paul had some personal issues with Mark that led to their working separately – not different emphases in their ministries. Sinful or not I think it is safe to say that the separation of Paul and Barnabas over personal issues was at the very least petty and is not the type of behavior that the church should attempt to emulate.
      At the end of the day – neither of those scenarios are the type of division I am concerned about. I am concerned about the type of separation that is supposed to lead to “more effective ministry”.
      I want to answer your question and in order to do so I need to know what you mean by “minister more effectively”? Or to put my question another way: what do you believe the end goal of a biblical ministry to be? And I must warn you that I am not likely to be convinced of a position simply because the Church has adopted a behavior in the past. I have provided my arguments to you stating why I believe this practice is in fact sinful. I must ask you to now provide an argument demonstrating how it is not sinful (and again, more than just because the Church has always done it).
      Instead of writing an essay here, let me ask you one last question: what do you think are the better fruits of an effective ministry?
      Is doctrinal conformity the best fruit?
      Or are love, patience, peace, kindness, and gentleness – just some of the fruits of demanding to stay unified – superior?

      Reply
  2. Mad Welshman

    Nick:
    Thanks for your reply. I will acknowledge that there seems to be a difference between separations that take place for strategic reasons, under good terms and with mutual respect and admiration; and separations that take place under ill-will and apparent anger. I will also acknowledge that the separation of Paul and Barnabas was probably not the most sanctified way to deal with their disagreement. But, you are concerned about a separation that leads to what I called a “more effective ministry”. Allow me to attempt an explanation.
    I believe that ministry is most effective when those who are ministering shoulder-to-shoulder do not fight and back-bite each other. It does not matter to me if the reason for the fighting is doctrinal or behavioral, it is still fighting and it destroys the testimony of those involved. The end goal of biblical ministry to to save the lost and that effort is hampered by evangelists/missionaries/ministers who are fighting with each other.
    Even Francis Schaeffer, I have been told, realized that he needed to divide his congretation in L’Bre, Switzerland, into two parts. The first part consisted of those who lived there and tended to be upper to middle class. The second congregation consisted of younger folks who had migrated there to hear him. There was great conflict between the two groups and he decided that, for the sake of unity, it would be best if they split. That allowed him to minister to both groups without having to deal with their endless bickering. That, it seems to me, allowed for “better fruits due to an effective ministry.”
    MW

    Reply
    1. TRBC

      MW: Thank you for your reply. This is the type of discussion we want to foster here at Being Berean and I appreciate your willingness to talk about this type of thing.
      I personally agree with your assertion that ministry is most effective when leaders are not back-biting and fighting. However I propose an alternative to division: stop fighting. You have left out an extremely important goal of an effective ministry: maturing in Christ. Once the person has repented and joined the church it is the job of the elders to present every believer as mature in Christ. Part of that maturity are the fruits I mentioned earlier: love, peace and patience. Those come about when sinful fighting and backbiting is rebuked instead of coddled (or even worse – encouraged). It is an extremely sad state of affairs when the elders are the ones doing the fighting when they ought to be the ones stopping the fighting.
      The same thing applies to the division at L’Bre – instead of splitting the two groups should have been rebuked for their fighting. I am not afraid to say that all of the great theologians throughout the history of the church have sinned so, again, examples of other people engaging in this behavior is not likely to convince me that it is a wise or righteous behavior. I would argue that instead of allowing or promoting the division Schaeffer should have read and preached on James 2 and kept the body of Christ united. There is no such thing as division for the sake of unity – unity is always destroyed when there is division or splitting and to argue otherwise is not merely logically ridiculous but immoral.
      Lastly (you certainly have found a topic I have lots to say about) let me say something about leaders ministering shoulder-to-shoulder. I agree – the elders in any church or ministry ought to stand together but that does not mean that they must agree on every subject. There is, in my opinion, great benefit to the church when the elders don’t agree on everything! As long as there is no disagreement on essential doctrines the disagreements on secondary issues can provide great opportunity for debate, for mutual edification and for the edification of the body. Discussion is good, fighting is bad.

      Reply
  3. Mad Welshman

    Nick:
    Maybe Schaeffer should have tried to keep the two congregations together. Still, there are some doctrines that are so divisive I do not see how that is possible. In our day one of those would be the doctrine of baptism. You are not seriously suggesting that two elders, one of whom is a credo-baptist and the other of whom is a paedo-baptist, should minister together in the same church? That would create enormous amounts of confusion among the members and I believe the Bible says somewhere that God is not a God of confusion. Certainly, in the case of the doctrine of baptism, it is right for two congregations to agree to disagree and divide themselves for the sake of the unity of the church at large!

    Reply
    1. TRBC

      MW: First of all I apologize for the late reply. I hope you know that we appreciate your comments and I don’t want you to be offended by our delay in responding.
      You have brought up an interesting issue that I have had personal experience with. I was once a member of a church that met your very description: of the 3 elders, two were paedo-baptist and one was credo-baptist. While I can assure you that this church did not suffer massive amounts of confusion as you suggested, I hold myself to the same rule I have been applying and freely admit that this circumstance does not prove my point.
      Let me attempt to put this discussion to rest with the following rule: When dealing with non-essential doctrine, unity is not optional. If there was disagreement about the deity of Christ, there is certainly reason for division because the one who rejects Christ’s deity is a heretic who Must be driven from the Church. But when dealing with any non-essential doctrine (baptism, sabbatarianism, etc.) division is forbidden.
      While I believe that rule should answer your objection, I also want to address your comments about confusion. It seems that you fundamentally presuppose that the sheep can’t figure things out for themselves. I don’t intend to offend you, but I wonder if you are an elder yourself since most elders I have dealt with seem to think that the common Christian is too stupid to make up their own mind. I re-iterate that it is the elder’s job to bring their sheep to maturity. Part of that maturity ought to be the ability to form Biblical convictions based on the propositional revelation of God (the Bible) and necessary and logical conclusions from it. Confusion may in fact result from presenting two opposing viewpoints but the solution to that problem is training and education, not division. It is true that many doctrines that fall into the non-essential category have multiple biblically derived and yet mutually exclusive viewpoints. Confusion is overcome when the individual evaluates the multiple viewpoints for their logical and Biblical consistency and validity and forms their own convictions on the matter. It is the elder’s job to equip them to complete this process.
      God is not a God of confusion. He demands that His people mature, stand fast to their convictions AND stay unified. No doctrines (in the non-essential category) are the exception to this rule.

      Reply

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