Fowler Baptist Church


Chapter 1

 

INTRODUCTION

 

T

here is probably no phrase in the entire Bible more divisive, more problematic and more contentious than the words we are going to look at in this little book.

For centuries, the arguments surrounding the phrase in 1 Tim. 3:2 & Titus 1: 6 (“the husband of one wife”) lay mostly dormant, until the middle of the 1800’s, when divorce rates in Western society began to rise and the consequences became an issue with which the church had to contend.

The historical events of the times became a great weapon for Satan to use to bring discord among the Christian community and to divert the church’s priorities away from the preaching of the gospel of Christ.

As the divorce problem became a larger issue in society, the liberalization of theology was also taking place. Modern “Higher Criticism” escaped from Germany and spread like wildfire around the world, while the Great Awakenings which resulted in dynamic church growth, moved churches further to the “far right”, as they tried to retain their purity and withdraw in separation from a new theology that they considered would be the destruction of truth and righteousness.

The final result was that “liberal” theologians couldn’t move far enough left of center, away from traditionalism and conservativism, while “traditionalists” followed suit in moving “far right”, in order to do everything in their power to protect what they believed was the sanctity of the Word and the practices of the church.

As time progressed, the separation between the two became wider and more distinct, and with it arose  a thought process that literally forced everyone to belong to one camp or the other. If a believer questioned something in the Scriptures, he or she was immediately dubbed as “liberal”; if a “modernist” suggested error in the liberal theology, he or she was branded as being a “far right-wing fundamentalist.”

Soon, both camps were firmly set in their ways and in their ideaological theologies.

But, Satan was not going to let a chaotic situation go to waste. In their attempt to win more support, the “liberals” began to preach and teach concepts that would normally never have been accepted by any right thinking Christian. 

Out of this liberal thinking came the new “social gospel”, the “saved and lost” theology, the “freedom of women” movement and the plethora of new and “better” versions of the Bible.

At the same time, a similar “rebirth” was occurring among more fundamental Christians. In an understandable attempt to retain righteousness and purity within the church, traditional believers began to push as far away from the “left” as they could.

Out of this attitude came the King James Version “inspiration” movement; the “don’t dare question anything” belief among church leaders; the “if you don’t think and act just like me, then you couldn’t possibly be saved” philosophy. Their motives were honorable, but the problem was that “The Book” became more of a focus in people’s lives than “The Author” of the Book. Outward behavior became more accepted than inward change and a new phariseeism was born that perhaps has caused more hurt to people and more damage to the cause of Christ than even the liberalism to which it was so opposed.

As the divorced rate continued to explode and become even rampant within the church, the question under consideration of whether or not divorced men may hold office in the church was ultimately relegated to an interpretation of a single phrase in the Scriptures, with no attention given to “the whole counsel of God”.

This little booklet is an attempt to provide those who are interested, with the opportunity to discover “the whole counsel of God” when it comes to understanding 1 Tim 3:2 and Titus 1:6.  To question Scripture while asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is not rabid liberalism. Rather it is the duty of every born-again Christian, and should not be feared by any student of the Word who genuinely seeks to know and understand God’s truth.

Pastor Tony King, July 2011

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