Emotions in Worship: Part 3

by Kevin Hester

How Then Should We Emote?

In part one of this discussion we learned that emotions are part of God’s creative purposes in human nature. If God created emotions they must be good. There is no room for an absolute stoicism – in life, or in worship. But the Fall has corrupted our emotions just as it has corrupted our minds. Controlling our emotions is not about suppressing them. Instead it involves a conscious weighing of why and how we are feeling what it is that we are feeling.

In part two we looked at what it means to consciously weigh and express our emotions in corporate worship. We noted that our worship was commanded by God and that we should actively engage worship with all our being. Our worship glorifies God, but it also encourages and edifies believers and convicts the unrepentant of sin. However, true worship is the worship that God has commanded conducted in a way that is pleasing to God.

With this in mind we pointed out four Biblical principles concerning emotion in worship. These principles were: 1) we are called to worship God with all our heart, mind, and soul; 2) all things must be done decently and in order; 3) Christian liberty is active in worship; and, 4) the intentional manipulation of emotion in worship does damage to the Gospel.

Today, I would like to reflect further on these principles and the way that they can or should be applied in corporate worship. The most effective way to do this is by examining several common misconceptions about emotions in worship. My prayer through this discussion is that we can find balance in our emotions and balance in our worship.

Common Misconceptions on Emotions in Worship.

  1. If you feel anything in worship it is fleshly and of the devil. If you feel something in worship it is indeed fleshly but as we have pointed out we are called to use all aspects of our nature in the worship of God. Emotions are not of the devil. God made them. That is not to say that they can not be used inappropriately. We have seen that they can. Yet, inasmuch as our emotions are authentic, directed toward God, and manifested in congruence with the regulative principle God is honored by them.
  2. If I don’t walk away from worship feeling good I haven’t worshiped. This concept is wrong on two counts. First, it demonstrates a level of individualism that is inconsistent with corporate worship. Worship is our service to God, not his service to us. Any benefit we receive from worship is a by-product and not the end goal. Second, whether I walk away from worship feeling good misses the point. Authentic, active, emotional worship only means that I will leave a worship service feeling. There are many appropriate emotions for worship. Joy is certainly one, but there are many others: reverence in the presence of our Creator and Redeemer; sorrow for our sin and fear of our Judge; love, for God and for one another; peace in our reconciliation and the anticipation of God’s promises fulfilled. I could go on, but hopefully you get the point. Engaging our emotions in worship means feeling, not necessarily feeling good.
  3. The display of emotion in worship is most appropriate while singing. There is something about music that speaks to us on a visceral level and has the capacity for drawing forth a deep emotional response. Our emotions, together with our mind and our wills ought to be engaged in our singing but it sometimes seems as if there is a switch that many people turn off as the pastor stands to preach, as people pray, and as the offering plate is passed. We are called to fully engage all aspects of our being in all parts of the divinely-instituted worship service. Emotions are not just appropriate in singing. After all, Scripture speaks of “cheerful giving,” of crying out with our emotions in prayer, and directs us with thanksgiving to make our requests before God. The Bible is also replete with emotional responses to hearing the Word of God including: fear, joy, and thanksgiving.
  4. Emotions are just about feelings I get and not what I do. Emotions are expressions of our heart but mere emotion without will and action is simply tinkling brass or a clanging gong. Notice James’ instruction on worship at the close of his book. He asks, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone among you cheerful? Let him sing praise” (5:13). Notice that James equates feeling with doing. Both he and Paul point out that our emotions should motivate us to action in worshiping and praising God. I would also draw your attention to the fact that the actions being discussed here are, as all legitimate worship, directed toward God. These acts of emotional worship are not for the self but for God and in their viewing for the edification of all the believers. There is no room for individualism in corporate worship.
  5. All emotional expression of worship across the world will be homogenous. Emotions are similarly felt by all people but emotional expression is often culturally driven. While the regulative principle outlines the content and context of our worship with norms that are universal we must realize that the application of these principles may sometimes have a different tone or feel. All Christian worship services should have the same elements but the expression of these elements may differ. The principle that is binding here as it relates to emotional expression is that all cultures must honor God in a way that is decent, orderly, and peaceful. If an unbeliever from that culture were to happen upon the service, he or she should find nothing there that would seem out of place or irreverent. No emotional expression that draws the focus of our worship away from God or his message of redemption is ever appropriate.
  6. If that person were really worshiping he would be crying, shouting, smiling, raising his hands just like me. Although all persons have the same emotions not all people experience and display emotions in the same way. Some of this is associated with our culture and some with our upbringing. Some emotions are difficult to detect. Our role in worship is to actively engage and not to judge others for appearances that may or may not be indicative of his or her heart. Again, we must not bind the consciences of others by our own perceptions and experiences. In many ways this is the other side of the coin to the first misconception we looked at. Both reveal a judgmental character that defines spirituality externally; by what is, or is not done. Both are condemned by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount and the principle of Christian liberty demands us to extend grace and acceptance to all our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Conclusion

In the midst of worship debates that more often resemble a royal rumpus than a theological discussion, I ask that you consider a few clear points. God created us, even our emotions and God created us with no greater purpose than to worship Him. Let us love him and serve him with all our hearts, all our minds, all our souls, all our strength. Stop looking around in worship and start looking to God. It is not about us. It is about Him.

“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is…be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5: 17-21)

Emotions in Worship: Part 2

by Kevin Hester

A Biblical and Theological Approach to Emotions in Worship

In the first post of this discussion we learned that God created us with emotions and that these emotions are one of the ways that we image God in the world. God communicates something of His nature to us in every aspect of our being. Thus, emotions are good. However, our emotions, like all other part of our being have been corrupted by the Fall. Because of this, Christians wrestle with emotions and must constantly weigh how, and in what way, they are conveyed. Nowhere is this more evident than in worship.

Emotional Beings in Worship

a. Created to worship. Not only were we created as emotional beings, but we were created for worship. The Westminster Shorter Catechism answers the question “What is the chief end of man?” with the dictum “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” But in order for us to understand how to best employ our emotions in worship we must first understand worship.

b. The meaning of worship. There are two biblical words translated as “worship” in most of our English translations. The first of these carries the idea of bowing before God and indicates our recognition of his glory and authority. This tells us that worship is about God and what I bring to him. Our worship must be God-centered. Worship is never about me. Worship is not about how I feel or what I get out of the service, but how I honor God in the service.

The second term is used to indicate the service and ministry that we offer to God. This reminds us that our worship must be active. There are no spectators in worship. Worship is not entertainment, but a spiritual exercise before God.

c. The context of worship. The worship of the covenantal community is commanded by God and is vital for the spiritual health of believers. Hebrews 10: 24-25 is instructive, “and let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

d. The purpose of worship. The primary purpose of worship is to glorify God and to express our love and thanksgiving for his redemption. But this love is also to be extended horizontally as well as vertically. Our corporate worship services allow us to show love to one another and edify and encourage one another in the Christian life. Worship is to honor God, but also to encourage and edify fellow believers. Paul reminds us that when this is done correctly, in the right attitude unbelievers will recognize God in the midst of his people, humble themselves before him, and join us in worship (I Corinthians 14: 24-25).

e. The principle of worship. If the primary purpose of worship is to glorify God, it follows that we glorify him best when we worship him in the way that he has commanded. God is not always pleased with our worship. We read that Cain’s offering was not acceptable to God. Nadab and Abihu were consumed by fire for offering worship to the Lord that he had not commanded. Ananias and Saphira were struck dead because they lied about their offering to the early Church. Paul tells the Corinthians that God was judging their inappropriate celebration of the Lord’s Supper through weakness, sickness, and even death (1 Corinthians 11: 29-30).

God is pleased with our worship when we worship according to His commands. As the Scottish reformer John Knox said, “All worshipping, honoring, or service invented by the brain of man in the religion of God, without His own express commandment, is idolatry.” The Reformed tradition refers to this truth as the regulative principle. Only those things commanded by God in Scripture are appropriate in worship. Our task is to ask the Scriptures what God wants us to do in worship. At the same time Christians must remember that there is room for human thought in determining what pleasing worship is, just so long as that thought is in accordance with God’s Word.

Biblical Principles Concerning Emotions in Worship.

  1. We are called to worship God with all our heart, mind, and soul. The first and most basic principle of worship is that we should do it, and we should engage in worship with all that we are and all that we have. At least four times in scripture we are reminded that we should love the Lord our God with all our heart, our mind, and our soul and in each place the directive occurs within the context of worship. We are not simply allowed to engage our emotions in worship we are commanded to do so. Each constituent aspect of our being was designed for and is properly used in the worship of God. To worship God with our mind alone, our emotions alone, or our bodies alone is an abortive act that dishonors the one who so fearfully and wonderfully made us.
  2. All things must be done decently and in order. At the same time, we are not allowed to give our emotions free reign. Paul speaks to a similar situation in 1 Corinthians 14. He reminds us that God is a God of peace and order and our worship services should reflect this. He reminds us that it is only as we worship through our spirits and our minds that we honor God. As we pray, as we sing, as we proclaim God’s Word both our emotions and our minds are to be fully engaged. It is only in this way that the unbeliever will recognize God’s presence and be called to believe and worship with us. To do otherwise is to edify only ourselves which is at worst idolatry and at best a forfeiture of one of the basic principles of corporate worship. In so doing we may endanger not only our spiritual health but our own lives as well (See 1 Corinthians 11:30).
  3. Christian liberty in worship. Another reason we are not allowed unrestricted emotional release is the principle of Christian liberty. Christian liberty is less about what I get to do and more about what I could do but choose not to do because of my love and concern for my brothers and sisters in Christ. To insist upon certain forms of emotional expression in a way that binds the consciences of other believers is to disobey and disregard God’s word. In the Gospel age, God alone has the authority to bind our lives and our worship. This is what is meant by the regulative principle. This and the fact that the purpose of our worship is to honor God and edify our brothers and sisters in Christ is why we should hear the words of the apostle: “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor (1 Corinthians 6:12).
  4. The intentional manipulation of emotion in worship does damage to the Gospel. True worship is authentic worship. Any attempt at manipulation is contrary to Scripture and demeans the Gospel. Paul makes this point in 1 Thessalonians 2 where he reminds the church at Thessalonica that when he presented the Gospel to them he did not make use of deception, flattery, or pretense but out of love he spoke to please God and not man. Whether singing the same lines over and over or building terror in your hearers during the invitation, the artificial manipulation of an individual’s emotions can not be reconciled with Paul’s image of a mother tenderly caring for her child. Such a mother would rather be accused of emotional abuse.

 

Part III of  “Emotions in Worship” will post tomorrow.

Emotions in Worship: Part 1

by Kevin Hester

A Biblical Perspective on Emotions

Spike Jonez’ film adaptation of Maurice Sandek’s classic children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are, is a coming-of-age tale about the power of human emotion and the necessity of these emotions being governed by our intellect, especially in the context of human relationships. Emotions are part of who and what we are. They assist us as we interact with our environment. They help us to analyze situations and to communicate with others. Nevertheless, when our emotions run unchecked they can confuse reality and destroy effective interaction with others.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Christian worship. Christians have long been divided over emotional expression in the worship of God. From the traditionalists to the mystics, from the old lights to the new lights, different Christian cultures have grappled with the emotional nature of humanity. Emotions are powerful things that can drive action and in the end impact our theology. This is why I have chosen to explore this topic for the Commission for Theological Integrity. Over the next few days we will examine it according to Scripture and the Christian tradition. In part one we will look at what the Bible has to say about emotions. In subsequent posts we will study what it means for emotional beings to engage in worship and investigate some common misconceptions about emotional displays in corporate worship.

I admit that I have some trepidation in approaching this topic. I worry that some of you will think I am advocating something I am not or maligning certain “styles” of worship. At the same time I am passionate about applying what Scripture says to all aspects of our human experience, especially our worship. The emotional pull I feel, this conflict of emotions, is part of what it means to be human. Philosophers have known this for a long time.

Plato argued that the immaterial part of the human person can be likened to a chariot pulled by two horses. One horse represents our passions and the other our spirit – both of which speak to various aspects of our emotions. Plato argues that this chariot must be rightly governed by the intellect in order to produce true happiness. To extend his metaphor, our emotions must be tightly controlled but without them we will not get anywhere. Our emotions drive us and encourage us to do what reason says we must do. But philosophy is not the only place that speaks of our emotions. Scripture speaks to them as well

Biblical Principles on Emotions.

We were created as emotional beings. One of the things we learn is that we were created as emotional beings. I hesitate to point this out. It would seem a truism to say that all humans have emotions and that this emotional life is one of God’s creations. However, the stoicism of some would seem to indicate that emotions have more to do with the fall than creation. Nevertheless, we can see even in the beginning of Genesis that emotions were part of God’s creation. Adam’s disappointment with not finding a helpmate among the creatures is almost palpable and we sense his overriding joy when he awakes from his sleep and exclaims, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” It is for this reason that man was to “hold fast” to his wife.

  1. Emotions are good. Human emotions are an aspect of God’s creation. As such, they are good. In fact it was only after the creation of humanity that God looked at all He had made and pronounced it very good. However, even good things can provide an avenue for sin when they run unchecked. The Fall clearly impacts our control and interaction with our emotions for in chapter 4 we read of Cain’s anger at his brother. This is the beginning of Scripture’s discussion of the human need to sort our emotions. Our emotions can be inappropriate as in the case of Cain’s anger but they can also be appropriate as is his sorrow and fear in the face of his judgment. Our task is to reason between the two.
  2. Emotions are revelatory aspects of God and his nature. There has been a great deal of theological discussion whether or not God feels emotively. Early theologians said no arguing that for God to experience emotion would necessarily imply change. For the same reason, they argued that whatever constitutes the image of God in the human person it certainly does not include emotion. But if we stop there we miss something very important. Whether God experiences emotion or not, the Scriptures often choose emotional terminology to reveal aspects of God’s character to us. For example we read in Genesis 6:16 that “the Lord grieved in his heart that he had made man”. In Psalm 2 and Psalm 37 God laughs at the wicked. In Numbers, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah the Lord’s anger burns against his people. The fact that Scripture uses such images to convey truth means that our emotions are an avenue to understanding aspects of God’s character.
  3. Emotions must be controlled. No matter what we say about our emotions it is clear that they must be controlled. Though humans are emotional creatures they are not simply emotional; we also have will, and intellect. All of these aspects must work together appropriately if we are to honor God. The mind, will, and emotions are interdependent on one another. The emotions provide the mind with data for analysis and judgment; the intellect provides the emotions with direction and perspective. Ephesians 4:26 commands us to be angry but cautions us in our anger to avoid sin. The coupling of these two imperatives demonstrates the judgment that our mind and will must continually make in wrestling with our emotions.

(This series of articles has been adapted from a previously published piece in ONE Magazine)

 Part II of “Emotions in Worship” will post tomorrow.

A Solemn Appeal for a Serious Approach to Licensure and Ordination – Part 5

  (The following is Part 5 of a 5-Part series of posts adapted from Tim Campbell’s “A Solemn Appeal for a Serious Approach to Licensure and Ordination,” presented at the theological trends seminar at the 2014 FWB National Association Meeting. Readers who desire a copy of the full-length presentation can request this by emailing their request to fwbtheology@gmail.com)

 

Addendum

Implementation

The issues that have been raised are weighty and were written not only to precipitate a serious conversation about these matters, but to begin the process of designing corrective, biblical strategies. How we can implement a more serious approach to licensure and ordination?

Gradually

A top-down approach is rarely successful among Free Will Baptists. My suggestion is that local associations should prayerfully, thoughtfully, and gradually implement changes in the licensure and ordination process. All comprehensive reforms will not materialize quickly. However, if someone does not begin the process, they will never occur.

With Consensus

There will be resistance if a move is made to change licensure and ordination standards. Some opposition will be principled and some will be emotional. While we will never achieve full consensus, I believe it prudent to secure broad support for changes. This means that there will need to be extensive, meaningful discussions on this issue and the peripheral ramifications cited in this work.

By Qualified Presbyters

No matter what you call your ordination committee (examining board, presbytery board, etc.); it should be comprised of men of God who see their duty as a grave responsibility and calling of the church. This is not to say that members have a permanent position on such a council. However, appointments to this council shouldn’t be shuffled around so that each minister gets a “turn.” As mentioned above, council members may need to reexamine or receive training in matters that pertain to true biblical ordination. Never let the novice or the unprepared occupy a place on the ordaining council.

Without Bias

It is my opinion that we often re-label issues of principle to “preferences.” When this happens, it is supposed to signal to all that this issue is undebatable. The modern view is that issues that have been downgraded to preferences are just opinion and have no substance. This is not always true. There is such thing a legitimate ethical reflection and discernment.

Nevertheless, genuine preferences can and do invade the ordination process. It is possible that an ordinand will be quizzed as to whether his wife wears pants, his millennial view, or anything in-between, but never asked to account for whether or not he is sober-minded or exhibits self-control. While I am convinced that many matters of propriety and belief are worthy of discussion, the ordination process must be kept biblical and never impose standards that are not required by or informed by Scripture.

There is also the danger of politicization. An ordinand may be related to a prominent churchman. He might be well-known to the examining council. But shortcuts should never be taken because of the fear of reprisal or due to familiarity. The process must be kept biblical.

It should be noted that this doesn’t necessitate total uniformity among associations. For example, some associations may stipulate that an ordinand be involved with a specific ministry prior to ordination. Some might require formal or informal (associational) training. Such stipulations would not qualify as a bias.

Under The Authority of the Body

I have emphasized the importance of a serious and qualified examining board. However, the importance of this council can never supersede the authority of the church body. In fact, when a candidate is licensed or ordained, a thorough account of his worthiness for ministry should be offered to the body for their prayerful, extended deliberation and approval.

Associational Ordination

Our Treatise reads:

SECTION I: His Ordination

A. The authority to ordain ministers has its source in the local church.

B. Free Will Baptist churches, in most areas, have traditionally delegated this authority to the associations in which they voluntarily unite themselves. This is done because the local churches desire the assistance of their sister churches and ministers [1].

Free Will Baptist churches, while independent, do not practice isolation. They form associations with one another in several levels of organization described in this chapter. It is to be remembered, however, that these associations are voluntary, both at the beginning and in their continuation. The local church remains at liberty to withdraw from the association it has voluntarily joined [2].

Voluntary association has always been an intricate component of Free Will Baptist polity. While maintaining the autonomy of the local church and upholding the biblical doctrine of the priesthood of the believer, most Free Will Baptists have always seen the wisdom and value of conference (association) membership on the district, state, and national levels. The reasons for these associations are numerous. One main reason is for the purpose of assisting in the licensing and ordination of ministers and deacons. J. Matthew Pinson in his book, “A Free Will Baptist Handbook,” describes the general process:

“How is a Free Will Baptist minister ordained? The process differs from association to association. When one sense a call to ordained ministry, his local church determines whether or not to recommend him to the presbytery or ordaining council of the association or conference. The minister must usually undergo a period of licensure for a year. To become a licensed minister, the individual must be recommended by his church and examined by the presbytery of his local association.” [italics mine]

In recent years some have trended away from associational licensure and ordination to local church ordination. The reasons for circumventing associational ordination will vary. As I have previously stated, the ordinand may not meet the qualifications that Free Will Baptist requires. However, some churches may ordain their own because of the anemic or superficial licensure and ordination process of an association.

Barring extreme circumstances, I believe there are good reasons for associational ordination. On the negative side, most local congregations do not have a plurality of elders (ministers) for an adequate and thorough examination process. Also, local church ordination, I believe, is much more susceptible to partiality and bias. The networks of relationships are close in local congregations. In some churches family structures are embedded within the church assembly. The potential for partiality and bias is high, though it may even exist on a sub-conscious level. Local power structures and relational subjectivity are less likely to occur in an associational setting.

On the positive side, associational ordination fosters uniformity in the ordination process. It also brings years of experience and expertise from multiple, committed presbyters to bear on the process of examination. When local churches utilize the associational presbytery, there is also an apparent level of transparency and testimony for them and their candidate that conveys that they are an island unto themselves, but welcome the accountability of the broader body of associational churches.

____________________

[1] Treatise of the Faith and Practices of Free Will Baptists, part 4, chapter 2, section 1 (A. & B).

[2] Treatise, chapter 3, section 1.

A Solemn Appeal for a Serious Approach to Licensure and Ordination – Part 4

 (The following is Part 4 of a 5-Part series of posts adapted from Tim Campbell’s “A Solemn Appeal for a Serious Approach to Licensure and Ordination,” presented at the theological trends seminar at the 2014 FWB National Association Meeting. Readers who desire a copy of the full-length presentation can request this by emailing their request to fwbtheology@gmail.com)

 

The Encouragement to Obtain Formal Education

For many denominations, formal education is a requirement. For Free Will Baptists, it is not. While there isn’t space to devote to making the argument for this requirement, we must awaken to the realization of what our Free Will Baptist forefathers knew well: the necessity of an educated ministerium. Does this always mean attending college? In the past, formal education was not readily available to many in our ranks. However, there was a perceived need for upward mobility for the clergy in many Free Will Baptists minds, particularly when it came to learning. Yet, the commitment to providing a venue for formal education was very much alive in our history. Our historical landscape is dotted with colleges with Free Will Baptist roots [1].

Currently, if a person is willing to sacrifice, he can obtain a formal Christian education that is thoroughly Free Will Baptist (residential or on-line). Still, if a person feels like he cannot commit to such a course, he should be committed to attending seminars, Bible institutes and conferences, and reading broadly. This should be encouraged and instilled in all those seeking to serve the Lord in ministry. The District, State, and National Associations should provide the means and venues for this training. Learning and education should be a natural, noticeable facet of the Free Will Baptist culture.

A Required Commitment to Confessional Christianity

Confessional Christianity is another essential ingredient to licensure and ordination. Jeremy Craft captures the nature and significance of confessional Christianity:

“Confessionalism is not a term used very often among evangelicals. The idea is often associated with strict, rigid doctrine that has been the source of centuries of theological division within the Church. This, however, is a misconception of what it means to be confessional. Confession is the means by which the body of Christ seeks to identify and affirm the main doctrines and teachings of the biblical narrative as Christian truth. This enables us to know, teach, and protect sound doctrine. ‘[Confession] is the watchword by which [the Church] is known,’ states David Wells, ‘Without this knowledge, it is bereft of what defines the Church as the people of God, bereft of the means of belief, worship, sustenance, proclamation, and service. Confession must be at the center of every theology that wants to be seen as theologia, the knowledge of God, a knowledge given in and for the people of God’…

 “This is the sole purpose of confession and has been the Church’s priority since her inception. It is why Jude exhorted Christians to ‘contend for the faith that was once delivered to all the saints’ (Jude 3). Paul charged Timothy to follow the ‘pattern of sound words’ and to ‘guard the good deposit’ (2 Tim. 1:13-14). He taught that it is by this means that Christians walk in Christ, being rooted, built up, and established in the faith (Col. 2:6-7). For this reason the Apostle John tirelessly reminded Christians to remember what they had received from ‘the beginning’ (1 Jn. 1:1; 2:7). The protection and establishment of this truth is a primary function of confession” [2].

Contrary to popular opinion, confessionalism is not divisive, but actually unifying. It unifies those with similar beliefs and enables them to see what degree of fellowship they can exercise with other movements. When a Free Will Baptist is confessional, he commits himself to a body of doctrine and practice that he believes to be the truth. In doing so, he becomes more than an enthusiast in a movement; he becomes a guardian of truth and an ambassador for Christ.

I believe that Free Will Baptist doctrine is the faith delivered to the apostles that they in turn delivered to the church. I believe that every minister should have the same commitment. Doctrine is not a necessary evil. Doctrine guides practice and therefore we are able to define our roles as Christians as well as ministers.

Where does a commitment to confessional Christianity fit into the ordination process? Every ordinand should be required to commit to the Treatise. It is our confession. If he cannot, then he should not be considered for ordination in the Free Will Baptist denomination. He should be charged that if he ever violates this oath and retreats from any doctrine or practice, he should voluntarily surrender his credentials. It also should be made clear to the candidate that if he is found in violation of any doctrine or practice, his papers will be rescinded [3]. This would strengthen our Free Will Baptist ministerium as well as the denomination.

Things Less Considered

Personality Problems

F. Leroy Forlines has perhaps been the foremost authority on personality among Free Will Baptists. In his unpublished manuscript “Understanding Yourself and Others,” Mr. Forlines explains, in effective detail, to difficulties that plague the human experience. It very well could be that upon examination the candidate may reveal or exhibit significant personality problems. Should this prevent him from seeking ordination? That should be answered on a case by case basis. Yet, if personality problems appear to be substantial, then this must be taken into consideration.

Additionally, the prevalence of such problems that congregants experience should be pointed out in the training process. It is unlikely that anyone can be fully prepared for the problems he will face in ministry. However, it is much less likely to be overwhelmed when there is an awareness and anticipation of difficulties that may be present ahead.

Upward Mobility

“Upward mobility” is defined by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary as “the capacity or facility for rising to a higher social or economic position.” Again, Leroy Forlines expands the use of the term in relation to matters of propriety and ideals. It should be explained to each ordinand that a minister is to be a sterling citizen of the culture of excellence and ideals. The man called by God should be suitable the office to which he is called. Manners, deportment, and culture should adorn the office of the minister.

This is not a popular subject and many will disagree about this matter. Though I am in the lower class of citizenry of this culture, I do sense the need for improvement. Radical informality, a fascination with popular culture, and a disregard for propriety has no place in the ministry.

Conclusion

I long for the day when Free Will Baptists take an involved and serious approach to ordination. If there is to be a bright future for us, we must. I am convinced that God still calls men. But I am equally as convinced that we have issued a call “that whosoever will may come.” While this is true as it pertains to salvation, it is not true to those who are to be considered for formal ministry. God has made it clear in his Word that only the qualified may serve.

____________________

[1] William F. Davidson, The Free Will Baptists in History (Nashville: Randall House, 2001), 289-303.

[2] Jeremy Craft., The Importance of Being a Confessional Christian, February 14, 2011, http://www.helwyssocietyforum.com/?p=127.

[3] Treatise, part 4, chapter 2, section 2.

Preserving and Promoting Free Will Baptist Doctrine