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Remember too that ordained clergy, if they live in a parsonage, have to pay social security taxes on the rental value of their homes--and they pay it at the individual level (i.e., 14% or something like that). If they get a housing allowance where they can purchase their own home, same thing. So neither a parsonage nor a housing allowance is a "free ride" for them. Especially those who live in a parsonage, who pay social security on the rental value of their home, end up retired with a mortgage or paying rent for an apartment for the first time in their lives.

And maybe I could throw this in the hopper. Clergy have the same numberof years of education as lawyers and doctors, and they have the same demands on their time. But I don't think their compensation is comparable in the least.

Timothy Tennett in his book Theology in the Context of World Christianity has a marvelous chapter on this issue, entitled "Followers of Jesus in Islamic Mosques."

Thank you for your post, Andy. In answer to your questions, I generally post three to four new captions every Sunday morning. I usually vary the themes (partly depending on the season, both physical season and church season), rarely taking more than one caption from the various chapters in Your Church Sign. I almost always have one under the theme of encouragement and another under the theme of evangelism (sometimes a Scripture text will serve as one of these). I will often have one with a play on words, but never one that is too cutsey. As a standard caption, I always have one with the time and temperature and our church's website. Unfortunately, the city of Grand Rapids has strict rules for digital signs. There may be no moving parts (hence, no graphics), and each caption has to stay on for at least five minutes. Since I had signed that agreement, I keep to it (except for the time and temperature, because then the time would be five minutes off at the end of five minutes). I personally believe the sign captions help people understand what your church stands for, and especially for a drive-in church, that is important.

I don't know if anyone has written to you, Joel, but I was the Zondervan editor who edited the OTC (also ordained in the CRC, by the way). If you are looking for something that looks at the OT in a covenantal framework, you will not find it in OTC; for the most part, the OT is used as examples for our lives. But I do think the content is good. Especially if your church is weak in OT history and you follow the full OTC program, you will get coordinated preaching, small groups, and personal Bible study with a rather complete survey of the Old Testament. Bible knowledge is always a good thing, and, of course, you can shape your own messages on the passages to meet the needs of your own congregation.

It's been a while since I did the series, so I don't remember all the passages without looking at it again, but you can always get a copy of the leader's guide to see if it might be for your church.

Verlyn D. Verbrugge

Posted in: Best Before

You raise important concerns, Norman. Personally, unless a person is truly unfit for service in the church (e.g., through moral issues or doctrinal ones), I do not get why there should be a limit to ordination. In some Reformed/Presbyterian churches, elders are ordained for life, though they may not be functioning as elders all the time. Why not pastors/preachers ordained for life? If they were at one time declared qualified to preach, that should remain.

You ask an interesting question, David. In summary, you are right that context plays a huge role in determining the force of an imperative. Look at the Lord's Prayer, which has a series of third person imperatives and then some second person imperatives. We do not "command" God to give us our daily bread, yet the imperative is used; we ask, plead, petition, pray.

But I think we can detect, in at least some contexts, clear clues. When a relationship is clearly an authority relationship, the command element is usually strong (father to children, as in parable of the two sons in Matt 21:28-30; God to us, as in the Great Commission). Now in Matthew 18, the speaker is Jesus, and the context has a couple of "truly I tell you" statements (18:18, 19). That would tend to suggest that Jesus in this section is not just giving relationship advice in 18:15-17; this is what he, as our Lord, expects us to do. 

The distinction between a specific command and a general command is a valid one, Daniel. When Jesus tells the blind man to go and wash in the Pool of Siloam (John 9:7), this is a specific command to a specific situation; Jesus is not directly commanding us to do the same (though I believe he is, indirectly, informing us that through him we can gain sight--not just physical but also spiritual). But when he says, "Love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12), he is definitely giving an instruction to us as his followers.

All of this tells me that there is room for a thorough, yet accessible, analysis of the imperatives in the NT. Perhaps in my role at Zondervan I can suggest that to a potential author. (Right now a book is being written on all the questions in the NT, and it will indeed be an intriguing and engaging book.) One thing seems certain: the situation in which an imperative is spoken (including the historical situation, the social situation, and the rhetorical situation) all play a role in determining the nuance we must understand in each imperative (whether second or third person) that we encounter.

Thanks to those of you who have responded. There are indeed a lot of summer drive-in services in parks and campgrounds, and those efforts are to be appreciated. We need to go to where the people are. The Woodland Drive-In church is one of the few in the northern half of the U.S. that meets year round. Throughout most of the winter months, we get 50+ cars a Sunday.

As to horn honking, when we met at the old Woodland Drive-In Theater on East Beltline (up to 1988), there was lots of that after special music. However, when that theater closed and we moved to 2600 Breton Rd SE, a piece of property owned by Fifth Reformed Church and zoned residential, we received permission to move there provided that we ceased horn honking.

Yes, krino is the basic verb, and diakrino has a prepositional prefix (and katakrino does as well). It is always difficult to predict how a prepositional prefix changes the meaning of the verb. Does it intensify it? Does it change direction (as kata-krino definitely does)? Only usage and context can tell.

The whole issue of judging, especially when it involves the church, is a complex one. My personal thoughts, even with respect to judgment in the church, is that we have a responsibility to discern whether a person's behavior and/or lifestyle  is consistent with the standards outlined in Scripture. We do not, however, have the right to determine whether a person is going to heaven or hell. If a church council ever felt it necessary to excommunicate a member, they are not making a determination about that person's soul. They are, however, saying that this person's lifestyle does not measure up with what the Bible reveals as the basic ,lifestyle expectations of someone who is a covenant child of God. Only God truly knows if that person is truly his child. Excommunication is exactly what it says: ex-communion (outside the communion of the visible church). (I prefer the word "disfellowship,' which is exactly the same term but using the Greek prefix "dis/dys" instead of a Latin prefix "ex"). In other words, we merely remove a person's name from the membership list as a warning to that individual; we do not cast them out of the kingdom of God.

The Christian Reformed Church has always held to the importance of an educated clergy. That's why we have a seminary, where biblical languages and systematic theology and apologetics are taught. Just as I want a trained mechanic to work on my car because he understands things I don't (although I know enough about its functioning to drive from point A to point B), so we want preachers who can delve into the riches of God's word.

Yes, we believe in the perspecuity (plainness and clarity) of Scripture, but this does not mean that everything in Scripture is clear and plain. It means, rather, that God's plan of salvation and description of the way to eternal life (how to get from point A to point B) is so plain in Scripture that anyone, through reading and hearing the Scriptures, can understand it. Moreover, the basics of how to live our lives for Jesus are also clearly taught.

No one will never fully understand the full riches of God's Word. But preachers and teachers are trained to draw out of the Scriptures old things and new.

Hello, John.

I will not comment on the specific message you heard because I wasn't there. I do agree that Galatians 5:19-6:5 is a beautiful passage with lots in it--probably more than can be covered in a single sermon. I will often read a number of verses as my Scripture lesson and then zero in on only a verse or two lest my sermon become a commentary lecture. It is always important, of course, to set things in a context.

I have appreciated the fact that you seem to enjoy reading CRC blogs; I know you have read mine. While may disagree on some of the specifics, there is nothing better to me than church members who love the Scriptures and love to study them. Keep it up.

Yes, John, I will give that serious consideration. That is an interesting word study that could benefit other people, including elders. Thanks for the suggestion.

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