2 Tim. 4:1-5 1In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
So your church needs a new pastor? Your longtime Bible believing, repentance preaching, “no-social-gospel nonsense” pastor is retiring? And what, you are worried now? I understand completely, although for me, thank God, I am not worrying about it. A true Bible believing pastor is getting harder and harder to find, and pastors eventually will retire or move on, and someone needs to take their place. But who will come next? Who can you trust to carry on the title of “undershepherd of the Great Shepherd?” Well, perhaps some interview questions for anyone wanting the job, might be a good way to separate the wheat from the chaff. Here are some of my suggestions, and perhaps this criteria needs to be applied to our evolution-preaching, Bible-scoffing professors in the theology departments, at least as a way to screen which schools you send your child to:
Question 1: A simple Yes or No: Do you believe the Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God in everything it teaches?
Followup One: If you answered No to Question 1, who and/or by what authority determines which teachings are in error, give some examples of those errors, and how you or others of like mind arrived at those conclusions.
Followup Two: If you answered No, explain why any Christian should have confidence in the Bible if parts of the divinely inspired Book are in error, or are just myths, even when they are plainly written as fact?
Followup Three: Do you believe that the Bible is the Christian’s sole authority for our faith and practice, and that we need nothing else?
(Open Letter Concerning The Authority of Scripture; Inerrancy And The Wesleyan Tradition; Nazarenes And Biblical Inerrancy)
Question 2: Do you believe that God cannot know the future? (Open Theism)
Followup: If yes, how can we have confidence in the many Biblical prophesies in the Bible, if we say that God cannot know the future? (Why Bible Prophesy Is Important Today)
Question 3: Do you believe that God makes mistakes, and learns from those mistakes? (Process Theology)
Question 4: Do you believe in sanctioning official ecumenical gatherings and functions together with a Roman Catholic Church?
Followup: If Yes, is it okay then to also fellowship with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons in their churches? If not okay, what’s the difference and why, since JWs, Mormonism, and the RCC all teach false doctrines? (Ecumenism Leads To Compromising The Gospel)
Question 5: Do you believe in evolution?
Followup: If Yes, what is the biblical justification for denying the Genesis account of creation? How do you explain the N.T. references to Adam and other Old Testament figures as real historical people, and not myths? Could you explain Romans 5:12 and what it means? (Theistic Evolution)
Question 6: In what ways does the Bible teach us to pray? (Please provide biblical support for each explanation).
Followup: If you are familiar with the practice of lectio divina, do you believe that it is biblical, and if so, please give solid scriptural reference that supports it. (Contemplative Prayer; Lectio Divina)
Question 7: If a person denies the substitutionary atonement of the cross, and has suggested that people can find Jesus and stay within their own faith, and has described the cross as “almost false advertising for God”, please relate or contrast these statements with biblical teaching, and would you ever welcome him to speak to your congregation? (Brian McLaren)
Question 8: This a test of your understanding of a certain Bible passage (Matt. 14:22-33). If you heard Rob Bell teach that “when Peter started sinking in the water after starting to walk towards Jesus, that Peter did not lose faith in Jesus- he lost faith in himself”, what would be your reaction? (O “Who” Of Little Faith?)
Question 9: Do you agree with emergent leader Tony Jones’ statement that unrepentent homosexuals can still be Christians?
Question 10: Is the use of prayer beads or prayer ropes biblical? In other words, what is your opinion on the fact that Barefoot Ministries sells a book that promotes the use of prayer ropes. (Roman Catholicism Taught To Nazarene Youth: Part 1, and Part 2)
Question 11: Do you believe pastors should encourage their congregation to be Bereans, in other words, don’t automatically take their word for it, but search and verify the scriptures, as Paul commended the Bereans? Or do you believe that pastors should never be questioned on anything they preach?
Question 12: Is it wise for a Christian university to invite a speaker, who comes in unchallenged and welcomed with open arms, when that speaker has promoted dangerous ideas, such as that “perhaps the Muslims have encountered the same God as we have encountered in Christianity?”
Question 13: Do you believe that the Kingdom of Heaven can be achieved here on earth through man’s efforts, similar to Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. Plan? Or do you believe that the kingdom will not be finally established until Christ’s return?
Question 14: Dallas Willard, whose books are listed as resources at Christian colleges, has said the following: “I am happy for God to save anyone he wants in any way he can. It is possible for someone who does not know Jesus to be saved.” Please comment on this statement in relation to what the Bible teaches. (See Lighthouse Trails info)
Question 15: Contemplative prayer promoters have used Psalm 46:10 “Be still..” as a rationale for doing practices like “the silence”, or the repetitive Jesus Prayer. What is Psalm 46 teaching us, and is it correct when contemplatives use it in this manner to justify their practices? (Does Psalm 46:10 Teach Contemplative Prayer?)
Question 16: Do you ever preach sermons that talk about exposing false teachers and false doctrines, or talk about our responsibility as Christians to judge everything that is taught? Or do you preach that Christians should never, ever judge, and never ever name false teachers? (Judge Not?) (Beware False Prophets, sermon by Voddie Baucham)
Question 17: Does a Christian college have the responsibility to protect their students from false teaching, or do you believe in exposing them to anything or anyone that comes in, and let them fend for themselves without any correction?
Question 18: Explain the plan of salvation as clearly as possible, and also explain to us who does, and who does not, get to heaven.
Well, these are my questions. I’m sure your list might include more, as would my final list. These days, you just can’t be sure. It seems that many Christian universities and seminaries are mass producing too many future pastors who can’t even say they believe that the Bible (all of it) IS the word of God! Perhaps a Bible believing church can save much time and effort, by simply asking the candidate the first question, before even scheduling an interview. Frankly, why bother with the rest of the questions if your future pastor does not trust the whole Bible?
The answer an emergent pastor might give to Question # 1 may end up being a long, twisted, tortuous string of intellectually sounding words that inevitably means one thing: “no, I don’t believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God.” I’ve seen these type of answers, and it is frightening what our universities and seminary is putting into the minds of these future pastors, and current ones as well.
On the other hand, it’s sadly possible that some people may just do the opposite, and actually want to have a pastor who does not believe in absolute truth; a pastor who picks and chooses what is “inerrant” in the scriptures, and what is not; who recommends books by mystics as good Christian reading; who waters down his sermons and does not hurt any feelings with tough-love gospel messages; who wants to clean up the neighborhood and feed people food, but not feed them what actually will save them for eternity. In other words, someone who can tickle their “itching ears”, and give them what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.
My answer to question one is a simple yes. What is yours?