Thursday, June 14, 2012

Godly Pastor? What Does That Mean?

I looked up "godly" on public domain images and this image showed up in my search - lol!

I copied this May 31 comment into my file of "draft" posts.  For some reason, it was overlooked in the comments section on a busy post day, but I took note of it because this reader really wanted this answered: 

Just so you know, I have asked this out of a place of pain and confusion.
"Please help, Hebrew/Greek language scholars:  Chuck's supporters keep describing him as "Godly". In your opinions, what does "Godly" mean from a Biblical perspective? Do Chuck's actions as described in this blog and by reviewers who have first hand experience with him fit the meaning of "Godly"? Because if Chuck O'Neal is biblically Godly then I really don't think I understand who God is."

If all I can expect here is snippy replies, then you can continue on with your intellectualizing, and scholarship and forget about this being a place to heal.

Can we discuss this, please?  What does "godly" mean from a Biblical perspective?  Do any verses come to mind?  In the comment, we can clearly see how the reader associates the pastor with God.  That is so true.  I've shared this before - because of abandonment/abuse issues with my biological and adopted fathers, I often have difficulties trusting people in authority.  I have to remind myself that So-and-So is not my father, he will not abandon me.  A pastor is a type of father figure and of course God is a father figure.  

I'm sad that this comment got lost in the shuffle and I didn't post this comment earlier because it is such an important question and obviously this person was struggling with this issue.  I hope he/she reads the responses.

I'll start with a few verses from 1 Timothy 3:1-7:
1  The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.
2    Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife,sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,  3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
4   He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive,  5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?
6   He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.
7   Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. 


  1. I think this comment can be seen in the life of George Truett, who often gave away his overcoat, such that the church had a hard time keeping him in overcoats. He was a long time pastor of First Baptist Church Dallas, in the WWI era. Also preached separation of church and state as being necessary for a healthy church.

  2. A derivative of "godly pastor" is my favorite: "The Man of God". Many pastors fancy themselves as a New Testament version of the Old Testament "prophet of God", or an Old Testament "priest". Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus is the high priest, and we are all priests, in fact there used to be a doctrine emphasized in Baptist churches called the "priesthood of the believer". No one really is "godly", all sinners.

    Professional ministers are trained to believe they are a special class of Christian.

    As Al Mohler said last year:

    The main means by which God saves his people from ignorance is the preaching and teaching of the word of God. That's why a conference like this is so important. It's not just because we think of the pastorate as a profession set along side other professions so that we can gather together for a little professional encouragement to go out a be a little better at what we do. No, we're here because we believe that those who teach and preach the word of God are God-appointed agents to save God's people from ignorance. "

    1. 55 years a Baptist mostly SBCJune 15, 2012 at 4:52 AM

      Pastor Ken,

      I think it is really important to make a distinction between the calling that a pastor should have from God to be a pastor and the egotistical behavior that often results. All of the disciples of Jesus are called to serve in some role in society and to be priests and ambassadors, representing Jesus to the world and praying for those in the world. This includes a lot of Matt 25 work.

      But many modern preachers assume that they are the only ones in the church who have a call from God and that therefore they can be dictators in the church and be immensely rewarded like the CEOs in private companies in their city or town. And that is plainly wrong. And then they preach several times a year on the OT concept of tithing in order to be able to fund their mansions, lavish offices, etc.

    2. With respect, Jax, I believe you're splitting dog hairs here. We describe people (including pastors) as Godly to reflect that they are seeking to follow God. Believers should strive to become more Christ-like every day. It doesn't mean that we have to go through a pastor to reach God, because He obviously has bridged the gap Himself so that we may commune directly with Him.

      I know Godly people and some pretty unGodly people--all of them sinners. I know some unGodly pastors, and I am blessed to say I know some very Godly pastors--all of them sinners. I am grateful that those Godly pastors seek His face, study the Word, take seriously their responsibility, and care for their congregations and local communities.

      Like with all of us, I believe you know a Godly pastor by his fruit.

  3. A godly person loves God with all their heart, soul and mind and loves others as themselves, having said this, a godly person doesn't victimize those who disagree with them. They don't certainly sue because they are angry with words said about them, let alone sue for half a million dollars. A godly person turns the other cheek when hurt and then prays for that person who has hurt them. I pray for the BGBC people and the O'Neal family daily, that God's grace would rest on their souls and open their eyes to the nonsense of sin in their own lives, instead of blaming 3 women who do not agree with them.
    What this church and man are doing is disgracing the love of God by being gods unto my opinion.

  4. From the New Bible Dictionary, 3rd Edition.

    In a word, SUBMISSIVE to God would be the definition of godly.

    "GODLINESS. In pagan literature, godliness (Gk. eusebeia, eulabeia and related terms) meant showing proper caution, fear or reverence towards the gods. Such piety involved the offering of sacrifices and other cultic activities. It also meant honouring the gods by respecting elders, masters, rulers, and all the orders of life thought to be under the protection of the gods. When this terminology was used in the Bible, a different notion of fear or respect was intended. The one true God, as creator and redeemer, requires an active obedience to his revealed will and a personal devotion that surpasses lip-service, mere trepidation, or bare admiration (e.g. Pr. 1:7; Is. 11:2; 33:6; Lk. 2:25; Acts 10:2; 22:12). Pre-eminently, Jesus is the godly One, whose prayers were heard because of his ‘godly fear’ or ‘reverent submission’ to the Father (Heb. 5:7). His death and heavenly exaltation makes it possible for others to offer to God, through him, acceptable worship or service, ‘with reverence and awe’ (Heb. 12:28).

    Wood, D. R. W., & Marshall, I. H. (1996). New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.) (422). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

  5. Ken, thank you for your thoughtful reply. It was really helpful. I looked up every verse referenced. One that touched me the most was 2 Cor 7:11. I backed up a bit to get the full context and you can really see where Paul's heart is. There are a lot of relational things going on here: you can see his love for the saints, his contending, his joy with deep relationships, sorrow from being separated, yet acknowledges that God brings friends into one's life for comfort (Titus). But then we also see a willingness to risk friendship for the sake of leading someone to repentance. This is not about Paul getting accolades at all. He remains very small in the picture. By the way, the meaning of Paul is small, humble (our little guy is Paul and he's predicted to be 6'10" haha - sorry for the diversion).

    But anyway . . the beauty of this story is how it lines up with our discussion of "godly" with respect to a pastor. I want my pastor to be this kind of "small", one that contends, loves, comforts, and even risks for me. Actually, I want to be that kind of friend!

  6. Julie

    You ask...
    “Godly Pastor? What Does That Mean?”
    “Can we discuss this, please? What does "godly" mean from a Biblical perspective?”

    Kinda hard to answer the question “from a Biblical perspective”.
    Can’t even find one person, in the Bible, with the “Title/Position” Pastor/Leader. Can you?
    Much less anyone declared to be a “Godly Pastor.”

    Seems Jesus warned us about making “Void” the Word of God, with our traditions. Mk 7:13.

    Haven’t you ever wondered - Why... In the Bible...
    NOT one “Disciple of Christ” was called to be a Pastor/Reverend leading a church? ;-)
    NOT one “Disciple of Christ” ever called another “Disciple” Pastor/Reverend/Leader?

    Jer 50:6 KJV
    *My people* hath been *lost sheep:*
    “their shepherds” have caused them to “go astray”

    1 Pet 2:25 KJV
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    1. Julie Anne, great question. And great answers. If I might just register a humble ‘Amen!’ to Pat’s and Kitty’s answers. And to Ken, thank you, Pastor, for your presence on this blog. I looked up every verse you gave me, and read the short letter of Paul to Titus for my morning devotions.

      What was written above inspired me to consider this simple approach to appreciating what a ‘godly’ person looks like:

      As we have been made in the image and likeness of God, we are to image God and be like Him. The true and perfect Image of God is Jesus Christ Himself (Heb. 1:3)—the Son in whose image we are predestined to be conformed to (Rom. 8:28-30). Yes, Pat, the ultimate design upon our being is to be Christ-like. Our purpose in life as image-bearers of God is to reflect His holy character, to trust God and obey Him as glorious expressions of His good pleasure (Phil. 2:12-13).

      And Yes, Julie Anne, it is a relational reality. The only way we can truly be godly is in glad and worshipful submission to our Creator. When we spend intimate and personal time with the Father we consequently become godly, we inevitably shine as His beloved children.

      “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).

      Simply put, a godly person looks like Jesus.

    2. The most godly person I know is my maternal grandmother. She taught me much of the character of Jesus, how to love and shine like the one who is Love, who is Light. The man, woman or child who loves and shines like Jesus—she or he is the one who bears true authority! They are the godly ones who the world can’t help but to look to for comfort and instruction.

      Although I am a complementarian, I truly believe that my grandmother and the Julie Annes of this world—mere women, yet women of God—it is the likes of them who carry more weight and authority than the likes of Pastor Chuck and the other pharisaical ones who align themselves to John MacArthur. [Attention JM: You have some men in your camp you need to rebuke (Titus 2:15).]

      One such man is Fred Butler who I came across last evening. After reading his June 14 post entitled Wicked Sheep I was inspired to comment:

      “Wow, Fred! You come across as an insensitive and ignorant bully. I truly pray you’re not in a position of spiritual authority, for your abusive rant betrays you as a potentially dangerous man if given the slightest modicum of power.”

      There was no option on Fred Butler’s blog for me to comment as I post here as David Johnson—my real name that doesn’t require an ID account. So I had to wait nearly an hour to investigate how I could sign up for an OpenID and then wait for a confirmation email, etc. etc, before I could post my comment to him. Since David Johnson is such a popular name (there are well over 20,000 David Johnsons in the states alone) I consequently had to register under another name. I was glad the name ‘monax’ was available to me.

      He posted my comment; then he posted a comment to me. Honestly, I did not read what Fred wrote to me any further than the first part of his first sentence. He wrote, “Monax, whose profile page is cowardly unavailable for review...” So there you have it. More ignorant and abusive language. Does he know that I had just signed up for OpenID, just to be able to comment on his blog. Does he know that I’m a private man who’s not even interested in creating a personal profile for the world wide web to review. Goodness, there’s a lot of dangerous creeps out there we must be wise against, protecting our homes and families from the fierceness of these wolves, twisted men who won’t spare you the light of day (Acts 20:28-30). Does Fred realize that I am far from being known as a coward, and that, truly, the only One I fear is the Most High God Himself.

      I don’t know Fred Butler or Phil Johnson from Adam, but the fragments of posted thoughts that I read from them, if these fragments were to serve as a microcosm of what sort of men they are—I saw no light in them, only darkness.

      Please read John 9.

    3. David:

      In response to your 1st comment: Love this response. Very good.

      Regarding your 2nd response: David, don't get me going!! I need to have someone "muzzle" my fingers.

    4. [Thank you, Julie Anne (Ps 144:1-2); and with apologies to Ed for my long winded-ness—I post some further thoughts]

      Yes, simply put: a godly person looks like Jesus.

      But what does Jesus look like? He left this world in His resurrected body nearly two thousand years ago? We have no photographs, no film of him—so how do we know what the man looks like?

      When I was a member of an African-American Baptist Church I remember seeing a painting of a Black Jesus. It struck such wonder in me, for I grew up with a painting of a White Jesus. The truth of the matter is that Jesus was a Jew. But what did Jews look like back then? Today there’s an enormous variety of ethnic Jews—from black to white and every shade in-between.

      What I do know is this: I know that my Messiah is beautiful beyond comparison. Yes, even though the Prophecy of the Man says that “He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him” (Isaiah 53:2), this I know: whatever the shape of his eyes and ears and nose and whatever... when I stand before my Master, He will be the most beautiful thing I will ever lay my eyes upon. How do I know this? Because He’s the most beautiful thing I have ever set my heart upon. I can hardly wait for the day when He bodily stands before me, for I know there won’t be a man or angel who can hold me back from falling on my knees before Him kissing and kissing and kissing His most beautiful feet. My beautiful Master! My beautiful Lord! My Beautiful. .

      So let me suggest a personal answer to the question: What does Jesus look like?

      Humbly and imperfectly and personally I endeavor to live my life in such a way that for those who have never seen or known our Master I might say: “ Jesus? Well, He looks like me!”

      Yes, Jesus. He’s like me—only perfect. And Jesus is like my Grandma Susek. And my Uncle Steve. And all those who are humble and full of the Light of Life, we are Christians, the Christ-like ones, the followers and worshipers of our Master and Savior Jesus.

      So Beloved Christian, embody the love and grace and beauty of God. And hear the Gospel words of Jesus, “Let your light so shine!”

    5. David, I'm glad you you were long-winded. That was really beautiful. And your scripture reference by my name - hahahahaha!

    6. This is really beautiful, except for this:
      "Although I am a complementarian, I truly believe that my grandmother and the Julie Annes of this world—mere women, yet women of God—it is the likes of them who carry more weight and authority than the likes of Pastor Chuck and the other pharisaical ones who align themselves to John MacArthur."
      Mere women? Their gender should have NOTHING to do with it!
      Why can they just not hold authority without pointing out the fact that you see them as a "little bit lower than the angels (men)"? It comes across as "even women are better than Chuck O'Neal".

    7. David had said, "What does Jesus look like". Just that statement alone said it all. Short and to the point (Not long winded). We are to set our affections on things above. Along with that statement of David's, What does love look like?

      Does love look like John MacArthur, Fred Butler, Chuck Oneal...or Jesus?

      Who is John MacArthur anyway (I know who he is). He puts his pants on the same way that I do. What advantage does he have in regards to Jesus that I don't have? Will there be hierarchy in Heaven? If Jesus is "King of kings", then we are all kings. The lowest of all Christians will be the same rank as all of the notable of mankind who has ever lived. Jesus gave this example in regards to John the Baptist.

      As David said, What does Jesus look like?
      As I say, What does love look like?

    8. Sophie, as I re-read what I wrote, there are a number of things I would have phrased differently. So thank you for providing me a chance to clarify my thoughts.

      The choice to use the “mere” adjective was tongue-in-cheek and possibly a rather obscure theological or literary reference to something I read not too long ago. I was using it facetiously.

      When it comes down to the biblical issue of spiritual authority gender has everything to do with it. God’s intent for both marriage and the church is for godly male headship. Consider how I qualified this in an earlier comment on May 29th.

      1 Timothy 2:12-13 reads “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man.... For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” And 1 Corinthians 11:3 reads “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”

      The point I wanted to emphasize is this: one’s authority as a pharisaical pastor can become weightless and illegitimate. And “[t]he man, woman or child who loves and shines like Jesus—she or he is the one who bears true authority!” There is an authority (and I use this term in the sense of “possessing the power to influence, to be listened to”) that comes through living a gracious, loving, humble life. And, Yes, in this use of the term gender has no bearing on how we influence others, the power we have to be heard and respected. So (to echo Ed here), What does true authority look like? If there’s no love in it then it’s a false authority. Simple as that. Love is a weighty and persuasive power!

      I hope that clears my intentions up a little. You may disagree with me concerning the complementarian reading of Scripture. However, let me point out that in the Triune Godhead there is an equality of persons yet differences in the functions or roles they enact. Same within the home and church. We are all equal under God but have different roles within the body. And just as Christ is submitted to the Father (John 8:28), and the wife is to be submitted to her husband, this submission in no way means inequality. In the Godhead, in the family, and in the church (i.e., the family of God) there is a reality of subjection yet equality.

      The Danvers Statement

  7. This may sound cliche..however a phrase from a few years ago which was plastered on t shirts down to bracelets. WWJD- What Would Jesus Do. You ask what Godly is. I am not a pastor or a seminar graduate, however this seems pretty simple. We have a great example of Godly in the Bible. I have read some posts from pastors that seem like they get this. If you ask that question and follow the answer wherever it leads I believe in a simple way (i like simple) it goes a long way in the right direction. If your former pastor had asked this question and followed where lead this lawsuit would have never happened and possibly his church would be flourishing not floundering.

  8. To David

    Sorry you were offended, but you need to know a little something about the blogging world.

    I've been doing this for a while, so I speak with some experience.

    Those who seek to hide themselves by anonymity by commenting with a "nickname" or just anonymously, tend to have something to hide. The person is a trouble-maker or is running from some sort of accountability. In honestly, it shows a profound lack of respect to
    the person's they are commenting toward.

    I don't usually suffer anonymous individuals who have no profile page where there is something a little bit about the person, who they really are, where they attend church, where they live. Especially if they are accusing me of shepherding crimes of bullying congregants.

    That isn't asking for much. I just want to know where the person is coming from, because I am in fact responding as a person to a person.

    Now, you state you commented by an open source ID. Whatever. It is really irrelevant, because you could have told me of your other comments at Julie's blog and signed your name to your post knowing you were under a screen name.

    To make my snide comment a standard by which to judge my overall character is a bit bigoted, if not outright hateful on your part.

    Because I don't automatically give self-proclaimed "spiritual abuse victims" a pass without pressing them a bit about their claims and not letting them wiggle out of a response by making them answer specific
    questions, you automatically label me a "bully" pastor and think I am like Chuck O'Neal? I can confidently tell you that you don't really
    know anything about either of us to make such a disrespectful comparison.

    Now, in the interest of fairness, I'd like you to go back and genuinely interact not only with the points I raised in my post, but also my responses to your first comment. This time, sign your name. You are more than welcome to bring along any friends you believe will
    help your case if you wish. I sincerely want you to be challenged as to your thinking on these issues. One bad pastor does not make every pastor bad and one so-called abuse survivor who maybe right doesn't make all abuse survivors right.

    BTW, someone who reads this blog, including the comments, alerted me to your comments here via email. I thought the email was from you, David, so when I responded to it with what I wrote above, the person (again anonymous) responded by cursing me with the f-word and told me to come here to answer you. So far, I seem to be right about anonymous commenters. Do spiritual abuse victims tend to drop f-bombs against those they disagree? Wondering.

  9. Mr. Butler,

    You did not offend me. Your offense was against Christ and all those who have been abused by those who have assumed positions of spiritual authority within the church (and cults).

    Since you reached out to me here, I did go back and read your full comment to me and re-scanned your Wicked Sheep post. You asked me, “How come my criticisms and questions automatically mean I am a bully? Do you expect me to just roll over and believe without question every sob-sister spiritual abuse survivor story?”

    As a minister of Christ the answer is Yes. You believe them and handle your inquiry with the utmost care. Even if someone is confabulating or fabricating their story, please understand that whatever is behind their grievances there is a wounded-ness that needs the love, wisdom, grace and gentleness of Christ to assist them in their healing and spiritual development. My experience has been that, yes, these stories are real, the wounds are real, and the pain and utter devastation is more significant than it seems you can even imagine. For if you had even a modicum of understanding you would not further abuse and belittle these survivors with the hounding tenor of your approach.

    Honestly, I’m not about to reason with you on your ground, according to your rules of engagement. You seem to me an unreasonable man. Your analysis of the questionnaire was at times quite preposterous, a barren field populated by straw men. Listen, Mr. Butler, if there truly is a Christ-like spirit-of-grace in any church in question I sincerely doubt any of your ludicrous suppositions would ever arise.

    Again, Mr. Butler, you did not offend me. When I read the first sentence of your response calling me a coward, I laughed and dismissed you entirely. Please read, here, how this works. Now, if you’d like me to break your analysis down for you, I might consider doing so, here, on Julie Anne’s ground. Looks like she’s already posting on you.

    Also, reread what I wrote above. I don’t have to know your entire life saga to discern from your words that not only are you unfit for true ministry, but that you are a careless and dangerous man.

    In fact, Fred Butler, I know from further information I just received on you that you are indeed a sick and abusive man!


    1. And that information you received is what exactly? Please don't begin to gossip or slander. If I am this abusive guy, you need to expose me. BTW, I am not a "pastor." Did the emailer who has been cursing me out today send you something?


    2. Fred, do you know the person who is e-mailing you? Do you know if it is someone from my blog? Do they say? Why are they cursing?

      I guess I'm just floored that someone would e-mail you and curse at you. That's very odd.

    3. David/Monax left his original comment at my blog.

      I responded to his comment and the combox went silent for the weekend or so.

      A couple of days ago, some person whose email is bigbluehippopotamus or something like that, sent an email to my gmail account. The way it was worded, it read as if it was David/Monax writing me personally.

      I responded with the response I cut-pasted above.

      The next morning the emailer wrote me back and basically called me the f word and a couple of other unmentionable names and told me I was arrogant and that he/she was not David.

      I tried once to clarify who it was I was emailing, only to get more f bombs and curses. I tried to correspond with the person regarding his attitude, but only get more f bombs and names.

      So who ever this person is, he/she is familiar with your situation and at least frequents your blog. Obviously whoever it is reads your blog enough to be familiar with the comments under the posts, because he/she was linking me to this comment thread.

    4. Well that's promising, a cry for help.

      So what are you? a teacher? a coordinator? and if so, a coordinator of what, people? Please tell us, what are you? See as a minister of Jesus you certainly don’t appear to be an ambassador of Christ.

    5. I thought my profile is clear. I work at GTY, I attend Grace Church, I live in the Los Angeles area. I do teach frequently, audio recording exist of my talks here:
      I coordinate the volunteer ministry at GTY. That involves about 150 plus people on a weekly basis. None of them believe I am a bully.

    6. "If I am this abusive guy, you need to expose me."

  10. Fred Butler is the little boy who called S-H-E-E-P!

  11. "Well that's promising, a cry for help."


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