RESPONSE: First of all, no matter what position one takes on divorce, remarriage, and the qualifications for pastors, one thing seems clear--God does not desire that any marriage would end in divorce (Gen 2:24, Mal 2:16, Mt 19:6). Now, the verses that are most often cited with regard to question of someone who has been divorced serving as a pastor or elder are 1 Tim 3:2, 12 and Titus 1:6. Each of these verses says that one who serves in the position of overseer, elder, or deacon should be "the husband of one wife." Certainly, some take the stipulation of one wife to mean that a man cannot be divorced and remarried (after all, that would be 2 wives). Even so, in the NIV translation, these passages are translated to say that he must be "faithful to his wife," and I think that is the intended meaning here. He must not be unfaithful to his wife. Additionally, I think that context is clear--the question isn't primarily about divorce, but of respectability and one's relationships play a huge part in that. The 1 Tim passage, taken as a whole, is demanding that an overseer/deacon must be "above reproach" "worthy of respect" and in "good standing." The passage in Titus says that he should be "blameless." Does this mean that he must literally be without sin? Of course not. It is talking about his standing in society. So, is it possible that someone might have been in a divorce and still fulfill these requirements? I think so. God uses broken vessels.
Now, the further question of remarriage is often cross referenced with passages like Matthew 5:23 and 19:9 where Jesus says that anyone who divorces his wife for any reason other than adultery, makes her commit adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. But what does Jesus mean? Is she literally guilty of adultery just because he divorced her? I don't think so. Rather, it would have been the case in the 1st century that she would be viewed in society as if she had committed adultery. Again, in the 1st century context, what kind of man would marry a woman who was publicly shamed as unfaithful? Well, we know that Hosea did, and he did so at God's command and as a picture of God's relationship to apostate Israel. Anyway, my point is that I don't think that these verses can be used to discredit the viability of someone who would seek to be an elder/deacon/overseer--that is if, in divorce and remarriage, they are faithful, above reproach, worthy of respect, blameless, and in good standing. So, as I see it, the question of a divorced and/or remarried person serving in the church has a lot more to do with the way the community of believers approaches the issue than anything else. In that sense, I think if a church says "no one who has been divorced and remarried can serve on our staff" I think they are fully within their rights to do so--if they view it as a question of the person's character and standing.
QUESTION: I have a genuine question for you. This is not for some Calvinist debate or something of that nature. But I would like to hear view concerning if God choose us or did we choose God?
RESPONSE: I am probably going to disappoint you with my answer. I don't want to avoid this, a most pressing issue, but it is not the focus of my ministry here, and I would rather not let it become a stumbling block. With that said, I will offer a general response (and an honest one). I am convinced that the Scripture teaches that God is completely sovereign, and that includes sovereignly electing a people unto salvation. Anyone who denies that is simply not reading the Bible. I am also convinced that Scripture teaches God has given man free will (to what extent, I do not desire to debate here) and that all men are called to repent and believe, and I do not think that command is disingenuous on God's part. Again, I think you have to ignore large portions of Scripture to miss that. How exactly do the sovereignty of God and the responsibility/free will of man work together? On that point, Scripture is not explicit. Certainly, there are theories that I find more compelling than others, but I am not one to say "this is how it works," beyond what Scripture has revealed. I will say this though--most of the debates that pop up around this issue have to do with one side feeling like the other has portrayed God in a way that undermines His love, justice, and/or sovereignty. I am content to say that however it ultimately works it out, I don't have any anxiety about whether or not He is perfectly loving, just, and sovereign--that could not be more clearly revealed in Scripture.
I would suggest reading material from the strongest proponents of all sides and drawing your conclusions from there. I try to read at least a few things each year that come from various view points on this issue. John Piper recently put out a short book giving his take on the 5 points of Calvinism. I also try to read Calvin's Institutes, at least in part, every year. It really is a theological treasure trove and I am disheartened that many non-Calvinists don't realize this. Last year I read Kenneth Keathley's Salvation and Sovereignty, which offers a Molinist approach. And if you want, you can Google the complete works of Jacob Arminius and read them online. Though, I find traditional Arminianism to be more in line with Molinism. In the last year I have also read a couple of articles by Greg Boyd, a leading proponent of Open Theism (which I do not consider a viable option, but I still think we need to be keeping up with what adherents of this growing view are saying). I hope that helps.
QUESTION: I was wondering what your thoughts are on postmodernism and more specifically about the Emergent/Emerging Church?
RESPONSE: First of all, I want to make a slight distinction between the terms "emerging" and "emergent." As I see it, the emerging church movement is a very general term for a new breed of churches that are emerging in response to changes in culture. Many of these churches affirm historic Christian teachings. A pastor like Mark Driscoll is often labeled as a leader in the emerging church. While his methods may be questionable to some, his doctrine tends to be very steeped in historical Christianity. The emergent church, on the other hand, generally refers to a specific group that is very postmodern in their theology. That is, the emergent church is based around subjective experience. Thus, it is really hard to pin down any sort of consistent doctrine taught by these groups. Someone like Brain McLaren would fall into this group. Such an approach stands in stark contrast to Christianity which is based on objective truth claims. Jesus either rose from the dead or He didn't. The Bible is either the Word of God or it isn't. Things do not suddenly become true because I believe them to be. Truth is what corresponds to reality. Granted, there is a subjective element to being a child of God. Even so, any preacher who emphasizes subjective experience at the expense of objective truth is not preaching Christianity. With all of that said, I do not want to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. There is a difference between holding to the traditional teaching of Christianity and being a traditionalist. The emerging/emergent church movements shine a spotlight on the real need for churches to break away from the latter. Unfortunately, in the case of the emerging/emergent church (generally speaking) that comes at the expense of the former. The Gospel cannot be put into a cultural box, whether that box looks like the rural American church of the 1950s or the hip, "relevant" church of the 2000s.