Who are the Faithful Men?

So I came across this article by John MacArthur this morning (by way of this post by Arthur) and I struggle with an assumption that is made in it, an assumption that I have seen a lot of places when discussing the role of historical Christianity in the development of one’s theology. MacArthur quotes a passage and makes an assumption (an almost Catholic sounding assumption). Here are his words:

“What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). The goal certainly should not be to encourage young pastors to distrust or remodel what they have learned from faithful men.

So really there are two assumptions:

  1. That what Paul says to Timothy extends beyond “what you have heard from me” to “what you hear from faithful men”
  2. That one’s theological heroes are faithful men

I won’t get hung up on the first assumption although I think it may be worth discussing, but the second assumption I have a difficult time with. Who are the Faithful Men? How do we know? By testing their theology? But at that point aren’t we already “distrusting” them as MacArthur would put it? If we are not to call them into question then how are we to determine whether they are faithful men or not? Are we to base it on popular opinion? Historical opinion? Our own opinion? It just seems difficult to me when someone makes a statement that implies we should blindly trust someone else. I just don’t know how there can be a middle ground: either we trust people’s opinions blindly, or we question their opinions based on our own understanding. What else is there?

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About Dan Allen

Just some guy trying to figure stuff out... View all posts by Dan Allen

7 responses to “Who are the Faithful Men?

  • Alan Knox

    Just my 2 cents… but I’m not sure that Paul would have questioned someone concerning their beliefs (or what they say they believe) before calling that person “faithful.” It seems that “faithful” in Paul’s writings, and perhaps in the entire NT or Bible, has more to do with the way someone lives, that is, their conduct or way of life.

    -Alan

    • Dan Allen

      So does that mean that someone who lives what at least appears to be a selfless Christian lifestyle (a “faithful” lifestyle so to speak) is above question regarding their theological beliefs? Or maybe, their theology, beyond what directly affects their lifestyle, is of no value either way?

  • Alan Knox

    No. Our stated beliefs are important. For example, someone can be a servant without caring about Jesus Christ at all. But living faithfully means living according to the gospel, which includes both our deeds and our words. If you see someone who appears to be living a “selfless Christian lifestyle,” but they never praise Jesus or give him credit, then there’s a problem. But, if you see someone who boldly states their beliefs, but whose does not live a “selfless Christians lifestyle,” then there is also a problem.

    -Alan

    • Dan Allen

      So we are certainly scrutinizing these candidates for “faithful” men, not taking their position as “faithful” as some kind of given, but looking at how they live their lives and what they state for beliefs. Does that put us in danger of “distrusting” them or thinking in too individualistic of terms? I mean ultimately we are making a personal judgment on whether or not we agree with their lifestyle and beliefs.

  • Alan Knox

    Perhaps… but I would think someone would be faithful until they themselves prove otherwise by their lifestyle or their words. And, I’m not talking about general mistakes or sin or failures. I’m talking about sin issues that the person refuses to acknowledge or seek change.

    -Alan

    • Dan Allen

      I guess what I am saying boils down to the fact that we as individuals must make decisions on whether or not we trust others or agree with each claim they make. We cannot assume they are trustworthy and that everything they say is correct because others have deemed them as such. Even if it is all others throughout history.

  • Alan Knox

    Yeah, if I understand you correctly, then I agree with you.

    -Alan

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