Given our heavy reliance on theological education (resumes, degrees, etc.) for ministers today, of the long list of positive and negative marks seen above, how many can be discerned and approved in the seminary context? I think that we can determined whether they can “be able to teach” and “hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught,” yet is it not clear that the majority of the qualifications which are those intangible, character-driven qualifications can only be discovered in a local church context? Could it be that we have created a system that can turn out “countless guides” but fail to produce spiritual “fathers”? I would argue that the best place to look for ministers of Paul’s conviction is in the local church. How else can we discern whether a man is hospitable, gentle, sober-minded, self-controlled, upright, holy, well thought of by outsiders, etc.?
In summary, if we are going to look for ministers based on a biblically-prescribed criteria, then we must look for God-called men not merely based on resumes or theological acumen discovered in ivory towers but also God-besot men whose proof text are found in the purity of their heart, obedience of their children, love of their neighbor, openness of their home, treatment of their enemies, and reputation of others. These men may have the benefit of the ivory tower, but they define themselves by the blessings of muddy trenches.
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