A friend recently asked if I had any disagreements with a particular section of the London Baptist Confession. Now I love me some 1689 LCF, I have a couple of copies on the shelf, I refer to it periodically, I even have Sam Waldron's Modern Exposition of the 1689 LBCF. Having said that, there are places that I disagree with the London Baptist Confession. One area is Chapter 26, section 10 (the section he asked me about). I have some obvious issues with what it says about pastors in the church but I also have a real issue with the way it (mis)uses Scripture proofs (those Scripture references you find in all sorts of Christian writings). Let me show you what I mean...
10. The work of pastors being constantly to attend the service of Christ, in his churches, in the ministry of the word and prayer, with watching for their souls, as they that must give an account to Him; it is incumbent on the churches to whom they minister, not only to give them all due respect, but also to communicate to them of all their good things according to their ability, so as they may have a comfortable supply, without being themselves entangled in secular affairs; and may also be capable of exercising hospitality towards others; and this is required by the law of nature, and by the express order of our Lord Jesus, who hath ordained that they that preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel.
( Acts 6:4; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Timothy 5:17, 18; Galatians 6:6, 7; 2 Timothy 2:4; 1 Timothy 3:2; 1 Corinthians 9:6-14 )
Well that all seems very sound and has lots of Scripture proofs referenced, so it must be right. Or maybe we should look at these proofs and see what they actually say...
Acts 6:4 is talking about the apostles, not elders in a local church
Hebrews 13:17 seems to be talking about missionaries or apostles (the "leaders" who preached the Gospel to you, past tense. More about that in a future post)
1 Timothy 5:17-18 is perhaps speaking of giving to or sharing with elders (see Alan Knox on this question)
Galatians 6:6 speaks of sharing, not of paying a salary
2 Timothy 2:4 is directed at Timothy specifically
1 Timothy 3:2 refers to the qualities to be desired in an elder
1 Cor 9: 6-14 is the most inexplicable because in 1 Corinthians 9 Paul is saying that he did not take money from the Corinthians. Why?
What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. (1Co 9:18)
So yeah, I have a disagreement with the LBCF on this issue. I don't think the Scripture proofs given by our brothers in the 17th century do much to bolster their case in this instance. I especially am concerned that when Christians see a listing all of these Scripture proofs, are they actually comparing what the proofs say to what the confession writes? The confessions are useful tool but cannot replace studying the Word.