Tuesday, October 30, 2007

ARE YOU A NICOLAITAN?


Adapted from an article by A.B. Traina



COMMENDATION

"Unto the messenger of the congregation of Ephesus write: These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, Who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. I know thy works, and thy labors, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and has found them liars: And hast borne and hast patience, and for my NAME'S sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember, therefore, from whence thou hast fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the NICOLAITANS, which I also HATE." (Rev 2:1-7)

CONDEMNATION

"AND unto the congregation of Pergamos write; these things saith He which hast the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is, and thou holdest fast my NAME, and hast not denied MY faith, even in those days wherein Anti-Pas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast, there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto IDOLS, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the NICOLAITANS, which thing I HATE. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth, He that hath an ear let him hear what the SPIRIT says unto the congregations." (Rev 2: 12-17.)

ARE YOU A NICOLAITAN?

Are you a Nicolaitan? Don't say "No" before you investigate, or you may have to change your mind. He that judgeth a matter before he investigates is not wise. (Proverbs 18:13)

The Savior said that He hated the deeds and the doctrines of the Nico-laitans, even though they were members of His congregation in Ephesus and Pergamos; and I am sure you would not want to be numbered among them, nor to fellowship with them if you knew who they were. When these Nicolaitans were in the minority, the Savior said to the congregation, "Put them out from among you" (I Cor. 5:13). But now, when these Nicolaitans (idolaters) have taken over the congregation, Abba says to the believers, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith YHWH, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you," (2 Corinthians 6:17)

These Nicolaitans have been masquerading with us for a long time, and have made converts of us all, whether we admit it or not. It is no wonder that Isaiah was told to inquire, "To whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine?" Then to make sure we would get the right answer, he continues, "Them that are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breast" (Isa 28:9). Have we really left the milk stage? Or have we left Mother Babylon's breast only to feed on the milk bottles drawn from the same sources and given to us by her nursing daughters, the Protestant Churches?

Sunday worship; Christmas, with its Sat-urnalian excesses; New Year's, with its watchnight and attendant debaucheries; Easter with its eggs, bunnies, hot-cross-buns, and sunrise worship; May Day with its May-poles and Lawn Festivals; Halloween, and its attending misrule, are not the feasts of YHWH as commanded in the Bible, but are definitely perpetuations of the old pagan Babylonian feasts, belonging to the pagan deities: "Lord, God, Jesus Christ, and Ma-Rhea, or Maria, the English Mary".

The doctrines of an ever-burning hell, Purgatory, going to heaven when you die, immediate transition, infant baptism, sprinkling, the conscious state of the dead, are not Apostolic, but purely and simply Babylonian. Their presence in the Christian Church identifies Christianity as the Simon-pure product of Babylon's fornications as evangelized by the Nicolaitans.

For a long time we have heard of the despicable Nicolaitans in the book of Revelation, but we have never really understood the meaning of their condemnation, because we have never really known who, or what, these Nicolaitans were. Many Bible students have tried to identify the Nicolaitans, but without success. Some have suggested that they were followers of a certain Nicholas, but can find no record of any such leader to substantiate their alibi. Then there is the Schofield School, or shall we say the editors of the Schofield Reference Bible, who say that the Nicolaitans are, and I quote:

"From Nakao, to conquer and Laos, the people or laity. There is however, no ancient authority for a sect of Nicolaitans. If the word is symbolic, it refers to the earliest form of the notion of a priestly order, or clergy, which later divided an equal brotherhood into priests and laity. What in Ephesus were deeds (Rev. 2:6) had become in Pergamos, a doctrine (Rev. 2:15)."

The above quotation is taken from the comment at the bottom of page 1332 of the Schofield Reference Bible. Please note that these wise theologians, who edited the Schofield Bible, admit that "there is no ancient authority for a sect of Nicolaitans" and, as for the other explanations, notice that it is based on an "IF the word is SYMBOLIC." That is the best explanation the Christian clergy can give, because they are blind and cannot see the forest because the trees are in the way. The truth of the matter is that the more orthodox they are, the nearer they identify themselves with the Nicolaitans, whose doctrines and deeds the Saviour said He hated. They themselves are blind, having been made so by their teachers. The teaching that the New Testament was originally written in the Greek language, is not only false but deceptive. The Hellenization of the Church not only produced a corrupted New Testament, but made a Greek deity displace the Jewish Messiah. This was the work, or deeds, done by the Nicolaitans in the early days and which is now perpetuated by the Christians in these latter days, since they are the offspring of the sect that the Saviour condemned (Rev. 2:6 and 15).

Many people think that we are just trying to be different and make another cult, but let us examine the facts. It is admitted that the Saviour never heard himself addressed as Jesus Christ, not even when Greeks went to Philip and said, "We would see Yahushua" (John 12:20-21). The Greek proselytes knew him as Yahushua, and as the Messiah, for there is no other NAME under heaven, given unto men, whereby we must be saved. The name "Jesus" was never applied to the Saviour during His lifetime, nor for nearly 300 years after His death and resurrection.

The Nicolaitans infiltrated the early assembly and finally took over the policy-making. Having overcome the resistance of the saints who were contending for the faith, they opened the way for Jezebel, the ancient symbol for seductiveness, to come in and seduce the servants of YHWH by saying that le-sus Kris-tos (Jesus Christ) was the Greek translation of Yahushua the Messiah. This RUSE was so successful that it has deceived all the nations of the earth!

Who were the Nicolaitans? The evangelists of Zeus! (Jupiter) who overcame or conquered the Jewish congregation. The Nicolaitans were not the followers of any leader Nicolas, but were NikoLaos themselves. The word Nicolaitans is a compound of the Greek words "Nike" and "Laos", Nike-Laos (Nicolas). Nike is the name of the Goddess of Victory, or the Winged Victory, and Laos is the Greek word for laity, devotees, or followers. Therefore, without any guesswork or speculation, we can identify the Nicolaitans, of the King James version of the Bible, as the Nike-laity, or Nike laos of the original manuscript of John the Revelator. And without any stretch of the imagination, we can identify the same old fellow, Saint Nike-Laos, or Santa Claus, who appears every year in the month of December, to remind us that Zeus, Jupiter, Mithra, Nimrod, Baal, Addon, Appolo, Tamuz, Bacchus, whose birthday is on the 25th day of December, is to be memorialized. He seduces the minds of the young, who in turn play upon the heartstrings of their parents, forcing them to celebrate, even against their will! Even the independent churches, when they originally came out from the worldly churches, had repudiated Christmas and Easter as pagan holidays; but now they have compromised and taken notice of these days. Why? Because it is a part of the Satanic deception. You cannot divorce Christmas from Saturnalia, with its tree worship, laurel, holly, mistletoe, cakes, and wine; nor from Easter with its hot-cross-buns (cakes to the Queen of Heaven, Astoreth), bunnies and the show of pride. All these were, and still are, part and parcel of the Babylonian doctrine perpetuated in the Christian churches today.

In Greek mythology, Nike is represented as the Goddess of Victory whose function was to proselytize or evangelize for Zeus, the Greek deity, and ascribe to him all the honor and glory of all the other gods, and thus displace them that he might be worshipped in their stead. If you look in Webster's International Dictionary under the heading, Zeus, you will find a picture showing Zeus sitting on a throne with Nike in back of him, in the act of putting a crown of laurel upon his head. This was the symbol that he had won the victory over the other deities.

Even our institutions of learning have been contaminated with this pagan idolatry, for when the students of schools, colleges and universities win distinction in the course of study, they are made to don the cap and gown, while a Christian minister or priest, is called upon to do the honors and pronounce upon them the Baccalaureate, or the Laurel of of Bacchus. And who is Bacchus? Bacchus, the meaning of which is "son of Cush"— Nimrod the personification of Satan, the enemy of YHWH (see Gen. 10: 8, 9).

Returning to Zeus in Webster's International Dictionary, you will find that he is the same as the Latin Jupiter, the Spanish Dios, and the French Diu. He is known as the Father of Gods and Men. (Pope-Pappa of Gods and Men). No wonder John the Revelator calls the Martyrs the Anti-Pas for they were against the father of gods and men! Among the many characteristics ascribed to him, he is known as Zeus-Soter, which means Zeus the Saviour. Whose Saviour is he? Is he yours?

Of course this is all mythology; but remember that mythology was, and is, the religion of the pagans; so that the devotees, a laity, of the mythological goddess Nike, do the work that she is 'supposed to do'. In other words, the deeds the Nicolaitans of the King James version accomplished, was to exalt the Greek deity Zeus above the Jewish Messiah Yahushua. What they started in the Ephesian Church and failed to do, they finally succeeded in making a doctrine in the Church of Pergamos.

It is the duty of every sincere believer to come out and to leave all these paganisms behind, and return to the Law and the Testimony (Isa. 8:20), and to keep the commandments of YHWH, and the testimony of Yahushua the Messiah. (Rev. 12:17)

When following the great impact of PENTECOST, which launched the great evangelistic campaign to bring the people back to YHWH and His righteousness through Yahushua the Messiah, the leaders of the then existing religions began to tremble. In order to uphold these false religions, the leaders resorted to the persecution of the Apostles (See Acts 19:19, 20; Acts 16:17,24; Acts 19:17-35; Fox's Book of Martyrs). But persecutions could not quench the fire of the Set-Apart Spirit in those who had received it. Under persecution, the Assembly of Believers increased, since, for every one of the faithful martyrs of the Lamb of YHWH who went down, five would spring up to join the ranks; for the blood of the martyrs was the true seed of the congregation of the Messiah. When, after three centuries, these measures of persecution failed in the suppression of the FAITH once delivered to the saints, then the Babylonian clergy, in conjunction with their governments, resorted to tactics of infiltration: that is, to profess conversion and join the church, then influence the government to cease persecution and give the assemblies rest and security. The stopping of persecution among the saints had a bad effect on them as it took away their ardour and zeal and made them soft. They no longer felt as much need of prayer as they had under persecution, and in their apparent ease and security began to lose their first love. Following this, the false teachers began to cast stumbling blocks in the way of believers, as the Saviour diagnosed their condition in Rev. 2:14-15. When speaking to the congregation of Pergamos, He says, "But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold to the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to IDOLS and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold to the doctrine of the Nike-laitans WHICH THING I HATE. REPENT OR ELSE."

So you see, dear believer, whoever you are, that the doctrine of Balaam was just as active in the New Testament Congregation as it had been in the Old Testament at the time of Moses; any variation of the old was only an adaptation of the new condition. The eating of things sacrificed to IDOLS, which was PAGAN back there, is CHRISTIAN today; for the eating of the Christmas goose and the delightful roast SWINE, was a delicacy to be eaten on the memorial of the birthday of Baal, Mithra, Jupiter, Zeus (See I Maccabee 1: 54—59). The month of Casleu is the equivalent of the modern December. The tree worship of Jeremiah 10 was also connected with the worship of Jupiter. The Easter eggs, bunnies and hot-cross-buns were things sacrificed to the Goddess Astoreth, Easter, or Oas-tre. (See Jer. 44:19 and Jer. 7:18). The clergy say that these things are offered to the Heavenly Father, but the Bible answers that YHWH has repudiated such. (See Amos 5:25-26; Zephaniah 1: 4-5; Hosea 2: 5-8; Isaiah 65:11; Eze. 23: 38-44; I Cor. 10:20-22; Num. 25:1-9; John 4:22.)

The time has come that YHWH is calling on His people, whom He has favored with His mercy, to seek Him and His SET APART NAME, by having their mouths purged from the pollutions of pagan names of the deities. Through the prophet Hosea He says, "Thou shalt call me no more Baal (LORD). For I will take away the names of Baalim (Lords) out of her (the Church's) mouth, and they (the lords shall no more be remembered by their name." (Hosea 2:16-17).

Of these days the prophet Micah says, "The voice of YHWH crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom will see THY name." (Micah 6:9). Isaiah saw the Set Apart One of Israel looking down on the condition of His people as they were going through tribulation and said, "Therefore my people shall know my name, therefore they shall know in that day that I am HE that doth speak; behold it is I" (Isa. 52:6). And the Psalmist saith, "And they that know Thy name will put their trust in Thee, for Thou, O YHWH, hast not forsaken them that seek Thee" (Psalm 9:10) "For some trust in chariots and some in horses; but we still remember the name YHWH our Elohim" (Psalm 20:7).

Worshipping the Creator-Redeemer by the names of pagan deities is not honoring Him, but is ascribing to another the honor that ought to be ascribed to Him. So He complains through Isaiah thus, "I am YHWH: that is my name, and my splendor I will not give to another, neither my praise to graven images." (Isa. 42:8) Jeremiah is hopeful of the people coming to the light of the true name of YHWH, for he, speaking for YHWH says, "Shall a man make elohim unto himself, and they are not elohim? Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know. I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is YHWH" (Jer.l6:20-21).

Let us take the advice of the prophet Hosea, for he says, "Come let us return unto YHWH; for He hath torn, and He will heal us: for He hath smitten and He will bind us up" (Hosea 6:1). In closing, let me say with Micah that, while all the people (Christian-Nicolaitans) will walk every one in the name of his elohim (gods) and we will walk in the Name of YHWH our Elohim forever and ever. (Micah 4:5).

The Nicolaitans will have the names of blasphemy upon them, and they will eventually receive the mark (Rev. 13:16-17) if they refuse to repent. But the congregation of the Redeemed will be protected. They will have the Name of the Lamb and the Name of His Father upon their foreheads. (Rev. 14:1).

Acts 2:38 Repent and be baptized every one of you in the NAME of Yahushua the Messiah, for the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive a gift of the Holy Spirit.

http://yahushua.net/nicolaitan.htm

Monday, October 29, 2007

Interesting Reading


Ok, this has only strained connection to christian apostacy but it was good reading none the less. The subject is the coming US economic collapse and one of the solutions being DIY-independance. Enjoy


Slide [27] Certain types of mainstream economic behavior are not prudent on a personal level, and are also counterproductive to bridging the Collapse Gap. Any behavior that might result in continued economic growth and prosperity is counterproductive: the higher you jump, the harder you land. It is traumatic to go from having a big retirement fund to having no retirement fund because of a market crash. It is also traumatic to go from a high income to little or no income. If, on top of that, you have kept yourself incredibly busy, and suddenly have nothing to do, then you will really be in rough shape.

Economic collapse is about the worst possible time for someone to suffer a nervous breakdown, yet this is what often happens. The people who are most at risk psychologically are successful middle-aged men. When their career is suddenly over, their savings are gone, and their property worthless, much of their sense of self-worth is gone as well. They tend to drink themselves to death and commit suicide in disproportionate numbers. Since they tend to be the most experienced and capable people, this is a staggering loss to society.

If the economy, and your place within it, is really important to you, you will be really hurt when it goes away. You can cultivate an attitude of studied indifference, but it has to be more than just a conceit. You have to develop the lifestyle and the habits and the physical stamina to back it up. It takes a lot of creativity and effort to put together a fulfilling existence on the margins of society. After the collapse, these margins may turn out to be some of the best places to live.
http://www.energybulletin.net/23259.html

Friday, October 26, 2007

Raining FIRE in California

Genesis 19:24 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;

C. GALMES: We believed the whole day of Monday that the house was gone, because when we left, the smoke alarms were going on and also it was raining fire.

ROBERTS: Raining fire?

C. GALMES: Yes. Our children had...

P. GALMES: Sparks all over.

C. GALMES: ... sparks all over their hair.
It just was going into the -- when they were going into the car. So we believed that the house was going to be burned completely.
http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0710/24/ltm.02.html

People on the ground said it was RAINING FIRE. How was Sodom judged? RAINING FIRE

California State Senate Passes Transsexual-Bisexual-Homosexual Indoctrination Bill

SB 777 turns every government school into a sexual indoctrination center

http://www.savecalifornia.com/getpluggedin/news_details.php?newsid=79

Raining Fire, Millions displaced, Making it the law in California to promote an abomination, The Judgement of Sodom.....hmmmmm coincidence?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Problems with KJV Bible

I have problems with the KJV bible. The biggest problem is it's systemic perpetuation of the Nicolaitan system that Jesus hates. This is the manmade clergy/laity system. It also perpetuates and attempts to support participation in pagan holidays. There are other bibles (pretty much all new translations of the bible) that have problems, but there's a bunch of people out there who call themselves the "King James Only" crowd, as if the KJV is perfect. There are entire websites setup dedicated to worshipping "KJV only" I've read their arguments as to why the bible does'nt say what it clearly says, and the arguments don't hold water. I'll only give three examples, but they are all stakes in the heart of KJV "perfection."

<< 1 Timothy 1:12 >> KJV
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;

American Standard Version
I thank him that enabled me, even Christ Jesus our Lord, for that he counted me faithful, appointing me to his'service;

Above we see the blatant mistranslation, that is stated in such a way to perpetuate the Nicolaitan system Jesus hates. "into THE ministry" strongly suggests this seperate class of special people (clergy) that do not exist the the true body of Christ. We are all (true believers) priests with direct access to the Father through Christ Jesus.

Now we'll look at the apostate translation that includes the celebration of pagan holidays (easter)

King James Bible-Acts 12:4
And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

American Standard Version
And when he had taken him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to guard him; intending after the Passover to bring him forth to the people.

The Greek word which is translated "Easter" in Acts 12:4 is the word "pascha". This word appears twenty-nine times in the New Testament. Twenty-eight of those times the word is rendered "Passover" but somehow MAGICALLY the 29th time, all of the sudden, it's translated as EASTER? Same word? Yep. Sound Fishy? you bet, in fact its blatant mistranslation perpetuating the apostacy/heresy of the nicolaitans.

Another grievous error is the KJV exchange of the word "charity" for "love" Sorry, love goes so far beyond charity it's not worth debating, this is another sickening example of KJV error.

I've read the KJV only crowd's rebuttal's of these errors but they don't even come close to holding water. They spend page after page after page constructing deceitful webs to attempt to make the bible say something that it does not say.

In the end, men must decided for themselves what truth is, and discern error. We are not alone in this task. The Holy Spirit who lives within us points us into all truth. Grace and peace~D

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's Called Judgement



You could also call the Southern California wildfires as a preview of coming attractions.

SAN DIEGO - Faced with unrelenting winds whipping wildfires into a frenzy across Southern California, firefighters conceded defeat on many fronts Tuesday to an unstoppable force that has chased an estimated 1 million people away.

Unless the shrieking Santa Ana winds subside, and that’s not expected for at least another day, fire crews say they can do little more than try to wait it out and react — tamping out spot fires and chasing ribbons of airborne embers to keep new fires from flaring.

“If it’s this big and blowing with as much wind as it’s got, it’ll go all the way to the ocean before it stops,” said San Diego Fire Capt. Kirk Humphries. “We can save some stuff but we can’t stop it.”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21431682/

Southern California is probably as close to the heart and soul of the beast as you can get. When you stop to ponder the amount of spiritual and mental sewage that the movie studios, the television and music industry and the associated lifestyles that Southern California represents, this kind of fiery catastrophe seems most fitting. Trouble is, most people will not turn to God as a result of this, they will harden their hearts. The book of Revelation gives us some insight into this:

Rev 9:13The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the horns[b] of the golden altar that is before God. 14It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates." 15And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. 16The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. I heard their number.

17The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur. 18A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths. 19The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.

20The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. 21Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.

How Close to the End Are We?



Luke17:28 Likewise even as it came to pass in the days of Lot; they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 29 but in the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all: 30 after the same manner shall it be in the day that the Son of man is revealed. 31 In that day, he that shall be on the housetop, and his goods in the house, let him not go down to take them away: and let him that is in the field likewise not return back. 32 Remember Lot's wife. 33 Whosoever shall seek to gain his life shall lose it: but whosoever shall lose his life'shall preserve it. 34 I say unto you, In that night there shall be two men on one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. 35 There shall be two women grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. 36 There shall be two men in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. 37 And they answering say unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Where the body is , thither will the eagles also be gathered together.

The bible says to look for days like those of Lot (think Sodom) and Noah to know "the day that the Son of man is revealed" Well, how much does the U.S. look like Sodom (the days of Lot)?

From todays news:

An official with the World Congress of Families says it was a surprise when California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a measure into law that many believe is a blatant attack on the natural family.

SB 777 prohibits any instruction or school-sponsored activity that would promote discrimination against gender. That means terms like "mom and dad" and "husband and wife" cannot be used in California textbooks because they suggest that heterosexuality is the norm. And under the new law, teachers and students who oppose same-sex "marriage" or who express disapproval of cross-dressing or sex-change operations could face disciplinary measures.

Dr. Alan Carlson says the measure -- which he describes as "very insidious" -- is absurd. "This is a huge step in an anti-family direction," he asserts. "This basically turns the public schools of California, in effect ... into indoctrination centers for alternative household arrangements, alternative sexual arrangements."

According to the global coordinator for the World Congress of Families, the measure is proof that the homosexual lobby is not interested in non-discrimination, but in forcing its views on an unwilling public. "It's clearly designed to make defenders and advocates of the natural family ... something like thought criminals, essentially," Carlson says.

The World Congress of Families says although some may find it unbelievable, the new law even allows students who identify with the opposite gender the freedom to use restrooms and locker rooms of the opposite sex. Carlson says parents who do not want their children to be subjected to "gender indoctrination" now have no alternative but to withdraw their children from California's public school system -- a system he points out parents will still be required to fund through their taxes.

SB 777 is currently scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2008. A coalition of conservative and pro-family groups, SaveOurKids.net, has begun the process of collecting the signatures needed to turn the referendum into a valid ballot measure for the state's voters to consider. (See related story)
http://www.onenewsnow.com/2007/10/new_california_law_labeled_ant.php

Pastors (more)

We now consider the matter of the "plurality" of elders. No one man has the responsibility to shepherd a congregation. It is given to two or more men jointly. A man can be an elder but never the elder. To use another term, that a man can be a pastor but he can never be the pastor --the term "pastor" being properly used for an elder of the church not for the preacher or evangelist. Wherever we read about elders in the scriptures, there is always a plurality of elders in a congregation, never just one.

Occasionally someone will raise an argument to the effect that a plurality of elders, while desirable, is not mandated, and a church may have one elder where only one man is qualified. The argument is that the plural "elders" can accommodate the singular, one elder. So this is the main matter for our attention on this page.


DOES "ELDERS" INCLUDE ONE?
I'll be the devil's advocate for a while and give you an "argument" to the effect that the plural term "elders" can accommodate the singular one elder.

THE ARGUMENT TO BE ANSWERED

If I tell you that in my street there are telephones in every home, cars in every driveway, and garden gnomes on every lawn, I am not saying that every home has more than one phone, every drive has more than one car, every lawn has more than one gnome. I am using accommodative language which does not exclude the possibility that here or there a drive might have only one car, a house only one phone, or a lawn only one gnome. If someone asked me, "Are there children in every household?" and I answered yes, I would mean that each household includes at least one child. Likewise, in the term "elders in every church" there is nothing (just in the term itself) to exclude the possibility of a church with only one elder. The plural accommodates (includes) the singular.

Now if Paul had said, "Appoint elders in the church at Phoenix," or if Luke had said, "They appointed elders in the church at Iconium," we would be justified in saying that means "a plurality of elders" were appointed in those particular churches. But Paul refers at once to several churches. "I left you to appoint elders in every city." Luke's terms are similarly generalized: "They appointed elders in every church." Because the one generic statement covers several churches, then we must regard the plural as accommodative of the singular. So the argument runs.

We have no right, continues the argument, to change the inspired term "elders in every church" by adding words of our own, thus making it read "a plurality of elders in every church." By itself, as it stands, the term "elders in every church" may be taken as meaning one or more elders in every church. We have no right to make it exclude the singular by adding qualifying words.

REPLY TO THAT ARGUMENT

We must acknowledge that this argument would have merit, indeed would be conclusive, were there no other scripture but the statements of Paul and Luke referred to. If all we had to go on were the statements in Titus 1:5 and Acts 14:23, we could not insist on a plurality of elders in every church.

However, we find other scriptures that show that churches had a plurality of elders, and we have no scripture to demonstrate that any church ever had but one elder. So, to answer the argument above, we will look now at the extra information that shows that there should be a plurality of elders in each congregation of Christ, and, in the case of "elders in every church" the plural does not accommodate or include the singular.


REASONS FOR A PLURALITY OF ELDERS
When we look at passages that reveal the pattern of eldership, what shape is it? No elders, one elder, or a plurality of elders? The last in that list is the observed New Testament pattern of authorized church government insofar as it concerns elders. Wherever we find examples and references, we find a plurality of elders in a congregation. It follows, therefore, that we should try to achieve the same thing in our local church if we wish to be "a church after the New Testament pattern."

EXAMPLE CHURCHES

In the list of local churches below, there is a plurality of elders in each case.

Acts 15:2 Jerusalem,
Acts 20:17,28 Ephesus,
Php 1:1 Philippi,
1Th 5:12-13 Thessalonica.
Here we have examples of single churches with a plurality of elders. We have no examples at all of one-elder churches. Admittedly, the elders at Jerusalem might have been from "churches throughout all Judea" (Acts 9:31) and one might complain that there might have been only one elder in some of those churches. That "might have been" may weaken the Jerusalem example a little, but it does not strengthen the argument for single shepherd churches.

DISTRIBUTED MINISTRY

In Ephesians 4:11-16 and 1Corinthians 12:12-31, the congregation is conceived of as a body growing by means of a ministry distributed among several persons: some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors, and so forth. There is no one ministry, and in any particular ministry there is no one minister. The pattern is clearly a plural and distributed ministry. The congregation is served by many ministers, including "some pastors" not one pastor.

SINGLE CHURCHES, SEVERAL SHEPHERDS

1Tm 5:17; Heb 13:7,17; Jas 5:14; 1Pe 5:1-5. These passages do not appear to have a number of churches in view, but rather have in view the circumstances within a local congregation. The concept in these passages is of folk in a church being subject to leaders (plural). The concept of a one-elder church, a flock with one shepherd, does not emerge. The writers have in mind that a member of a local church looks to several shepherds for leadership and help.

THE PRESBYTERY

In 1Timothy 4:14, the term "presbytery" or "eldership" is a collective noun, and by that we mean a noun like the word "flock". When we say "flock" we think of a group of sheep or by way of metaphor we think of a congregation of saints. In the same way, "presbytery" conjures up an image of a group, in this case a group of elders. Since the presbytery is within the local congregation, the congregation has a group of elders. The collective concept of the presbytery is carried into the symbolic visions of Revelation in which the four-and-twenty elders appear (Rev 4:4).

Author's note: There may somewhere be a New Testament church, which has among its meagre membership only one man who qualifies as an elder, a deacon, or an evangelist. That church might decide that appointing him is one step closer to the scriptural pattern of government, and that it is better to be a church with one official appointment than a church with none. The intention of that church is to grow toward a plural ministry and eldership. They may consider that having one appointment to an office, whilst still unsatisfactory, is nevertheless nearer to the goal, and more satisfactory than having no appointments at all. I have not addressed that approach on this page, but have simply stressed that the New Testament pattern of congregational government is not "no elders", nor "one elder", but "a plurality of elders".

http://members.datafast.net.au/sggram/f687.htm

Elders=Overseers=Pastors

Growing up, my understanding of the church was based purely on what I had seen. Every church, I figured, was just like my church—or, at least, it ought to be. And the reason I figured every church did things the way my church did them was because my church was all that I had ever really seen.


When I went to college, I faced a dilemma. None of my friends believed in the validity of infant baptism. And so, as the topic came up, the views I held from my upbringing were challenged. I was faced with two options: I could (A) cling tightly to what I believed simply because that is what our church had always done and it was all I’d ever known. Or, I could (B) turn to the Bible to see if it said anything about baptism.


That experience shaped how I would attempt to view the church. As the Lord called me to be a pastor, I realized that he had spoken in the Bible and therefore the Bible alone was my authoritative source for understanding God and people, the world and the church.


What that meant was that I did not have to cling what I had always believed or wanted to believe was right. Rather, God had spoken about reality and what he said is true, even if it doesn’t always line up with our philosophical and rational preferences. And, even more, God had spoken about the church—about things like pastors and deacons, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, congregationalism and membership. And, what God said was both true and healthiest, even if it didn’t agree with what I’d always heard, what I’d always seen and to “the way we’ve always done things.”


I resolved at that point to always make my best effort to bring every belief I held and every word I taught in line with the Word of God. I resolved to “throw every theological belief out the window,” unless it was founded on God’s Word. In a way it was scary. I didn’t know where that would lead. Yet, in another sense, it was refreshing and reassuring. I didn’t have to worry about defending what I wanted, I only had to read the Bible and believe what it said.


Where Do We Turn to Learn?

Every one of you has an idea about the nature of the local church and things like membership, the Lord’s Supper and baptism. Every one of you has an idea about pastors and deacons, who they are and what they do. And, every one of you probably bases that on one of two things—what you’ve always seen and done and were told, or the witness of the New Testament. I want to challenge you this morning to go back to the Bible on everything you believe—whether that be about salvation or deacons or our Savior Jesus Christ—and build your beliefs on the foundation our Lord has laid in his word.


It was April of 2006 that I preached at Northbrook in view of being your pastor. So, almost one year ago, many of you were reading over my resume, biography and philosophy of ministry. I introduced my comments on the pastorate with this sentence: “I believe that the New Testament (and not tradition, experience, pragmatics or preference) is the final authority on the role of the pastor in a New Testament church.” I italicized it because wanted to emphasize that Scripture alone was our final authority in deciding how to understand the office of pastor.


So, with that said, let us go to the Scripture to understand what the New Testament teaches about pastors.


Titus 1:5-9

In our passage this morning, Paul is writing to Titus to give him instructions about how to finish ordering the churches they had planted together on the island of Crete. In verse 5, Paul tells Titus, “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you…”


What are elders?

The word “elder” is used over 20 times to refer to an office in the local church. In this sense, we could define elders as follows:

The elders are a group of men, called by God and conformed to the Gospel in sound living and sound doctrine, who are set apart by the congregation to oversee and pastor the local church by teaching, ruling, caring for and equipping the saints, as loving and humble examples of Jesus Christ.


The Elders…Oversee and Pastor the Local Church.

I say that “elders…oversee and pastor,” because the terms elder, overseer and pastor are used interchangeably to refer to one office. The terms “elder” (or, presbyter), “overseer” (or, bishop) and “pastor” refer to the same thing. So, we would not separate elders, pastors, and overseers into three different groups with differing functions.


Scriptural Examples

In this passage, Titus (1:5, 7), Paul refers to “elders” being appointed in verse 5. In the following verses, he gives qualifications for elders, but in verse 7 he refers to “an overseer.” So here Paul uses “elder” and “overseer” interchangeably as two terms for one office.


The same is true with the terms “pastor” and “elder.” As far as I can find, the only place where “pastors” are mentioned using that term is Ephesians 4:11, where Paul writes, “he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds (KJV/NAS-pastors) and teachers.” The word “pastor” means “shepherd.”


In 1 Peter 5:1-2, Peter writes, “So I exhort the elders among you...shepherd (pastor) the flock of God that is among you...” Peter tells the “elders” to “shepherd.” That is the elders are the ones who “pastor” the flock of God.


In Acts 20, we find all three terms used interchangeably to refer to the same group of people. In verse 17, Paul calls together “the elders of the church.” Then, as he addresses these elders in verse 28 he says, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers…” Paul tells the elders to care for the “flock,” which indicates they are “pastors” (shepherds). And, he refers to the elders as “overseers.” So, we can conclude from several passages that elders, overseers and pastors are the same thing.


This is historically recognized in our denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. In the Abstract of Principles, which is the first doctrinal statement ever adopted by a Southern Baptist body, we read, “The regular officers of a Church are Bishops or Elders, and Deacons.” Likewise, in the first Baptist Faith and Message, written in 1925, we read of the church, “Its Scriptural officers are bishops, or elders, and deacons.” Bishop and Elder are used interchangeably.


The Elders are a Group of Men.

The New Testament pattern is a plurality of elders for each church. That means that there was not “one pastor per church,” but several in every local congregation. There was not “a pastor” and a group of “elders” to assist. But a team of men, who were equally elders, each with equal vote.


One of the areas that I covered in my philosophy of ministry presented to Northbrook was my understanding of the office of pastor/elder, especially in regard to how many a church should have. I covered this, because it is essential how I understand the church. I wrote:

The pastors/elders are regularly referred to in the plural (Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:5; 1 Timothy 4:14, 5:16; James 5:14; 1 Peter 5:1, 5). When it is possible (that is, when gifted and called men are available), I believe it is expedient to appoint a plurality of pastors/elders to keep watch over the church, as Paul instructed Titus (Titus 1:5). When such men are not available, I believe it is a pastor's duty to look for such men and to train them for such ministry (2 Timothy 2:1-2). Most of these men will not be paid staff but gifted and called members of the congregation who are essentially permanent in their membership….I know that baptist churches differ in their pastoral structure. I am willing to work within different set-ups, though I will guide the church toward what I feel is a biblical model.


Plurality - How many ought there to be in a local church?

When the word “elder” appears in the New Testament and is used in reference to the church office, it appears most often in the plural.


For example, in Philippians 1:1, Paul and Timothy write to “all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons.” In 1 Timothy 4:14, Paul refers to the “council of elders” that laid their hands on Timothy. And, in 1 Peter 5:1, Peter address “the elders among you.”


In our passage, Paul tells Titus to “appoint elders in every town.” That means Titus is to appoint more than one. One could argue that there were multiple churches in every town and that Titus was to appoint an elder in each church in each town, thus “elders in every town.” I think that is doubtful. However, this verse by itself cannot lead us to certainty whether a church should have one elder (a single pastor) or a plurality of elders (a group of elders governing that body).


Fortunately, the evidence from the rest of the New Testament, when carefully considered, gives us the understanding that it is the New Testament pattern for there to be a plurality of elders in every local congregation.


In Acts, elders are always mention in the plural (cf 11:30; 15:2, 4, 6, 22-23; 16:4; 21:18). Here are a few important examples:


In Acts 14:23, we read that as Paul and Barnabas visited the disciples in several cities, they “appointed elders for them in every church.” We do not read that they appointed elders in all the churches. Nor do we read that they appointed “an elder” in every church. But, they appointed “elders” (plural) in “every church” (singular). They appointed a plurality of elders in every congregation.


In the same vein, we read in Acts 20:17 that in Ephesus Paul “called the elders of the church to come to him.” Paul did not call “the elder” of every church. Nor did he call the elders “of the churches.” Rather, he called the “elders” (plural) of “the church” (singular). There was a body of elders in that church.


In James 5:14, James writes, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” Notice, James does not say to call for “the elder” of the church or for the elders of “the churches.” Rather, he refers to “the elders” (plural) of “the church” (singular).


Plurality & Baptist History

The idea of each congregation having a plurality of elders also has roots in baptist history. When the Southern Baptist Convention formed, they elected as their president Dr. William B. Johnson. In 1846, Dr. Johnson wrote a book on local church government [1] in which he concluded, “It is worthy of particular attention, that each church had a plurality of elders…” And, he wrote, “A plurality [of elders] is of great importance for mutual counsel and aid, that the government and edification of the flock may be promoted in the best manner.” Seeing that having a plurality of elders was the biblical model and the best model for caring for a flock, he encouraged churches to follow this pattern.


Benefits of plurality

Not only do I think that having a plurality of elders is the biblical model, I think it is the best for a congregation. While a group of sinners will always have problems, I think there are several benefits to a plurality over a single pastor model. That is also why I wrote in my philosophy of ministry:

From my experiences, both in pastoring alone and in observing a church with a plurality of elders, I feel an elder team holds many advantages, aside from following the pattern of Scripture. It provides accountability, support, counsel, and assistance in the exercise of pastoral duties. It also gives the church permanence in leadership and continuance in ministry that is not upset if the “staff pastor” should be called away. I know my gifts and weaknesses and therefore know that I will minister best as part of a team.

As another author points out, a plurality of elders: rounds out gifts, makes up for deficits, supplements judgment, creates support, prevents unjust criticism, makes leadership more rooted and permanent, ensures continuity, removes tyranny, reminds the congregation to take responsibility for the spiritual growth of its own members. [2]


At this point, we might ask: What Kind of Men are We Looking for to be Elders?

The Elders Are…Called By God.

The Holy Spirit makes men overseers. When we look for elders, we look for men whom God has called to be elders. We can train people ourselves, but we cannot make an elder. In Acts 20:28, Paul says, “the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.” So, what will these men look like?


The Elders Are a Group of Men Conformed to the Gospel

In this passage in Titus 1:5-9, as well as 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Paul outlines a loose list of qualifications for elders. Since Matt Sees preached through 1 Timothy before I arrived, I will not take you line by line through the requirements, but I will note that the qualifications for a pastor break down into two basic categories.


Elders are not required to be perfect or to be Supermen. Don Carson points out that these lists are notable only for not being very notable. He means that every quality listed is expected of every believer (except being able to teach and not being a new believer). The standard is not “higher” for elders, so much as this means that elders should live lives that model what every believer should be. Elders must be known for living out what it means to be a Christian.


…in Sound Living

An elder must live a life of godliness, evident even to the surrounding culture. In Titus and 1 Timothy, Paul says that elder must be “above reproach.” He should be “a man of one woman;” that is, his relationships with women should be “above reproach.” An elder should be “sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable” and a man who does not get drunk, get violent, get into quarrels, or love money. He should be a good manager of his household, since he is responsible for overseeing the household of God.


…and Sound Doctrine.

In addition to his living, an elder must have a firm grasp on the essentials of Christian doctrine and be able to communicate them in order to instruct, defend and correct.


In 1 Timothy 3, we are told an overseer must be “able to teach.” Here in Titus 1:9, we are told an elder must “hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” Elders must be biblically grounded in essential Christian doctrines and the distinctives of their church. This means an elder should be able to explain from Scripture what the Bible teaches on central issues. He must be able to rebuke and correct those who contradict it.


This does not mean they all must be able to preach publicly. There are many ways in which the word is taught—from the pulpit and sitting in a member’s home. However, a man who is not comfortable teaching and defending from Scripture the faith once for all delivered should not be appointed an elder.


We do not follow the world’s standards in selecting our leaders.

We are not Israel looking to have a king “like the nations do.” We are like God, looking not on outward appearances, but on the heart.


Therefore elders are not simply successful businessmen, older men, long-time, involved members or nice guys.

Rather, elders must:

§ Embrace and be skilled in teaching/defending the central aspects of the Christian Faith and the Doctrinal Distinctives of the Congregation.

§ Live out the Christian faith in all areas of life.

§ And, as we shall see, Love the congregation. At a minimum, this means that they attend the stated meetings of the church, they disciple younger believers, and they serve selflessly.


The Elders are…Set Apart By the Congregation.

We should note that have a plurality of elders is not a negation of congregationalism. The congregation remains the final court of appeals in the matters we mentioned. Therefore, my preaching that a plurality of elders is the biblical model does not mean that we will have one. That decision is left up to you. I will present (at a later date) some suggestions for how to implement this. But until the congregation says that we will do this, we won’t make this change.


However, there is a tension that must be recognized. The New Testament speaks of elders as leaders with spiritual authority over the congregation. We read that they are to “rebuke, admonish, rule, and exhort.”


However, while congregationalism stands, the church has certain responsibilities in how they respond to their pastors. The church must:

…disobey them when they contradict the Gospel. In Galatians 1, the congregation is held responsible for not rejecting false teachers. Pastors are never to be followed blindly.
…recognize their elders as gifts from God. In Ephesians 4:11, we are told that Christ “gave” the church pastor-teachers. They are gifts from God to equip and build up the church and should be received as such. If we ever find ourselves believing that our pastors are not gifts from Christ, we should remove them or remove ourselves.
(We should also be encouraged by this too. If ever we find ourselves without qualified men, we should ask Christ to give us some. HE gives pastors to the church! Therefore, we can and should ask for them.)

…give them heartfelt trust as their leaders and teachers.
Christians should honor, respect and highly esteem their pastors. In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, Paul writes, “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work.”

Likewise, when their leadership is biblical, Christians are told to submit to their leaders. Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.”


Likewise, the elders must recognize that the church belongs to God, not to them. In Acts 20:28, Paul tells the Ephesian elders to “care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”


This means that the pastor must treat the church like a bride—not his bride, but the bride of Christ of whom he has been made a steward and is accountable for. We have all seen situations in which pastors have used churches as vehicles of self-promotion and stepping-stones in a career plan. This is unacceptable and abhorrent.


This also means that the elders are not free to do whatever they want with the church. The church belongs to God, and therefore God has the final say. Therefore, a pastor must lead as God has led. He cannot say more than what God has said. And, he cannot say less than what God has instructed him to say in the Bible.


The Elders…Oversee and Pastor the Local Church by Teaching, Ruling, Caring for and Equipping the Saints.

The function of the elders is to oversee and pastor the church (1 Timothy 3:1; Acts 20:28; Eph 4:11; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-4). Acts 20:28 says they are to “care for the church.” This means that they give spiritual oversight to the congregation and its members and teach them God’s Word.


Ephesians 4:11-12 says that they are given “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.”


1 Timothy 5:17 speaks of the elders “ruling.” This word “rule” refers to a “soft” kind of ruling, not that of a monarch or dictator. It refers to someone who directs or leads.


Teaching is the primary means through which all the duties are carried out. Their oversight and ruling are not done through unilateral commands, but through authoritatively “declaring, exhorting, rebuking, teaching, admonishing, correcting and preaching” from the word of God (1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:9; 2:5; 1 Thess 5:12-13; 2 Tim 2:24-25; 4:1-2).


Elders Oversee and Shepherd…As Loving and Humble Examples of Jesus Christ.

In all of these things, elders must serve as examples of Christ, who is the chief Shepherd.

1 Peter 5:1-4 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Jesus Christ lovingly and humbly served as a shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep. He died on a cross for their sins, in their place before being raised from the dead in glory. So elders, while they do not die for the sins of their people, patiently, lovingly and humbly must be willing to bear the burdens of the congregation. They must lay down their lives for the church in this world, so that they can receive an unfading crown of glory in the next.


If you are an unbeliever, do not put your hope in a pastor. He is only an example—and an imperfect one at that. He cannot save you. Put your hope in the chief Shepherd, who is also the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.


If you are a pastor or believe that God has called you to be one, look to Christ first and foremost as the example of how to love His sheep.


If you are a church member—let us begin to consider how we might go about instituting a plurality of elders in our congregation. I will propose more at a later time, with opportunity for discussion. But, for now, let us begin with earnest prayer that Christ would bring and call and prepare elders to give to Northbrook for our upbuilding and His glory.


http://northbrookbc.org/sermons/manuscripts/070304am.html

Pastoral System of Idolatry

One Man Pastors, Just Say NO!

If anyone ever tells you that they have a "New Testament" church, ask them a simple question: "Who's the pastor?" If you get a title and a name in response (for example, The Right Reverend Holy Father John Doe), you may respond with sublime confidence: "Oh, no you don't have a New Testament church!"
We've got a surprise for you, folks. In the New Testament and in the early church up till about 150 A.D, THERE WAS NO SUCH THING AS "THE PASTOR!" We highlight this bold assertion, because there is nothing in radical house church Christianity that offends the unscriptural American church order so much as attacks upon the holy, sacred, and venerable institution known as "The Pastor." But we want to hammer this truth home despite the difficulty that many will have with it. So, here it is again: in the New Testament and in the early church up till about 150 A.D., THERE WAS NO SUCH THING AS "THE PASTOR!"

Ironically, radical house church plural-elders government is probably the one thing in our movement with which the status-quo church order has the most difficulty. Yet, the principal of plural-elders, no-one-man-pastor church government is the easiest thing in the world to show scripturally. We will do so in this issue. When we are finished, you will see that the case for plurality of elders is ironclad, ineluctable, and beyond cavil.

We will start with scriptural proof of plural-elders church government. We will then look briefly at the early church before about 150 A.D. We will finally look at the testimony of several scholars, all of whom are within the American church system, but who all agree that in the New testament and in the early church up till about 150 A.D., THERE WAS NO SUCH THING AS "THE PASTOR!"


There ain't no such thing as "THE Pastor." There just ain't!!!

In studying the Scriptures concerning pastors, it is necessary to note first off that pastors are called by three different words in the New Testament: pastor (Greek: poimen), elder (Greek: presbuteros), and overseer (KJV: bishop, Greek: episkopos). All three words refer to the same office. A pastor is an elder. A pastor is an overseer. An elder is a pastor. An elder is an overseer. An overseer is a pastor. An overseer is an elder.

The above can be established by showing two fundamental identities in Scripture: first, ""elder" = "overseer;"second, "elder" = "pastor." Once these two identities are established, it is thus proven that "overseer" = "pastor," on the principle that two things that are equal to a third thing must logically and of necessity be equal to each other.

First, to prove that "elder"= "overseer." Paul instructs Titus to "appoint elders in every city" (Titus 1:5), and then tells Titus that the overseer must be above reproach" (Titus 1:7), thus proving that elder" = "overseer." (Cf. I Tim 3:2 with I Tim 5:17. Also, see I Pet 5:1,2; where Peter equates "elders" in v. 1 with "oversight" in v.2. In addition, see Philippians 1:1, where Paul addresses the "overseers" and "deacons," instead of "elders" and deacons. Paul obviously was referring to the elders of the church in Phil 1:1, and yet called them overseers." Also note that the eminent scholar Lightfoot states that "in every one of the extant commentaries..., whether Greek or Latin, this identity [of "overseer" and "elder" ] is affirmed."

Second, to prove that "elder" = "pastor."Note that in v. 2 "pastor" is often translated "shepherd." The Greek word so translated is "poimen," which means "to feed, to shepherd, to pastor."

Now, since we have proven that "elder" ="overseer," and "elder" = "pastor," it logically and necessarily follows that "overseer" = "pastor." Think about it: two things ("overseer" and "pastor" ) which are equal to a third thing ("elder" ) are necessarily equal to each other (i.e., "overseer" = "pastor"). This means that if you ever hear anyone say "I am an elder, but I'm not a pastor," you are justified in asking him to break out his Bible and please explain to you how such an erroneous statement could ever be justified scripturally.

Now that we have established the fundamental identity of "pastors," "overseers," and "elders," we ask the next essential question: how many of such men governed a local church? Here is where the fun begins. If you can show scripturally that the first church was governed by "pastors," (plural), or "overseers," (plural), or "elders," (plural), you have completely demolished the sacred cow of American institutional Christianity: the "one-man pastorate." We will now proceed to do just that. If you have any ecclesiastical or financial ties to the one-man pastorate, we suggest you stop right here, read the Surgeon General's warning, and put this copy of NRR down, because the arguments we are about to give are utterly unanswerable.


ONE BILLION DOLLAR REWARD!!!
For Scriptural evidence of:
one-pastor churches
Arguments Against a One-Man Pastorate
1. "Nowhere in God's word to we find anyone referred to by name as a pastor." (Watchman Nee)

2. Not one New Testament letter is addressed to "The Pastor." If you wrote a letter to a local church today, to whom would you address it. "Pastor So-and-so," of course. Wonder why they didn't do that in the New Testament? (Cf. Phil 1:1)

3. Look at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. Paul and Barnabas weren't received by "The Pastor," but rather, the "apostles and elders" there. Was "The Pastor" on a mission trip, or something? (cf. Acts 15: 2,4,6,22 to see how many times "elders" is mentioned, but not "The Pastor.") And quite interestingly, Paul went to the Jerusalem Council, but afterwards, reporting on it to the Galatians, Paul showed he didn't even know who "The Pastor" in Jerusalem was! In Galatians 2:9, he says that James, Cephas, and John were "reputed" to be elders. (Apparently, there were no titles for leaders, but we'll get to that in a later issue.

4. The apostles appointed "elders" (plural), not "The Pastor." (Acts 14:23, Titus 1:5)

5. The poor-relief collection was brought by Barnabus and Saul to the "elders" (plural) of the church in Jerusalem, not "The Pastor." (Acts 11:30)

6. It's the "elders" (plural) who are to be rewarded with double honor for ruling well, not "The Pastor." (I Tim 5:17)

7. It's the "elders" (plural) who are exhorted by Peter to shepherd the flock, not "The Pastor." (I Pet 5:1,2)

8. This last argument is the clincher. It is the paramount plural-pastors proof. There ain't nobody that can dodge this one. You just have to remember two verses: Acts 20:17, and Acts 20:28. Remembering that "elder" = "overseer" = "pastor," read those two verses. In v. 17, Paul invites the Ephesian "elders" (plural) to Miletus. In v. 28, he tells these same "elders" (plural) that they are "overseers" (plural), and that they are to "pastor" the church of God. Since a "pastor" is an "overseer" is an "elder," and since "elders" and "overseers" are plural, it follows that there were plural "pastors" in Ephesus doing the "pastoring" (i.e., shepherding) in v. 28.

If someone tells you that his church only has one pastor, look at him as if he is entirely off his nut, and then innocently ask: "But, brother, where is that in the Bible?"
The Scripture is clear. What about the testimony of church history before about 150 A.D.? It is just as clear. There was no such thing as a one-man pastorate. Below are quotations from famous early church fathers.

The Shephard of Hermas (middle second century)
"Read it to this city [Rome] along with the ELDERS that preside over the church."
First Epistle of Clement (c. 95-97 A.D.)
Clement was one of the early elders at Rome. Eerdman's Handbook to the History of Christianity states of his epistle that there "is no trace of a single ruling bishop; instead the leaders of the church are called either bishops and deacons or ELDERS (presbyters)." (p. 125).
Polycarp's letter to Philippi (115 A.D.)
This letter was addressed to ELDERS.
The Didache ("Teaching of the Apostles")
"Appoint for yourself OVERSEERS and deacons. (Didache 14:1 - 15:1)
Let's beat the dead horse with the testimony of respectable scholars. These are mainstream people, they are not weirdos who meet for church in living rooms on Sunday mornings. (The emphases are mine.)

Philip Hughes
Philip Hughes (a Roman Catholic, for crying out loud!), A Popular History of the Christian Church, p. 14, footnote 3: "before that date [the end of the first century] it is likely that the churches were ruled by colleges of BISHOPS."
Unger's Bible Dictionary, "Elders," p. 296:
"Consequently we meet it [the presbytery] everywhere in the plural, and as a corporation at Jerusalem."
Robert L. Saucy, The Church in God's Program, a Moody Press publication), p. 148
"The evidence of the New Testament points to a plurality of ELDERS in a church. Each time the term appears it is plural."
If the evidence in this issue has not convinced you of the proper form of New Testament church government, than nothing will. However, it is entirely likely that many will ask: if plurality of elders is so obviously scriptural, why isn't everyone doing it? That's a good question. We'll take a look at that next issue. Meanwhile, if someone tells you that his church only has one pastor, look at him as if he is entirely off his nut, and then innocently ask: "But, brother, where is that in the Bible?


http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/8395/pastor.html

More on "pastors"

Objections to the Multiple Pastor Model

by Mark M. Mattison

The evidence is clear and unambiguous - the New Testament Scriptures nowhere support the idea of the one-man pastorate. Nor do they support the artificial distinctions we've created between elders and pastors. In spite of these facts, however, Christians everywhere - including Protestants who profess sola scriptura (Scripture alone) and the Priesthood of All Believers - try to justify the clerical system they have inherited. On the one hand this is understandable, since dismantling the clergy entails radical changes in the life of the church (very positive changes, we would argue). Furthermore, even pastors and church leaders who want to conform their ministries to Scripture manage often to do little more than adapt Scriptural language to contemporary practices.

For example, many believe that although pastors are elders, elders are not necessarily pastors. It is as if there are two classes of elder: "lay elder" and "lead elder." The "lay elders" are ultimately subordinate to the "head elder" or "chairman of the board of elders," the "pastor." Unlike the "elders," who provide some spiritual leadership, the "pastor" is the ordained, professional "minister" of the church; he's still the one whose name appears in the bulletin, whose ministry is celebrated on "Past or Appreciation Day," who's addressed as "the pastor."

Yet this semantic compromise does not go far enough. If any distinction between "elder" and "pastor" is preserved, the equality of the leaders will brought into question. The common bond of presbyterial (elder) leadership will quickly be lost in the shuffle the moment the pastor is singled out as somehow the leader of the leaders. We must recognize not only that "pastors" are "elders," but also that "elders" are equally "pastors." Both Paul (Acts 20:17,28) and Peter (1 Pet. 5:1,2) instructed the church's elders to pastor or shepherd the flock. Notice in this last Scripture that Peter did not write to the pastors and their "chief pastor," for the "chief pastor" is Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 5:4). There is no Scriptural sanction for a hierarchical distinction among the elders.



Timothy and Titus

It is frequently objected that Timothy and Titus prove the exception. In many ways these men, and particularly Timothy, inspire and comfort young seminary graduates who otherwise would have to struggle with their obvious lack of spiritual qualifications. This is not in any way to denigrate these dedicated young people who are bright, intelligent, motivated, and probably better educated than the previous generation of pastors and seminary grads, probably better educated than me. It is to say, however, that no amount of dedication, education, and "fire for the Lord" can make up for the accumulated wisdom which comes from years, even decades of hands-on church work. But how can someone gain this practiced wisdom without being a pastor/elder in the first place? Must not young seminarians enter the pastorate and "earn their laurels"? The answer is that aspiring pastors (elders), regardless of the amount of education they have received (or whether they have received a seminary education at all), need to be discipled by experienced pastors (elders) for a considerable length of time - certainly much longer than the typical year or two of "internship" so common in the denominations.

Nevertheless, Timothy and Titus are cited as the exception to this rule. A cursory reading of the letters written to them may seem to reinforce traditional pastoral practices. 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus are even popularly known as "the pastoral epistles." Paul addresses Timothy as a "minister" (1 Tim. 4:6) who is not to let himself be looked down upon because of his youth (4:12). Furthermore Paul gives Timothy extensive instructions about church teaching, practices, and the qualifications that elders and "deacons" should have. He writes similarly to Titus that he should appoint elders in Crete (Tit. 1:5), and tells him what qualifications he should seek in potential elders (vv. 6-9).

From this it has been gathered that Timothy and Titus were the ancient counterparts to our modern seminarians; young men (likely in their twenties) who were installed in congregations to single-handedly oversee the affairs of the church, delegating their authority by appointing and supervising elders underneath them.

But this reading cannot be sustained. First, we do not know how young Timothy really was. That is a relative judgement. We call Bill Clinton a "young president," but he certainly is not in his twenties. Timothy could have been forty - perhaps young in comparison to other church leaders. After all, the first generation of church leaders in Jerusalem would have been well into their sixties or seventies at that time. Perhaps most church leaders in Timothy's time were in their fifties at least. We simply do not know; given this sliding scale of possibilities, this one verse can hardly be used to overthrow the overwhelming evidence from the rest of the New Testament that church leaders are to be mature and experienced Christians.

Second, neither Timothy nor Titus were pastors. Paul encouraged Timothy to "do the work of an evangelist" (2 Tim. 4:5, NIV). Timothy and Titus were evangelists, "apostles" in a secondary sense, who travelled with Paul and others to organize and strengthen churches. A cursory reading of the New Testament will demonstrate that these two men were not permanently stationed in Ephesus and Crete respectively; they were all over the Roman world.Reference1 After Timothy was finished in Ephesus, he was to leave and join Paul in Rome (2 Tim. 4:9-13). Similarly, Titus was to join Paul at Nicopolis (Tit. 3:12). Paul had left him behind in Crete to "straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town" (1:5). Titus was not the pastor of a church; he was an evangelist who was helping to organize several churches on the island.

This practice of appointing elders after churches had been organized was the standard in Paul's missionary journeys. In Acts we read that after Paul and his companions had evangelized Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra (13:13-14:20), they returned to those cities (14:21), encouraged and strengthened the churches (14:22), and appointed elders (14:23). If we compare this pattern to the instructions written to Timothy and Titus, Paul's method becomes apparent. Before elders were appointed they needed to be observed and tested (Tit. 1:6ff). When churches were formed and the Holy Spirit was given (1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4:11,12), it would eventually become apparent who had been gifted in terms of leadership. If that gift were corroborated by the observable qualifications of maturity and steadfastness, those leaders would be officially recognized ("appointed") by the churches and/or apostles as elders. This two-fold qualification (Spirit gifting and seasoned wisdom) is similar to that described in Acts 6:3, where the Apostles instructed the Jerusalem Hellenist Christians to "choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the spirit and wisdom" (NIV).

All of this is critically important, because it establishes a consistent pattern of church leadership. Pastors (elders) in the early church weren't shipped off to Jerusalem or some other place to receive their academic training as youths, then exported to some congregation they had never seen before. If a young person insists on going to a seminary, then let him return to his own church after graduating. Let him return to the authority of his local church body where he may continue to study and practice ministry under the auspices of the congregation and its leaders. The people of the congregation, who know the elder-to-be, will be much better suited to gauge his developing maturity and qualifications than any denominational ordination or licensing board. The practice of shipping young people away from their home congregations (where their authority may be undermined by recent memories of youthful escapades) is as unscriptural as "ordaining" these elders at age 20 while "lay" elders are "elected" at age 50.



Pragmatic Objections

If the Scriptures themselves will not support the traditional pastoral practice, however, there are far more compelling ways to defend it. The irony is that these objections, which are by far among the most popular, are usually invoked by those who profess sola scriptura (Scripture alone).

One such argument is that someone must be "in the office" (assuming the church owns a building) or "on call" forty hours a week, ready to respond to pastoral emergencies. If the elders/pastors are working during the day, are they not inaccessibl e?

The best solution to this problem is to train self-employed and retired men and women of the church to respond to emergencies in the body. In an ideal setting, some of these retirees should be leaders of the church anyway (elders). They should be the ones on-call if other elders of the church are busy at work and if the crisis cannot wait another few hours. Furthermore, many emergencies can (and perhaps should) be just as well attended by members other than official leaders. Visitation, comfort, and counsel is well within the potential grasp of most church members.

Involving other church members in such ministerial functions is the most effective way to break down that clergy/laity distinction. "The most pernicious influence of that distinction," writes R. Paul Stevens, is:

Secularization by copying the world's leadership patterns. In the Greco-Roman world the municipal administration had two parts: the kleros (clergy, the magistrate and the laos (layperson), the ignorant and uneducated citizen. The same defamatory distinction prevails today when people argue for secular management structures in church organization and when, in response to an appeal for the full liberation of the laity, one hears the jibe, "Would you go for medical help to an untrained doctor? Why would you trust your soul to a nonprofessional?"Reference2

Responding to this argument that churches must be led by professionals, Vernard Eller writes that the early churches:

Were "do it yourself" organizations, sometimes in extremis. Paul, apparently, would convert a few people, start a congregation, and then move on. At times he would leave or send one of his helpers to give some leadership, and sometimes the new Christians were entirely on their own. In any case, it is plain that the people did their own "doing" rather than hiring experts to do it for them.Reference3

Perhaps the most compelling objection to the Scriptural ministry model is that the New Testament way of doing things is no longer relevant. This argument was put to me often when I was searching for a house church to join. I was told that it simply wasn't possible anymore. We no longer live in the first century; we don't wear togas, carry oil lamps, and practice foot-washing. We have buildings and institutions; they didn't. These things require different organizational structures.

But even if we choose to argue for ministry models on practical and utilitarian grounds instead of Scriptural grounds, it seems to us that the New Testament model is still superior to the traditional model. What better way to circumvent pastor burnout and congregational apathy than to distribute the work of ministry?



The Right Thing to Do

We are not saying that institutional churches today aren't doing anything right, nor are we saying that God has not done great things through many godly pastors and churches through the years. We know for a fact that He has blessed many ministries and churches under a variety of circumstances, and we praise Him for that. We are saying only that the pastoral model most often emulated tends to hinder ministry efforts rather than help them.

Perhaps an analogy may be in order. The invention of the heavy plough revolutionized agriculture in Western civilization. Might the implementation of a biblical ministry model do the same for our churches? If God has given us great harvests through our use of the rudimentary plough, what might he grant our ministries when we start using the grand plough which He has designed for our use? And at the other end of the orchard where some pastors are about to drop from fatigue for trying to till the seemingly impenetrable soil, what could be more germane? We have no desire to add to the pressure and grief of the church's already strapped leaders by criticizing their ministries or their intentions. Our intent rather is to prevent problems like pastor burnout and congregational apathy. Putting Christian ministry back into the hands of the entire priesthood - the members of the local church - is in the final analysis the only solution to the vexing problem.



Notes

1Cf. Acts 16:1-4; 17:14,15; 18:5; 19:22; 20:4; Rom. 16:21; 1 Cor. 4:17; 16:10; 2 Cor. 1:1; 2:13; 7:5-7,13,14; 8:6,16,17,23; 12:18; Gal. 1:2,3; Phil. 1:1; 2:29-23; Col. 1:1; 1 Thess. 1:1; 3:2,6; 2 Thess. 1:1; 2 Tim. 4:10; Philem. 1:1; Heb. 13:23.

2R. Paul Stevens, Liberating the Laity: Equipping All the Saints for Ministry (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press), 1985, p. 21.

3Vernard Eller, The Outward Bound: Caravaning as the Style of the Church (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), 1980, p. 25.

http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/openhse/objections.html

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Smell of Death

<< 2 Corinthians 2 >>
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life

The more you are full of the Spirit of God, the more you will be "an aroma from death to death" to those who are perishing. Your very presence will somehow get under their skin, you will annoy them without saying a word. Why? Their spirit senses the Spirit of Life in you which is always convicting their unrepentant hearts. Not a pleasant "aroma" to be sure. The next time you are wondering why someone does'nt like you, why you seem to rub them the wrong way for no explainable reason. Realize the reality of the spirit world, and how it is always working.

Grace and Peace

The Churches of Revelation



I've noticed that many christians on the web criticize the laodicean church we see everywhere. They rightly do this since Christ himself said He would spit the Laodiceans out of His mouth if they did not repent. What these christians don't do is take a hard look in the mirror. They are quick to condemn the Laodicean church, all the while, they are eyeball deep in the error of the church at Pergamum. There are maybe 2 or 3 churches I've seen in my LIFETIME that did not practice both the sin of the nicolaitins (clergy-laity system) AND the error of Balaam (worldly involvement-fornication with the world). Which is worse? The sins of the nicolaitins or the sins of the church at pergamum? The Lord says He will spit the lukewarm out His mouth, but He says that He will "make war against them (pergamum) with the sword of His mouth" Sorry man, that "war against them" does NOT sound like something I would want to experience.

Instead of reclining in their chairs of self righteousness, these pergamese christians should see the sword that's poised right above their own heads. The Lord says that He HATES the teaching and works of the nicolaitans. HE hates them, but men LOVE them.

The Bible warns us over and over again to be "sober and vigilant." The Holy Spirit is not talking about beer here, He's talking about walking circumspectly, examining ourselves, taking a hard look at our own life. Deceiving others is bad, deceiving yourself is devastating.

grace and peace

Only a Few Will Be Saved



Matt 7:13 does a great job of giving us the correct perspective.

13"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

But that's not the only place we find this theme.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. (1 Corinthians 9:24).

All run but only one receives the prize. In the olympics, they give out 3 medals for the top 3 competitors, everyone else goes home empty handed. It's just another illustration of how most people walk away with nothing. In the case of the kingdom of Heaven it's much worse than nothing, they walk away to eternal torment.

We should keep the narrow path, and the few who will make it on our minds at all times. Perspective is so powerful, which is why today's babylonian form of christianity says nothing about it (the narrow path). This is sobering stuff. It's not about is being in "fear" per se, although the "fear of the Lord" is a powerful motivator, it's about seeing the truth for what it is. It's about dismissing the empty images and empty form that the world presents us and embracing the substance we find in Christ. A man must REALLY love the truth to be saved. In a distance race, it requires perseverance, determination and a deep want to succeed. When during the race, you begin to get tired, the "why" you are doing it must be greater than the "why" you should quit.
<< Romans 11 >>
22 Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.

Hebrews 10:31 says, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

Some people say "Man, that's so negative!" Yep, it's the polar opposite of preachers like Joel Osteen and the TBN crew. I once read a book by Donald Trump, I don't remember which one, but in that book he said something to the effect of: I keep my eyes on the downside of situations, that's where most of my attention goes because the upside of a deal takes care of itself. I could'nt agree more.

Grace and Peace

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Eyes on the Apocalypse


I am convinced that it won't be long before the world as we know it is turned upside down. I believe that those who are truly "in Christ" will be spared. Luke 21:36, Rev 3:10 are bedrock that cannot be explained away in my opinion. In any case, there should be no fear as we see the tidal wave of calamity that is about to wash over the world, We must count on the power of Christ to protect and guide us every day that our eyes open to this world. Even if I'm wrong about the pre-trib rapture, so what? We are to live each day as if it will be our last, we live on daily bread. Here's another tidbit from the news that shows how very very close we are to being face to face with our Creator.

Grace and Peace



Dick Cheney & Vigilant Shield: Will a Missing Nuke from the B-52 Incident be used in a Simulated Terrorist Attack?

by Michael Salla, Ph.D. Page 1 of 1 page(s)

http://www.opednews.com


From October 15 to 19, 2007, a set of military and civil exercises will be held in Oregon, Arizona and Guam. The exercises, TOPOFF 4 and Vigilant Shield 08, are designed to test official responses to the detonation of radiological dispersal devices on U.S. territory. The exercises will be overseen by Vice President Dick Cheney who, according to unconfirmed reports, will travel to Portland to coordinate all Federal departments and agencies responses to the simulated attacks. This has led to a number of civilian groups expressing alarm that TOPOFF and Vigilant Shield might be used as a cover for False Flag operations that replicate what occurred during the 911 attacks . On September 11, 2001, Dick Cheney was overseeing a series of simulated terrorist attacks involving hijacked airplanes hitting buildings that was called “Vigilant Guardian”. Vigilant Guardian was run simultaneously with NORAD training exercises called Vigilant Warrior and Northern Vigilance that altogether involved as many as eleven hijacked airplanes. This created much confusion and led to stand down orders for the US Air Force that was unsure if the 911 attacks were part of the simulated exercises or real attacks. This confusion accounted for the long delays between initial reports of hijacked planes being used in ‘terrorist’ attacks, and Air Force intercept missions being launched using the few planes not involved in the Northern Vigilance exercise.

What makes TOPOFF 4 and Vigilant Shield especially concerning is that they follow upon an incident involving five (later revised up to six) nuclear cruise missiles found on a B-52 sitting on a tarmac at Barksdale Air Force Base on August 30. The Air Force has launched an official inquiry and so far has announced to the public that the B-52 incident was nothing more than an unusually high number of errors. A Washington Post article on September 23 summarized the main arguments for this explanation which has effectively put to an end any further investigations by mainstream media sources. In contrast, a number of researchers have argued that the B-52 incident could not have occurred without very senior officials giving orders, and others refusing to comply with such orders. According to Wayne Madsen a number of Air Force personnel refused to allow the nuclear armed B-52 to fly in a covert mission to Iran outside the normal chain of military command. Madsen describes the nature of the internal conflict over the B-52 incident: “Command and control breakdowns involving U.S. nuclear weapons are unprecedented, except for that fact that the U.S. military is now waging an internal war against neo-cons who are embedded in the U.S. government and military chain of command who are intent on using nuclear weapons in a pre-emptive war with Iran.”

Madsen is alluding here to the most plausible explanation for the source of orders leading to the B-52 incident. The orders emanated from the office of the Vice President, and in particular Dick Cheney himself. Cheney’s orders were opposed all the way up the Department of Defense hierarchy including Admiral William Fallon, Commander of Central Command, and Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. This is supported by a recent report in the Telegraph newspaper that Gates has become the chief opponent to Dick Cheney’s plans to commit the U.S. to another war against Iran and is encouraging military officers to be more candid in their assessments of a new conflict.

What makes the B-52 incident even more disturbing is that six nuclear cruise missiles left Minot Air Force Base, and the initial Military Times report on September 5 reported that five nuclear warheads were discovered at Barksdale Air Force Base. This was subsequently revised by the Military Times to six in an updated story five days later on September 10. How could the Air Force mix up how many nuclear weapons were initially involved in the incident? The most plausible explanation is that there had been a discrepancy in the number of nuclear weapons that had left Minot and what had been later discovered at Barksdale? The nuclear armed B-52 had been sitting on the tarmac in an unsecured military environment for up to 10 hours before its nuclear payload was discovered. This offered plenty of time for the removal of one of the nuclear weapons. Such an event had to be covered up for national security purposes which is why the Military Times revised its initial report. The possibility of a missing nuclear weapon is augmented by an unprecedented official standown by the Air Force on September 14 where all planes were grounded allegedly to review Standard Operating Procedures. Was the Air Force really conducting an emergency inventory to locate any missing nuclear weapons?

This raises the disturbing possibility that not only was the B-52 ordered to participate in a covert mission to attack Iran outside the regular chain of military command, but that one of its nuclear weapons was secretly siphoned off for another covert mission. If Dick Cheney did give the order for the nuclear weapons to be loaded on to the B-52, it is highly likely that he is aware of the location and potential use of the missing nuclear missile. A number of serious questions therefore need to be asked about the appropriateness of Cheney being in charge of TOPOFF 4 and Vigilant Shield. This is even more urgent if there is a missing nuclear warhead that was taken from the B-52 for a yet undisclosed mission. Could this mission be related to the TOPOFF and Vigilant Shield exercises?

In a Presidential Statement released on May 21, 2001, President Bush gave Vice President Cheney the power to coordinate national efforts in response to terrorist attacks: “I have asked Vice President Cheney to oversee the development of a coordinated national effort so that we may do the very best possible job of protecting our people from catastrophic harm.” An “Office of National Preparedness” was created to implement the “national effort overseen by Vice President Cheney” and would “coordinate all Federal programs dealing with weapons of mass destruction consequence management within the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Justice, and Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal agencies.” Effectively, this means that during TOPOFF 4 and Vigilant Shield, VP Cheney will be responsible for all efforts to respond to weapons of mass destruction. He will have the power of override any Department of Defense objections to activities concerning “consequence management” of nuclear weapons. If there was a missing nuclear weapon from the B-52 incident, then TOPOFF and Vigilant Shield could provide the cover for its use.

The possible use of the B-52 missing nuclear weapon could trigger the martial law scenario found in National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 51 after the declaration of a “Catastrophic Emergency.” NSPD 51 defines a “Catastrophic Emergency” as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions.” Once declaring such an emergency, President Bush or his successors according to Continuity of Government provisions, can take over all governmental functions at local, state and national levels, as well as private sector activities, to ensure the U.S. emerges from the emergency with an "enduring constitutional government."

So far, the Air Force inquiry is classified and information on a possible missing nuclear weapon has not been disclosed. It is unlikely that much information will be disclosed to the public for national security reasons. The only U.S. Congressman calling for an official public inquiry into the B-52 incident is Dennis Kucinich. As long as the role of Dick Cheney in the B-52 incident is not investigated and the missing nuclear weapon is not located, Cheney should be removed from any position of authority in coordinating civil and military responses to any simulated terrorist attack. Such exercises provide him the opportunity and authority to secretly approve the covert use of a nuclear device that can be used to trigger a declaration of a “Catastrophic Emergency.” U.S. National Security is not served by Dick Cheney having a prominent role in leading TOPOFF 4, Vigilant Shield and any future simulated terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass destruction.

www.exopolitics.org