QUALIFICATION OF ELDERS

Question:   Do the qualifications of elders subsist only during pre-appointment period and can be done away after ordination?

Answer:  Some believe that the qualifications for the office of bishop as enumerated in Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3 are for evaluating only the candidates or aspirants. This position says that after the ordination ceremony if the wife of a sitting elder dies, he could continue on being an elder. Likewise, after the ordination ceremony if the children of a sitting elder become unfaithful, he could continue on being an elder. Following the same line of reasoning it becomes clear that after the ordination ceremony the following situation would be allowed with elders based on Titus 1:5-9: full of blame allowed, no wife allowed, unfaithful children allowed, children accused of dissipation or insurbordination allowed, self-willed allowed, quick-tempered allowed,  a drunkard elder allowed, violent elder allowed, greedy of money allowed, inhospitable elder allowed, not lover of good, not sober-minded, unjust, unholy, uncontrolled self, not holding fast the faith, unable to exhort.

The above position is not based on good reasoning. It would bring ill-repute to the congregation. It would corrupt Christian morals.

Illustration:  If the above hermeneutics is allowed, this kind of reasoning would be carried into the secular world. For an example let’s take the case of the Presidency of the Republic. Our constitution says that a candidate should be a registered voter, at least 40 years old, natural born citizen of the Philippines. After the inaugural ceremony would it be allowed that the President stop voting in elections in the next six years? Would it be allowed if the President renounces his Philippine citizenship and becomes a citizen of another country and will still continue to sit as president in Malacanang? I believe that if these things happen, the president would immediately be impeached by Congress. If continuation of qualification is essential in the Presidency based on the constitution, the same line of reasoning should be applied in biblical hermeneutics.

When an incumbent President feels that he has failed the qualifications of the Presidency, it is a mark of statesmanship to voluntarily step down from the office. When an incumbent Elder feels that he has failed even just one of the qualifications of the bishopric, it is also a mark of true and matured Christianity that he voluntarily steps down from the office.

Conclusion: The better interpretation about these qualifications is for the elder to remain in the same situation as when he was evaluated as an aspirant. If he was honest while being evaluated, he should maintain his honesty. If he was just while being evaluated, he should remain a just man while in office. If he was perceived as a caring shepherd taking care of the sheep while being evaluated, he should remain as a good shepherd. He should not become a cruel shepherd. If he was perceived as kind and merciful while being evaluated, he should remain kind and merciful.

This same line of reasoning applies to the wife of the elder. During the evaluation period they should be perceived as reverent, not slanderers, temperate and faithful in all things. “Faithful in all things” should include being a baptized member of the church, faithful attendance in church services, belief in the doctrines taught by the elders. Elders’ wives should remain as such throughout the incumbency of the husbands. Not only during incumbency of husband. For self-preservation, all Christians must possess these qualities in 1Tim 3:11.

Questions and comments are welcome. ## (E.Tanicala, 1-3-11)

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