Arguments Against View 1
To disagree with men of high caliber is difficult, especially, if they are notable evangelical men who have done so much to the evangelical world. However, everyone admits that no one is infallible. Such is the case with men who are the proponents to View 1 – men like MacArthur, Hiebert, and others. Interestingly both MacArthur and Hiebert emphasize in their commentaries the ability of fathers to lead their children to salvation. For instance, MacArthur in his commentary to Titus writes:
If he (i.e. elders) cannot bring his own children to salvation and to godly living, he will not have the confidence of the church in his ability to lead other unbelievers to salvation or to lead his congregation in godly living. Unbelieving, rebellious, or profligate children will be a serious reproach on his life and ministry (italicized mine).
Hiebert likewise notes in his commentary to Titus, “If they (i.e. children) remained pagans, it would thrown into question the father’s ability to lead others to the faith” (italicized mine). Where in Scripture does it teach that one has the “ability” (father or not) to lead others to salvation except God himself? Although no one dares to question the orthodoxy of MacArthur and Hiebert, it is puzzling nonetheless to read such unorthodox comments.
How is their position square with what Paul later said in Titus 3? Specifically, in verse 5, which the apostle said, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” On this regard both MacArthur and Hiebert attribute salvation to God’s sovereign grace. Hence, it is inconsistent to read of the father’s ability to lead others to salvation and the sovereign grace of God in the same commentaries.
Most scholars would agree that having physical children (singular or plural) is not a requirement for elders. For instance, according to Mounce, “This is not a requirement that an overseer have children.” But if one is blessed with children (singular or plural) do children have to be Christians? Is that the meaning of te,kna e;cwn pista,(tekna eckon pista) in Titus 1:6? One would only hope and pray. But the reality is, ultimately, salvation is of the Lord.
I have personally known many families where both parents love the Lord and have tried their best to raise their children in Scripture, yet have their children turn out to be pagans. Their best Christian efforts could not guarantee their children’s salvation. On the other hand, I also have witnessed many families where both parents are godless in many ways, yet have their children turn out to be many theophilus (lover of God). In other words, best Christian parenting does not guarantee their children’s salvation, nor godless parenting keeps children from salvation. All that to say, salvation is God’s sovereign gift, not result of our works (Eph. 2:8-9).
If parents have something to do with their children’s salvation, they have much to boast. But such boasting and notion of salvation are direct antithesis to the true nature of God’s sovereign grace. The whole point of Christian gospel is that salvation is God’s sovereign gift, which is the consistent theme throughout the whole Bible.
- ·NAU 1 Corinthians 1:30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”