The latest TGC Asks is on whether an unbelieving child disqualifies a man from being an elder. I did my best to answer the question from the biblical texts. It’s important that we say nothing less than the texts say—but also that we not go beyond what Scripture requires or prohibits.
Here’s how my answer begins:
There can be few things in life more painful than an unbelieving child. And when the child is the son or daughter of an elder, the questions take on a public dimension in the life of the church. Doesn’t the apostle Paul say something about elders needing to have children who are believers?
The verses under consideration are 1 Timothy 3:4-5 and Titus 1:6. We’ll look at them in more detail below, but at this point it’s helpful to look at the two different conclusions that faithful interpreters have reached.
Douglas Wilson holds to the first option: “[I]f a man’s children fall away from the faith (either doctrinally or morally), he is at that point disqualified from formal ministry in the church.”
Alexander Strauch holds to the second view: “The contrast is made not between believing and unbelieving children, but between obedient, respectful children and lawless, uncontrolled children.” In other words, Paul is talking about “the children’s behavior, not their eternal state.”
Which one is right? To answer that, we have to take a careful look at the key texts.
You can read the whole thing here.