We distribute a book as a Seminary that I helped to write and edit many years ago. It is entitled, In Defense of Parity. In that short volume, I with a few other men defend the notion (which many of us hold as Reformed Baptists) that there is no official distinction to be made between the different elders of the church. In other words, such a view of parity says that biblically all elders are pastors and all pastors are elders. This view is based on what seems to me to be an indisputable exegetical reality. That reality is that in the Bible the three words presbuteros, episkopos, and poimein refer to the same office in the church. This is a little confusing because each of these three Greek words has both an older and a newer. Presbuteros is translated presbyter in older English and elder in newer English. Episkopos is translated in older English as bishop and as overseer in newer English. Poimein is translated pastor in older English but shepherd in newer English. Parity simply asserts that all these words refer to the identical office in the church.
But to repeat myself, I am not going to spend a lot of time defending that conclusion or implication of the parity of the eldership and the equivalence of the terms shepherd, elder, and overseer with regard to referencing the same office in the church. The reason is that this conclusion is the assumption or presupposition of these blog posts rather than their thrust or focus. Here I want to speak of my growing conviction over the years that the parity of the eldership needs to be balanced by the biblical teaching regarding the diversity of the eldership.
Dr. Sam Waldron is the Academic Dean of CBTS and professor of Systematic Theology. He is also one of the pastors of Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Owensboro, KY. Dr. Waldron received a B.A. from Cornerstone University, an M.Div. from Trinity Ministerial Academy, a Th.M. from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From 1977 to 2001 he was a pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, MI. Dr. Waldron is the author of numerous books including A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, The End Times Made Simple, Baptist Roots in America, To Be Continued?, and MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response.