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Dockery calls for ministers to be 'convictional' and 'above reproach'

SWBTSFeb. 8, 2005 – David Dockery warned against falling into the trap of "apatheistic flexidoxy" during chapel at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Jan. 27. Dockery is president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn.

Apatheistic flexidoxy is the odd-sounding phrase Dockery said describes church leaders who avoid teaching sound doctrine and change their ministry style in an attempt to please a fickle society.

Preaching from Titus 1:1-9, Dockery said that "the profile [for church leadership] given to Titus by the Apostle Paul was appropriate then and is appropriate now."

The quality of a good leader is not being as "flexible as the currents of the shifts in our society," Dockery said. "People are choosing to be not a convictional theist or an antagonistic atheist but apatheists. Sadly, as one surveys the churches across the United States, and particularly in Europe, apatheistic flexidoxy is the order of the day."

Dockery reminded his listeners that the call to church leaders is to teach sound doctrine.

"It seems that Paul's strategy goes something like this: when false teachers start to increase, the most appropriate long-term response is to multiply the number of true teachers who can understand and teach sound doctrine," he said.

Paul gave Titus two reasons why he left the young man in Crete: to straighten out what was left unfinished and to appoint leaders. According to Dockery, the profile for these leaders could be summed up by combining Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3.

"The one word that summarizes this profile is found in verse six and can be translated as 'blameless' or 'above reproach'," Dockery said.

Dockery said that church leaders must be blameless in the home, blameless in character, blameless in conduct and blameless in doctrinal orthodoxy.

"Church leaders cannot lead the church if they cannot lead their own family," Dockery said. "If one cannot manage himself, he cannot manage the work of the church."

Though the church of the 21st century must have leaders that are cooperative, they must also be "convictional," staying committed to what is true. "The reality is this," Dockery said. "Much is at stake, including the health of the church and the eternal life or eternal lostness of individuals."

Dockery has authored or edited more than 20 books including "The Holman Bible Handbook," "Biblical Interpretation Then and Now," "Theologians of the Baptist Tradition" and "Shaping a Christian Worldview." He also has contributed to more than 20 others including important reference books such as The Holman Bible Dictionary and The Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology.

Printed with permission of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Melanie Lloyd

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth,, 731-661-5215