The chief foe of pure Christianity in every age has been the special clergy. The idea that the world can be led to Christ by a select group, trained and polished as front men and professional champions of the lowly Nazarene, is as foreign to God's eternal purpose as the idea that the kingdom of heaven is dependent upon the collection of huge sums of money and the erection of huge cathedrals for its perpetuity. The principal hope of religious promoters in these days is what the word of God labels "carnal things." And just as spiritual men put their trust in spiritual things, so carnal minded men trust in carnal things. These become the primary considerations. It is a sign of the degeneracy of our times that men go forth first to raise money before they go to raise the dead in sin, and if the guarantee of the first is not forthcoming, the second is not performed.
The system of "located evangelists" in the Church of Christ is simply the clergy system operating under an assumed name. These men are the special clergy of the Church of Christ and sustain the same identical relationship to it as the Methodist clergy, the Presbyterian clergy, and the Episcopalian clergy do to their respective denominations. The Methodist sect sends men of promise to a Methodist seminary to teach them to become Methodist ministers; the Presbyterian sect sends men of promise to a Presbyterian seminary to train them as Presbyterian ministers; the Church of Christ sect sends men of promise to its theological seminaries to train them to become Church of Christ ministers.
The seminaries of all of these denominations have special courses in theology and their diverse doctrines, and each one seeks to turn out men who are "sound" in parroting the party line. It is a mark of distinction to place as many graduates as possible with big churches in the denominations at lucrative salaries. This serves as an advertising inducement to secure more students, as every ministerial student looks forward to the day when he can draw $2-4,000 per month, plus car expenses and a parsonage which someone else has to paint and maintain. To assure the prestige of the theological school, other courses of business administration and secular subjects are taught. Graduates of these courses will almost automatically win places on the official boards of churches within the denomination, and will support men for "the pastorate" who are graduates of the "alma mater." By this means the seminary can exercise thorough control over the various units in the denomination.
We do not imply that all of the "local ministers," as the Church of Christ conveniently calls its salaried pastors, are satisfied with this status. Many are well enough informed to know that the office they occupy was no more a part of the primitive ecclesia of the saints than was the pope. Some of them are troubled in mind, uneasy in conscience, and disturbed at heart. They try to soothe their inner fears by branding all others in the community as sectarians, on the basis that by decrying the mistakes of others they will lessen the stigma of their own faults. They run out and conduct a couple of "big revivals" during the pastoral vacation provided by their contracts, and take comfort in reporting the four or five immersed in such campaigns as evidence of evangelical zeal!
Almost every error in the history of struggling Christendom has been injected and perpetuated by the clergy. They will twist and wrest the scriptures for the support of their "brain children." By the use of fair speech they deceive the simple into believing they are indispensable, and once the people are convinced of this they are taught to listen only to the interpretations of the clergy. The rights of the people are soon abrogated and they become helpless pawns, existing only to pay. They are threatened with hell if they do not give, and are allowed no voice in spending the money they contribute. A budget is drawn up by an official board in a back room, providing for expenditure of money not yet on hand, and the membership must accept it or be excommunicated. Theirs is "taxation without representation," but they must supinely submit to such tyranny under threat of eternal damnation.
The clergy system will be the hardest of all innovations to overthrow. Those who are a part of it will fight to the end to retain its prestige, power and pelf. It appeals to the indolent, slothful, and indifferent membership. They would rather pay someone to study, preach, and teach for them than to do these things. But there can never be a full restoration of God's plan so long as we retain the one pastor system. Here is the real test! You can never restore a thing by adding something that was not in the original. -- A. Brother.