Stanley L. Morris

Introduction

This article is written to show what the New Testament has to say about the authority of "ministers." In Part One I examined the roots of the original model of the first century and carefully defined all the pertinent terms. (See the July, 1988 issue.) In Part Two I am now presenting a few timely observations about current (so-called) religious "leadership."

American Religiosity

There are approximately 336,000 congregations in the United States of all denominations, 1 but, according to a 1978 Gallup poll, 88% of non-churchgoers and 70% of churchgoers say that one does not need to "go to church" to be religious. 2 What do people mean by this? What does it show about their perceived needs?

Catholic Priests

America's religious flock is 60% of the population in the United States. They are led by about 520,000 Catholic "priests" and/or Protestant "ministers" and/or an unknown number of other types of leaders in nondenominational churches and other faiths. Among U.S. Catholics, the number of active "parish priests" has declined from 37,000 in 1966 to about 30,000 today. 13,000 priests have left the priesthood to marry. The number of priests may drop to 15,000 by the year 20003. In San Antonio, Texas, although the number of Hispanic Catholics are increasing very rapidly, the number of Hispanic Catholic priests is dwindling to an all-time low point - one priest for every 65,000 Spanish Roman Catholics. If their felt needs are not met, they may begin to worship elsewhere with Protestants!4

Catholic priests typically face 70-hour to 80-hour work weeks, along with fatigue, loneliness, and self-doubt. Some succumb to the pressure by breaking their church vows and becoming involved in certain sins, such as alcoholism, fornication, homosexuality, etc.5

Schillebeeckx, a famous Roman Catholic theologian, asks: "Why is there such a shortage of priests? What has gone wrong with the way Catholics look at their church and those who hold office in it?"6

Protestant "Ministers"

The situation among Protestant "ministers" is no better. A minister's family life is always open to inspection by "the faithful." This leaves little room for privacy between husband and wife, parents and children. A breakdown almost always reveals itself in a marriage or family crisis. Divorce even among ministers appears to be increasing. And many "pastors" are abandoning the pulpit forever. Why?

In Colorado, in Crystal River Valley, there is a Protestant center which was founded to help repair the damage. More than 700 distressed clergy and their spouses have traveled to the home of Dr. Louis McBurney and his wife Melissa. For the past 14 years they have been helping with "pastors" coming from 40 states and with missionaries from 30 countries. They work exclusively with religious leaders whose marriages, families, and careers are in shambles. The troubled visitors come for two weeks of wrenching, one-on-one counseling and group therapy with 6 to 10 peers. They talk about workaholism, sexual affairs, deep-seated guilt, hang-up's, alcohol abuse, or whatever is splintering their lives. The major problems which tear "ministers" apart are usually the same at all levels, from small churches to large churches. Typically, Protestant ministers believe that they are too busy to spend much time with family or friends. And, they can trust no one with their innermost secrets and trials. Some feel helpless against powerful church members who hold the reins, while stacking more and more responsibilities on their tired shoulders. Church members may also try to control a "pastor" through unreasonably high expectations. One such idea is that ministers must have perfect marriages. One "pastor's" wife said, "When you live m a glass house, it is hard to get help. Then you come out here to Colorado and find out it is O.K. to spill your guts."

A denominational preacher often steps into the pulpit feeling that he is God's man who has come to speak God's word, all the while knowing that he has dark secrets of his own. As a result, he often has a feeling of considerable self-doubt followed by a sharp decline in his own self-esteem.

Many preachers have dreamed that they stepped into the pulpit and found that they were naked. One "minister" actually stood before his congregation and revealed that he had lied, hidden his failings as a "pastor" and administrator, and that he had also been unfaithful to his wife. He stated that he had already confessed his sins to his wife and the "bishop," and that both of them had forgiven him. Now he was seeking the church's forgiveness as well. Later that week, the church board fired him.

Professional "ministers" are used to telling people all about right and wrong. Knowing what to do is not their problem. They feel a special sense of guilt because they know what God wants them to do, but they cannot do it. This is a place in Colorado where "clergy" take off their collars and get away from their churches.

The McBurneys say that, in the last 14 years, they have learned that "ministers" and their families learn to hide things well. "Pastors" are usually quite articulate and highly-skilled at appearing to share deep emotions. Some are well-trained counselors themselves. Minister's wives often bury their own intense feelings of pain or hatred, believing that they must play the outward role of submissive "help-meets" for "God's men." A "pastor's" wife does not have a "pastor" of her own. When he gets home, he is burned out. She asks, "What am I supposed to do? Look in the Yellow Pages under Pastoral Care?"

It is even harder to dig into the deep insecurities, self-hatred and doubt of a denominational "minister." Most of these people believe that they were "called" to be "ministers" by God, but they were called by someone else. Perhaps it was an insistent grandmother, an overbearing father, or a domineering denominational evangelist whom they had met when they were young. And, they have struggled with this all through life.

One Pentecostal preacher in the Midwest said, "The pressures just keep building, and the people just keep asking you to give and give and give! The isolation grows inside you. You feel like you are buried in nothing but other people's problems." "Pastors" often jump when the telephone rings. A call can carry extremes - a suicide threat or a complaint about a stopped-up church toilet. And, either problem may be viewed as "the minister's" responsibility.

Mrs. McBurney said, "One can really see the fear in their eyes when it is time to go home. It is back to reality, back to business as usual, back to the old temptations and problems that sent them here in the first place!"7

The Clergy

The rigid partition between "clergy" and "laity" has created all kinds of problems· It creates the impression that the essence of the "church" is the hierarchy. All others are part-timers, and therefore, inferior subjects in the kingdom of God. Is the "clergy" perceived as guardians of the pearly gates and, therefore, the sole interpreters of God's Word for the rest of us? Does the "laity" perceive the Bible to be a book of rules only understood by the clergy who "orders" them to obey them and sends them on "guilt trips" if they do not comply? Does the laity believe that if they do not conform to the church rituals and traditions that they won't get into heaven? Who perpetuates these rules and traditions and why? Has the "church" become so institutionalized with its own professional hierarchy that it is dedicated only to maintaining itself?8 The answer is a resounding YES!

In Third John, Diotrephes is an example of a self-appointed leader who intimidated anyone who would oppose him locally. He would personally excommunicate anyone who dared to challenge his personal authority. He was a dictator. The authority was not granted to him by the local group of Christians or by Christ. He usurped it!

According to Carroll's definition, the authority of leadership means "legitimate power" bestowed by the flock9 A group grants authority because they assume that the exercise of power will be for the collective good.10 However, this unbalanced clergy/laity scenario has turned out to be very detrimental. It has destroyed the balance originally intended by God. Members have abdicated their own responsibilities, turning themselves entirely over to "pastors" or "priests" who have led them down the primrose path to apostasy.

In the closed "church," the "laity" are not viewed as "ministers." They are only pale, inferior copies of the bona fide "clergy." "Lay ministry" thus loses its distinctive direction and fades into a very weak support system. They become spectators instead of participants.11

The model professional "minister" is expected to have "head and heart together," to be the one who "lives the gospel," or to be "a man of God and a man of the world."12 But, why should these admirable qualities be considered to be exclusive to this one person? Why are they not applicable to all of us? Do the members have higher expectations because they pay the salary of a "clergyman?" Does money have anything to do with it?

The "Laity"

Because the "clergy" has become a paid profession, some local members think it is necessary to periodically "pull rank," to be sure that they have "their" minister (whom they pay to be "good" for them) right under their thumbs· They often remind them who pays their salary. There is a latent power structure in the "laity" which can be ruthless at times. They often reason as Caiaphas did in John 11:50. He stated that it is better to sacrifice one individual for the sake of the group.

The institutional "authority" of "ministers" often hamstrings them when speaking out on their own. They are not allowed such freedom, because they are viewed as the embodiment of the group 24 hours a day, and they are expendable if they do not play the part appropriately. They are bought and paid for! Unfortunately, they are reduced de facto to adroit politicians who must duck most controversial issues. In other words, "they know which side their bread is buttered on." So, they "pull their punches" in the pulpit and "throw the fight," making it look like the real thing, but no longer caring about anything except collecting their salary regularly and rationalizing it all away.

The following is the standard arrangement: A congregation hires a "clergyman" whom they feel comfortable with and they "keep" him as long as he stays within these "safe" limits. And, the clergyman is very careful to abide within these boundaries in order to receive his paycheck each week. Simple isn't it? How convenient for everyone! It is designed to maintain religious order efficiently and to give the appearance of continuity and stability, but this man-made system is rotten to the core!

According to Hahn, a true prophet (e.g. Amos 7:14, 15) must have enough distance (economic independence) from the institution in order to speak out effectively?13

The Institutionalized Church

The modern church has become a powerful religio-political structure, and yet, it is weak at its core and crumbling around the edges because it traps both "clergy" and "laity" into internal, institutional, win-lose power relations, thus sustaining superior/inferior class distinctions. We should be tapping the people instead of trapping them. The institutional "church" is now "upside-down." At least, flatten it out a bit! Somewhere along the way, the "people of God" became "the church," the institution?14

Every living organism tries to survive. Similarly, every institution strives to maintain itself to insure its own safety and stability. This is how it protects itself from outside threats. But the modern secular world has domesticated the "church" into something like an "Indian reservation'' for people with "religious needs," and the "church" has largely accepted this taming?15 But what about Acts 17:67 How did the early Christians overturn the awesomely-large Roman Empire? The early Christians were doing something right. Unfortunately, we seem to have lost our way. If we are to surpass, we need to get back to the basics!

Generally speaking, people do not want to change; they say "the old is better" (Luke 5:39). People need to be weaned away from the seduction of the "church" as "institution" and turned toward the direct service of the world. That is how they changed things16 The true purpose of the ekklesia is not to service the saints but to put the saints in service!

A closed "church" is a world in itself. It is a closed system, rigid and static and completely out of touch with the real world. Power and knowledge move from the top downward. Dozier complains that within it there is a "built-in clericalism" which hides a "caste system." Who has the monopoly on truth to speak exclusively for God?17 The "clergy" have become the subjects of "ministry" (dispensers) and the "laity" are the objects of "ministry" (recipients)?18 But true leaders are only different from, not higher than followers. Followers and their leaders should have an interdependent relationship, like all parts of the human body. We can all be powerful. The current "clergy" has far too much responsibility, and the "laity" has abandoned theirs?19

The assembly of Christ has already degenerated to pure sentimentality. It has become a "cut-flower religion;" 20 pretty, but dead, like a desiccated flower pressed between the pages of a seldom-used family Bible. There may be plenty of warm, religious feelings, but deep ethics are missing. And people feel the urge to attend only on special occasions (hatching, matching, and dispatching) or to be "Sunday morning'' Christians only, moving in and out of the world with no thought to transforming the world. When some members are questioned about why they are not more committed, they respond with something like this: "That is not my job. I have done my duty. I've paid my dues. Why don't you contact our minister." Secularization is a process whereby certain areas of human life are increasingly removed from the sacred.21 Aren't we sucking the life (holiness) right out of the church, so that nothing but the shell is left?

Bigger Barns

In one of Jesus' parables (Luke 12:16-20), a rich man's "solution" to a bumper crop problem was to build bigger barns. But he forgot about God. I think the "churches" are doing the same thing today. They have become increasingly materialistic. In an attempt to appear to be ultra-stable, they have gotten "the edifice complex?22 They lust for a strong, outward presence on the corner of Main and Church Streets. In other words, they really think bigger is better. And, the religion business is big business. Besides, they rationalize that real estate is a good investment for the "church." But something far deeper is going on here. In the minds of many people, the church building itself has become the symbol of "Christianity." So, in the religious world, huge church buildings connote "success."

I am not saying that buildings are wrong per se. I am only wondering what some people have begun to make of them. Huge church budgets with hefty allocations for even larger facilities are actually only symptoms of a deeper, underlying sickness. How did such things become so important? It is really a question of priorities. Is the church building really the essence of the church? Technically, we do not "go to church;" we are the church (even before we assemble). If church buildings were so essential, why did Christians thrive for the first three centuries without church buildings? How do millions of mainland Chinese believers in Christ today survive the ravages of persecution from a Communist government year after year? They do it by meeting underground without church buildings!

By calling the church auditorium a "sanctuary," some have completely reverted to a Jewish form of worship. The Holy Place, the Most Holy Place, the Altar, the Levitical priests, the high priest, incense, the eternal flame (neer tamiyd), etc. - all have their counterparts in the "services" of many denominations today. Have we misplaced the emphasis? Shouldn't it be upon spiritual matters instead of brick and mortar?

The Price Is Right

In the Book of Judges there is an interesting vignette of that period. There was a man named Micah who very much wanted religious security. He found a Levite and offered him the job of being his exclusive priest. So, he provided a salary, food, and clothes to the Levite. Micah exclaimed, "Live with me and be a father and a priest to me!" So, the Levite was content to dwell with Micah for a while, and he became like one of his own sons. (Judges 17:10, 11). But there were the elements of idolatry there--a graven image, an ephod, teraphim, and another molten image. In time, six hundred Danites went into Micah's house and confiscated them (Judges 18:17, 18). They questioned the Levitical priest about what he was doing there. They offered him a new job with a larger "congregation" (Judges 18:19, 20). So, the priest agreed to go away with them. But Micah protested, "You have taken away my gods which I made, and my priest, and you are going away" (Judges 18:24). He was crushed· His "faith" collapsed because it was based upon human contrivance. It was like sand (cf. Matt. 7:26, 27).

Here we see a pitiful example of a man who tried to control God through hiring (for his own purpose) a genuine Levitical priest who was "serving" a considerable distance away from the true House of God. And we also observe what happened to him when his religious "crutch" was taken away. This situation is not unlike the religious condition in the world today. The central issue is money. You can always find someone to preach whatever you want to hear, if the price is right. 1 Timothy 6:10 cites the problem well. The love of money (especially in religious circles) is a very powerful force. One's relationship to God should not be based upon money. This unfortunate (but accepted) situation affects "clergymen" and their families adversely and it stunts the spiritual growth of the other church members. We need to return to a wholistic approach where every member of the body of Christ is functioning well.

Tradition

There is a tendency to equate venerable traditions with unchangeable, divine ordinances. We need to carefully differentiate between what God has actually said and man-made religious rules (cf. Matt. 15:2, 3). Why do people get so upset about "liturgical" reform instead of the weightier matters such as "justice, mercy, and faithfulness" (Matt· 23:23)? Why reinforce the outward, measurable credits instead of the heart? We crave order and rules and security· In short, we want an institution, and we're going to have it--no matter what! Folks love to belong to an exclusive club. Are we trying to reduce God down to human size (cf. 1 Sam. 15:29; Isa. 55:8, 9)? We should walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). But the institutional "church" is always striving to make reality certain, to pin it down in a liturgy, in an organizational structure, in educational systems, etc. Therefore, does the institution only need to be "shaken up" from time to time, like knocking off the barnacles of the hull periodically to increase the ship's efficiency as it slips through the waves? Or, is the institution so corrupt, so amalgamated with error, that to remove the years of encrusted layers of barnacles would also rip open gaping holes of the hull causing the whole thing to sink? You, the reader, will have to decide that one! The pew is too comfortable, and the role of a true preacher of the gospel should be to act as a gadfly. 23

Can the love of structure grow to such an extent that the river has nothing but banks with no water flowing? If so, the structure has become the goal, the idol. Structure should be held only loosely in order to serve a purpose. If it no longer serves that purpose, get rid of it! It is not the ultimate reality. If it is pointing to God, then it is doing its job. But if it begins to act as if it is God, then it is idolatry.24

Getting Involved

Do we have ownership in the congregation? Are we players on the playing field or are we fans in the stands? Unless everyone risks participation, equality is never achieved. Rank-and-file "church" members are often too passive and unable to shape their own destiny. They are not thought to be responsible (cf. John 7:49). However, the Biblical teaching of the priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:9) should still be our goal. If the people are unusually .dependent on professional "ministers," then the general condition of the congregation will be predictably weak. "Clergymen" do not have all the answers, but "lay people" encourage that illusion.25 Dozier says, "The church lost its vision of being a disturber of the status quo and became a supporter of the status quo."26 Also, "Religion cannot be the glue if it is one of the pieces?27 We need to know how all of life fits together. Our world view should not be so compartmentalized.

Out of Balance

The ekklesia is the people of God, and individual Christians are members of that body. There is no such thing as a solitary Christian-at-large. In the New Testament, all Christians were saints (holy people), but eventually it took on a different meaning. Some were thought to be better than others. Then a professional "clergy" developed. This condition did not happen overnight. The crystallization process was slow but steady. "Clergymen" received "the call," but the rest of the members got jobs. However, the truth is, the whole assembly is the called-out (ekklesia)28

Money = Power

Invariably, most of the problem revolves around money, the world's medium (Matt. 6:24). Money is not evil in itself, but when the undue influence of money starts to dictate the decisions of the Lord's people, we have strayed far from the path of righteousness!

I am not saying that some of the Lord's servants should not be partially supported for their time and efforts. Jesus was helped (Luke 8:1-3). Work is work, and everyone should be appreciated in the form of aid for what they are trying to do for the Lord (1 Cor. 3:8; Rom. 11:6). We should all realize that everything costs something! There are such things as expenses. Godly people will find a way to cover necessary costs. Jesus taught this principle. "A workman is worthy of his food (trofee, Matt. 10:10; Luke 10:7 (wages=misthos); cf. Matt. 21:1-8ff, 28; Rom. 16:6; Gal. 6:6). Paul stated, "So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to live from the gospel." (1 Cor. 9:14). However, I see no evidence in the Bible that apostles or prophets, in a strict sense, preached God's message for money or as a profession. They knew that their responsibility was to simply preach it, and if people wanted to help provide for their physical needs while they were doing it, then fine, well, and good. But, God was their "Employer;" only He could put the words in their mouths.

I am saying that a true "minister" of God ought to be extremely careful about his motives. Whenever a man can lose his "job" because he openly expresses a gospel truth that he feels compelled to speak, then it is time to change "occupations." One must never be entirely dependent on his audience for his financial support. If he is, they may not want to hear the truth someday (e.g. Gal. 4:16; 1:10). And then what is he going to do? There are only three options: (1) compromise (soften) the truth so that it is palatable to the congregation; (2) resign; (3) speak out and risk getting fired. (Note: A true man of God cannot be "fired" because, in the first place, he was never "hired" by a man to do God's work!) According to John 10:12, a clear-cut distinction is made between a true "shepherd" and a "hireling" (most so-called "clergymen"). The former has ownership, the latter does not. Does this passage relate to the entire religious scene today? I think it does.

The key .to real success is tent-making, i.e. independence from potentially-corrupting influence, but still being dependent upon God. We are always co-workers with God (2 Cor. 6:1). Paul was very proud of his work (1 Cor. 9:1). He said,

"Have I committed an offense by humiliating myself so that you could be exalted, because I have preached God's gospel to you FOR FREE? I 'robbed' other congregations, receiving wages (opsoonion) from them to service you. And when I was present with you and I had needs, I was chargeable to no one. The brothers who came from Macedonia supplied whatever I lacked. In everything I have kept myself from being a burden to you, and I will continue to do so. As the truth of Christ is in me, no one will take this boast away from me in the regions of Achaia. Why? Because I do not love you? God knows otherwise. No, what I do, I am doing so that I may cut off an incident from those who desire an embarrassing incident." (2 Cor. 11:7-12) "We do not domineer over your faith; we are helpers of your joy - you stand by faith." (2 Cor. 1:24; cf. I Thess. 2:6).

We are spiritual laborers in the Lord's harvest (Matt. 9:38; Luke 10:2). Jesus said, "My food is to do the will of the One who sent me and to finish his work" (John 4:38; cf. John 9:3, 4; Rom. 16:12). This is a beautiful analogy for our lives. This is what every Christian and every leader should imitate.

Jesus also said, "My Father is working until now, and I myself am working'' (John 5:17). God is always at work! (cf. John 9:3, 4; 10:25, 37, 38; 14:10, 11, 12; 15:24; 17:4 all referring to the mission of Jesus). What is the answer to this question: "What should we do, so that we can work the works of GOd?" (John 6:28). The answer is to believe in Jesus whom God sent (John 6:29). This is the work of God (Acts 13:2, 41; 14:26; 15:38; 20:35).

Serving Christ

The key to understanding Christ is being a servant. This is the opposite of what the world expects (Matt. 20:25). In fact, any attempt to set up the body of Christ upon a worldly power structure fails in his sight! Jesus said "It will not be so among you" (Matt. 20:26). But look how the Roman Empire and other political structures have subtly molded the denominational churches! They are all still affected in their basic orientation by these early precedents.

The kingdom of God is the broadest concept; it encompasses everything. It has existed prior to Christ (in a preparatory sense) and will exist throughout eternity. It is the rule of God in the hearts of His people, not a political thing. (John 18:36; Acts 1:7). There is a chain of command which emanates from God Himself. He sent Jesus. And Jesus' authority supercedes all other authorities (Matt. 28:18), human or Satanic. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to empower his apostles. They were installed as the first leaders commissioned to establish his ekklesia everywhere on earth.

Another important truth is the classlessness of God's flock. Even though there are older, wiser sheep (a team of shepherds) to help watch over us all (Acts 20:28; Heb. 13:17; I Pet. 5:2), Jesus is the only Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4). He is the head of the ekklesia (Eph. 1:22, 23; Col. 1:18). In other words, although some human leadership is certainly needed, we are all truly equal "in Christ" (Gal. 3:28).

The nature of true worship is spiritual (John 4:23, 24). All Christians are priests of God (1 Pet. 2:5, 9), with Jesus being the High Priest (Heb. 3:1; 4:14; 5:5, 6; 7:26). We offer up spiritual sacrifices of praise to God (Heb. 13:15). We ourselves are the living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1, 2), and collectively we are a temple sanctuary (naos) of Ged with His Spirit dwelling inside us (1 Cor. 3:16, 17; 6:19, 20; 2 Cor. 6:16). So, where did a "clergy"/"laity" distinction come from?

All Sheep Are About The Same

There is only one Leader and one Shepherd - Jesus Christ. A set of human "shepherds" may be helping Jesus, but they are all sheep too. They are merely a little more knowledgeable than younger sheep. In other words, there is no essential distinction between the leading sheep and the led sheep. We are all supposed to be sheep following the Good Shepherd (John 10:14). Although I generally subscribe to symmetrical relationships among and between saints of God in which the Power (Christ) is available to all the members, a few older, experienced sheep (leaders) are needed to show the younger sheep "the ropes." However, we all have the right (even as sheep) to ask if the leaders ahead of us are following the orders of the Chief Shepherd and his chosen leaders (apostles, prophets, etc.) We do not want to be following followers. We desire only to follow Jesus! And the main question is always authority. Who says so? Who's really in control?

Authority

The Roman centurion had a proper understanding of how authority works (Matt. 8:9; Luke 7:8). Jesus taught another parable illustrating the same principle (Mark 13:34; Luke 19:17). Jesus is Lord. Therefore, we derive all authority directly from him or his designates (cf. Mark 9:38, 39; Luke 9:49).

In a human sense, control is an indication of being somebody. Having power over others means that we are not required to face suffering, failure, or give an honest appraisal of our own unworthiness?29 But too much power over others leads to distrust, competition, and even oppression. Responsibility weighs heavily at the top of the pyramid, while the responsibility of those at the bottom becomes extremely limited. The institution exerts control within its own boundaries. So, it is no wonder that it focuses its attention only on what it can control. And it becomes even more inbred as time passes.30

However, everyone needs to possess some power. Power is the ability to change situations and circumstances. And, no one wants to feel completely powerless. The issue is not the fact of power per se, but rather the nature and source of that power.31

"The" Minister

So, I conclude that "minister" is a loaded term today! What does it mean and to whom? In a very real sense, every Christian is a "minister" serving his fellow Christians and his fellowman. Where did the specialization of the term originate? Does this mean that a "clergyman" is a "professional Christian?" Does he live this way because he is paid to do so? Is it just a "job" for money? Money should not make that much difference, but in practice, it does! Who holds the power in the local "church?" Answer: usually the monied individuals. Sometimes it becomes just a religious "country club" where a small minority dominates. Awesome power struggles occur, just like the bickering among the apostles (Mark 9:33-37). Splits abound, because a spiritual breakdown has occurred, away from the divine authority which resides in the Head of the ekklesia, and his apostles, and their letters, and their example. No wonder people (especially pseudo-leaders) in religious circles are so miserable.

Is "the ministry" a "calling?" God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), i.e. He shows no favoritism. Why does He not call everyone? He does! He calls all of us out of the world of sin. There are no special privileges. Even when we have done all our duty, we are still unprofitable servants (Luke 17:10).

My "Authority" as a "Minister"

My "authority"as only one "minister" among many "ministers" derives neither from my own person nor from a formal ordained "office." It comes from the charge of Jesus Christ to be a servant. I have difficulty with the term "ordination." Anyone who can preach should preach. All men (young or old) should be encouraged to do so. Christ empowers me to accomplish a few functions with the talents that he has granted to me. I am trying hard not to bury any of those abilities (Matt. 25:14-30).

The principal error occurred when one individual began to be thought of as being more holy than the others. That was a tremendous mistake. Every Christian has been sanctified. The whole ekklesia has been called out and is the Temple of God. If one isolates the sacred from the secular within the flock, a confusing rift is created internally which will eventually cause the group to emulate a worldly structure.

Conclusion

The amazing thing is that God's way is so simple, so unstructured, so individualistic in function, that we have difficulty grasping that fact. May God help us to overcome the confusion which beclouds our minds because we have all been mired in years of institutional thinking.

 

Footnotes:

1Celia A. Hahn, Lay Voices in an Open Church (Washington, D.C.: The Alban Institute, Inc., 1985), p. 1.

2Ibid., p. 26.

3Terry Mattingly, "World Troubles Ministers: Clergy, Spouses Come to Rockies to Mend their Strained Marriages," Rocky Mountain News, July 6, 1987, p. 30.

4CBS Evening News, September 11, 1987.

5Mattingly, loc. cit., p. 30.

6Edward Schillebeeckx, Ministry: Leadership in the Community of Jesus Christ. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1981, p. 1.

7Mattingly, loc. cit., p. 31.

8Verna J. Dozier, The Authority of the Laity (Washington, D.C.: The Alban Institute, Inc., 1982), p. 23.

9Jackson W. Carroll, "Some Issues in Clergy Authority," Review of Religious Research, Vol. 23 (December, 1981), No. 2, p. 100.

10Ibid., p. 101.

11Hahn, loc. cit., p. 45.

12Carroll, loc. cit., p. 104.

13Hahn, loc. cit., p. 38.

14Dozier, loc. cit., pp. 2, 3.

15Ibid., p. 18.

161bid., p. 22.

17Ibid., p. 27.

18Hahn, loc. cit., p. 41.

19Ibid., p. 62.

21Carroll, loc. cit., p. 102.

22Hahn, loc. cit., p. 34.

23Dozier, loc. cit., pp. 24, 26, 27.

24Ibid., p. 28.

25Ibid., p. 9, 10, 12

26Ibid., p. 6.

27Dozier, loc. cit., p. 7.

28Ibid, p. 30.

29Urban T. Holmes III, Spirituality for Ministry (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1982), p. 46.

30Hahn, loc. cit., p. 45.

31Holmes, loc. cit., p. 43.