His Truth Will Set You Free

Listen to what Jesus says; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

No more Pastors, No more Priests

4 Comments

Did Jesus really mean what He said? Check it out for yourself in chapter 23 of Matthews’s gospel…

“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples (v1):… But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (v8-12)

It looks to me like Jesus was calling us to all be servants and brothers (and sisters) of each other, with none above another. I suspect Jesus knew how a title can be a temptation to our prideful nature. Maybe that’s why He stressed humility in this message.

What kind of model for a church is represented by Jesus’ instructions? Did He have something different in mind than the type of church many of us frequent? What would your church look like without that one person up front every week? I’m very interested in what others think about this topic. Please comment.

Author: CJ Penn

First, my writing isn't about me. Don’t want the attention, don’t want to feed my ravenous ego (yep, I’m just a typical pride-plagued human). But I love writing - it gets me out of bed when it's way too dark, just so I can do some writing before heading off to work. I write because I’m passionate about God, Jesus, His Spirit, and His truth. And, I feel the Holy Spirit gets shortchanged in the world we call Christianity. The truth is sometimes lacking too.

4 thoughts on “No more Pastors, No more Priests

  1. I believe that the ‘weekly’ modal is merely a human institution of convenience. I do believer, however, that the early Church met on ‘Sunday’. As far as leadership, Paul clearly operated within as well as set up Church hierarchy, although I doubt that the single man behind the pulpit was what was intended. I see New Testament Church leadership along the lines of the Church of Christ or perhaps the orthodox Presbyterians, such as a Board of Elders, with a pastor of pastors.

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  2. Both this post and Excommunicated/Country Club reflected something I’ve been thinking about today–that humans must have an innate need to be part of a group that not just anyone can join. (Masons, little league baseball teams, the Catholic Church, or many churches, for that matter–any place there’s the unspoken idea that We Are Just a Little More Special Than Other People.) That’s why it’s so hard to grasp the concept of Jesus hanging out with the riffraff.

    I think even the early churches had leaders, but (and perhaps this is just wishful thinking) the “sermons” were more of a conversation than a lecture.

    I happen to be a former Catholic church attender AND a current lay pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA) so overall I’m a big fan of churches. Now “church” people–not so much, always.

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  3. Jesus’s commandment does not forbid church government. Instead his words advise us how to avoid abuse of it. His example shows us how to serve and not to be served.

    Christ himself chose apostles and indeed Paul gave us the instructions that establish bishops or overseers, deacons or ministers, elders, and such. Some have elaborated great structures of heirarchy from these few verses, but it only seems certain to me that those who serve well purchase to themselves a good degree and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. No flesh will glory in his presence and there is nothing greater than to be called his son, and “ye are all brethren.”

    As for titles and such like things that you mention, it is faithful not to call a person “pastor so-and-so” Just because you don’t call someone “pastor so-and-so, it does not mean that he isn’t the pastor, bishop, deacon or whatever office he was appointed by God or the church. Paul was many things but people called him… Paul. At least his friends did.

    The church is God’s people. Church services of the type you mention are just one form of church meetings. The first day of the week is mentioned in scripture (Acts) as the day on which the church met, but it is not in a commandment to do likewise. The first day of the week is referred to as the “Lord’s Day” in scripture. Also, it is not the Sabbath which is the last day of the week. The church did not move the Sabbath.

    The church is free to meet on any day of the week and it does. Although most local churches have their biggest meeting on the first day of the week, most have meetings at least one other day and many are meeting everyday. Some of the church have retreated into meeting only in homes and with small groups, but the size of the group and the location of the meeting do not really distinguish a faithful group of brethren from those who are otherwise.

    In my experience, small groups can lack accountability and resources and larger groups can be distracted by church enterprise, especially the acquisition and improvment of facilities, and the task of managing big programs.

    As for “one person up in front every week,” this has at least two traditions associated with it. First, church meetings often take place in theaters in the tradition of greek ampitheatres. It is a means to organize and focus the attention of a large crowd thus avoiding chaos. The object of focus is the stage and those who are on it. A large meeting without such a structure would be more like a festival. Churches have meetings like this, potlucks, and holiday events though I would hardly compare them in gravity to the Jewish feasts on holy days.

    The other tradition associated with this type of meeting is the one of having a single leader over a local church. This comes from the analogy of a Shepherd and sheep that is used to describe the role of elders by both Peter and Paul. Sheep with many shepherds would be confused, but a shepherd is not any more independent from the body than a hand is independent from the arm. And there is one Chief Shepherd.

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  4. I believe these verses cover the subject of leadership in the church. (1 Timothy 3:1-8)

    “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
    A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
    Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
    One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
    (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
    Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
    Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
    Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;”

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