The One Pastor System Scriptural?
Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- I shall add some
personal observations along the way in this font color and style. ]
the summer of 1990, while pastoring a denominational church in rural Mississippi,
I felt led to teach a Bible study series on the New Testament pattern for the
church and its leadership. We were not very far into this study before I began
to seriously question the scripturalness of many of our church practices and traditions.
Most troublesome was the question of whether or not my own position as the Pastor
of a local church was a scriptural one. |
had always assumed that the one-Pastor system, being the pattern followed in the
overwhelming majority of churches today, was founded upon Scripture. But as I
began to earnestly study the Scriptures on the issue of church leadership, one
disturbing question kept intruding itself- a question I present here for the sober
consideration of the reader. Where in Scripture is there warrant for one man to
be the spiritual leader and authority over the local church?
mind that this is the pattern unquestioningly followed throughout Christendom
today. Where is it in Scripture? As I searched the length and breadth of the New
Testament, it became obvious to me that such a pattern was nowhere to be found.
Rather, I found that the primary role in shepherding the New Testament churches
was exercised, not by a solitary Pastor, but by a plurality of men, described
as "elders" or overseers
they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they
commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. (Acts
Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.... He said
unto them...Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and
to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed
the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Paul and Timotheus,
the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi,
with the bishops and deacons: (Phil. 1:1)
this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that
are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray
over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
quotation above from Acts 20 makes it clear that the "elders" and "overseers"
are the same persons, and that it is they who are given responsibility to shepherd,
or pastor the church of God. ("Shepherd" is the literal meaning of the
word "pastor.") So while others besides elders may exercise a pastoral
gift- Bible teachers, for instance, there is no hint in Scripture of anyone claiming
to be "the Pastor" of a local church and assuming a position of oversight
apart from and superior to the work of the elders. We read nothing of a "Senior
Pastor," or "Presiding Elder." Such titles, in fact come perilously
close to blasphemy, since Christ Himself is spoken of as "the Chief Shepherd"
(1 Peter 5:4).
apostle Peter confirms that the terms "elders" and "overseers"
refer to the same persons, and that their work is that of pastoring the flock:
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am
also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker
of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among
you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy
lucre, but of a ready mind; (1 Peter 5:1-2)
when we read in Ephesians 4:11, that God has given "some as pastors"
(literally, "shepherds"), can we not assume that this refers primarily
to these elders, or overseers, and not to a one-man office about which the rest
of the New Testament is completely silent? Nor is all this mere wrangling over
point to be fixed clearly in the mind from the above scriptures is that, in the
New Testament, churches were never shepherded by one man, whatever his title or
designation, but by a plurality of men. Further, the clear impression given by
these scriptures is that elders were generally raised up by God from within the
local church, not hired and imported from outside- and certainly not from the
ranks of a professional "clergy".
gives rise to another question.
in Scripture is there any such thing as a servant of the Lord contracting to receive
a stated salary from a church? The New Testament clearly sets forth the principle
that those who preach the gospel are entitled to "live from the gospel"
(Matt. 10:9-10; 1 Cor. 9:14; 1 Tim. 5:17-18), but there is never any indication
that this involves a stated salary, but rather, free will gifts:
him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good
ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed
from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving,
but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.
Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey
diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them. And let ours also learn to maintain
good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.(Titus 3:13-14)
only case in Scripture of a "minister" receiving a fixed salary occurs
in Judges 17- a situation filled with compromise and idolatry!
did not Jesus say, "The laborer is worthy of his hire" (Luke 10:7)?
True, but the briefest glance at the immediate context, where these laborers are
instructed to carry neither purse nor scrip, and to "eat and drink such things
as are set before you", shows that a fixed salary was the last thing our
Lord had in view. Yes, the Lord's laborer is worthy of his hire, but who is it
that "hires" him? In whose employ is he-- the church's or the Lord's?
Surely the Lord's, but the system of a salaried pastorate implies otherwise. I
cannot help but believe that the present-day "Pastor search" process,
complete with resumes, salary negotiations, trial sermons, and the like, is a
grievous offence to the Spirit of God. Again our urgent question must be: where
is all this in Scripture?
also is the notion that the public ministry of the Word is to be confined to one
man in a local church, and that it is contingent upon him being "ordained"
by some human authority? On the contrary, we read
the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed
to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy
one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. (1 Cor 14:29-31)
of one's view concerning the nature of the gift of prophecy and its validity for
today, it is abundantly clear that the practice of one man monopolizing the public
ministry of the Word was utterly foreign to the New Testament churches.
when confronted with the plain teaching of Scripture, I could not escape the conclusion
that the oversight of the local church is to be exercised by mature brethren raised
up by the Holy Spirit from within the church, and that public ministry of the
Word is open to any brother who has been divinely gifted for it.
contrast, most churches today entrust the spiritual leadership of the congregation,
and the vast majority of the public ministry, to a solitary Pastor, who is chosen
from among the professional "clergy," imported from outside the church
and promised a fixed salary for his services. Can the reader, with his New Testament
open before him, deny that this is a drastic departure from the scriptural pattern?
Indeed it is, and it has had predictably severe consequences on the spiritual
life of churches. The following are only some of the problems that are created
or aggravated by this unscriptural one-Pastor system
One-Pastor System of church life:
Perpetuates the deplorable distinction between "clergy" and "laity."
No more pernicious device of the devil has ever been deployed than this utterly
unscriptural distinction. Pastors today grieve about being unable to involve the
"laity." without ever considering that it is the very system of dividing
Christians into two classes that is to blame.
answer is not to "involve" the laity, but to abolish it! Away with the
idea that Christian work is the province of a special few!
Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- I must add here
that our Lord hates this mongrel doctrine. Here is His comment on it:
2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that
holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven
2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience,
and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which
say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
3 And hast
borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first
5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do
the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick
out of his place, except thou repent.
6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest
the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 He that hath an ear, let
him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will
I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
2:12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which
hath the sharp sword with two edges;
13 I know thy works, and where thou
dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast
not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr,
who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
14 But I have a few things
against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who
taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things
sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
15 So hast thou also them
that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword
of my mouth.
Christ HATES Nicolaitanism. Is must then be very serious. What is this Satanic
Above the Laity
is the self-exalting of men within the Lord's Church to take authority of common
men. This is precisely what the old Mother Whore Catholic Church did. Luther and
Calvin perpetuated it. And, while the Puritans and Anabaptists resisted it to
a large degree, intellectualism and modernism have prevailed to bring this disease
back into the Fundamental church movement. It is assumed to be normal, yet Christ
still HATES it. Do you? Or are you perpetuating it? ]
Causes believers to neglect their own responsibility for witnessing to the lost,
to neglect encouraging the brethren, in-depth Bible study, visiting the sick,
etc., out of a conscious or subconscious assumption that these are "the Pastor's
Jobs." Often the only one visibly working for Christ in the community is
the Pastor, whose witness is impaired by the fact that he is perceived as paid
to do so.
how rare is serious Bible study outside of the Pastor's study! There is a widespread
delusion that only the "ordained" Pastor is qualified to mine the riches
of God's Word, and that only he is responsible for using the Word to encourage
the brethren and warn the lost. As a result, men who have been believers in Christ
for thirty or forty years, and "by this time ought to be teachers,"
are still being spoon-fed themselves. (Heb. 5:12)
our churches today this is not the unfortunate exception. It is the norm. Of all
the damage wreaked by the unscriptural system of handing over the ministry of
the church to a single professional (or in larger churches, a staff of professionals),
this debilitating effect on the men of the congregation is perhaps the most tragic.
Leaves little or no room for the exercise of spiritual gifts, other than the Pastor's,
in the gatherings of the church.
Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- The modern tongues
movement, with the chaos of "holy laughter" and other raucous behavior,
is a demonstration of the "laity" of their lust to climb up into the
spotlight. There would be far less interest in these vile manifestations if all
the saints in the local church stood on level ground as God intended.]
Leads to churches being built in the flesh, as programs, promotion, and the Pastor's
personality must replace the spiritual gifts of the body.
Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- This includes Evangelists
who are star attractions and have alleged power to build churches and "get
souls saved." It also includes "keynote speakers" at conferences
who are famous and have men's persons in admiration. I have sat in groups of pastors
when conferences were planned, and much deliberation went into figuring how much
it would cost to get various famous Amos speakers to "draw" the best
Produces widespread discouragement among Pastors, who are trying earnestly to
fill an unscriptural role.
Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- And the "laity"
will not raise a hand to help the average pastor carry the load. If he fails,
an election is called, and he is run off and condemned. The "laity"
will actually talk of getting their money's worth out of a pastor. He is most
often faulted for not visiting the homes of the heavy givers enough. Imagine how
utterly silly this would be is a plurality of elders were the only leadership
of the local church, AND if they were not hired and called from some far off seminary.
Denies Pastors the fellowship in the ministry they so desperately need. Usually
the difference in spiritual vision and ministry responsibility between the Pastor
and the congregation is so wide that his only meaningful fellowship is with other
Pastors, who are not fellow-laborers in the same field, but have their own fields
to worry about.
Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- Many pastors have
no personal friends in their congregation. This is because they fall into the
Jackboot mentality and come to see their congregation as dumb sheep who need regular
floggings. If have heard Fundamental Baptist pastors talk this way many times
at Pastor's conferences.
also note the disgraceful way in which deacons and men in local churches fawn
over pastors when these Nicolaitan pastors are gathered in large conferences.
The ladies serving the dinner will fall all over themselves and chatter as they
serve in self-effacing ways, while men of the local church are patently held in
low places by the vocabulary used. Indeed, some men, like Jack Hyles and many
Fundamental Baptist leaders, will go to great ends to exalt pastors above the
Tends to negate the presidency of the Holy Spirit in the church. Though the Pastor
may earnestly seek the mind of the Spirit, his perception is clouded by his own
personality, desires, etc. How much better, when formulating plans or making a
decision, for the elders as a group, along with other spiritual men, to come before
the Lord in prayer until the Holy Spirit speaks and brings them to a consensus,
as in Acts 13:1-3.
Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- Virtually thousands
of Fundamental Pastors do NOT trust the Holy Spirit to lead the other men around
them in the local church. One pastor in Dayton, Ohio arrogantly told me his deacons
were nothing but janitors and that he did not ever ask them their opinion. What
blasphemy of the Holy Ghost! ]
Since one man is given responsibility for the entire ministry of the church, and
since no one man has all the gifts, Pastors are forced to spend much of their
time doing ministry they are not supernaturally gifted to do, or else that ministry
Creates a situation where one person, the Pastor, can turn a doctrinally sound
church into a heretical church overnight. Having multiple elders, while not providing
absolute immunity from doctrinal error, is a powerful check against heretical
Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- Over the history
of many local churches, the church will take violent swings back and forth on
various doctrines. It is the experience of many pastors to teach expository Bible
messages, feed the flock of God, and see them mature in many doctrines. Then,
after this pastor leaves, some hireling is "called" by blasphemous "Democracy,"
and the man trashes everything the former pastor taught in short order. The former
pastor is broken hearted and feels he wasted his whole tenure in that church.
This was my experience in a local church I pastored in California. That church
quickly went into the ditch and is not thoroughly ecumenized. This might not have
been the case if I had understood the lesson being taught here. ]
Leads to a paralyzing shortage of national Christian workers in many mission areas,
because of the assumption that these workers must be professionally trained and
imported from outside the church. Where is the confidence that the Lord has already
supplied the body with the leadership gifts needed?
Puts undue pressure on the Pastor's wife and children, as they are forced to live
in a "fishbowl" environment as "the preacher's" family.
Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- This is why many
pastors leave "the ministry" and go sell insurance. They grow weary
of being examined in ways other saints are never examined. The "laity"
feel justified in scrutinizing their pastor and his family because they were selected
from afar and are expected to embody all the Christian virtues in abundance. The
"money's worth" factor comes up again in this one. ]
are but a sampling of the consequences that I believe can be laid squarely at
the feet of unscriptural beliefs and practices concerning the ministry
1: The proper role of a pastor is not to assume the entire ministry of the church,
but to mobilize and equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. Therefore,
most of the problems you have listed are results, not of the single-Pastor system
itself, but of the abuse of that system
Since the single-Pastor system is universally beset with these problems, the burden
of proof lies on its defenders to prove that the system itself is not at fault,
particularly since it is a system with no warrant in Scripture. The concept of
a church led by a Pastor-equipper who mobilizes the saints to do the work of the
ministry sounds attractive, but the experience of thousands of frustrated Pastors
testifies that it simply does not work. There is simply too deeply ingrained a
perception in the minds of the congregation that Christian work is for a special
clergy-laity gap is the great demobilizer of the saints. Anyone trying to abolish
that gap is doomed to failure while clinging to a system where one man, professionally
trained and credentialed, is viewed as "the Minister." Incidentally,
those who espouse the concept of the Pastor-equipper normally have a very limited
notion of what the "work of the ministry" includes. For instance, even
the Pastor who makes equipping the saints an emphasis of his ministry will normally
call a fellow clergyman-- not someone from the congregation-- to fill the pulpit
when he is away.
2: The approach you have suggested would produce incompetent church leadership
at best, and doctrinal mayhem at worst.
This is a serious charge because it I implies that the Holy Spirit is incompetent
in placing the proper leadership gifts within each church. Is it seminary or Bible
college training that qualifies a man for leadership in the church, or is it the
gifts of the Holy Spirit? We have often been guilty of giving lip service to the
latter, while placing greater weight on the former.
3: The word "overseer" is singular in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:7 where
the qualifications of the overseer are described. This suggests at least the possibility
of "overseer" being a one-man work.
It is a most natural use of language to employ the singular when describing the
qualifications of a position. For instance, I might say, "A United States
Senator (or even, the United States Senator) must be a man of integrity. honor,
etc." without in the least implying that there is only one United States
Senator, or even one per state! To stress Paul's perfectly explicable use of the
singular here, while ignoring the overwhelming evidence of the rest of the New
Testament, would be a strange and twisted exegesis.
any rate, a closer look at Titus 1:5-7 rules out the possibility that Paul was
advocating a one-pastor system. How can the use of the singular "overseer"
in verse 7 possibly imply that each local church is to have only one overseer,
when two verses earlier Paul had introduced the subject by reminding Titus of
his instructions to "appoint elders [plural] in every city"? To my mind,
this is conclusive.
4: Were not the "Pastoral Epistles" addressed to single individuals?
This objection is based on the common misconception that Timothy and Titus were
each "Pastors" of local churches. This is simply not true. To quote
from the Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary:
these letters do furnish worthwhile directions for pastors, the addressees were
not Pastors in the usual present-day sense of that term. Rather, they were Paul's
special envoys sent by him on specific missions and entrusted with concrete assignments
according to the need of the hour."
Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- And, when their
tasks were finished, they chose elders, and either moved on to do it again, or
they returned to Paul to receive other assignments. ]
5: What about the leadership role of James at Jerusalem (Acts 12:17). Epaphras
at Colossae (Col. 4:12). And Epaphroditus at Philippi (Phil. 2:25)?
This objection, which I have heard used in defense of the one-Pastor system is
a patent example of reading the Word of God through the distorting lens of tradition.
James, the Lord's brother, was an apostle (Gal. 1:19). not a Pastor. Epaphras
was an evangelist. The "fellow bond-servant" of Paul who brought the
gospel to the Colossians (Col. 1:7). (Strange that if he were "Pastor"
of the church at Colossae, he is never seen as present there, but always with
Paul elsewhere!. (Col. 4:12; Philem. 23) Epaphroditus is simply described as one
of Paul's fellow-workers who was sent by the Philippian church as a minister to
his needs. All this is evidence for the one-Pastor system?
6: Do not the "angels" of the churches in Revelation 2-3 refer to Pastors
(e.g. "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write...," etc.), and is
there not one per church?
No person reading the New Testament, apart from preconceived notions, would ever
imagine that the "angels" of Revelation 2-3 refer to Pastors. Although
the Greek word "angelos" may be translated "messenger," in
every other occurrence of the word in Revelation, and it occurs 76 times!, it
unquestionably refers to literal angels. If it does mean "messenger"
in Revelation 2-3, it still could hardly be stretched to mean "pastor."
case where the New Testament uses the phrase messenger of..." (e.g. "messenger
of Satan," "messengers of John," etc.), it always describes by
whom the messenger is sent, never to whom. In other words, "the messenger
of the church in Ephesus" would not likely mean a messenger sent TO the church,
but a messenger sent BY the church, perhaps as part of a delegation to minister
to the apostle in his exile on Patmos and to receive instructions from him.
7: Perhaps the many New Testament references to multiple elders are due to the
fact that, while each church had only one elder or overseer, each city had several
different churches. For instance, when Paul writes to "the saints in Christ
Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons" (Phil. 1:
1), there may have been a number of congregations in Philippi, each with their
own overseer, or Pastor.
This reasoning may seem to answer certain passages, but it utterly falls apart
in view of others, such as Acts 14:23 ("So when they had appointed elders
in every church...), James 5:14 ("Let him call for the elders of the church"),
Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- I have heard this
one, and it is the desperate claim of Nicolaitans who are in terror of falling
from the seat of authority-- nothing else-- for it is 100% Mother Goose logic.
Many a preacher boy will state this claim as if God had spoken it as absolute
truth, but if you pin them down, they will quote their college or Bible Institute
instructor, NOT the Bible. ]
Objection 8: Even if it can be proven that the New Testament churches had multiple
elders, that would not necessarily be normative for the church today. After all,
everyone agrees that believers in the Jerusalem church sold their goods and had
all things in common, yet who suggests returning to that pattern today?
To say that the pattern of the New Testament church is not normative for us today
is tantamount to saying that God has left us without any pattern at all. Distressing
thought! Has God really left us at the mercy of human ingenuity in deciding how
the ministry of His Church is to be ordered? Rather, let us say with the Psalmist,
"I esteem right all Thy precepts concerning everything" (Ps. 119:128).
to the selling of goods by believers in the Jerusalem church: (1) The passage
in question, Acts 2:42-47, does not say that all those who believed sold all their
possessions. This was not "Christian communism" as it is sometimes pictured.
The use of the imperfect tense in verse 45 implies that from time to time, as
necessary, they sold their goods to distribute to brethren in need. (2) I, for
one, am not prepared to say that the example of these early Jerusalem saints is
not the norm for believers today, particularly in light of the words of John's
whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up
his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him. (1
Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- We can demonstrate
the results of inventing our own methods of church government in the use of voting,
church business meetings, and democracy. This mongrel method of decision making
is from the feet of iron and clay. Democracy always ends in dictatorship, and
it is used today, by Jackboot preachers, to manipulate the "laity" into
postures which sustain the power of the Nicolaitan manipulator. To say "times
have changed" is very correct, but they are not the times of the Holy Ghost--
they are the "Times of the Gentiles" of the image of Daniel which have
poisoned the Lord's Church. ]
9: You cannot deny that God has through the years mightily blessed many Pastors
and churches who have used the one-Pastor system, and continues to do so today.
No one would think of denying this. Yet the problems mentioned above cannot reasonably
be denied either. And who would claim that the fruitfulness of the Church as a
whole is anywhere near the divinely intended level? Besides, it is a mistake to
think that because God graciously blesses someone operating under a certain set
of beliefs or practices, that He thereby endorses those beliefs or practices.
for instance, greatly used many preachers, teachers, and missionaries who have
held to the teaching that Christians may lose their salvation. Yet few who are
taught in the Scriptures would suggest that this view therefore has God's sanction,
or that it is unimportant to uphold the scriptural teaching of Salvation. Praise
God, He does not require us to be perfect in our interpretation of Scripture before
He will use us. If so, who could hope to be used? But as we are given further
light on the Scriptures, it is our duty and our Joy to conform our beliefs and
practices as nearly as possible to the Word of God.
Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- A study of the life
of Jehu is useful here. God said that Jehu's mind was like His mind, and God rewarded
Jehu with the throne of Israel for four generations. But, God also saw to it that
the canon included the comment that Jehu failed to kill the sodomites and destroy
the golden calves. Does the zeal of Jehu negate the need to deal with the two
faulted areas mentioned? NO, and that is why God noted it-- so that future generations
would keep His holiness in final authority in the ways of men. ]
10: A multiple-elder system might well solve some problems, but at the same time
it would create a whole new set of problems of its own.
This I willingly admit. When, however, you are operating under a scriptural pattern,
the problems that arise are scriptural problems. That is, they are problems that
have been anticipated in Scripture and for which guidance is provided in Scripture.
Also, let us not forget that, quite apart from the question of what problems might
be solved or created, we ought to follow the New Testament pattern simply because
it is the New Testament pattern. We conform to the authority of Scripture as a
matter of principle, not for pragmatic reasons. But when we do so, we invariably
find God's way to be the best way.
Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- There is within
Fundamentalism a spirit to NOT rock the boat by calling for a more Bible centered
church polity and structure. Friend, this is precisely the same reasoning used
by the Pope as he calls his wayward priests to submit to the Old Mother Whore
instead of applying what they find in their Bibles. I know a Catholic priest in
India who has, along with his whole society, been excommunicated from the Catholic
Church for calling that profane church back to its older heritage. Well, I will
tell you something friend-- if you call the Fundamental churches back to an early
Church Pauline church polity, you WILL become a pariah in your circle of pastoral
Nicolaitan friends. That is about where I expect this article will land me. There
is a price to be paid to be right with our Lord and His Word. ]
11: Surely you don't think all the problems you mentioned would vanish if our
churches simply changed their pattern of leadership?
Unfortunately, no. Not overnight at least, particularly where the clergy-laity
mentality has been firmly entrenched for decades. But even in such a case a return
to the New Testament pattern, if wholeheartedly adopted by the local church, would
certainly produce a dramatic effect. The manifold problems and unscriptural attitudes
nurtured by the false clergy-laity distinction could at least begin to be resolved.
In other situations, where a fresh start is possible (such as on the mission field,
in new churches, or with new converts), these problems can be avoided altogether.
shall we say then?
one-man pastorate, far from having the sanction of Scripture, is essentially a
"Protestantized" holdover from the Roman Catholic clerical
system. For those of us who claim the Bible, rather than tradition, as our authority,
it is time to fervently search the Scriptures to see if these things are so. (Acts
would that every reader of this booklet might share the blessing I have found
by "turning my feet to His testimonies" (Ps. 119:59) and choosing to
meet in fellowship with those who gather in New Testament simplicity and order.
I have written more about this in a small booklet entitled,
I Have Found: My introduction to "brethren" assemblies.
free copy may be obtained by writing to the publisher of this booklet.
Spread the Word
2721 Oberlin Drive
York, PA 17404
[ Editor: Steve Van Nattan--
Blessed Quietness Journal-- I must add a few observations here. I have
seen the "Brethren" fellowships, and they DO have things they need to
take care of, such as:
Brethren fellowships add some patented things which are not legally required in
the New Testament.
These include the use of alcoholic wine in the Lord's Supper....
The insistence of the Lord's Supper every Sunday, whereas our Lord initiated the
event at a once a year event called Passover. We are only told to do this "as
oft as ye do it"....
The cursing of musical instruments during hymn singing, a law which is NOT anywhere
in the Word of God....
The head covering, which is not very offensive, but it does not allow for the
hair of the woman being her covering....
Some require foot washing as an ordinance equal to baptism and the Lord's Supper.
This rule is NOT in the Word and in the Apostolic history of the New Testament
If sin comes into the assembly, especially in the youth, the leaders are often
slow to deal with it since they don't want to make one another look bad.
The individual assemblies vary greatly from one to the other because there is
no standard for anything other than one local church. This is not a serious problem
as long as you understand that each assembly makes its own rules and standards.
I know of one assembly in Chicago which insists that a speaker NOT carry a Bible
into the pulpit so as not to offend the listeners, while on the other extreme,
the vast majority of Brethren assemblies are King James Version only and very
narrow and zealous for the Lord.
noted these weak areas in "Brethren" fellowships, I hasten to add that
these people NEVER have the Jackboot problem of mean tempered pastors beating
sheep and raging and ruling in the Lord's Church like Popelets. This makes their
assemblies strong in leadership since they do not depend on only one man to figure
out every detail of church life.
course, precious few Fundamental pastors will ever go near a Brethren assembly
because they cannot take an offering and pocket it :-) But, I suggest that this
kind of New Testament church structure is based in the Word of God and is ideal
for the newly formed House Church. Indeed, anyone starting a church in the End
of the Age of Grace should consider these things very thoughtfully.
a brief review of this article I must add that men such as William Grady who writes
the books "Final Authority" And "What Hath God Wrought!" would not be in agreement
with the author below and your comments. These Jackboot Baptists include men such
as Grady even if he cross dresses as a sheep when it's time to defend the King
James Bible to be the word of God. He is not a defender of the faith which was
once given among the saints. Grady, and others, are absolutely set on their pet
"AUTHORITY" issue and don't understand authority at all. It would do well for
these men who are obsessed with their own AUTHORITY to understand where the authority
comes from. For those who don't understand what it is to be UNDER authority; it
would do well to read these scriptures:
Matthew 8:5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there
came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
6 And saying, Lord, my servant
lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
7 And Jesus saith
unto him, I will come and heal him.
8 The centurion answered and said, Lord,
I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only,
and my servant shall be healed.
9 For I am a man under authority, having
soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come,
and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
10 When Jesus
heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you,
I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
11 And I say unto you,
That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham,
and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
12 But the children of the
kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing
13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast
believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame
14 And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother
laid, and sick of a fever.
15 And he touched her hand, and the fever left
her: and she arose, and ministered unto them. [ Saved to serve! ]
Luke 7:1 Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people,
he entered into Capernaum.
2 And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear
unto him, was sick, and ready to die.
3 And when he heard of Jesus, he sent
unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his
4 And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying,
That he was worthy for whom he should do this:
5 For he loveth our nation,
and he hath built us a synagogue.
6 Then Jesus went with them. And when he
was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto
him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter
under my roof:
7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee:
but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.
8 For I also am a man set
under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth;
and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth
9 When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about,
and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so
great faith, no, not in Israel.
10 And they that were sent, returning to the
house, found the servant whole that had been sick.
Notice that the
centurion doesn't boast about his authority but is humble about being "under authority".
Then our Lord Jesus gives witness of the centurion's faith and compares that faith
to the lack thereof in Israel. There is much preaching here against the wicked
Jackboot spirit of error...
one point only I agree with your article of church leadership, that it should
be the elders and not one single paid person. [ My wife ] and I briefly went to
a Gospel Hall (Plymouth Brethern Assembly) 29 and one-half years ago as I was
convinced at that time the system of a paid clergyman was wrong. We did not leave
the liberal Baptist church that we were attending at the time to join them because
of their use of alcoholic wine. I agreed with almost everything else they believed,
[ My wife ] didn't but would have been willing to change if it hadn't been for
the use of alcoholic wine. Because of that we have always stayed in the one pastor
church system which I have merely tolerated because there was no fellowship anywhere
else. Unlike you though I believe the head covering refers to an external covering
and not the long hair itself.
On the subject of Bible versions I believe as you do (100%) and I am very grieved
that our pastor (of a Missionary Church - a denomination that came out of the
Mennonite denomination) and my friend has replaced his KJV with a NKJV. Approximately
two years ago I gave him Gail Riplinger's book "New Age Bible Versions" and I
asked him if he agreed with what the book said. His reply was that it's all here
and it's all documented; so I believed at that time we were of the same mind on
almost everything but obviously he has changed or he was not telling me the whole
I found it interesting that you came to the conclusions you did about local church
government and I am happy to see what you have discovered in the Bible. praise
believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and looking for that blessed hope and his glorious
Blessed Quietness Journal-- I have yet to hear from a Fundamental Jackboot
sheep basher who wants to defend his pastoral dictatorship. Could at least one
of you bully boys thrash me, and let me read your proof texting. I would love
it. I will of course protect your identity so that your assembly will not know
what a brute you are. Hey, where are you Bob Ross? How about socking it to me
you Hyles clones? KJV only please. These other Bibles bore me to death. :-)
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