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 Extract from: Who is your covering - Frank Viola

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PostSubject: Extract from: Who is your covering - Frank Viola   Fri Apr 16, 2010 3:19 pm

Quote :
The Problem of the Modern Pastoral Role

... the commonly accepted notion of "sola pastora" (single pastor) is at odds with the NT. The Bible knows nothing of a person who stands at the helm of a local church, directs its affairs, preaches to it every Sunday, conducts its baptisms, and officiates its communion (or Lord's supper).

The highly specialized, proffessional "pastoral role" of modern Protestantism is a post-biblical novelty that evokes a tradition of humane (but not so helpful) sacerdotalism! It is essentially a carry-over from Roimanism (the priest). As such, it better reflects the weak and beggarly elements of the Levitical priesthood than anything found in the NT.

Just as serious, the pastoral role warps many who fill this position. Those who get seduced by the trappings of clerical professionalism are virtually always tainted by it. God never called anyone to bear the heavy burden of ministering to the needs of the church by themselves.

Perhaps the most daunting feature of the modern pastoral role is that it keeps the people it claims to serve in spiritual infancy. Because the pastoral role usurps the believer's right to minister in a spiritual way, it ends up warping God's people. It keeps them weak and insecure.

Granted, many who fill this role do so for laudable reasons. And not a few of them sincerely want to see their fellow brethren take spiritual responsibility. (Many a pastor live with this frustration. But few have mapped the problem to their profession.)

Yet, the modern office of "pastor" always disempowers and pacifies the believing priesthood. This is so regardless of how uncontrolling the person who fills this position may be.

Since the pastor carries the spiritual workload, the majority of the brethren become passive, lazy, self-seeking, and arrested in their spiritual growth. In this way, both pastors and congregations alike cannot help from being spiritually lamed by this unbiblical office.

While the NT calls Paul an "apostle," Philip an "evangelist," Manaen a "teacher," and Agabus a "prophet," it never identifies anyone as a pastor! In fact, the word "pastor" is used only once in the entire NT (see Ephesians 4:11). And it is used as a descriptive metaphor, never as an ecclesiastical office. This flies in the face of common practice. Today "the pastor" is regarded as the figurehead of the church. His name is exclusively splashed on church marquees all across America. (One wonders why other ministries do not appear on these marquees when they are given far more attention in the NT.)

In the final analysis, the modern pastoral role undermines the Headship of Jesus Christ. It has a spiritually crippling effect on the church. It robs God's beloved priesthood (of all believers) of its full employment. Further, its mere presence diffuses and stalemates those "ordinary" believers who are equally gifted to shepherd and teach the flock. (Never mind that the Bible teaches that every church is to have multiple shepherds. Or that all members of the Body are to bear pastoral responsibility.)

Typically, if someone other than the pastor dares to shepherd or teach the sheep (even if he may be trustworthy, mature, and gifted), the pastor will feel threatened. He will then snuff it our under the guise of "protecting" the flock!

To be more specific and pointed, the present-day conception of "the pastor" is far removed from the thought of God. It puts the dynamic of NT community into an Old Testament straightjacket.

Yet regardless of the spiritual tragedies it engenders, the masses continue to rely upon, defend, and insist on the existence of this most unbiblical role. For this reason the so-called "laity" are just as responsible for the problem of clericalism as is the "clergy." As Jeremiah 5:31 says, "The priests rule on their own authority; and my people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?"

If the truth be told, many Christians prefer the convenience of having someone other than themselves shoulder the responsibility for ministry and shepherding. In their minds, it is better to hire a religious specialist to tend to the needs of the brethren than to bother themselves with the self-emptying demands of servanthood and pastoral care.

The words of the old prophet capture the Lord's displeasure with this mindset: "They have set up kings, but not my me: they have made princes, and I knew it not..." (Hosea 8:4a).

In light of these sobering facts, one may intelligently ask how it is that the modern pastoral role remains to be the commonly accepted form of church leadership today. The answer lies deeply entrenched in the history of the Reformation. And it continues to be reinforced by current cultural imperatives.

In short, our 20th-century Western obsession with offices and titles has led us to superimpose our own ideas of church order onto the NT. Yet the very ethos of the NT militates against the idea of official-elders.

Scripture is equally at odds with the "senior pastor" concept. This is the common (but unscriptural) practice of elevating one of the elders to a prominent authoritative position. Nowhere does the NT sanction the notion of primos inter pares - "first among equals." At least not in any official or formal way.

This disconnect between "the pastor" and the other elders was an accident of church history. But because it meshes perfectly with our acculturated Christian mindset, modern believers have little trouble reading this false dichotomy into Scripture.

In sum, the modern pastoral role is little more than a one-size-fits-all blending of administration, psychology, and oratory that is packaged into one position for religious consumption. As such, the sociological role of pastor, as practiced in the West, has few points of contact with anything or anyone in the NT!
This is for the church goers who think they are not dead.
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