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    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    « The Importance of Truth | A Case for Full-time Ministry? Part 1 of 6 »

    On Biblical Leadership: Submission, Control, and Authority in the Church






    I have been repeatedly told (or it has been strongly implied) that I “need" to be in church. The implication is I’m in “rebellion” because I do not sit under someone’s authority and teaching. Though I ask where this is in the Bible, I have not been shown although Hebrews 10:25,

    "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching", is often thrown at me, but has zip to do with Biblical leadership.


    I am always open to discuss, learn, and find if my writings or beliefs are opposed to scripture. Those who don’t like what I have to say will not show me where I have been wrong, but imply I should stop rocking the boat by sitting down and shutting up. Truly, when they tell me I should be in church it is so I can be controlled (under authority).


    This is not Biblical. Christians answer to God first, Christ is our head, and all Christians have full access to Him. No one Christian is better or holier than another; we are all “part of a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9) with Jesus as our High Priest, and God does not show favoritism (Acts 10:34).


    Trying to get someone under someone else’s control is oppression, manipulation, and a form of slavery. I voluntarily submit my life to Christ’s authority first and ultimately, and my spouse’s next. I serve my brothers and sisters in Christ and they serve me, but we do not “rule” over/control each other.


    There is a huge difference between submission/subjection which is how servants and slaves are expected to behave before their lords and masters (mine being Christ), and how siblings in Christ relate to each other to serve, teach, share, seek guidance, study scripture together, and hang out (fellowship). We are to submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21), not many to one.


    The issue of having or sitting "under a pastor" is not Biblical. When the word “pastor” or “shepherd” is used, it specifically refers to elders or overseers, not the one-person-teacher-preacher-authority we have come to know.


    The Bible goes into great detail describing the role of elder and especially how an elder’s life should look (1Tim. 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9). Deacons are also described, and those two roles (with several people to fill each) comprise the extent of Biblical church leadership. 


    Even so, nowhere does scripture say I “need” to be under any kind of authority apart from God’s in order to be a good Christian. Neither Paul nor any other disciple is ever stated to have been "under" an authority apart from Christ, nor are they exalted as a supreme authority in the church.


    When they wrote letters to churches they encouraged, exhorted, taught, and sometimes verbally chastened, but force, power, punishment, or threats were never employed.


    I propose that the modern understanding of "pastor" has contributed to far more harm than good. It puts modern pastors under an enormous amount of strain, burden, and reponsibility that is too much for one person to bear or wield (as the case may be).


    Today, one pastor can make or break an entire church! That is far too much power and authority for one, falliable person. Not to mention being under so much pressure they succumb to secret temptations (porn, sexual abuse against children), mental and physical breakdowns, or engage in "spiritual abuse", none of which would happen with a Bible-based approach.


    I observed a pastor's ordination once, and I recall the person was draped with stole after stole, each representing one of the "five-fold ministries" (Ephesians 4:11) of prophet, teacher, apostle, evangelist, and pastor/overseer/elder.


    The context of Ephesians 4:11, "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers," proves these jobs are to fall to different people, and 1 Corinthians 12:27-30 makes it clear,

    "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret?"  


    The Old Testament makes it pretty clear (especially in Exodus) that God wants (and always has wanted) a personal relationship with individuals (Adam and Eve, Genesis 2-3). The O.T. also makes it clear that people generally prefer one representative/mediator between them and God (Exodus 20:18-21), rather than a personal relationship.


    In the O.T., God grants the Israelites their wish through a series of prophets, beginning with Moses. Not satisfied with that, they eventually request a king to rule them (1 Samuel 8). But Christians already have a mediator with God-Jesus Christ! And no one else.

    "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5).

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