Thursday, May 31, 2018
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Saturday, May 26, 2018
Sunday, May 20, 2018
In 2007, renowned church leader Andy Stanley was interviewed by Christianity Today about the ministry model he had established for his church. In that interview, Stanley stated:
“I think a big problem in the church has been the dichotomy between spirituality and leadership. One of the criticisms I get is ‘Your church is so corporate.’ I read blogs all the time. Bloggers complain, ‘The pastor's like a CEO.’ And I say, ‘OK, you're right. Now, why is that a bad model?’ A principle is a principle, and God created all the principles.”
Pirate Christian Radio speaker Chris Rosebrough is quoted as saying:
“Peter Drucker, who is the ideological mind behind the Seeker Driven Church Movement, along with the Fascists of the 20th century, bought into Rousseau’s philosophical worldview which denied the existence of the individual in time.
“Rousseau’s ideas about a single leader mystically embodying the collective will of the community were adopted by and further developed by fascist theorists, and then later put into practice by the fascist governments of the 20th century.”
It is Rosebrough’s assertion here that modern church leaders are interpreting their position as something akin to fascistic “fuhrer” rather than to that of a shepherd.
In Matthew 23, Jesus said this:
"But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant."
The Greek word that Christ uses for “instructors” in this passage could be literally translated “leaders,” exactly the word that the Seeker Driven Church movement has latched on to when describing the role of their pastors.
In Matthew 23:8-11, Christ not only places God as the sole authority to which all others were subservient, but establishes the core principle of his church. In contrast to the Jewish leadership, which was essentially a totalitarian system in which the parishioner was obligated to follow the commands of the religious leader or risk excommunication, Jesus was establishing a system wherein the “greatest
among you shall be your servant.”
In his critique of the fascist-style leadership being adopted more and more by the Seeker-driven Church movement, Rosbrough describes it as a top-down authoritarian model. That is to say the leader, or “fuhrer” has all of the authority, while all of the responsibility is placed on those under him to carry out his will. This as opposed to a Republic wherein the people have the authority and the governing official has the responsibility to carry out the will of the people.
The system Christ describes in this command is neither top-down or bottom-up. If anything, it is a lateral
system. The authority and responsibility are placed entirely with God. It is the duty of the Church to serve one another equally, and to make disciples of those outside the Church; acts which can only be done in the power of the Spirit. This is illustrated by Christ when he says:
"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."
God is described here as "The Lord of the Harvest," taking responsibility for the harvest as well as being the one ascribed the authority to send out the laborers; just as it was Christ who recruited those he chose to be his ministers:
“And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’”
This verse speaks to the commission of the minister to "make disciples of all nations," that is, to preach the Gospel to non-believers. As for the responsibility of the minsters within the Church, Christ best summed it up in his request of Peter:
"Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”"
It is interesting to note here that Peter’s motivation for “feeding the sheep” is his love of Christ. He is neither bribed by rewards nor goaded by fear of punishment; rather, he is doing so out of gratitude toward God and love of Christ.
But as with the rabbi in Jerusalem, who turned their commission to teach the law and the prophets to the Nation of Israel into an opportunity to put words in God’s mouth and lord power over their charges, the Church fell to the same abuses.
As the governing structure of the church came to be understood as a separation between clergy and laity, a gap began to form between the individual in the church and God. The individual could only approach God through the agency of priests, bishops, popes, and saints, and were powerless to go to God on their own.
History, it seems, repeats itself. The Seeker-Driven Church of modern times has reverted to a structure they call “vision-casting.” In this model the pastor or leader claims to receive a vision directly from God.
This “vision” often looks similar to a corporate “mission statement.” The pastor then presents the vision to the church body, and it becomes their responsibility to fulfill this mission for the pastor. Any disagreement with the vision on the part of a parishioner results in immediate excommunication. The pastor has the authority to interpret the vision in any way he or she sees fit, allowing them essentially limitless power over the church body through a mission given them (they claim) directly from God.
This shift between Peter’s commission to “feed my sheep” to the Seeker-Driven model of “vision casting” is possibly best illustrated in this quote from a sermon by Prosperity Gospel advocate Creflo Dollar:
“You know you people say ‘Well why do you go to that Church? So I can be fed.’ You don’t come here so you can be fed! You come here to help me to fulfill His vision! That is, if God called you here. You haven’t been called so you can be fed the Word. Now if you get fed in the midst of it, that’s good. But you’ve been called to find your part in bringing this vision to pass in the earth!”
It is not difficult to understand the motivation for these kinds of ecclesiastical power-grabs. The Bible and History books are replete with examples of opportunists abusing politics and religion for personal power. But, as Christ said, call no man rabbi, father, or master.
It is not just that Christians are not obligated to submit to those claiming religious power over them; it is that Christians are obligated not to submit. To do so is to place allegiance in some human agency rather than God, a violation of the first commandment and of the greatest commandment.
How, then is one to understand the structure of the Church?
In the book of Hebrews, the author makes this criticism of his audience:
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”
Jesus had commanded his Apostles to “make disciples of all nations,” and the author of Hebrews tells his readers that “by this time you ought to be teachers.”
The natural trajectory of the Christian is to mature in their faith, to preach the gospel to the unbeliever and to encourage and instruct the new believer. There is no one single person or council of people outside of Christ singled out for the task of holding power over the Church.
The Apostle Paul best summarized Church Structure this way:
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”
In this sense every Christian is a minister, that is, a servant, first to God and then to His Church. The Gospel - the good news that believers are commissioned to preach - is that every person is free to approach God by the grace purchased through Christ’s sacrifice. But this fails to be good news if, once converted, the believer is obligated to appeal to a structure of priests, bishops, popes, saints, and church leaders in the hopes of possibly reaching God.
If a person has been washed of sin, and has been given the freedom to approach God directly, that person, through love, has become a minister of God:
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you
may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
“The goal of Bible translation is to take readers as close as possible to the actual words that the biblical authors wrote. The translation process that this viewpoint produces is called verbal equivalence, which means that every word in the original Hebrew or Greek text is rendered by an equivalent or corresponding English word or phrase. The goal of Bible translation is be transparent to the original text—to see as clearly as possible what the biblical authors actually wrote.”
“Dynamic equivalent translators feel no obligation to find an English equivalent for every word in the original Hebrew and Greek texts; if the text says "he anoints my head with oil," a dynamic equivalent translation might read "he treats me as an honored guest." Paraphrases often bear little resemblance to what the biblical authors wrote (for example, the statement in Psalm 19 that God's law is "sweeter than honey" becomes "you'll like it better than strawberries in spring" (The Message).” Dr. Ryken is critical of the dynamic equivalence school of Bible translation, saying: “Here are the liberties that dynamic equivalent translators regularly take:
- replace what the original authors wrote with something else (e.g., where the text says "establish the work of our hands," dynamic equivalent translations substitute "let all go well for us");
- change figurative statements into direct statements (again a substitution);
- add interpretive commentary to what the biblical authors wrote, so readers do not know what was in the original and what was added;
- make the style of the English Bible contemporary and colloquial;
- reduce the vocabulary level of the original text;
- bring masculine gender references into line with modern feminist preferences.
In all these ways, dynamic equivalent translations give the public a substitute Bible. I would also assert that the original authors of the Bible had the resources to state their content the way dynamic equivalent translators state it, but instead they stated it as we find in the original texts of the Bible. Dynamic equivalent translators take a condescending view toward the authors of the Bible, treating them like inept writers who couldn't state things accurately and therefore need correction.”
“Readers should aspire to what is excellent. They should refuse to read a substitute Bible. They should want a Bible that calls them to their higher selves—or to something higher than their current level of attainment. “Some of the blame can be laid at the feet of easy-reading translations. When I read these translations and (even more) hear them read in public, I feel a great letdown and say to myself that such a Bible does not capture my heart and allegiance. A translation that reads like the chatter at the corner coffee shop is given the type of credibility that the chatter is given. But quite apart from that, we need to acknowledge the damage done by the proliferation of Bible translations. With so many contradictory renditions of the biblical text, the public has lost confidence that we can actually know what the Bible says. It is an easy step from this skepticism to an indifference about what the Bible says.”