The Home-Church Model of
19. "The Pastor" vs. The Patriarch
The Biblical goal is for every father to mature in the faith and take more and more "pastoral" responsibilities upon his shoulders, as he opens his home to more and more people. Problems occur when we expect these responsibilities to be carried out by a 28-year old Bible College graduate who is "ordained" a "Pastor" of a "local church."
|In this section we examine the duties of the "Elder" (Pastor) as spelled out in "The Form of Presbyterial Government," drawn up in 1645 by the writers of the Westminster Confession of Faith. We argue that every legitimate duty set forth for the "Elder" is a duty for all believers.|
20. The Bible: Monopolies and Famines
Scripture makes it clear that the more exposure a culture has to the Bible the better off it is. Now, shortages of commodities are caused by political monopolies; are famines of the Word (Amos 8:11) caused by ecclesiastical monopolies?
21. Pastors Must Pray
We would never want to say that praying is a duty only for the "ordained."
22. Study Questions
23. Pastors Must Read the Bible
Certainly we wouldn't want the reading of the Bible to be a duty exclusively given to "ordained officers," would we?
24. Study Questions
25. Pastors Must Feed the Flock
Do all believers have an obligation to "shepherd" ("feed") some other believers?
26. Study Questions
27. Pastors Must Catechize
Catechisms were intended to be used by parents to educate their children. Catechizing should certainly not be restricted to the "ordained."
28. Study Questions
29. Pastors Must Comfort
30. Study Questions
31. Pastors Must Exhort
Scripture says we must all exhort one another.
32. Study Questions
33. Pastors Must Convince
A duty for all believers.
34. Study Questions
35. Pastors Must Teach
Surprisingly, a duty for all believers
36. Study Questions
37. Are You "Apt to Teach"?
You should be! (Better start working on it!)
This one's going to take some time.
38. Word Study
What do ecclesiastical terms like "preach," "evangelize," etc., mean? What Biblical words are behind them? Where? This study shows how to use Biblical language tools to get through the seminarian fog to the text of the Scriptures.
39. Objection -- The delivery of Religious Lectures
Our Professor objects that our concept of "preaching" or "teaching" is entirely too informal and conversational. We think our concept is Biblical. Let's "search together" (Acts 17:11).
40. Lexical Observations by Craig A. Evans
Excerpts from an article in The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society which we think supports our views.
41. Biblical Styles of Preaching and Teaching Did Jesus use a "pulpit"? Did the Apostles? Did their hearers sit in neat little rows? Did their hearers sit silently for an hour without interrupting for questions and points of clarification? How does this compare with today's "sermon"?
42. Pulpits and Peripatetics - The Greek Origin of the Sermon
The modern "sermon" has no counterpart in the Apostolic Church. There is no record of believers regularly gathering to hear a "sermon." The "sermon" was employed by traveling Greek philosophers, and as their content was (regrettably) brought into Christendom, so was their form.
43. Miscellaneous Issues
44. The Primacy of the Preacher (by James B. Jordan).
We need to abandon flashy rhetoric and get back to the Scriptures
45. What is "Authoritative Preaching"? The Professor says there may be something to the idea that every believer can verbally minister to another person ("teach" or "preach"), but he says only the "ordained" can engage in "Authoritative Preaching." We think that everyone who speaks according to the Word of God speaks "authoritatively," and no one who speaks contrary to the Word speaks "authoritatively," even if they're "ordained."
46. Who Should Excommunicate? Our Professor then went on to say that on the basis of "authoritative preaching" someone might be excommunicated for not believing or acting in accord therewith, but only the "ordained" could excommunicate. We think that if someone acts lawlessly every individual believer has a responsibility to separate from and disfellowship that person (after following the steps in Matthew 18:15-17), even if all the "ordained" in the world should laud that rebel. Conversely, if a Godly saint is unScripturally excommunicated by one or more "ordained" men, nevertheless no one should fail to fellowship with him (for the same reasons we are required to fellowship with Christians who haven't been excommunicated by anyone). (And perhaps the "ordained" person needs to be talked to, a la Matthew 18!)
47. Pastors Must be Mysterious Well, not exactly. Pardon us while we poke a little fun at some sanctimonious language found in the "Form of Government."
48. Pastors Must Administer the Sacraments
49. Study Questions
50. Objection -- "Sacerdotalism"
The Professor objected to our calling the view which held that only the "ordained" could administer the sacraments "sacerdotal." Some preliminary answers are given, and expanded upon in the following essay.
51. What is Sacerdotalism?
52. The Sacraments as "Discipline"
The Professor, trying to distance himself from Roman Catholic views, advances a suspicious theory.
53. Sacramental Retrogression?
Protestants hold that Baptism is the New Testament counterpart to Circumcision, and the Lord's Table the counterpart to Passover. Even the Old Testament did not require a priest for these sacraments; why would the New Testament?
54. Sacraments and the Sacral Society
The word "sacrament" does not occur in Scripture. When did it originate? Why? What does it mean? Do we believe in "sacraments" in the New Age?
55. Baptism: Spirit vs. Water
In the Old Testament, sprinkling of water ("baptism") often symbolized the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The "Ultra-Dispensationalists" do not believe in water baptism, since the major references by Paul to "baptism" refer to the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit. Do they have a point?
56. "Till I Come": The Parousia and the "Christian Passover"
The traditional concept of the Second Coming needs to be overhauled, in our opinion. The overwhelming majority of texts used to establish it are misapplied, and actually speak of the Lord's Coming in judgment against Israel in 70 A.D. J. Stuart Russell analyzed these verses methodically and comprehensively and concludes that Jesus' command to re-enact the last Passover "Till I Come" referred to His Coming against Jerusalem and cutting off of Israel.
57. Footwashing and Shallow Sacramentalism
The arbitrary definitions of "sacrament" are seen clearly when the ritual of footwashing is examined. Why is this not a "sacrament" along with the other two? The reasoning of the theologians is most unpersuasive.
58. Pastors Must Bless
All Christians are to Bless, that is, entreat the Lord to be merciful according to His Covenant.
59. Pastors Must Take Care of the Poor
Well, I'm sure glad I don't have to!
60. Charity and Church Government
Must all of our gifts (tithes or offerings) go to the institutional church? Should "church officers" have complete authority over their disbursement? Was the "public dole" in Acts 6 (and the "deacons" appointed to oversee its disbursement) unique, or is it normative for today?
61. Pastors Must Be An Example
As must all believers.
62. Study Questions
63. Pastors Must "Oversee"
64. Study Questions
65. Objection -- Clergy in I Peter 5:1-6
The Professor objected to our use of the text and the verb episcopeo. Interestingly, we find that the text calls all of God's People the "clergy."
66. Objection -- Office or Function?
This time he objects to our assertion that God never gives a man an empty "office," but commands us all to function as mature and Godly Patriarchs. The word he depends on to prove "office" may actually prove that no one is truly "religious" if he doesn't (at least) take up "oversight" over widows and orphans.
67. Study Questions
68. Pastors Must Lord it Over the Flock
69. Statism in the Churches
The seminarians use I Peter 5:1-5 as a proof-text for increased authority for "church officers." Actually, the passage (and Peter's entire letter) teaches the opposite.
70. Objection -- Elders in the Old and New Testaments
The Professor says we should model New Testament elders after Old Testament elders. A half-truth; it looks suspiciously like he wants us to follow the pattern of the inter-testamental elders, as they departed from God's Law and embraced ritualism and Pharisaism.
71. Objection -- Spiritual vs. Appointed Elders
The Professor raises numerous questions -- and so do we! -- which have never been and may never be answered. But the questions don't support traditional ecclesiasticism.
72. Objection -- Pastors: Among vs. Over.
More quibbling by the Professor.
73. Equality as a training ground for Leadership
Paul spent over 8 years with other believers between the time he was called and the time he went out. Why the "delay"? What did he do? What did he learn? What can we learn from him?
74. Robes in Review
A critique of clerical vestments.
75. Pastors Are Worthy of Double Honor
Not mentioned in "The Form of Government," but an important issue.
One of the biggest obstacles to a full-functioning believer-priesthood is the concept of "ordination."
77. Objection -- On God's Desire for Empires
The Professor says the State is "ordained" by God, and so are "Pastors." We have explored the State elsewhere. God does not prescribe it or condone it. Bad argument for "Pastors"!
78. Study Questions
79. Ordination in the Westminster Standards
A survey of the doctrine and the basic issues
80. The Laying on of Hands
What does this ritual mean? Does it still have a place in our day?
81. Objection -- Its True Purpose
The Professor's objection is curious, but really does nothing to quiet our questions concerning the ritual, nor our overall point that all believers should be striving to be Spiritual shepherds.
82. Study Questions -- Hands and Voting
83. Are Presbyterians Democrats? Reformed (and especially Reconstructionist) theologians look with some suspicion upon Democracy. But then they try to be crowd-pleasers (or avoid sounding like advocates of episcopacy) by assuring their congregations that the "authoritative preachers" who rule over them will have been selected by majority vote of the congregation before ordination.
84. Perpetual and Ordinary Officers
The "Form of Government" distinguishes these from Apostolic "officers." But it would seen that none of the "officers" in the New Testament (who form the basis for continuing "officers" in our day) were "ordinary." Thus, they were exceptions to the general Patriarchal principle.
85. Ad Hoc Authority vs. Institutionalism
"Authority" is given for specific tasks. "Church Government" exceeds any temporary authority it may have once been given and seeks perpetual control.
86. Natural Ordination
Bestowal of authority should be based on natural (observable, practical, day-to-day) competence, not supernatural (mystical, institutional, rhetorical) "criteria" (which only the seminarians can "understand").
87. Amateurism and Professionalism
"Amateurs" do something because they "love" to. "Professionals" do it because they make money. Should the "clergy" be a "profession"?
151. Gary North: "Family Authority vs. Protestant Sacerdotalism"
- A Self-Guided Review
152. James B. Jordan: "God's Hospitality and Holistic Evangelism"
If You Are a Church Pastor: You should be aware before you even start reading this page that our goal is to abolish the institutional church. This is not a declaration of war on you.
Just as the Bible describes evil pastors (Jeremiah 23) who are wolves out to shear the sheep, our experience shows us that there are two kinds of pastors who might be reading this page.
Vine & Fig Tree believes in the "priesthood of all believers" (1 Peter 2:9). We believe the Body of Christ is functioning normally not when one man is "in charge of" 100 spiritually lethargic drop-outs, but when those 100 men are growing into mature men, "unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13), and exercising their priestly and kingly tasks. If you see yourself as a servant of others who is gifted and called to encourage this kind of growth in others, then you will be pleasantly surprised by this call to abolish the institutional church.
But if you hold a "position" which is dependent on the continued existence of perpetually juvenile and spiritually stagnant people, you will see this page as a threat to your lifestyle.
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These essays were published in various forms, including a number of "Study-letters" published by Vine & Fig Tree. They have not yet been converted to HTML. If you would like to read one sooner than it takes to get it posted on the 'net, just write and ask for it by Essay Number. Kevin4VFT@aol.com
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