Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Priestcraft in the Protestant Church?

Under the old covenant it was necessary that a priest mediate between the lay people of God and God. The work of the priest, however, did not altogether preclude personal, experiential, and communal relations between the individual believer and God, though there were certain restrictions of a very complex nature. The old covenant people were loved of God, loved God, had faith in God, walked with God, prayed to God, sinned before God, repented before God, and lived morally before God, just as do new covenant believers. However, in this early dispensation of time in redemptive history there were certain outward means by which grace was dispensed, sins were covered, and atonement was made. The old covenant priesthood was ordained and sovereignly instituted by God whereby the priest was entrusted with certain ceremonial rites and rituals pertaining to private and corporate worship that was theirs alone to administer on behalf of the people of God. These many functions of the priest that ministered the required sacrifices, offerings, and observances for the people were all types that foreshadowed what was to come in the person and work of Christ, who by taking on the role of our great high priest tore down the wall that once in this sense separated the people from God. What the old covenant priest did in their sacrificial ministrations were successive being repetitive until Jesus came and made a singular, once for all, final, and most ultimate sacrifice for sin-that being the nature of his very own death-which having been as a substitution on behalf of his elect people from all ages, and out of all races, saves those that believe in him. Since this monolithic event we are no longer in need of a priest to mediate the various graces of God to us, but we may now boldly approach him as if we are priests ourselves (Hebrews, the whole book; 1Pet.2:9).

There is one God and one faith and based on the works of Christ there is free access to him (Eph. 4:4-6). Ultimately we do not have to answer to anyone but God as we will all stand before him to give an account of our selves and not that of another (Rom. 14:12). This is not to say that we do not have certain authorities that we are to submit to such as pertains to familial relations, pastors, and government (Heb. 13:17). Nevertheless, there is a tendency among certain people who by way of sinful regression drift back to a quasi old covenant way of thinking and fall victim to a type of priestcraft that rears the ugly head of prideful superiority above those that they perceive to not be as skilled in scriptural knowledge and doctrine, nor schooled by experience, or having gone through the same refining fires as they themselves. It is a great feat of self deception to think that one has cornered the market on wisdom and monopolized truth. "The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know" (1 Cor.8:2). God is God to all. His word is for all to share in. The wisdom that comes from knowing him and his word is there for all who ask and he gives liberally (James: 1:5). The word of God makes foolish the wisdom of the world (1 Cor. 3:19). In this sense there is superiority in that God awards the most simple minded a knowledge above all other secular knowledge. To know God is to know everything that is of eternal importance. It is to know the truth that gives the soul liberation and which enlightens the mind out of the darkness of falsehood and bondage to sin (Jn. 8:32). This is how the psalmist made such a high minded claim that he understood more than his teachers (Ps. 119:99). It is the almighty that gives understanding (Proverbs, the whole book Job 32:8).

It is the job of the minister to preach himself out of a job in a certain sense by way of equipping the saints to do ministry Eph. 4:11). But this is not always the attitude of many pastors today who come across more as spiritual gurus rather than preachers equipping the saints to do ministry. To point this out to these well meaning preachers would be nothing less than insulting to them, a notion being repugnant, and terribly horrifying to them. This is a very slippery problem in that many are not even aware of it. Nevertheless, they continue own in their blindness never allowing anyone to have a voice without being overwhelmingly compelled to qualify everything a brother or sister may have by way of contribution, whether in voice or deed; as they are considered inferior in their bible knowledge and expertise, and all the while they are calling for such things as action to ministry from their parishioners; though in their minds it is really not you in particular they have in mind and want, but somebody that is more qualified for the job. We no longer "hire" within the local church but go without. And to attempt to do any ministry in the church that is not their idea, or the idea of someone influential, is futile at best. Friends this ought not to be found in our churches. No one has the right to behave in this manner. The word of God is not exclusive in this way. No one owns the rights to biblical interpretation. But let us not go to the other extreme either, where as it has been observed that a bible study is nothing more than a pooling together of collective ignorance. So let us yield to one another as we minister the Gospel to one another in love and humility knowing that we are all part of the body of Christ (Rom. 12:4-6) with various gifts, one not more dominant or important than the other, but all being such that if faithfully worked out are equally important and carry equal weight in the kingdom as service done to one another and to the one God of us all.
"Your truth does not belong to me nor to anyone else, but to us all whom you call to share it as a public possession. With terrifying words you warn against regarding it as a private possession, or we may lose it (Matt. 25:14-30). Anyone who claims for his own property what you offer for all to enjoy, and wishes to have exclusive rights to what belongs to everyone, is driven from the common truth to his own private ideas, that is from truth to a lie" (Augustine Confessions Ch. XII (34).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ecclesiastes 7:13,14

"Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked? When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other" (Ecc. 7:13,14).