An Updated Rerun Series
Rather, the present-day pastor was born out of the single-bishop rule first spawned by Ignatius and Cyprian. The bishop evolved into the local presbyter. In the Middle Ages, the presbyter grew into the Catholic priest. During the Reformation, he was transformed into the “preacher,” “the minister,” and finally “the pastor” – the person upon whom all of Protestantism hangs. To boil it down to one sentence: The Protestant pastor is nothing more than a slightly reformed Catholic priest. (Again, we are speaking of the office and not the individual.) (Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna, Tyndale Publishing; pp. 141)
To have pastors in a church is Scriptural, but the present-day pastoral system is quite unscriptural; it is an invention of man. (The Normal Christian Church Life by Watchman Nee)
No expression of a New Testament church is ever led by just one professional “holy man” doing the business of communicating with God and then feeding some relatively passive, religious consumers Moses-style. Christianity has adopted this method from pagan religions, or at best from the Old Testament. The heavy professionalism of the church since Constantine has now been a persuasive influence long enough, dividing the people of God artificially into laity and clergy. According to the New Testament (1 Timothy 2:5), “there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” God simply does not bless professionals to force themselves in-between people and God forever. (Houses That Change The World by Wolfgang Simson, pp.10)
“Larry is a stubborn believer,” says my wife, elongating the word stubborn so that it echoes off walls.
Okay, admittedly, I’m stubborn. But my stubbornness pertains mainly to when I believe I’ve heard the voice of the Lord. And if I think I’ve heard the Lord, then I will hang on until something happens or the Lord loosens my grip.
Have I ever erred in thinking it was the voice of the Lord when it wasn’t? Yes, I have my share of wrong presumptions under my belt…and the scars to prove it.
But as Graham Cooke says, “I’d rather err on the side of presumption than to not step out in faith when I believe the Lord has spoken to me. Presumption isn’t a sin, but fear is.”
I agree with Cooke.
And yet, when the Lord asked us to walk away from the traditional church system, I really struggled with it. I felt as though we were the only people in the whole world doing something as ridiculous as this.
Thanks to the internet, I soon learned that millions of believers in the United States were doing the exact same thing. I read books by Gene Edwards, Frank Viola, Wolfgang Simson, Watchman Nee and others. All of these encouraged me on my journey out
In a nutshell, Edwards, Viola, Simson, Nee and others proclaim the royal priesthood of the believers (1 Peter 2:9) and denounce the unscriptural clergy-laity separation in the traditional church system.
Though I agree with the teachings of the above men, I have a different passion for encouraging people to exit the tradition church system, especially on the West Coast.
(Continued in Part 11)