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"Not in word only,
but in power"
1 Cor. 4:20
The local institutional church world is full of misinformation, inventions of men, half-truths, and distortions and nowhere is that more apparent than in the introduction of "the pastor" or "the pastorate" into the world of Christendom.
(Keep in mind that throughout this brief article, I am employing the term “pastor” or “pastorate” as it is used within the local institutional church system and NOT in any sort of “Biblical sense,” for there is no Biblical sense!)
There are multitudes of denominations, theological persuasions, confessions of faith, creeds, all sorts of Bible interpretations, practices, traditions, rituals, styles of worship,…you name it…, that has taken over and inundated the Christian world.
There is not one single “pastor” who has actually examined all of these ideas and practices and then, using the Scriptures, arrived upon his own system of theology that he will be identified with. Not one.
The majority of “pastors” (if not all) “enter the ministry” with the mind-set or theological persuasion that they were already raised in and/or what has been taught to them at their Bible college, seminary or academy. A “pastors” openness or introduction to the practices and belief systems of other strands of Christian teaching and theology would be very basic to say the least and would involve very rudimentary instruction and just enough acquaintance to prove to someone else the supposed falseness or erroneous of it, should any question arise.
And of course, this instruction would all be from a rather adversarial-type approach and in no way with the possibility that there be any shred of truth which may be in opposition to the “pastors” present thinking.
In other words, having a teachable spirit and an open mind in regards to other positions is off limits. To really study, check, and research would be a “waste of time.”
Upon completion of their ministerial training, (the pastor) student will usually reside back in their “home church” (or a similar institution of like-mindedness). Again, their exposure to the teachings and practices of other Christian thinking would be very minimal at the most.
After a brief time of “residency,” the pastor (or new elder) is “voted in” his new position; participates in the pre-planned “installation service,” with all of its pomp and adulation; and he is officially “ordained,” and now he’s ready to go!
Some churches will have you sign contracts; make vows to adhere to the tenants of the assembly and/or denomination, along with other stipulations. But other than that, he has officially “entered the ministry.” He now has a “church of his own” and a “flock of his own.”
If the new elder or pastor hasn’t already, along with his new occupation comes the privilege of making new friends; new associates; new contacts; widening his sphere of ministry and influence. (All of course associating with those of similar beliefs)
TO THOSE WHO HAVE EYES TO SEE
To those who have eyes to see, the arrangement that has just been described makes if very, very difficult (if not, well-nigh impossible) for a well-meaning “pastor,” or any Christian for that matter, to actually study an entirely different teaching or position open-mindedly.
Remember, no church or denomination has an exclusive possession to the truth. If "the pastor" wants to really study a different side to his theology of which he is not accustomed to, he just might very well pay a heavy price. It might cost him his livelihood, his church, his title, his friendships, his reputation, and sometimes even his own family.
For example, in talking with “pastors” and other “church leaders” as to what the Scriptures teach regarding “the church;” how it is to function; the role of leaders; what Jesus said about authority; etc., etc., I’m continually blown away as to how quickly the discussion turns nasty and eventually ends if I point out to them Scripture stating just the opposite of their position!
Now, you would think that if I am the one who is teaching falsehood and needs to be “straightened out,” (in love, as the Scripture says) then “the pastor” should do so and correct me. But this never happens.
If my supposed false teaching would lead me as well as others down a wrong and dangerous path, you would think that “a pastor,” with his ministerial training and the love of God in his heart, would at least attempt to correct me.
Many people rejoice and receive the Truths of God's Word with gladness, while many others fight the Truth with every fiber of their carnal mind.
But no. This is not the case. In fact, after repeated attempts to try and get an individual to at least quote me where I supposedly stated a falsehood or something unscriptural and to provide two or three Scriptures refuting my error, do ever they comply? No! Of course not!
They never comply because the Scriptural teaching that I present to them clashes with their traditional idols of the heart which they are not willing to give up. Many people rejoice and receive the Truths of God's Word with gladness, while many others fight the Truth with every fiber of their carnal mind.
And sadly, after a few discussions, when it becomes evident that I have come to my conclusions as a result of intense Scriptural study and prayer, the discussion abruptly ends. He has drawn his red line in the sand and he must not cross over. And I can easily tell what’s going on…..that if he continues to listen to me and ponders all of the writings with an open mind and teachable spirit, he realizes that his own theological training and belief system might start to crumble, and this cannot be.
Remember the contracts? Remember the vows that were taken? Remember the “installation service” and all the pomp and ceremony? What about his friends and all of his associates? He cannot…..he must not permit himself to listen any further to me.
His position might change and so he must stop. Now, many at this point will seek to justify their actions by name calling, or saying, “You are not worth any more of my time,” or sometimes this: “You people will burn!” But in reality, underneath it all is the fact that if he continued in the discussion with an open mind, there was a good chance that it will cost him something. Yes it will. Just like Jesus said…“Count the cost.” And again, “Whoever seeks to gain his life shall lose it: but whoever loses his life shall preserve it.”
In this case the cost would have been his livelihood; his status; his position; his income and reputation.
And so, there’s the issue in a nutshell. If they decide to “cross that red line,” they know that what they might discover will cost them very, very dearly.
You know, at this point, I’m once again reminded of something very similar and so, let me restate it here. I mentioned this one or two times in the past and I mention it again because it is SO very relevant to the discussion at hand.
Back in the 60’s, there was the original movie with Charlton Heston called “Planet of the Apes.” Now, I’m certainly not a movie buff, by no means. In fact, I rarely watch any movies, but I do remember this one very well.
An astronaut crew crash lands on a planet in the distant future where intelligent talking apes are the dominant species, and humans are the oppressed and enslaved ones. As far as the apes were concerned, this was the way it has always been; except for a few apes who had surmised otherwise.
A few of the more “thinking” apes had suspicions that perhaps the humans were originally the superior beings. Their searching for clues as to what happened led them to the “Forbidden Zone” which would ultimately reveal the real evidence insofar as what the truth actually is. Evidence was found at this location and they finally had proof that yes, at one time, humans were the superior ones!
But,…BUT, it’s the “Forbidden Zone” for a reason! No one was allowed to enter there by reason of the edict from the “spiritual ruler” of the ape civilization (Dr. Zaius). You see, Dr. Zauis KNEW THE TRUTH! He knew what was at the “Forbidden Zone.”
He was there and saw the evidence for the truth himself; namely, that the humans were indeed at one time the superior race, but something terrible had happened to reverse this course.
It isn’t just “the Faith” that Dr. Zaius is defending, but the very survival of simian civilization! His role as the leader and supreme ruler of the ape empire was to see to it that no one would ever discover the truth of the situation, because if they did, their whole mindset, yea, their whole civilization would crumble.
Thus, the “Forbidden Zone,” a place of “evil and poison and danger that will upset your faith if you tread that dangerous path…..It must be avoided for the sake of your never-dying souls.”
Do you notice the similarity?
Beyond the walls of your theological training and upbringing resides truths and practices that you never really considered; truths that will ultimately release you from the bondage and chains of men and denominations. BUT, you must not go forth!
“…They do not believe the way we believe…They do not worship the way we worship…They do not care for your souls like the way we care for your souls…To stray into a different area is heresy! Keep away from these men and their teachings for they will ultimately destroy your soul...!”
The Forbidden Zone is to be avoided at all costs.
This clever set-up equates your system, your “theological training,” your denomination, your seminary professors and your traditions of men with the words inspired by God Himself. It makes popes out of church leaders and bobble-head dolls out of those who follow them…..which is exactly the desired outcome!
This is why religious strongmen will always get angry when they see or hear of someone teaching the Truth and exposing them for who they are.
The “ecclesiastical authorities” have done everything to ensure that no one “crosses the red line;” that no one “upsets the cart.” They have done everything to ensure that “orthodoxy” will be upheld in the local institutionalized church system and structure.
Consequently, “pastors” and other “church leaders” will always see to it that the masses are regularly reminded of the supposed “uncertain fate” and of the horrors and “mysterious dangers” lurking beyond the institutional walls, warning them not to rebel and stray into a different area of thought or position.
This is why religious strongmen will always get angry when they see or hear of someone teaching the Truth and exposing them for who they are. Their whole system of operation would crumble and cease to function. THEY KNOW THIS WOULD HAPPEN.
This is the one great fear that all “professionally trained ministers” of every persuasion have: that people will start to think and study for themselves and you will STOP following them and their teachings. The reason is because when Christians STOP following them, then these men will lose their power, their prestige, their comfort zone, their pride, their position, their perceived authority, and their free money.
When this happens, the people will only have one choice left: either they follow Jesus Christ and His example or they follow men.
Either they will proceed to enter the “Forbidden Zone” and discover the Truth in all of its Glory, or choose to remain institutionalized in all of its darkness and corruption.
It is really astonishing of how little the average professing Christian learns anything that is disconnected from their own particular system of thought.
What’s it going to be for you? Live a life, full of the freedom and truth that Christ has provided or continue oiling the pastoral machine, mired in a straitjacket of deception, bondage, duplicity?
If you are reading this article and perhaps you are presently involved in some type of “church leadership position,” then you know that the things you have just read are true. And you also know what the cost of “reformation” will be. The cost will be tremendous.
Stop your boastings! No, you are not just “a humble servant, following the Lord wherever He leads.” Really? Jesus’ words to you are clear: “Why call me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?”
How far we have fallen from the Divine Example.
Leaders in His assembly lead by following His example and His example is the most powerful argument against any idea of a hierarchal, controlling, well-oiled “pastoral machine.” Jesus was the greatest leader because Jesus was the greatest servant.
"If I then, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example in order that you should do as I have done to you."
It is only when one truly rejects the carnal glory nestled in the man-made positions of rule, honor, power, and control and seeks only the praise which comes from above, can we truly be set free from the chains of denominations and institutionalization. Then and only then will we be free indeed.
“If ye know these things, blessed are ye if ye do them.”
You also might be interested in this heavily related article: “LEADERSHIP”