Tuesday, July 31, 2007


If you've been around some circles of the "church" for a while, you've probably come across this idea that Church Leaders (or the 'Annointed') have authority over you and that you must submit to their teachings and directives.

Check out this study guide for kids which looks good on the surface but actually teaches children to obey any form of leadership no matter what they tell them to do! This is the ultimate in irresponsibility! (And some time I'll blog about the relationship of authority and responsibility).

So does the kid obey when the paedophile schoolteacher says "Come and sit on my lap"? How about when the pastor says "Come out to the front of the church and bow down to me"? (This happened recently in a church local to me). What if a parent and a pastor offer 2 contradictorary orders? How is the kid to discern what to obey and what not to? How do they learn to set boundaries and discern between good and evil with this kind of simplistic and irrational interpretation of scripture?

I asked my 11 year old son last month "If a pastor asked you to come to the front of the church and bow down to him, what would you do?" He replied "Get out of there as quick as I could!" Now that's the kind of smarts we should be encouraging in our kids...

Back to the Authority "Doctrine". My last post started this 'rant' and I'm still inviting you to add your comments to it.

I've listened to this teaching for over a decade now, and I still have problems with it. For starters, I don't remember ever hearing its proponents mention (let alone teach) Jesus' words on the subject of church authority:

"You know that the rulers of the heathen lord it over them and that their great ones have absolute power? But it must not be so among you. No, whoever among you wants to be great must become the servant of all, and if he wants to be first among you, he must be your slave ..." (Matthew 20:25-27, Phillips translation)

Go ahead and look it up in other translations, it'll only enrich Jesus' meaning. (The NIV says "their high officials exercise authority over them.") It must not be so among you (ie., Christ's disciples and leaders). In fact, to lead means a level of servanthood akin to slavery.

Slaves (or servants for that matter) don't seek their own "honour". They don't demand to have the final say on something. They don't even expect to be thanked. They just do what's required and fade into the background or move on to the next task.

That's Jesus' template for church leaders and missionaries. It's a thankless, inglorious, disempowered job that results in thanks to God, glory to God and empowered disciples.

I've got lots more to say on this topic, but if you're desperate to work through this issue for yourself (and it's one that causes thousands of people a great deal of anxiety), I can recommend the following links:

  • New Testament Leadership (Steve mentions the following "In Hebrews 13:17, believers are encouraged to “obey” church leaders. Interestingly, the Greek behind “obey” is not the regular Greek word for “obey.” Instead, peitho is used, which literally means “to persuade” or “to convince.” Thus, Hebrews 13:17 should be rendered “let yourselves be persuaded by.” ")


John said...

Great post, Pete!
Back in the 90's I was a licensed minister in a large denomination here in the US. In 1996 I was serving as an Associate Pastor. I discovered that the Sr. Pastor was embezzling funds and spiritually abusing the congregation (myself included). Being a young pastor, I followed the Timothy principle and went first to the Pastor with what I had discovered, he pulled the "Authority Card" on me. He basically said that I shouldn't question his motives/actions because God had put him in authority over me.
In the end, he attempted to foist the allegations onto me, but I was innocent of course. The evidence against him was overwhelming.
In my experiences, it seems that the only pastors/leaders who are despicable enough to pull the authority card are either hiding something (embezzlement or pedophilia) or trying to make up for inadequacies in their own relationship with the Father.

Pete Aldin said...

O. My. Gosh! I thought I'd heard it all; turning the allegations on you? There is no adjective I could use to describe that behaviour. I agree 100% with your final assessment.

My own personal creed on this is (& maybe I should get this put on a bumper sticker or something!):

He who paints himself a hero, isn't.

... I feel another post coming on... :)

Thanks for visiting, John. I truly hope and pray you're being taken further in your journey with the Father because of and despite this abuse or power.