The Pastoral Office Is Not Found In Scripture
The head Pastor is a fundamental figure within the church system who is met with praise, accolades and reliance upon to dispel God's word to the masses. He is most often on the top of the hierarchical ladder or status as the main focal figure to render out theological interpretations within the church institution. He or she is often trained and graduated as a professional from a seminary who has met the criteria or qualifications to maintain their position.
What would happen if the office of the head Pastor was removed from the church system altogether?
Could the church still function, or would it completely dissolve without a prominent figure to man the helm?
What may come as a surprise is that the pastoral function among the early ekklesia looks quite different to the the office of the head Pastor in the modern churches today. The facts of history and Scriptural context will serve as evidence that this is the truth. Before you read any further, it is important to leave your personal feelings at the door because many will have friends and family who fill the head Pastoral office somewhere. This is not meant as an attack on them as individuals, but a critical examination of their vocation using the Christian New Testament they claim to abide by.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers – Ephesians 4:11
The Distortion of 'Pastor'
From the only singular verse that appears in the New Testament, there are some important things to consider.
The word 'pastor' is used in plural form. This means that there is no Scriptural evidence that there was a singular senior head Pastoral practice among the early ekklesia. Pastor is the Latin word for shepherd and the Greek word for 'pastors' is rendered as 'poimenas,' which also means shepherds. This would mean that pastor is not a professional title, but a metaphor for one of the many functions of the ekklesia. A shepherd is a person who cares for and nurtures the people of God, but not within the context of a professional hierarchical vocational title.
Upon closer inspection of Ephesians 4:11, it appears that religious clergy have distorted the true definition, description and function of a pastor that has manifested into the office of the head Pastor in the institutionalized church system today.
The man-made idea of a prominent head Pastor comes from a desire of people to have someone revered to bring them to God who has been trained to be in charge of the affairs within a named denominational building called 'church.'
Now two men remained in the camp; the name of one was Eldad and the name of the second was Medad, and the spirit rested upon them. They were among those written, but they did not go out to the tent, but prophesied in the camp. The lad ran and told Moses, saying, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!" Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' servant from his youth, answered and said, Moses, my master, imprison them!"
Moses said to him, "Are you zealous for my sake? If only all the Lord's people were prophets, that the Lord would bestow His spirit upon them!" - Numbers 11:27-29
These verses here give an example of Moses opposing hierarchical or special positions that would suppress all of God’s people from using their gifting to only those deemed to be specially qualified.
Even the Christian New Testament opposes hierarchy.
I wrote to the assembly, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, doesn't accept what we say. Therefore, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words. Not content with this, neither does he himself receive the brothers, and those who would, he forbids and throws out of the assembly. – 3 John 1:9-10
But this you have, that you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. – Revelation 2:6
The words of the New Testament are opposed to Nicolaitans, which in Greek means 'conquering the people.' They are opposed to making distinct hierarchical classes of people among those who deem themselves to be prominent by lording themselves over others.
The definition of the Pastoral office in our western society is man-made tradition that is a distortion of a gifting that promotes hierarchical elitism.
The Evolution of 'Pastor'
The pastoral 'gift' can be traced to Ignatius of Antioch (AD 35-107) and the role of the Bishop. The Bishop was given complete authority and required absolute obedience within the institutional church system. In the third century, Cyprian of Carthage made more distinct classifications of Christians with the terms clergy and laity. He was a pagan orator who became a supposed believer who did not abandon his pagan traditions, but incorporated them. The position of Bishop eventually evolved to the head of the church and the delegated responsibilities went to the Presbyter. The Presbyter evolved into the Catholic priest as the hierarchical structure of the institutional church broadened. By the fourth century, deacons took a role under the presbyters, and under them were the laymen. By the time of the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century, the Catholic Church practices were questioned and the Bishop’s office and the priesthood was reduced to the presbyter.
What the Protestants did not do was question the status classifications between clergy and laity, but kept them with their own classification system. These were those who were deemed special and called to be ordained into the ministry. The fact is, there is really no distinction between the duties of the Catholic Priest and a Protestant Pastor except for slightly reformed office.
The Desire to be in Control
The institutional church system requires a ruling single Pastor (sola pastora). Likewise, the Bishop was raised to a status where all power and authority from him was absolute. Ignatius said, 'He that honours the bishop is honoured of God.'
Fallen man always has the urge for someone to mediate between them and God. We can see this in Exodus when the Israelites wanted Moses to be their mediator for everything. Today, we can see that the Pastor takes on a similar role and conducts everything from baptism, marriages and sermons and has a strong controlling influence over the activities within the institutional church.
The hierarchical system infiltrated the church system as a result of the influential Greco-Roman culture. The church had become an institution with official people doing ministry. Pagan organizational patterns have infiltrated and became the backbone of what is the manifestation of the modern church system today.
A true worshipper of God should understand that what a person does in everyday life is sanctified by God. There is no need for a higher calling into the ministry versus a worldly vocation. The dichotomy between what is sacred and what is worldly is a pagan conception. There are no grounds for ordained spiritual elitism because every believer should recognize those who have particular gifting that God has given them.
Today, the function of a supposed gift has been turned into a rite. Ordination into an office stems from pagan rites by empowering an individual through divine streams to become venerable, honourable and separated. It is the syncretism of Old Testament priesthood with Greek hierarchy.
The Church Model
According to John Calvin, 'The pastoral office is necessary to preserve the church on earth in a greater way than the sun, food, and drink are necessary to nourish and sustain the present life.'
It is clear today that most church institutions have taken on John Calvin’s model.
Both the Catholic and Protestant practices of church are built on the same human ideologies and traditions. The modern Pastoral office has become an obstacle to following the one true God.
The Greek word for minister is 'diakonos,' which means servant. It has become incorrectly synonymous with the office of Pastor who is in a professional salaried position.
What really stands out is the division of believers into separate classes where the special or more privileged can only serve in certain ways. The man-made system suffocates the church attender into becoming complacent to a one-man-ministry that preaches to his mute and passive audience.
Church has become a spectator sport where the masses feel coerced and obligated to sing, raise your hands, take notes and throw money into the offering plates for the livelihood of the Pastor.
The professional modern Pastor has become slave to the office that oppressively manifests in many ways such as emotional breakdown, marital issues, stress, 'plastic fantastic,' burnout and depression just to name a few. This is not the result of the pastor, but the effect of their vocation within the church system.
The Tanach and the Christian New Testament does not support one sole individual to wear so many hats at one time. There is a high expectation and obligation of the Pastor entertain, tickle ears and make everyone feel good about themselves. This is artificial at best being dishonest and deceptive.
The modern head Pastor can be likened to a Hollywood star who wins an Oscar for the primary role as portraying someone who is always spiritual, cheerful, perfectly dressed and disciplined in all areas of life. The unapproachable and unquestioning attitude exposes the corrupt and political nature of the religious office that often leads to isolation from those who are deemed the laity. Often, those who are deemed to be the clergy have no real substance outside the group they are hired to oversee.
The evidence reveals that the office of the head Pastor by how it functions is a counterfeit position.
Do you believe that the function and title of the modern church Pastor is found in the New Testament?
- Church, a 'Non Profit' for Profit Business
Many who attend religious buildings called church can accept the fact that their denominational entity is a 'non-profit' religious charity, but will scoff when it is called 'big business.'
© 2013 PlanksandNails