When Saul’s condition worsened, David was called in to soothe his erratic spirit by playing upon his harp. But Saul’s paranoia increased until he felt threatened by David and, as a result, attempted to kill him. Finally, Saul succumbed to self-destruction. God told Israel they would regret their choice.
Israel was never the same again. The lesson is appropriate for our age. God appointed His Son to reign over new Israel, the Christian community. But like Israel of old, new Israel has side-stepped Jesus as her King and has chosen other kings to rule over her. These “kings” are labeled “Ministers,” “Pastors,” “Doctors,” “Pulpit Preachers,” “Theologians,” and “Reverends.” In the aggregate they form the kingly clergy.
God’s children today are not content with elders (“judges” under the Old Covenant) to shepherd them (I Timothy 3:1-7, 5:17, & Titus 1:5-9). They want “kings” who can fight their battles, speak and make decisions for them, go to God on their behalf, do their ministering by proxy, and organize “sacrificial offerings” (conduct “church services”). Since that day when the kingly clergy were chosen, new Israel has not been the same. Since that day, her children have been in slavery. Will God send “prophets” (reformers) to free His children from “Egyptian bondage” and dethrone the “kings” who have made them “brick-makers” and spiritual robots? Surely He will! He always has.
I implore you to awaken to the truth that a fatal disease called the “kingly clergy” has attached itself to the body of believers and has devoured most of its vital organs in the form of natural and acquired talents, abilities, and potentials, thus rendering the body feeble and afflicting it with spiritual leukemia. Listen up as I tell you about it.
Men of this class are considered to be of special rank. They expect to be listened to while behind the pulpit and saluted in the vestibule. They perform the major part of teaching, preaching, exhorting, admonishing, edifying, comforting, praying, visiting, showing compassion, and exhibiting concern. They organize meetings, programs, projects, conferences, and are usually on duty when problems arise or the “enemy” approaches.
These pulpiteers expect to be referred to as either the Preacher, the Priest, the Pulpit Minister, the Pastor, the “Reverend,” the “defender of the faith,” the “Doctor,” or the “guardian of truth”—or all of them lumped together. They fail to recognize that their exalted title and “venerated” function are foreign to the primitive order and counter to heaven’s wishes. Many of these ecclesiastics wear their shirts backwards, dress like mother, but want to be called “Father.”
In most cases, the “shepherds” do their shepherding by proxy. After all, they have hired an alien—one who is not part of the sheepfold—to tend and feed the sheep. He’s responsible for the kind of food they consume, how it’s consumed, and when it’s consumed. His “sermons” (a term never once used in the scriptures) constitute the Gospel, so if we oppose him we’re opposing the Gospel, “making waves,” and rapidly becoming a “thorn in the flesh” and an obstacle to truth. At this point, we have to walk on needles—almost literally—else we’ll find ourselves on the outside looking in, ostracized and branded until we repent.
We are, for example, guilty when we call a theologically-educated brother “Doctor” or “Reverend,” but call an educationally-deprived believer “brother.” “Brother,” of course, is at the bottom of the totem pole while “Doctor” or “Reverend” or “Priest” are located at the top of the totem pole.
According to First Corinthians 12:22-25, all ministries within a community of believers are valuable. Those parts that seem to be weaker and less honorable are indispensable and should be treated with special honor. In an arrangement of this kind there’s no place for legislative and arrogant authority, therefore no need for special titles and positions. Why confer titles of exaltation if autocratic authority cannot accompany them? Special titles have no place in a family where everyone is loved and respected equally and treated mutually.
I do not object to higher education if it is compatible with the Christian walk. But higher education must not be used to make distinctions among brothers. Any act, any title, or any practice that elevates one above his fellows is counterproductive to the spirit of humility. Jesus summed it up nicely in Matthew 23:5-12, when he condemned the clergy who purported to be teachers of the Law of Moses. It will be worth your time to read it again.
To put this issue in still another perspective, none of us are professional if there’s one among us who is non-professional. On the other hand, none of us are non-professional if there’s one among us who is professional.
It is interesting that Paul did not send for the professional minister at Ephesus. And that is because the believers at Ephesus did not have on their payroll a professional pulpiteer. Instead, Paul sent “for the elders of the congregation” (Acts 20:17). Who is sent for and relied upon, in most cases, in today’s arrangement? The professional hireling. Jesus has something to say about the “hired hand” or hireling in John 10:12-13.
We ought to be reminded that if a congregation can import a man and pay him a big salary to do all or most of the public speaking, the same congregation can import another man and pay him a healthy salary to do all of the singing, and still another man to do all of the praying—for a salary, of course. Well, you get the idea. The principle that allows one, allows the others.
To state it more explicitly, if importing specialists to feed the flock is heaven’s way, all of our gifts can be performed by proxy. As a result, all we need do is warm a pew and wait till heaven arrives. For, after all, we’re paying others to do our ministries.
The universal biblical principle, found throughout, is that in the assembly of the saints, all gifts are to be shared mutually. The “hired hand” interferes with and disrupts this principle. Do you suppose Paul had the professional minister in mind when he told the Roman believers they were “able to instruct one another” (Rom. 15:14)? Surely he was not referring to a one-man instructor! And was Paul coming off the wall with a lot of nonsense when he told the believers at Colosse they were to “teach and admonish one another” (Col. 3:16)? The one-man admonisher was nowhere to be found.
In the early assemblies, there was a mutual exchange of praises, teaching, sharing, and singing. No one person did it all. The Thessalonians were told to “encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thess. 5:11). And there’s more. The point is, when we substitute this “one another” arrangement with a counterfeit device, such as the professional minister, we are guilty of disrupting heaven’s blueprint for spiritual growth. There’s no way to avoid this conclusion.
Take a look at our “house churches.” Where’s the pulpit minister? He’s not needed! Why? Because all attendees contribute their share, as God’s grace abounds within them, and as He confers a diversity of gifts among them. Now tell me, why in heaven’s name are we incapable of conducting our “church services” in the same fashion? The reason is because we have gone professional! We have abandoned common ground in favor of skilled specialists.
We want the world to know how sophisticated and refined we have become. So we go all out to import the best and build the fanciest edifices. We have adopted idolatry, just as surely as we have substituted a bogus system. It will all end up in the trashheap of by-gone religions unless we wise up and address our deficiencies. May God open our hearts and minds to do just that.
“Language Of The Clergy”