Thursday, March 29, 2007


I have been wanting to write down my thoughts about pastors for quite some time. I’m not sure how to organize them at this time, so I will just post randomly as I have time and maybe in the process of writing I’ll figure out some kind of order.

So, to begin with, I would like to talk about the term minister. People use this term in a variety of ways, and often they associate it with the concept of clergy, but should they? Is the pastor the minister? Consider the following Scriptures (emphasis mine):

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, … - Eph 4:11-12

As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. - 1 Pet 4:10

For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, [in that] you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. - Heb 6:10

It would seem from these Scriptures that we are all called to be ministers (διακονος) and to minister (διακονεω). Thus, it would seem that the term minister is not used in the New Testament for pastors only, but for all believers. If this is the case, then is there any other term in Scripture that warrants the making of a clergy - laity differentiation? Are there such things as offices in the church?

On this topic Schweizer (I know some of you are going to discount him because he is a liberal theologian, but I think that on this issue he happens to make some good comments), in his book Church Order in the New Testament, makes several insightful comments. He looks at all the terms used in NT Greek to convey the idea of office or ruler: αρχη (ruling power, authority, ruler), αρχων (ruler, official authority, judge), τιμη (place of honor), τελος (used outside the NT to define the complete power of office), λειτουργια (service, ministry seen in LXX to be performed by the priests), and λειτουργος (servant, minister, one performing λειτουργια). He concludes that outside of their use for Judaism, pagan religions, and the political system of the time, these terms are primarily used (with the exception of Paul being called λειτουργος in Rom 15:16) to refer solely to Christ Himself.

So, is there a term used in the New Testament, referring to believers, which warrants the making of a clergy - laity differentiation? Is there a term which is consistently used just to describe Christian leaders? Schweizer points out that, even though there was quite the selection of terms which the New Testament authors could have used, the New Testament authors consistently used the term διακονος (servant, helper, minister). Since this term is used for all believers without differentiation, then the answer is no. The New Testament authors never use the term minister or any of the other terms mentioned above to point selectively to pastors or leaders. Consider Schweizer’s comments:

“In view of the large number of terms available, the evidence of the choice of words is unmistakable. … all the New Testament witnesses are sure of one decisive fact: official priesthood, which exists to conciliate and mediate between God and community, is found in Judaism and paganism; but since Jesus Christ there has been only one such office - that of Jesus himself. It is shared by the whole Church, and never by one church member as distinct from others. Here therefore there is without exception the common priesthood, with no laity. … The very choice of the word, which still clearly involves the idea of humble activity, proves that the Church wishes to denote the attitude of one who is at the service of God and his fellow-men, not a position carrying with it rights and powers. … It is nowhere forgotten that such renunciation of titles, honors, and offices testifies to the Church’s newness in contrast to the old religious or secular order.”1

Schweizer does not deny the different roles and gifts seen in the church, but he does point out that unlike Judaism, pagan religions, and the political system of the time, the Church is radically different because it has only one high priest, Jesus Christ (Heb 8:1-2), only one head, Jesus Christ (Col 1:18), and only one Lord, Jesus Christ (1 Cor 8:6). Under Him, all are ministers: there is no clergy vs. laity.

So when I talk of pastors/elders/overseers, I will be talking of a specific role/gifting within the context of a church made up entirely of believers who are all ministers and not of a clergy position.

By the way - if my conclusions are correct, does anybody know why we have a clergy-laity distinction in Christendom today?

1Eduard Schweizer, Church Order in the New Testament, trans. Frank Clarke (Naperville, IL: Alec R. Allenson, 1961), 176-8.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Does our philosophy on the church matter?

Much discussion has taken place and is taking place in Christendom on ‘what is the church’, ‘how does a church operate’, etc. Some stress the importance of tradition, some stress the importance of changing with the times, some are seeking to go back to the church of the first century, and some say that it really does not matter, that it is just a matter of preference. Is it?

I believe that much of the discussion on style and music can be regarded as a discussion about preference, but I also believe that which is central to making the church the church is of great importance. Consider this quote:

“The New Testament’s pronouncements on Church order are to be read as a gospel - that is, Church order is to be regarded as a part of the proclamation in which the Church’s witness is expressed, as it is in its preaching. There may be times when this kind of proclamation is better heard and regarded by the world than are any words; and for that reason this part of the Church’s witness too must be given clearly and plainly.”1

Thus according to Schweizer, church order is not just a matter of preference, but a way of proclaiming the gospel. A clear example of this is found in the first letter to the church in Corinth.

But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on [his] face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you. - 1 Cor 14:24-25

Here we see how the observance of a healthy meeting of believers can clearly convey the gospel message to unbelievers. But it should not stop with the gathering. Scripture states that we are the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27). Doesn’t it make sense that we, the church, therefore represent Christ? Since that is the case, I would say that our philosophy on the church matters. It is not a matter of preference; even when Scripture is not prescriptive, it is a matter of representing the gospel to a dying world. I love reading the church fathers and have appreciated the wisdom that we find in tradition, but if tradition does not align itself with Scripture, we have the potential of presenting the wrong image of Christ to a lost world. We have to ask ourselves two questions: “what kind of picture are we painting?” and "what kind of picture is the church we meet with painting?”

I believe that I am living in an age where God is raising men and women who are willing to think critically and Biblically about the church; who are questioning our practices and asking if they align with Scripture; and who have a desire to be as Biblical as possible. I join Paul in saying: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” - Eph 3:20-21 (emphasis mine)

1 Eduard Schweizer, Church Order in the New Testament, trans. Frank Clarke (Naperville, IL: Alec R. Allenson, 1961), 14.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Tae Kwon Dodo!

We spent the morning at a Taekwondo competition. Our friend, Cheryl, and her Christian Martials Art School competed at the Third Annual Factory Taekwondo tournament. I am very proud of them: they not only did very well when it comes to technique, they were a great example of what it means to be a Christian martial artist. Great job y’all!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Still alive ...

So, life has been busy lately. I have not been reading or writing much, but I have been doing lots of thinking, thus hopefully I will have some time to write it down soon.

On the house front, with spring comes much yard work. Cindy has waged battle against the invasion of the weeds (click on the picture to see the transformation).

Together, and with the help of a couple of neighbors, we have also moved two Bradford pear trees and a dogwood tree from the front of the house to the back yard.
Finally the table saw is being set up in the dining room so that I can start cutting molding for the bathroom mirror and then have it set up to help with the hardwood floor installation.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Kitchen tiles ... done

Well, we have finished tiling the kitchen floor, or at least the part we will be tiling for now (the far end is still untiled to protect the tiles from being damaged during some future demolition). The accent tile really ties the whole floor together.

We used two different color grouts; this turned out to be less of a pain than first expected. We also inserted floor outlets for my desk and a future kitchen island. I am about to start the sealing process and then we can move the dining table in the kitchen while I transform the dining room into a wood shop for a time.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Week-end off ... part II

So we spent 3.5 hours shooting all sorts of guns.
We started out shooting a Smith and Wesson 38 special (100 bullets) and a 40 caliber Glock (50 bullets). We then proceeded to shoot some 20 gauge and 12 gauge shotguns (250+ shells). The girls shot stationary targets, and the boys shot clay skeets. BTW - my favorite was the 12 gauge pump action shotgun. Finally we moved to rifles: the boys each took a long range shot with a deer hunting rifle (4 bullets) and all did a lot of shooting with some smaller 22 rifles (200 bullets).
We then finished the day with some great food, fellowship, a lunar eclipse, and a couple of movies.

Cindy and I also took some time to talk to Kenny, Rob's dad, about landscaping for the house. Hopefully in the not too distant future we will be able to post some pictures of the results of our conversation.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Week-end off ...

Well, this is the picture of the year: Cheryl with a dog on her lap and a smile on her face!

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