I understand this is a blog solely dedicated to the permanence of marriage, but it is necessary to tie the idea of pastoral ministry in with our understanding of who administers vows of one-flesh marriage covenant. This month of October is “Pastor Appreciation” month (I wonder who is responsible for making this month so? A Pastor maybe?) which was contrived to honor Pastors.
Does the Pastoral ministry honor God?
Since the pastoral ministry is responsible for the many who are in adultery due to their believing that an ordained minister can administer vows of covenant at any juncture of life (even if one already has made a vow to a living spouse whom he or she divorced), I thought that it was necessary to respond in exhortation a recent article from Lifeway Pastors entitled: “4 Ways to Honor Pastors” by Mark Dance
"Scripture is clear about the importance of showing honor to our pastors. Unfortunately, pastors often have the awkward job of equipping their members to do so.” ~ Mark Dance
Are we to believe that it is a pastor’s job is to equip the laity to honor the Pastor?
Before we jump into this idea that we are to honor pastors and that it is a pastor’s job of equipping members to do so, we need to first understand and set a foundation for the definition of "pastor". Many believe that the word “pastor” is used to support the idea that the church is under a specific system. This system is usually referred to as the clergy/laity caste system which designates or separates clergy apart from the laity. In reality, this system in not found anywhere in the New Testament writings.
If we are honest, the Protestant Reformation Pastor's word for pastor, and all the hats required for this hireling position are found and taken from one verse in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Paul uses this word pastor to describe men and women who are gifted by the Holy Spirit to be "shepherds". This gift is only one of the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to the church. This gift does not require seminary or bible college training, nor does this gift separate the body of Christ. This gift does not require titles or special offerings either.
Eph 4: I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
As you can see it is a far cry from the way many use this word pastor today. In fact, the Reformers have capitalized the word and used as a title and a vocation. It is a thought that one is “called” into pastoral ministry. If this is true, why is there this requirement to enter seminary or a bible college to be ordained as a pastor? And why must one spend considerable amount of money to be ordained as a clergy? The truth is in the ordination process. Ordination of the pastoral ministry is taken after a pagan process by the Romans. You will not find this ordination of the pastoral ministry in the New Testament.
In fact, the pastoral system is more like the Pharisees and the Levitical priests of the temple then it is a gift from the Holy Spirit. Consider that once a person graduates from seminary and is officially ordained as “clergy” (ordained by OTHER clergy) he or she must apply for a position. They in a sense have a resume in which they present to the elders of churches that seek a “Pastor”. It is important to recognize the title of such "Pastor" as he or she will be required to perform multiple duties that are most often beyond their capabilities. One requirement is to have decent oratory skills as he or she will be required to present a sermon every week. (The sermon IS a sacred cow of all Protestant services) If this were all that is required, consider the many who drop out of the pastoral ministry do so once they realize it is often beyond anything they thought it would be.
I believe it is necessary to make a definitive distinction between the word “pastor” from the word “Pastor”, especially when we read ANY article, book, or publication that takes the word “pastor” out of context. That brings us to the idea that a man (Mark Dance) who was in pastoral ministry for 20 plus years can write an article that tells us that we should honor “Pastors”, not pastors. We must always consider that Pastors are hirelings and their vocation is not found in the New Testament writings and is not necessarily referring to shepherds.
1. WE HONOR OUR PASTORS BY SUPPORTING THEM
Mark Dance uses 1 Timothy 5:17-18 to support the idea that Paul is referring to Pastors when he wrote this. This is his first mistake since we already know that the pastoral ministry is basically a hired position which requires performance. Paul is actually talking to the Apostle appointed elders who are older Christians which filled specific requirements (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus1:5-11) and not to twenty-somethings fresh out of seminary.
Mark will often use these verses to prove that we are to financially support the pastoral ministry. (vs18) Unfortunately, Mark has to first prove that the pastoral ministry is the Lord’s idea for the body of Christ. With that understood, “Double honor” is not intended to mean that we are to financially support a hireling.
“Of course it is not God’s plan for pastors to fleece their sheep or for churches to neglect their pastors.”-Mark Dance
If you notice, Mark believes that the Pastor has sheep. This should be a check in the spirit for many of us as we are all sheep under the true Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ. The truth be told; the sheep were fleeced when they gathered for themselves clergy to supplant the headship of Christ. The clergy will continue to try and sell their faulty products without ever telling us that the one selling the product IS the problem.
2. WE HONOR OUR PASTORS BY DEFENDING THEM
No one defends, or attempts to defend the pastoral ministry more than Pastors. The reason we know Pastors defend the pastoral ministry is their constant twisting of the word by interchanging Pastor with the word “elder”. Mark attempts to do this in this point of the article. He even goes on to make it a mortal sin to ever challenge or disregard defending the pastoral ministry.
“Hell’s hit list has 400,000 pastors on it. Join me in defending our pastors against accusers, whether human or demonic.” ~ Mark Dance
I for one will not defend the pastoral ministry since it has done more to lead people to Hell then any “man of the cloth” will care to argue. Many a heresy have found their ways out of seminaries founded by "Pastors", and perhaps the single most soul damaging teaching by Pastors is what they teach, preach, and believe about one-flesh covenant marriage. No thank you. I will not support this caste system which are often run by demonic forces.
Please understand that there are many God fearing men in these ministries, but time and time again proves that those who remain in this ministry will become man pleasers and thus compromise the word of God to some level. I know this because they have bought into the idea that God called them into pastoral ministry in the first place. The position they hold is the problem, and unless they humble themselves they will fall further away.
3. WE HONOR OUR PASTORS BY RECOGNIZING THEM
“It seems to take less effort to point out someone’s weaknesses than their strengths. Join me in recognizing our spiritual leaders this month in a public way.” – Mark Dance
Perhaps many point out the weaknesses of this pastoral ministry knowing the pastoral ministry is the problem. I have noticed that many laity who have been bullied and battered by Pastors are often the same laity who recognize that the pastoral ministry is the problem. Consider that a Pastor depends on his vocation to feed himself and his family and when a simple layperson seeks to undermine their vocation, they are also taking food off of the table.
I believe the greatest love for a Pastor is telling him that he should not be recognized, and that he was never meant to wear so many hats that is required of a Pastor. It is also loving to tell him that his job is not the body of Christ and that remaining in this ministry will most likely cause him to compromise the word of God more than he already has. Which brings us to Mark’s last point…
4. WE HONOR OUR PASTORS BY LOVING THEM
We honor God by telling Pastors the truth.
“Make sure your pastor knows that he is a beloved member of your church family, and not just an employee who will eventually go somewhere else.” – Mark Dance
Mark, Pastors are an employee because they are HIRED! They start as employees until they have gathered so much control by placing faithful followers under them that they become CEO’s of a corporation. Elders can be replaced and no one will notice. Replace a Pastor and everyone is sure to notice.
Lifeway is “rich” (figuratively and financially) in men who are corporate leaders because they are successful Pastors according to Presidents of seminaries who create Pastors, who most often value quantity over quality and most often believe that knowledge is equivalent to moral character. These Pastors have gained followers over the years that will blindly follow their vision, and unless they read the word of God in context, they will never know that the Pastor they follow is leading them away from the truth of the body of Christ.
In conclusion, we must seek out the true Shepherd who is the Lord Jesus Christ and believe by faith that the Holy Spirit has supplied the Church with many pastors who have wisdom and discernment for these evil times. The Lord did not set man in position to wear the many hats required of this pastoral ministry. Nor are we to believe that scholasticism and knowledge replaces the gifting of His church through the power of the of the Holy Spirit.The truth is many who have bought into the idea that God called them into the pastoral ministry do so without trusting the word of God.
Romans 16:17,18 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
In Christ’ love,