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We can’t let just anyone preach and teach

Posted by on Mar 6, 2013 in church history | 24 comments

We can’t let just anyone preach and teach

For the last few weeks, I’ve been studying church gatherings during various time periods from the post-apostolic times through the middle ages and Reformation and into the modern period. And, I’ve learned something interesting… it’s often seen as extremely dangerous to let just anyone preach and teach.

Early in the book of Acts, when persecution arose in Jerusalem, all of the believers scattered to the surrounding area. What did they do as they were scattered? “Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.” (Acts 8:4 ESV)

However, something happened over the next few hundred years. Eventually, “preaching” (in Acts, it referred to proclaiming the gospel) became the sole domain of those who were duly trained and appointed by “the Church.”

Of course, groups rose up here and there and recognized the growing problems in “the Church.” So, what did they do? They went about preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. And, they had to be stopped.

Here is one such edict responding to these “preachers” (Waldensians, in this case):

There are some who holding to the form of religion but denying its power (as the Apostle says), claim for themselves the authority to preach, whereas the same Apostle says, How shall they preach unless they are sent? Let therefore all those who have been forbidden or not sent to preach, and yet dare publicly or privately to usurp the office of preaching without having received the authority of the apostolic see or the catholic bishop of the place, be bound with the bond of excommunication and, unless they repent very quickly, be punished by another suitable penalty. (Fourth Lateran Council in 1215)

The same kinds of decrees were later issued in response to other “heretical” groups such as the followers of John Wycliffe in England (often referred to as Lollards).

But, before you start pointing fingers at the Catholics, the same thing happened during the Reformation, but this time it was the “Reformers” who began condemning the “laity” for preaching the gospel. While Luther recognized that Paul allowed all to speak and serve when the church gathered (1 Cor 14), he decided this was only intended for times of “emergency.” In normal times, Paul instructions only apply to that one (or those few) duly appointed by the church:

It is of the common rights of Christians that we have been speaking. For since we have proved all of these things to be the common property of all Christians, no one individual can arise by his own authority and arrogate to himself alone what belongs to all. Lay hold then of this right and exercise it, where there is no one else who has the same rights. But the community rights demand that one, or as many as the community chooses, shall be chosen or approved who, in the name of all with these rights, shall perform these functions publicly. Otherwise, there might be shameful confusion among the people of God, and a kind of Babylon in the church, where everything should be done in order, as the Apostle teaches [I Cor. 14:40]. For it is one thing to exercise a right publicly; another to use it in time of emergency. Publicly one may not exercise a right without consent of the whole body or of the church. In time of emergency each may use it as he deems best. (Martin Luther, “Concerning the Ministry”, 1523)

Most of us have in the past (or will in the future) run into people who proclaim something that is not the gospel of Jesus Christ or who teach in a manner that does not reflect the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the past, the answer to that problem has been simple: “the Church” must control who can and who cannot speak.

Is there another answer?


24 Comments

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  1. 3-6-2013

    I think your question probes the issue of whether or not we think God does quality-control of his kingdom in this life. It may be painful, but to me, it appears that He doesn’t. This appears to bother people a lot.

    It also makes me think of the topic of Christian orthodoxy. We all know how important the church has made it in the past, but the question is – how important is orthodoxy to God? If we answer that one, I feel we will be closer to answering yours.

  2. 3-6-2013

    Alan, I read a post such as this and a terrible shudder passes through me. That so many, even today, feel, act and believe in the separation between ‘those who ‘know and are ‘approved’ and those who are ‘just’ the unwashed masses of the Body.

    In Revelation Jesus speaks of the Nicolaitans whom He hates. I’ve not heard much ‘approved’ teaching on the Nicolaitans but what I’ve read suggests that they are those who isolate, separate and elevate the ‘clergy’ with power over the laity. If this is true, the strong words of Jesus, should cause more than a moment of self reflection lest we even in ignorance, come under the definition of ones whom are hated by God. We ignore God’s view at our peril. Certainly, such behaviour by the Pharisees was strongly opposed and detested by Jesus.

    It’s one of those things that we just don’t talk about much today…

  3. 3-6-2013

    That account in Acts 8 is one of my favorites and it is a powerful one (such that I have seen at least one specific attempt by an academic to claim that it doesn’t really mean what it seems to clearly be saying!) t comes down to fear, not fear of people nervous about evangelism but the fear that they will say the wrong thing or maybe evangelize “the wrong way” so it is something best left to the professionals. Because everyone knows that heresy never has come from pulpits by licensed and ordained clergy.

  4. 3-6-2013

    Concerning the Waldensians: I came across a quote from an Inquisitor who investigated them and who had been a Waldensian. I think his name was Reinarius Saccho. He said they not only had churches in European areas but also in Constantinople and Philadelphia (as in Rev.3), and that latter reference is most interesting in the light of What John says. Also in the 1400s in a work about the Taborites and others of Hungary and that area, it was declared that the Waldensians sent a committee to India to check on the church there!!! Amazing group of people.

  5. 3-6-2013

    The larger context of 1 Cor 14 is the gifts of the Spirit. Obviously, it includes 1 Cor 12 and 1 Cor 13 (the balance of how to function in the gifts… with love and not abuse [eg. manipulating people or drawing attention to ourselves]). Paul encourages all to engage in the prophetic. However, some people’s understanding of the prophetic are these weird esoteric utterances about the future that does not directly benefit the body of Christ (eg. God says, “Mitt Romney will be the next president… some prophesied this, but they were wrong). In the NT, the prophetic relates to the “here and now”… edification, affirmation, and encouragement. These gatherings in Corinthians were not in the strict sense always relegated to what we ‘today’ call the weekly corporate Sunday gathering. Yet these gatherings included those gatherings of any fellowship (prayer, study, worship, etc) in one another’s home and encouraged all to speak… move out in the prophetic.

    In terms of letting anyone preach or teach, it is better to form and know that person through relationship. That is the NT model. Paul took Silas and out of that he eventually took the engagement of preaching/teaching as Barnabas had taken on Paul. Apollos had Priscilla and Aquila.

    The greater issue in today’s church is, are we following the “models” set forth in the life and ministry of Jesus and the Apostles?

    On the flip side, we find jealously, insecurity and other measures in the leadership. Of course, any of us are capable of these. It is all the more reason to exemplify servant-hood, humility, love… in addition to giving ministry away by allowing others to participate. That is how people truly grow!

  6. 3-6-2013

    It is such a tragedy when you study both the Acts, the Epistles, and church history, to see that loving seekers of the Lord – whether willingly or unknowingly – have “preached” and “teached” and what resulted was yet another sect, another group, another denomination. Or worse, another deviation, another division in the Body of Christ.

    Even in the time of Paul, if you read 1 and 2 Timothy, many left him – that is, left his ministry, as he was in prison. And many taught different things – not “bad things” or “evil teachings”, but teachings that are not according to “God’s economy, which is in faith” (1 Tim. 1:4). God’s economy, God’s purpose and plan from eternity, produces oneness in the Body of Christ. Anything else, no matter how good willing you are to speak, can produce something else.

    So, to come back to your question, I am asking myself also with my blog – Lord, am I “speaking and preaching and teaching” in the line of God’s central revelation, God’s economy, or just my desire to work for You? Is my ministry, my portion in the Body, my function among the other believers, something that is in this central line, “the trunk” of God’s dispensation, or is it just ministering on the peripheral and auxiliary matters in the Bible?

    I want to learn to build up with gold (God the Father with His divine nature), silver (God the Son in His redemptive work), and precious stones (God the Spirit in His transforming work) so that my work may be for the building up of the Body of Christ and not for tearing down (wood, grass, stubble – natural things, as good as it may be… – they tear down God’s building)….

  7. 3-6-2013

    One further comment: As we know a person, we will know their doctrine… if it adheres to the core tenets of Scripture. More so, Christ! The NT had many issues with Gnosticism. Of course, a sense of character (fruit) should be evident… not perfection, but fruit.

  8. 3-6-2013

    John,

    I think those are great questions. How would you answer them?

    Heartspeak,

    From what I can tell, the “Nicolaitans” of Revelation followed someone named Nicolas. It’s fairly recent that they were connected to groups who promoted a clergy/laity divide. And, there is no historical evidence of this; only the name itself. Here is some info about the historical background related to the Nicolaitans.

    Arthur,

    Fear could definitely be a big factor. There are probably other factors as well, perhaps some with even good intentions. But… good intentions don’t always end in good results.

    James,

    I didn’t realize the Waldensians spread that far. Thanks for the info!

    Vince,

    Interestingly, Paul was already preaching the gospel and teaching before Barnabas introduced him to the believers in Jerusalem. Apollos was already preaching the gospel when he met Prisca and Aquilla. But, Apollos and Prisca/Aquilla may be a good model for us to think about with this topic, since there were some problems with what Apollos was preaching.

    Stefan,

    I love that you brought this back to you personally. I think that’s a great place to start… with each of us, not just you. :)

    -Alan

  9. 3-6-2013

    Remembe the incident involving Jesus disciples forbidding a group who had already formed their own breakaway denomination & were preaching Jesus but not walking with Him? They couldn’t even wait for the martyr to die b4 they “started their own church”. Well Jesus put the issue to rest with one profound statement, & if He is that generous, how can we be less?
    He said “he that is not against us is for us”
    As a matter of logical fact, that statement alone from the living Word, demolishes the foundation for most separation among His body.
    blessings
    Greg

  10. 3-7-2013

    I would say that there is very little kingdom quality control from God’s side. Maybe now and then as a sign, like the bad couple He killed in acts :-) In terms of salvation, I suppose one could be technical and argue that the ‘invisible church’ is pure, but for all intents and purposes the wheat and the weeds grow together in the last days. So if God is not going to separate them, should we? Paul spoke of church discipline – can that be applied to preaching? John the apostle did mention that it was necessary for a splinter group (those not ‘of us’) to leave based on the fact that they were following bad teaching\preaching, so I guess there are times when people who persist in heresy after confrontation and correction will break away but that would be more of a choice from their side wouldn’t it?

    I would imagine some people might suggest that the ‘preaching’ done in Acts 8 was more along the lines of ‘gossiped’ the word informally rather than took authority as a commissioned apostle (‘how will they preach unless they are sent’ i.e. an apostle). Another angle on it might be that Acts 8:4 could be seen as an introduction to the story about Philip, who would have been seen as a recognized leader\deacon preaching in a more official capacity. Again, I think these two arguments don’t really fit perfectly because they assume too much about the split between formal\informal and official\unofficial teaching. But they might add some nuances to it…

    As for the idea of God endorsing our conception of orthodoxy – I am not sure. What is your understanding of it? One thing I believe, is that even if God would like us to believe the truth in all its fullness, He definitely doesn’t use this to decide our legitimacy in the way we do it with creeds and the like. I have experienced an amazing example of this. There is a woman I helped come to Christ a few years ago that repented, believed, was baptized in water and filled with the Holy Spirit within the space of about 2-3 weeks. We were all so excited about the work that God had done in this woman’s previously wrecked life, as there were significant signs of the new birth and all that comes with it. I nearly fell over about 10 days later when the woman shared a revelation that she had had from Scripture just the night before. She said: “I have just realized that Jesus is actually God!”.

    What do you make of that if you’re into orthodoxy?!

  11. 3-7-2013

    Mark 9:38-41, NIV: “Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
    “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.”
    — Jesus instructed His disciples not to stop anyone from acting in His name even if they don’t have the proper credentials. His reason is that anyone doing Christian ministry is unlikely to say anything bad about it.
    In a society that honor the freedom of speech, can we stop anyone from preaching the Gospel without proper authorization? How many Christian denominations and non-denominations (Christian churches) have been formed outside of the Catholic Church in the world since the time of the first apostles? Did Jesus insist to establish a monopolistic church? Actually, none of the thousands Christian Churches recognizes the teaching of one another. Everyone of them claims to be the best and the single one which can lead humanity to the TRUTH.
    Can we just live in simplicity, in love for one another as per Jesus’ commandment, and let God take care of His Garden? What did Jesus teach his disciples in the following parable:
    Matthew 13:24-30 (ESV) _ The Parable of the Weeds
    24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds[a] among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants[b] of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
    We should always know that Jesus was persecuted for preaching a new faith which was not recognized by the Jews. In the history of Christianity, Christians have also done the same persecution to one another and to other people for the same reason. Is that the thing Jesus Christ wants to proclaim by His Good News?
    I pray that all Christians be guided by the Holy Spirit and live in His grace for His Love, rather than be concerned about the legitimacy of other people’s faith or belief. Let LOVE be the light and the salt of our lives for people in the world. Let our love and our peace be the witnesses of our faith and the truth of the Good News.

    (Please forgive me if my English is not written correctly)

  12. 3-7-2013

    I can’t speak to the root Scripture examples, but I know I personally feel betrayed when I arrive at a Sunday morning assembly to find that the pastor has suddenly handed over the preaching to someone who apparently travels around preaching/teaching about a marvelous new revelation he has had. When I find that the teaching is at least questionable and lacking Scripture support, I begin to distrust the judgement of the pastor. Instead of another piece in the pastors topical or passage exposition, I am confronted with an (untried, as far as I know) visitor not just sending greetings or sharing a word, but taking over the entire teaching time. I am OK with ‘just anyone’ being allowed to contribute, but I feel that should not extend to taking over.

  13. 3-7-2013

    I get what you are saying about Apollos and Paul. Then that seems to more so support everyone can minister. If they did not check with anyone or wait for approval and just starting preaching, then anyone can minister. However, the scripture mentions Apollos what taught in the ways of the Lord. In terms of Paul, it does not mean he preached long before Barnabas took him under his wing. Jesus sends them out two by two (the 12) and then the (72) two by two. There is a model for doing ministry… enough have not followed it. Just because we are doing something does not mean it is correct. The early church did not deal much with the issue of slavery as a whole. However, that does not mean it was correct. Culture and society change. For years, churches segregated blacks and whites… even if they met in the same church, but that does not mean it was correct. Paul, though he received much revelation from the Lord, still went up to Jerusalem to make sure what he was preaching/teaching was basically in line with the Apostles. I believe that is mentioned in Galatians, chapter 2.

    Personally, I feel “ministry flows out of relationship”. It is more wise to try (if possible) to know a person in order to give them access to the pulpit or lead a study. Obviously, it is not necessary both biblically and practically. We can find issues with each person in the scripture, but I am not sure that disqualifies them or not. Paul split from Barnabas due to him wanting to take John Mark with them. There seems to be no overt doctrinal reason as far as we know, but Barnabas took a chance on Paul… who was a controversial figure. Ananias was suspicious and questioned God if he was right concerning Paul. The disciples at Jerusalem did not believe Paul was a believer. So, perhaps Paul could have accepted or extended more grace to accept Mark, especially in light of splitting with Barnabas. Likewise, Paul withstands Peter to face in Galatians over some things between circumcision or the circumcision… basically, endorsing our freedom in Christ. However, he compels Timothy to get circumcised. No, it does not make Paul evil and wrong or disqualified.

    Just more food for more discussion. Really enjoy the blog and thanks…. Vince

  14. 3-7-2013

    It is more important that our life meet the expectation of God than anyone else preaching (including the sermon of our Pastors/Priest). Jesus said:(Mat 5:48)So be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
    Most of the things we hear from another person will quickly fade away within 30 minutes. After a day we may not retain anything at all. What remain forever with us is LOVE (the love that we receive from someone, or the love that we have given to another person). The only thing that help us to live strong, joyfully and happily is still LOVE. And after this life, the reward that we hope to get is to be in the Kingdom of LOVE.
    Is it the correctness of a sermon important?
    1Co 13:
    1 If I speak in the languages of humans and angels but have no love, I have become a reverberating gong or a clashing cymbal.
    2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can understand all secrets and every form of knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains but have no love, I am nothing.
    3 Even if I give away everything that I have and sacrifice myself, but have no love, I gain nothing.
    1Co 13:13 Right now three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

  15. 3-7-2013

    Greg,

    That’s another great passage of Scripture to consider when thinking about this topic. It’s interesting that the disciples wanted to stop the others from preaching, but Jesus said, “No.”

    John,

    Most (perhaps all?) preaching in the NT was short and contextual (i.e., dealt with questions or situations the people were currently facing). They did not try to give all the answers… in other words, compared to today’s methods, they were not very good preachers or evangelists.

    Tom,

    I’ve pointed that out before too. It’s interesting that most church leaders would prefer to have strangers speak that others who are part of the church with them.

    Duc Minh Bui,

    Thank you for bringing up 1 Cor. 13. Yes, love is a very important aspect of dealing with this topic (and all topics, for that matter).

    -Alan

  16. 3-8-2013

    I was thinking the Nicolatians were along the same line as the gnostics?

  17. 3-8-2013

    I’d say if you’re the type of group who is really trying to get a Sunday service up and running – really trying to spread the kingdom by attracting large numbers to experience God through great atmosphere, a positive message, an extremely efficient & predictable & on time morning event, then it would be very very important to select only the best speakers for that time. Make sure they have been trained or at least practiced quite a bit in public speaking. Make sure they are well liked, funny, relate-able, looked up to by many and have a solid foundation in the denominational beliefs you would like to spread. You can’t have just anybody speaking when you only have 1 hours and 15 minutes to pack in a week’s worth of Word.

    However, if you are a Church, that understands that the Holy Spirit resides in all believers and can speak through all believers….a Church that has a foundation of loving relationships where there is honesty, the ability to disagree, and where the Lord is Teacher & Guide & Shepherd & Leader and you as a group trust His capability in that role…. then let anybody speak who feels lead.

    So really, it just depends on what you are when deciding who should speak.

  18. 3-8-2013

    Oh wait, I’m sorry!

    I got myself all muddled really… I really was referring to “teaching” in that last comment.

    I see now that you were referring to preaching, proclaiming of the gospel — to nonbelievers.

    Sorry, I get confused because all of my Church experience except for present always tried to include preaching & teaching together – in the same place, same time with the same people.

    Sorry.

  19. 3-9-2013

    I have always enjoy in listening to gifted speakers who are really inspired by the Holy Spirit (example: Pastor Jentezen Franklin of the Kingdom Connection ministery) or a true witness of Jesus (both bodily and spiritually _ example Pastor Nick Vujicic of Life Without Limbs).
    In the context of a traditional/conventional church, the pastors/priests/teachers are the role models for the followers. Therefore those who hold such responsibility must be selective because the followers have high expectation in their skills and lifestyle examples. The advantage of the conventional church is followers are gathered to receive the knowledge/teaching from the pastors/priests/teachers. The disadvantage in the conventional church is when the pastors/priests/teachers fall into sin then the entire church will be affected (or deceived) and followers are disarrayed (that is the case of Catholic followers today).
    In the context of the Organic Church, where the followers are called to support one another in the light of the Gospel, then the role models are not so important (or needed). All members of the church are humble followers of Christ and they come together to share their journey of faith. Everyone is speaker, disciple, apostle, deacon, etc. They all have one single Teacher/Pastor/High Priest/Shepherd who is Christ alone. The wisdom and knowledge that they have are of the Word of God. The guidance that they receive is from the Holy Spirit. Followers are not coming together to develop a new teaching or interpretation of the Gospel; their single teaching is the Word of God. They do not come together to develop some new traditions either, because the only tradition to follow is the one established by Christ Himself. They come together to share their Food of Life, to show how they are fed and how it sustains their life. The advantage of this church is no one will be deceive by another who falls away from faith, and no one can be mislead by another or be victim of a false prophet (Mat 7:15) because Christ alone is the true Shepherd.
    Today I have read from the book God Calling the following statement that I find it is surprisingly related to our discussion on the topic initiated by Alan:
    <>
    May your journey of faith be blessed and may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be upon you always.

  20. 3-9-2013

    What a surprise, the text in the brackets was suppressed, here it is:
    “Nothing is small to God. In His sight a sparrow is of greater value than a palace, one kindly word of more importance than a statesman’s speech.
    It is the Life in all that has value, and the quality of the life that determines the value. I came to give Eternal Life.
    And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed…they took up
    of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand.” – Mark 8:7-9″

  21. 3-10-2013

    “… run into people who proclaim something that is not the gospel of Jesus Christ or who teach in a manner that does not reflect the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the past, the answer to that problem has been simple: “the Church” must control who can and who cannot speak. *Is there another answer?*”

    The problem is granting a sole person the authority to speak, and the rest making the assumption that everything he speaks will be correct.

    If we take I Cor 14 as the model for speaking and teaching in the church, then what we have is any number of people in the congregation speaking, and anyone speaking willing to immediately relinquish the floor for another to speak. In this way, no one has the authority or opportunity to promote false teachings unchallenged and uncorrected within the congregation itself.

  22. 3-11-2013

    Kathleen,

    Yes, probably an early form of the mixture between Christianity and gnosticism that came long later.

    Randi,

    No need to apologize. I mentioned both proclaiming the gospel and teaching the church in my post.

    Duc Minh Bui,

    I really like this: “They come together to share their Food of Life, to show how they are fed and how it sustains their life.” Thank you.

    Art,

    You said, “The problem is granting a sole person the authority to speak, and the rest making the assumption that everything he speaks will be correct.” You’re right. That is a big problem.

    -Alan

  23. 4-4-2013

    I was looking around just now trying to find a place where I could share some fellowship (sort of in that online fellowship isn’t quite the ideal) and lo and behold I saw the title of this post and it caught my attention.

    I was praying over these things just this morning in fact. Asking the Lord to give me insight and wisdom and trusting Him to do just that.

    Not saying that whatever I say next is pure God or something but just that such is what I was doing and trusting God for.

    I still have more questions than I do answers or at least that is how I feel.

    This morning I read about Jesus teaching the multitude and in synagogues. He taught. The people listened.

    A model for how Pastors today teach I would think. A seemingly powerful biblical support for the style of church that is so prevalent today. The Pastor teaches. We, the rest of us, sit and listen.

    Very Christ-like it would seem.

    But is it?

    It is a truth in Scripture that most all the gifts that are indicated in the church are in the plural. It is apostles, and prophets, and teachers, and pastors. Elders. Tongues speakers. Miracles. And so on.

    All plural just about wherever they are mentioned.

    And why is that?

    Is a local body of the church as His Body comprised of just one mouth (i.e. the Pastor teaching), one gifted one doing miracles, one gifted one healing the sick, one gifted one walking around as Jesus did, one gifted one serving as Jesus served, one gifted one hearing as the ear of Jesus, and whatever other gift is necessary to complete the whole body of Jesus in His place?

    Why do we of today assume, and it is an assumption, that a local body only needs ONE mouth (the Pastor) to express the Word of God to the rest?

    There were multiple prophets all over and that gift is said to be more influential in building up the body than a Pastor!

    It seems to me that no one of us can adequately replace the one mouth of Jesus. The one gift of healing, and administration, or whatever other gift there was rolled up into the person of Jesus.

    It takes a body to do that. It takes all of us.

    Operating freely to express whatever gifts He gives us.

    Why restrict the teaching of the Word to one mouth today? Fear of introducing heresy? That’s a bunch of baloney.

    There is more heresy floating around today than there has ever been! So much for our attempts to limit heresy by restricting the teaching of the Word through one mouth.

    1 Corinthians 14:26 makes it clear that ANY ONE of us can bring a doctrine to assembled believers. That IS what it says. If I am reading that verse wrongly then please tell me otherwise.

    The only reason that the introduction of the teaching that Christians should follow the Law of Moses happened is because New Testament Christians were FREE to teach one another!

    Today such a thing would not make it past the gatekeeper of truth. The Pastor.

    Church leaders were never intended by God to be gatekeepers of truth. To shepherd – absolutely. To protect against wolves – for sure. But not gatekeepers – keeping the saints from hearing anything and everything that does not line up with what they are personally convicted of.

    The reason we have so many divisions is in part due to the way we of today deal with differing convictions. We don’t allow them to flourish or be expressed or be discussed in local bodies. We tell people with different convictions that they must either shut up and submit to acceptable doctrine, change their mind about what God has supposedly laid on their heart, or leave and go find another church more in line with our beliefs.

    And so what happens?

    People who are led by the Lord to believe something different than what the gatekeeper believes are FORCED to leave to live with a clean conscience before God regarding what He has laid on their hearts.

    Division!

    WE cause it by our ridiculous modern church practices.

    We are so deluded into thinking that we are doing the right thing and protecting the flock by our modern church traditions when in fact we are causing the very division we are trying to avoid.

    Carlos

  24. 4-4-2013

    Carlos,

    I agree with what you’ve said. We can add one more aspect to this: Jesus is still the primary teacher, and, for the church, he is the only teacher. The question is: How does he teach? Does he only teach through one person? No, he teaches through all of his followers because all are indwelled by his Spirit.

    -Alan