Monday, May 24, 2010


I'm posting, with permission, an entire post that demands an audience. I want my small readership to be a part of that group that is blessed by the writings of Dr. David Black. This is his essay written on 9/13/07 on his website you will find here..

Dr. Black is currently Professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He has also taught courses at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Lancaster Bible College, Fuller Theological Seminary and a host of other places. He is a husband, father, missionary, teacher, and, as you will see, a writer of note.. I wrote and asked his permission to post this in it's entirety. He answered with an e-mail that said this...

Brother Paul,

Be honored.

Warmest regards,


For those who read Wade's blog this is a testimony to the truth of the post Wade wrote about men who have truly earned their degrees. Now enjoy.

Who Is Head of Your Church?

David Alan Black

Leadership has become an issue in the church today. This ethics of leadership has social and political implications as well as ecclesiological ones. It is not a matter of church eldership per se. No one doubts the necessity for qualified leaders in a congregation. It is the manner and means of leadership that is under dispute. (A similar question may be posed of the classroom: Is the teacher the authoritative and unchallengeable dispenser of truth, or the wise and humble facilitator of learning? This question cannot be treated here.)

It is the attitude of power, of control, of rigidity, of unassailability (no one dare point out the weaknesses of the leader though there may be many) that is under scrutiny. Wherever Christ reigns as Head and Chief Shepherd the instruments of power are devalued and scope is given for freedom. This is possible, however, only if there is true biblical Headship – only when Christ is revered as the Senior Pastor and Leader. Thus, while the movement toward a plurality of co-equal elders in our churches is a step in the right direction, it does not go far enough. True mutuality of leadership is belied whenever we speak of “Dr. So-and-So’s church” (you fill in the blank with the name of your favorite pastor). I am not saying that most pastors would desire ever to have their congregations so closely identified with one man. Yet who can deny this is happening? What we are to do in our churches is rather to manifest the reality of Christ in a way that incarnates His sole Headship, so that in all things (including perhaps such mundane things as church letterheads and marquees) He and He alone might have the preeminence (Col. 1:18).

The issue, then, is one of Lordship. Lordship is strictly a mark of the distance between us and the Lord, yet it is also paradoxically the guarantee of proximity. It is purification from the stain of pride that marks our pulpit- and program-centered churches. If we are to be true to Christ, we can no longer exult a human leader, just as we cannot serve two masters. Now, Christ’s Headship remains the same throughout events. He is and remains undeniably the only Lord of the church. But does it show? Is it evident? Not only in our humble and approachable demeanor, but in our ecclesiastical structures and titles and programs? In other words, we cannot claim to follow Jesus as Lord and not seek intentionally to acknowledge Him as such. Indeed, we can do many things that prevent Christ’s Lordship from manifesting itself. Does this suppress His Lordship? Not at all, but it prevents it from being lived out by men.

Perhaps Christ’s Headship will become more and more visible in our churches as the church becomes more and more persecuted. Sunday believers will fall by the wayside. Being a pastor will no longer be profitable or popular. There is often a strict reciprocity between suffering and humility. We suffer, and God makes free. Reciprocally, where there is little cost, there is little love. The wrestling of Jacob, Job, and Abraham brought them into a new view of God and themselves. It enabled them to place their hope in the living God, just as our hope today rests squarely in the victory of Jesus. By destroying the powers, Jesus removes the hubris, the anthropocentricity. We are free to be enslaved to our rightful Master. Power need no longer come into play. There is now one Lord as well as one faith and one baptism. In faith we accept our High Priest, the Overseer and Shepherd of our souls. In faith we bow the knee. In faith we bear witness to Him.

There are no longer any illusions about power.

As an aside, I read where Dr. Black was asked about his priorities. Here is that exchange.

"Finally, what are your greatest priorities in life?"

"That’s easy:

A..Spend time with God daily.

B..Love, honor, and serve my wife and family.

C..Strive for excellence in all I do.

D..Leave past failures (and successes) behind.

E..Say "No" to things that are not essential to fulfilling my ministry goals.

F..Face life with a joyful attitude."

All I can say is...May God increase the tribe of this kind of Professors of Greek and New Testament [or any other discipline] in Southern Baptist Seminaries.

Paul B.


Aussie John said...


I like to use words, but you leave me no choice. What can I say but, "AMEN!"

Bob Cleveland said...

Truth, stem to stern.

Paul Burleson said...


Dr. Black has left the three of us speehless. That's a miracle. ;)

[It IS good isn't it!!!]

Paul Burleson said...

And he left me unable to spell if I COULD speak.

Christiane said...

For a long time I thought how could it be that a seminary president could fire a Hebrew professor who had a husband with severe medical problems.
I remember thinking that the 'excuse' given was a strange one: 'because she is a woman'.

So she was 'let go' and great hardship followed her and her family for a while (now things are better, I am told).

I think what jarred me so thoroughly was that one man could raise the 'doctrine' of patriarchy totally above Christ's Law of Love. That one man used his position as a leader to ignore Lord Christ's Great Commandment. And he got away with it. At least in the temporal sense: he is still an icon for many who can discern nothing wrong in what he did.

So I look at the title of this post and it reminds me that people can idolize 'authority', even when that authority violates the principle that no harm may be done that good may come.

We can't follow two masters . . .
Best to follow the leader that points always towards the Lord, and in His Name, obeys the laws of loving-kindness towards his fellowman.

The great Christian leaders will be, above all, the servants of Lord Christ. And a leader of these leaders will, at all times, be 'a servant of the servants of God'. There is no other pattern within the Body of Christ than that.

Paul Burleson said...


Your entire comment is excellent. But the last paragraph..."The great Christian leaders will be, above all, the servants of Lord Christ. And a leader of these leaders will, at all times, be 'a servant of the servants of God'. There is no other pattern within the Body of Christ than that."..deserves a double I just did. Thanks.

Rex Ray said...

Strange how this subject fits our church situation at this time since ‘proposed church constitution and bylaws’ have been given to the congregation for study and to make suggestions.

Black states, “Leadership has become an issue in the church today.”

That’s a true statement but I believe early Christians had the same issue as shown by the first bishop of Antioch (Ignatius) saying:

“We ought to receive every one whom the Master of the house sends to be over His household, as we would do Him that sent him. It is manifest, therefore, that we should look upon the bishop even as we would upon the Lord Himself.”

I like our ‘proposed’ bylaws first statement: “This is a democratic Southern Baptist church under the lordship of Jesus.”

On the other hand I have a problem with the pastor being described as a “servant leader”.

That sounds nice but how can two words that are oxymoron describe anything? I’m afraid “servant” is forgotten and “leader” takes control and with time “leader” may become ‘ruler’ and in reality the church would no longer be democratic.

I believe some danger signs of a ruler: “my ushers - my deacons - I have a convert - dismissed”.

One church has a ‘Executive Committee’ made up of the chairmen of deacons, personnel, and finance with the pastor being its chairman. Their bylaws state:

“This committee shall serve as the Board of Directors of the Church and shall govern the Church in general matters not requiring members’ approval unless specified otherwise in these Bylaws.”

(BTW, these men were appointed to their positions by the pastor.)

I like what Christiane said: “…a leader of these leaders will, at all times, be 'a servant of the servants of God'. There is no other pattern within the Body of Christ than that.”

Rex Ray said...

Hadn’t read your last comment, so I guess we gave the comment of Christiane a triple posting. :)

Paul Burleson said...


I sure don't mind a good thing being tripled posted. :)

You've given some thoughtful remarks as always. I don't agree with our early Church father Ignatius on some of his positions as I've read him. For example, when he said... "It is not lawful to baptize or give communion without the consent of the bishop. On the other hand, whatever has his [the bishop's] approval is pleasing to God. Thus, whatever is done will be safe and valid." — Letter to the Smyrnaeans 8, J.R. Willis translation...I would disagree.

I had NOT read this..."“We ought to receive every one whom the Master of the house sends to be over His household, as we would do Him that sent him. It is manifest, therefore, that we should look upon the bishop even as we would upon the Lord Himself”...and would also have to disageee with his interpetation of the biblical materials here also.

It is not without reason that Ignatius is refered to as the first 'Catholic' Father.

I have to admit that in my old age I even see the scriptural position of Pastor differently than I used to. I no longer see the Pastor as an "office" in the text as much as I see "people" [plural] given as gifts to the church as overseers, elders or pastors. In fact, ALL members of the Body are gifts in some manner and are to minister [serve] in that giftedness for the betterment and maturity of all.

That is not to say the ministry of people who are elders, pastors, bishops isn't key for that maturity, but they are not in place of, equal to, or even looked upon as the head. There is only ONE Head as Dr. Black so well says in his essay.

All in all, some good thoughts. Thank you.

Rodney Sprayberry said...

I discovered Dr. Black some months back and found him to be a breath of fresh air in the theological stuffiness that often occurs in theological/academic environments.

Too me the most profound and prophetic statement in what he has written here is this:

"Perhaps Christ’s Headship will become more and more visible in our churches as the church becomes more and more persecuted. Sunday believers will fall by the wayside. Being a pastor will no longer be profitable or popular.

There is often a strict reciprocity between suffering and humility. We suffer, and God makes free. Reciprocally, where there is little cost, there is little love."

I believe that many of the issues that the average church deals with today are due in part to this developing reality.

Some groups remembers a day when church was popular and preachers were respected and looked up due by virtue of office and wonder why things are not as they were.

They remember a time when they sacrificed, served and sweated to help the church be the church in the culture of their day.

They remember packed out revivals, powerful preaching services, exuberant Gospel singing, efficient programs, etc.

Robert Dale calls corporate nostalgia in a church, spiritual depression.

Churches can become depressed because things are changing. Instead of focusing on what never changes (Christ, the Gospel, His Word, The Great Commission and Great Commandment) they get upset and afraid concerning all the things that are.

At the core of depression is usually anger and fear

For many congregations this depression produces or maybe contributes to decline…of numbers, finances, but most of all influence.

Thus the bickering and blame begin (i.e. Black’s “loss of love” for one another). Issues begin to arise over music style, leadership, personalities, lack of commitment, etc

(Side note: Our church had an interesting business meeting a few weeks ago and there was a lengthyand somewhat passionate discussion of music. A church member told me that her teenage daughter on the way home from that meeting asked a question. She said, When will they realize it is not about the music?)

Eventually a congregation moves into “safe” mode. Usually they continue to become more inwardly focused and self-centered (i.e. Black’s “loss of love” for the world) and dominated by power struggles, personal preference, and pretense.

“Lordship” and “kingdom perspective” are lost. The church sacrifices it birthright for a bowl of stew.

When a Kingdom perspective is absent the default perspective is always “survival”. (Dale)

But there is a growing group of believers(in the pulpit and pew) that refuse to live in survival mode. There is no doubt that they are hungry. However, their spiritual bellies ache for purpose and impact and to be part of organizations and movements that facilitate that. They will gladly trade the bowl of stew for a birthright!

They will not give money, time, or effort to keep an organization going that is not making a difference in the world

It matters very little if they are popular or respected as long as they are part of something that is making a difference.

Titles do not matter. Gender does not matter. Tradition does not matter. Image does not matter. Obstacles do not matter. Protocol does not matter. Risk does not matter. Sometimes… theology does not matter.

Spiritual Influence… Relationships… Authenticity…Opportunity…Meaningful experiences…Lasting impact…these matter.

When Lordship is lost and Kingdom perspective is forgotten, a congregation not only sacrifices it birthright…but in today cultural climate…it will never reach those pre-Christians... or keep the very believers who are willing to face an uncertain and maybe even dangerous future with Faith, Hope, and Love (and some grit, courage, and creativity to boot).

Christiane said...


It may be that Ignatius was called the first 'catholic' father because of this quote:

"St. Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, written about the year 110. The words run: "Wheresoever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be, even as where Jesus may be, there is the universal [katholike] Church."

I imagine that the Scripture "where two or more are gathered in My Name, there I will be in the midst of them" is reflected in that quote of Ignatius.

BTW, he was a disciple of John the Apostle. In my Church history, Ignatius is known as the third bishop of Antioch and as a great martyr of the faith who died around 110 A.D.

Please be aware that there are many 'spurious' letters that people claim that Ignatius wrote that have been proven not to be credible.

I'm so very glad to see Baptists reading the writings of the early Church Fathers.
Their writings are a heritage that belong to all Christian people and can give insight into the early Church and into formation of doctrines of Christology and of the Trinity, as the early Fathers fought against the early heresies that denied who Christ was and denied the orthodox doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

Rex, I continue, and will continue to keep you and Belle before the Lord during morning vigil hour.
May you feel His Presence and His comfort, dear one.
Love, L's

Aussie John said...


Dave Black's site has been a daily read for me for the last couple of years or so. It has become so because in him I found a man who, although quite entitled to academic titles, finds his security in the Lord Jesus Christ,and Him ALONE.

I want to recommend two of his most recent small books, which pack a clear Biblical kick in the pants to any who are very comfortable in the traditions of their particular branch of evangelical Christianism:

1. The Jesus Paradigm.
2. Christian Archy.

I bought my copies, online, from Energion Publications.

Obviously, I like what Dave has to say in these books because he is touching on my own convictions regarding the Family of God, but the publisher's comment on his blog site really says it all:
"One complaint (about the Jesus Paradigm) came from a pastor who read an advance copy and then told me that he was not so sure about this book and its author. He hoped to keep his job all the way to retirement. He was concerned about the threat to the authority of pastors."

I love it!!:)

Rex Ray said...

Thanks to you and Christiane for more information on Ignatius. I didn’t know he was known as the first 'Catholic' Father.

That makes sense to me since I believe the roots of Catholics and Baptists are shown at the first church counsel in Acts 15.

I’m sure Christiane is correct in saying: “Please be aware that there are many 'spurious' letters that people claim that Ignatius wrote that have been proven not to be credible.”

What I quoted came from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Wheaton College.

It also said Mary wrote Ignatius: “The lowly handmaid of Jesus to Ignatius, her beloved fellow-disciple. The things which thou has heard and learned from John concerning Jesus are true. Believe them, cling to them...stand fast in the faith...Amen”

That would bring out the truth of Christiane saying Ignatius was a disciple of John the Apostle.

Wheaton College also said…Ignatius wrote John: “Well-know persons, relate that Mary is full of all graces and all virtues...She is the lady of our new religion...there is in Mary, the mother of Jesus, an angelic purity of nature allied with the nature of humanity. Such reports have greatly urged us to desire a sight of this heavenly prodigy and most sacred marvel. I desire to see the venerable James, who is surnamed Just, whom they relate to be like Christ Jesus in appearance, in life, in method of conduct, as if he were a twin-brother of the same womb.”

If this letter is true, it shows the importance of James, and Ignatius thought James was a son of Mary. (I believe Catholics teach Mary had only one son.) It also shows the respect shown to Mary in being “the lady of our new religion”.

History shows that worship of Mary began in 431 AD, prayers to Mary in 600 AD, Assumption of Mary (went to heaven without dying) in 1950, and Mary was proclaimed Mother of the Church in 1965.

Christiane, you said Ignatius was the third bishop of Antioch. That’s true according to:
that says: “The Church of Antioch is the continuation of the Christian community founded in Antioch by the Apostles Peter (who served as its first bishop) and Paul.”

Now Baptists, in my thinking, believe Peter and Paul were the roots of Baptist preachers and did not have the thinking of Ignatius as a bishop. Since they were apostles and not bishops, Ignatius would be the FIRST bishop of Antioch. I believe he was sent to Antioch by the Jerusalem church to get those Gentile Christians in line to keep the law of Moses.

I believe Ignatius was one of the answers to Paul’s question in (Galatians 3:1-3 Living) “Oh, foolish Galatians! What magician has hypnotized you?...Did you receive the Holy Spirit by trying to keep the Jewish laws?...Then have you gone completely crazy? For if trying to obey the Jewish laws never gave you spiritual life…why do you think that trying to obey them now will make you stronger Christians?”

Paul, I like what you said, “ALL members of the Body are gifts in some manner and are to minister [serve] in that giftedness for the betterment and maturity of all. That is not to say the ministry of people who are elders, pastors, bishops isn't key for that maturity, but they are not in place of, equal to, or even looked upon as the head.”

So I’m DOUBLE posting it. :)

Rex Ray said...

Who Controls the Church?
By Rex September 15, 2007

Christ is the head of the church; no one else. We agree the church is to cooperate together to fulfill the Great Commission. What is the best way to cooperate? This was on the ‘blog’ yesterday:

“Ration is the Root of Cooperation: Lets All Ration
The word cooperation speaks of many people coming together, with everyone restricted to limited allotments of power, limited allotments of assets, limited allotments of influence. Monarchies by their very nature limit nothing. The few or – the one – hold all the power and control…we operate best when many cooperate together with limited allotments of power, money, and influence by all.
By Wade Burleson”, IMB trustee and pastor of Enid, Oklahoma

While my father was a Chaplin on the front lines of Germany, my mother saved gas coupons in order to drive 50 miles to see her brother. Rationing gas and other things provided cooperation to beat Hitler.

The best way to ration power and control in bringing about cooperation in a church is the vote. Take away the vote, and a few will take over. Take away the vote, and cooperation will wither.

Many Baptist churches have voted to give their vote to a few where deacons were moved from ‘administration’ to ‘service’. When that happens, the church becomes ‘staff-led’ or ‘pastor-led’, instead of ‘congregation-led’.

I’ve ‘been there; done that’ in leaving a church after 20 plus years where I watched it split and go from 500 attending to 150 with a million dollar debt.

Rex Ray said...

In your lengthy comment I failed to see your view on the topic of ‘Who is the head of your church?’

On this blog, several have discussed who ran the church in Bible times and I like Paul’s conclusion on what gives maturity to a church in that ALL contribute.

That would back up the proposed bylaws given to the church in saying we are a democratic church.

That’s the opposite of ‘hero of fundamentalists’ saying the pastor is to be the ruler of the church.

You made a very true statement: “Churches can become depressed because things are changing…they get upset and afraid concerning all the things that are. At the core of depression is usually anger and fear. For many congregations this depression produces or maybe contributes to decline…of numbers…”

One lady that was absent a long time because of illness asked, “What’s happened to our church?”

Yes, the other night was quite a lengthy business meeting on hiring the same ‘type’ of music director that was recommended by the search team.

The previous music and youth director left because the youth had decreased to three.

You preached a sermon saying some are more concerned on what the congregation wants to do rather than on what God wants the congregation wants to do.

The question begs: Who decides what God wants or “Who is the head of your church?”

Rodney Sprayberry said...


Several thoughts come to mind.

First of all if a church is a church it is not my church or your church, or even our church, it is belongs to Christ. (Even though I know what Paul and you are saying. In reality, possessive pronouns in a church context are not about possession as much as personal connection)

Second, What is popular ( the majority) is not always right.

Third, just just because a person is in leadership position does not meant that he or she is always right (by virtue of position)

Fourth, just because every believer is a "priest" does not guarantee that they are always right.

Majority "rule" and leadership "rule" are many times both about power and control not Lordship (hence the word "rule")

You have often said words have meaning and you can parse them with the best :)

Even concepts like being staff "led", pastor "led", or congregational "led" seem to forget that we are to be Spirit led.

Being Spirit led affirms the giftedness of each believer.

Being Spirit led affirms the calling of each believer.

Being Spirit led means that believers in community with one another correct, rebuke, encourage, pray for, serve, love,confess sin, and seek to worship and follow Christ.

Being Spirit led acknowleges the that every believer is a priest but also part of a royal priesthood.

Being Spirit led means that decision making in a congregation can be a messy and slow process.
However, the question that should be wrestled with is whether or not Jesus would have us to do that which we seek to do.

Now be most church business meetings and discussions over your life time of attending church is that the prevailing question?

Now I know churches that have voted (which should be ok with you since it is what they congregation decided) to trust their leaders a little more than you feel comfortable with and yet they still have checks and balances to "ration power" . That is because as a church they seek to follow Jesus and not the "leaders"

I also have known churches that are "congregational led" and they are more concerned with what the majority thinks rather than what Jesus thinks.

Of course there are churches of both stripes where the opposite is true...but I hope you understand my point.

Black's comment that Christ and His Lordship is instructive here:

We cannot claim to follow Jesus as Lord and not seek intentionally to acknowledge Him as such. Indeed, we can do many things that prevent Christ’s Lordship from manifesting itself. Does this suppress His Lordship? Not at all, but it prevents it from being lived out by men (I might add the church)

Aussie John said...


I thought we Aussies were the only ones who started off chasing a rabbit, and....... :)

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,


Rex, Rodney,

I appreciate the way you have not, while obviously disagreeing a bit with each other, gotten personal in your comments toward each other or toward a specific church. That's commendable and I desire it to remain that way as I'm sure you do.

I'm captivated by all the comments here. I would say I agree with much both of you are saying and disagree with some of what both of you are saying. Who would have thought otherwise..right? ;)

I am preparing a rather lengthy comment about a pretend situation that will allow me to give a personal perspective on problem solving in a local fellowship facing issues that must have a conclusive decision made.

How can it be done without "lording it over" one another from either the pastoral OR congregational? How can we find "God's will" about contoversial issues that are often faced.?

It will be an illustration of what I think Dr. Black was addressing. I'll have it finished and placed on this comment section shortly.

Paul Burleson said...

Please add "point of view" after "congregational" and it'll make a bit more sense.

Christiane said...


You wrote ' History shows that worship of Mary began in 431 AD . . '

I can tell you upon honor and conscience that Mary is not worshiped by Catholics OR the Orthodox.
Recognition of Mary in the Church is based upon the honor bestowed upon her by God in choosing her to be the mother of Our Lord. And Mary serves in our religion as a model for someone totally devoted to Him, from her acceptance 'Be it done unto me according to thy word' until the holy hours she STOOD at the foot of the Cross with a broken heart.
Normally, I do not mention Mary when I blog with Protestant people, but that is only because I do not wish for anyone to speak poorly of her (and I have seen that sort of thing sadly done). But I have a devotion to her that is deeply ingrained in my love of her Son. She points always to Him, and when she said to the wine stewards at the wedding, 'Do as He tells you', her words still sound in our ears.

I guess as Catholics, we see Mary differently. 'The Woman' or 'Woman' is a great title of honor bestowed on her in Scripture. We think of her as 'mother' because she gave birth to Him who brought us eternal life: not because she was a goddess, no, but because as a 'handmaid', she said 'yes' to God in obedience and in faith and trust.
If Mary is honored, we do what Christ did, surely, as He followed the Ten Commandments in honoring His mother. His example is our example. He did not worship her, nor do we.
Love, L's

Paul Burleson said...

My method of decision making in a local congregation is as follows. I believe it to be biblical, Spirit led and defers to our true Head of the church. I believe it utilizes the true ministry [not office] of pastor/shepherd [without violation of the Priesthood of the believer] and recognizes our equality under our Lord.

I also believe the end is never MORE important than the means. I also believe that leaders can be right/wrong. The congregation can be right/wrong. The deacons can be right/wrong. But who's right and who's wrong is not THE MAIN ISSUE for me. All being loved, valued, communicated to, being able to communicate with leaders and all being led to find/follow and love the Lord is the REAL ISSUE. Whatever is decided will pale into insignificance to all that.

So..suppose I'm pastoring [ministry not office] a fellowship. An issue arises. We need to do away with the Sunday School and go to week-day small goups I believe. I even believe it is God's will for us. What do I do? [Factor in a body of elders if one exists instead of just a pastor.]I would begin by reminding all, including myself of some basic things.

Paul Burleson said...

1...Go to the foundational principles that guide us as a congregation.

A..Is the bible silent on this issue? [Were it the issue of divorced deacons the passages would have to be studied by all, of course, but there is no biblical materials on SS or small groups that I know of..:)]

B..Do all understand there is ONLY one "Boss/Head" over our church and it 'ain't' anyone whose name is on the functioning roll of membership.

C..Help all understand everyone has a right/responsibility to give input/ideas.

D..Have we, as a congregation, previously agreed on a way of making a final choice as to what God's will might be on something that is not clearly stated in scripture. It could be that we've chosen to settle things by congregation vote.. or.. assigned responsibility to decide such things to a person/persons [Pastor/elders] or group. [deacons] If we have NOT this would have to be settled first of all.

2...Once I've reminded us all of the underlying principles we're following as agreed to, I would want to get the ENTIRE congregation involved with input/opinion/insights on the SS/small group issue..

A..This might be a call to a special all-day prayer meeting with people coming and going for prayer in the auditorium.[{I've done this many times.].

B..It would/could involve a Sunday insert [A couple of weeks in a row maybe.] describing the choices/options and reminding all of our agreed way of getting a final decision. [Pastor/deacon/congregation vote..whatever.] In those same inserts I would provide space for each member to give their personal thoughts/ideas and reasons for either. I would then collect those inserts.

C.I would plan a Sunday night where I would present the input in some fashion with time for FINAL input/discussion.

3...Then announce a set time as to WHEN the final decision would be made.[By whatever means we previously agreed upon.]

A.At that date..announce the decision whatever it was decided.

B.Show that I personally embrace the decision whether it was my original choice or not and believe it is the will of God for us or He would have Sovereignly changed our collective minds since we ALL wanted His will. I would lead the deacons, staff, leadership to do the same.

C.Request the congregation to embrace it likewise and begin the implimentation of whatever was decided.


IF... we DID NOT have a way of making final decisions clearly agreed upon, I would follow this procedure to CREATE ONE FIRST.

IF...the issue was a CONVICTIONAL ONE for me, I would either follow the wishes of the majority without rancor as did Joshua and Caleb or I would resign and go somewhere else.

BUT I would not/could not say I'm right and the rest were wrong with anger or rancor. That is not permissible with true leadership and the Holy Spirit would NOT be leading me there for sure. It serves no one.

I've practiced this way more times than I can count from buying land to building building to creating staff positions to taking a stance on a doctrinal issue of a non-salvific nature.

In fact this is the way a family should operate IMHO, were, for example, a move is anticipated because of the husband/wife's job. Kids are family too. The whole family has a vested interested in it all.

Rex Ray said...

Sorry for not answering sooner about the worship or not worship of Mary.

To give a complete answer I believe the start of Catholics and Baptists must be seen. And trying to stay on Paul’s topic (Who is the head of your church), I would ask: the Holy Spirit or the pope? I’ll apologize for the length.

TWO DENOMINATIONS...Catholic & Baptists
1. Roots of Baptists grew from faith in Jesus plus nothing.
“We are not slave children, obligated to the Jewish laws, but children...acceptable to God because of our faith.” (Galatians. 4:31) “We are saved by faith in Christ and not by the good things we do.” (Romans 3:28) “…Abraham found favor with God by faith alone...But didn’t he earn the right to heaven by all the good things he did? No, for being saved is a gift.” (Romans 4:12, 4)
Jesus taught Paul that man was free from the law because believing in Him was a higher law. Paul wrote nearly one hundred Scriptures how man could have eternal life by God’s gift, faith, belief or trust in Jesus.

2. Roots of Catholics grew from faith in Jesus plus works.
It was not the party of Republicans or Democrats, but the party of Christian Pharisees: “But some of the believers from the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them [gentiles] and to command them to keep the law of Moses!” (Acts 15:5) “You say the way to God is by faith alone plus nothing; well, I say that good works are important too...” (James 2:18) “Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works?” “ works a man is justified and not by faith only.” “if you have been merciful, then God’s mercy toward you will win out over his judgment against you...mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” (James 2:21, 24, 13)

James says our mercy can rejoice against God’s judgment. Did he know? “All our righteousness is as filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6) James said Abraham was justified by works, but Paul said, “If Abraham was justified by works, then he has something to brag about—but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:2)

In my opinion, James was a Christian but could not give up the old laws.

Rex Ray said...

1. “I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven: and what-soever thou shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and what-soever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew. 16:19)

A. Baptists interpretation:
“Keys of the Kingdom” was the Gospel. That’s what Christ gave the apostles and Christians to tell the world. Acceptance of the Gospel binds on earth and heaven. Anyone without “keys” to enter heaven was lost. No one had authority over anyone. Every one was their own priest.

B. Catholic interpretation:
Authority given to leaders was James’ opinion: “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” “The earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and wonderful results.” (James 5:14-16)

2. “Who do you think I am?” Peter answered, ‘Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ “God has blessed you, Simon, son of Jonah,” Jesus said, “for my Father in heaven has personally revealed this [1] to you--this [2] is not from any human source. You are Peter, a stone; and upon this [3] rock I will build my church.” (Matthew 16: 15-18)

A.Baptist’s interpretation:
Jesus, the Son of God, was the rock – not Peter. Living Bible preface: “Bible writers often jump ahead or back up to something said before without clearly stating the reference. Some times the result for that we are left far behind.”

This Scripture is an example of ‘backing up’. When Jesus said the third “this”, He was referring to the first two and not Peter.
Peter was not more important than what God revealed. Peter was so ignorant on another matter that six verses later, Jesus put him in a corner with a dunce cap by calling him Satan.
Peter denied knowing Jesus at Calvary, and even after receiving the Holy Spirit, Paul called him a hypocrite for being afraid of men that came from James.
Jesus, not Peter, fulfilled prophecy of being the “rock”: “The stone rejected by the builders has been made the honored cornerstone” (Isaiah 28:16 and Matthew 21:42)

B.Catholic interpretation:
Peter was the Rock.
Foxe's Book of Martyrs: In 1413, John Kemp: “Jesus ordained St Peter to be His vicar here in earth... and He granted the same power...should succeed unto all Peter’s successors, whom we now call popes of whom Christian men ought to obey after the laws of the Church of Rome. I thank God I never knew what the Old and New Testament was. I will know nothing but my portuese and my pontifical.”

Rex Ray said...

“The curtain secluding the Holiest Places in the Temple was split apart from top to bottom.” (Matthew 27:51)

God split the curtain that separated man from God. The priest lost their jobs and man could go to God through his Son.

“…you can go directly to the Father and ask him, and he will give you what you ask for because you use my name…ask, using my name, and you will receive… I won’t need to ask the Father to grant you these request for the Father loves you dearly because you love me…” (John 16:23, 26-27 Living)

‘No, no, no, cries the devil. I have to keep man away from God. If he prays and worships Christ, God will take him to heaven, so I’ll get man to pray and worship Mary.’

Only God sees every sparrow fall. (Matthew 10:9)

Why would he punish Mary by burdening her with the sins of the world? She is enjoying what God has prepared for Christians:

“Things which eye has not seen ear has not heard and which has not entered the heart of man.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Christiane said...


Thank you for sharing that.

The ideas of 'prayer' and 'worship' in our religion are kept separate.
We often ask one another for prayer, when we are in need, or suffering. And we are told that it is good to care for one another in this way.
If we 'pray' to Mary as Catholics, we ask her to 'pray for us', not unlike asking a friend to help us.

But 'worship' is different. That is reserved for the Holy, and to depart from that is idolatry, a great sin.

Catholics 'talk to dead people'. :)
I know. I know. That sounds strange but we believe that Christians who have gone ahead of us into eternity to be with Our Lord are not 'dead' and lost to us. We believe in something called the 'communion of saints', which I know you don't believe in, but it means that, in Christ the Lord, we are in communion with one another and death has no power to separate us who live 'in Him, with Him, and through Him'.

Rex, I know some of the Marian doctrines are extreme and some people go 'over the top' in their devotions to Mary, but we know this about her:
she loved Our Lord and she cared for Him, as only a mother could. That alone gives her a place of honor in my Church. In time, I think that Protestants will begin again to look at Mary: perhaps in the Scriptures, at least. And come to know her as one who loved, and was loved as His mother. The Bible is the place you can find her: 'the Woman', even in Genesis and in Revelation, she is there.

I love her because she stood at Calvary, as her Son suffered. She would not leave Him, not there, not then. That is something very special to me, as a mother.

Rex Ray said...

Sorry I dropped the football on our conversation, as I got interested in Wade’s blog. (I also have on my list to respond to Paul’s very good way of handling church decisions.) I appreciate the things you said and your desire for saying them about Mary.

No one can measure the love of a mother, and for that reason I ‘love’ Mary more than any character in the Bible.

Not much is written about her like David and the adventures of Paul, but I love her for “pondering these things in her heart.” In her quite way she ‘carried’ her Son more than just giving him birth.
The agony of watching him die is shown by the mother that stayed many days beneath the cross of her son to keep vultures away.

You said, “We believe in something called the 'communion of saints', which I know you don't believe in, but it means that, in Christ the Lord, we are in communion with one another and death has no power to separate us who live 'in Him, with Him, and through Him'.”

I believe exactly as you in heaven. But for communion from heaven to earth except for the Lord and Jesus, could be worse than hell.

Can you imagine the horror of a person being tortured to death crying, “Mary – save me!”, and hearing that cry, Mary would hurt more than the one dying. How could that be heaven for Mary?

I believe praying to Mary shows disrespect to Jesus by disobeying his words on who to pray to in John 16:23, 26-27, and is another concept invented by the devil to mislead Christians.

I don’t mean to sound bossy, but hope all people will pray to the Person the devil doesn’t want them to.

Rex Ray said...

I know it’s a problem for Rodney and I not to tangle, but that started with my first printed letter (“Barnacle Survivor” July 7, 1998) in the Baptist Standard, so I’ll plead ‘old habits die hard’.

For not replying sooner, I could say ‘I was waiting for Rodney’s reply’, but that’s not true.

I was delighted the way your church reaches decisions. I plan to put your comment on our bulletin board.

An example of our last decision:
1. Deacons were asked to pray for a month and decide if a music questionnaire would benefit our church.
2. Their decision was yes and a proposed questionnaire was shown, but the pastor said he would write one.
3. Months went by but the pastor said he was working the questionnaire into his school paper.
4. A team was selected by the church to decide if we needed/select a song leader, a youth director, or a song/youth person to replace the one that left when the youth decreased from about 15 to 3.
5. It was announced the church was fortunate to have the assistant to the former song director fill in while the team did their ‘search’. He carried on the same ‘program’ of mostly new songs.)
6. It was announced the church would hear from the team at the next business meeting.
7. At the meeting, the team announced the assistant was their choice for song leader. (Some said they would have attended if they’d known there was to be a vote.) There was a long debate. One lady said singing was a spiritual preparation for worship but learning a new song created in her a spiritual vacuum and she had noticed a lack of participation by the congregation.
8. The vote was in favor 15 to 5.

Last Sunday, after an ‘old’ song was started, a sitting congregation volunteering stood.

Rodney, since you completed your PhD surly that questionnaire is complete. When will you announce it?

Yes, Paul, - old habits die hard. :)