Tuesday, June 08, 2010
THIS THING OF BEING A PASTOR
W.B. Johnson was the first President of the Southern Baptist Convention which was founded in 1845. In 1846 he wrote this after quoting a specific passage of scripture, which I failed to write down for my post, and was recorded in an article that I discovered written by an Internet friend in a research paper on the subject of ordination. The following is that statement..with some of my explanation enclosed. Johnson said..
“In a review of these Scriptures, we have these points clearly made:
1. That over each church of Christ [local church belonging to Christ, not a denomination] in the apostolic age, a plurality of rulers was ordained who were designated by the terms elder, bishop, overseer, pastor, with authority in the government of the flock.
2. That this authority involved NO [emphasis mine] legislative [to enact rules/guidelines] power or right, but that it was ministerial [serving] and executive [oversight] only, and that, in its exercise, the elders were not to lord it over God's heritage, but as examples to lead the flock to the performance of duty ...
3. That these elders were all equal in rank [position] and authority, no one having a preeminence over the rest. This satisfactorily appears from the fact that the same qualifications were required of all, so that though some labored in word and doctrine, and others did not, the distinction between them WAS NOT IN RANK, but in THE CHARACTER OF THEIR SERVICE..[Emphasis mine.]
4. That the members of the flock were encouraged to follow and imitate the faith of their elders, with due consideration [watching with knowledge] of the end of their conversation, [The way they lived] for Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever...” [End of Dr, Johnson's statement.]
It is obvious to me that Southern Baptist people/churches, as a whole, have sure departed from the description of Church leadership taught by the first President of the Convention from his view of scripture.
It is apparent that Dr. W. B. Johnson believed there was no such thing as a one man pastoral role. Just as apparent is the fact that he believed there was no dictatorial authority vested in an "office" of "Pastor." We can even safely say that the idea of "do not question the authority [Pastor] God has placed over you" was foreign to his understanding of scripture. Otherwise there would be no reason to "Watch the way they lived" before imitating [following] them.
He [Johnson] DID believe the leaders of a fellowship were to be respected and followed [willingly] with an eye to testing their walk as believers. But there was no blind mindless sheep following a Shepherd BECAUSE he is the Pastor in Johnson's way of understanding the scriptural ministry of pastor.
I would add that the qualifications for that ministry had nothing to do with degrees, seminaries, or training. The qualifications were of character and conduct not sheepskins signed by a Seminary President. I have one of those but it has nothing to do with biblical qualifications for the ministry of Pastor/Elder or whether or not I'm qualified to pastor a fellowship.
I think all of you are aware that my view of Pastors/Elders or any biblical subject for that matter is held BECAUSE I believe I see it in scripture and NOT because some SBC leader, past or present, says it a certain way or culture wants it a certain way. Some of my friends see those same scriptures differently by the way. But that's the joy of our walk. The possibility of being wrong in our understanding but knowing that one day we will ALL fully and correctly understand.
It is interesting, however, to hear the views of a man who was with the SBC from it's beginning and to see how we've changed. Perhaps NOT for the better.