Thursday, January 19, 2017

What should a Christian minister look like?

What should a Christian minister look like?

by Miller Jones 
Over at Banned by HWA, several of the most recent posts on that blog have provoked a great deal of thought about what constitutes a genuine Christian minister. While most of us would readily admit that an adulterer and murderer would not qualify, agreement seems to break down when other issues are considered. In other words, what are the things that qualify a person as a legitimate minister of Jesus Christ? How important are things like gender, training and credentials?

For many Fundamentalists, Paul's statements in some of his epistles about female participation in church services exclude the possibility of that gender serving in the ministry. Of course, that assumption ignores all of the scriptural evidence that contradicts such a conclusion. What about Mary? What about Priscilla? What about Lois and Eunice? Is it correct to exclude half of humanity from participating in the ministry of the church because Jewish society in the First Century had a strong misogynistic and paternalistic bias?

What about the training of the ministry? How did Christ train his apostles? Did he send them to colleges and seminaries? Weren't most of the apostles and ministers of the early church mature individuals who had years of exposure to Christ's teachings and more years of life experiences under their belts? How many young men or recent converts were elevated to the ministry? Is Christianity a spiritual or intellectual exercise? Can love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, patience, kindness, compassion, etc. be learned in a college or seminary? How important is one's understanding of complex theological, philosophical and doctrinal matters to being a successful/effective minister of Jesus Christ?

Does a license from a man-made organization make one a minister of Jesus Christ? Does an appointment by some board or some single individual (like someone claiming to be an apostle or prophet) make one a minister? Does obtaining a degree or completing some course of study qualify one to be a minister of Jesus Christ? Does recognition by the State entitle one to perform the functions of a minister of Jesus Christ? Does the vote of a congregation entitle one to be recognized as such? What kind of official credentials did Peter, John, Barnabas or Paul have?

Didn't Paul say that exceptional character was an essential element in one qualifying to be considered as a legitimate minister of Jesus Christ? Did he have anything to say about the marital status of the individual and the harmony evident within his/her household? Did he say anything about the candidate's reputation in the community at large and within the church? Did he say anything about how the person conducted him/herself in public (e.g. displays of temper and the consumption of alcohol)? Didn't Paul say that the candidate must be able to teach and provide a hospitable/friendly environment? Indeed, even if Paul hadn't (or didn't) write those epistles to Timothy and Titus, wouldn't common sense demand that a minister of Jesus Christ exhibit exceptional character (over and above that of his/her brothers and sisters in the faith)?

And, perhaps the most important consideration of all:  What is a minister? Doesn't the very word evoke the word servant? Didn't Christ say that those of his disciples who wanted to be in leadership positions would have to become the servant of the others? Didn't Christ make clear that he didn't want the leaders within his church lording it over each other? Doesn't he use the symbolism of the care and nurture of a shepherd for his/her flock over and over again? Didn't he tell Peter three separate times to feed/take care of his sheep? Were ministers intended to rule? Were minsters intended to be repositories of authority and discipline? What does servant leadership mean?

Hmmmm, when we begin to ask ourselves a few questions about what a Christian minister should look like, it becomes clear to me that many of the denominations, sects and cults who call themselves Christian don't have a clue! Maybe it's time we all take another look at this topic and rethink some of the traditional attitudes that have developed about it? What do you think? 



Anonymous said...

"Over at Banned by HWA, several of the most recent posts on that blog have provoked a great deal of thought about what constitutes a genuine Christian minister. While most of us would readily admit that an adulterer and murderer would not qualify, agreement seems to break down when other issues are considered."

The question of what constitutes a "minister" aside, without some kind of god to come down from heaven above and point out the "true" christians, as opposed to the "false" ones, all there is here is a No True Scotsman fallacy. If a murderer and adulterer says he's a christian, then he is one. Who is qualified to contradict him? The term "christian" is so undefined to be meaningless anyway.

nck said...

I guess the same questions go for "managers", "presidents" or any other in leadership capacity.

I guess All MEN are ministers unto others. But not all are registered within a systemic organizational form. There are many ways groups organize themselves within certain circumstance.

I think I would leave if someone like Paul would be ordained in the ministry. On the other hand I stayed when HWA was awarded by persons who murdered large parts of my family.

It just depends on the way one would like to be organized.
The Church of England recently had a major split in all international areas on the issue of women in the ministry. Not an issue in the 1800 hundreds.

I would regard the current Pope a minister unto humankind. But I wouldnt credit 99% of his predecessors. As a matter of fact the Sovereign order of the Knights of Malta is about to break away as they are in a power struggle with the current Pope.

I don't really care anymore on a personal level since we are in the Post History time. And all is well as we enter the World Tomorrow where Monsanto and Cargill will feed all.

After some kind of time of chaos or within such time I will probably seek organization within a group of strong men. But now within the framework of a peaceful and wealthy society transgenders are educated enough to teach me something on humanity.

It's all relative to time, place and circumstance.
In the Kingdom I wouldn't easily accept a "human" minister. On the other hand perhaps that was why God sent Jesus.


Miller Jones said...

Anonymous 1/19/17/10:58, My post was directed at believers. To a non-believer, the points made in it would be meaningless. Nevertheless, your "No True Scotsman" fallacy is misapplied. You may need to reread the post. My objective was to have believers reconsider the issue by asking a number of questions related to the book they hold up as their standard (the Bible) and common sense reasoning. YOU introduced the concept of what constitutes a "true" Christian. Hence, you have employed the straw man fallacy to defeat the points which I was really attempting to make.

Black Ops Mikey said...

I believe that a minister absolutely should... wear clothes in public.

Minimalist said...

Another confusing Miller Jones screed where he says the NT has cultural bias/distortion (it does) but then he takes Christ-sayings as authoritative?!

If anything, the views in the epistles should take precedence for believers because the Gospels/Christ-sayings are later & faker - with some scholars seeing the very creative Gospel writers using Paul (along with Josephus, Homer, OT...)

Unknown said...

1 Peter 2:9New Living Translation (NLT)

9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests,[NOTE: Present Tense) ] a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

Anonymous said...

"What should a Christian minister look like?"

What would a Christain minister BE like?
There, I fixed it for you, no charge. ;)

Connie Schmidt quoted:"But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people."

Chosen by whom? Jesus Christ or men? Why would a all-powerfull God rely on a corruptable man for his press-secetary, or attorney general? It seems that when the leaders in armstrongism take possession over the sheep, that is supposed to be the same thing as belonging to God(Universe?)

Connie Schmidt quoted:"As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light."

But they can't do that, or BE that, so they will fake it. They desprately want you to see how much they shine while they have no light within. It's a con.

Miller Jones said...

Great quote, Connie - the NLT is my favorite translation of the Bible.
Minimalist, glad to see that you haven't disappeared. I do, however, wish that you would stop misrepresenting my views. As I have said on a number of occasions, I view the statements attributed to Christ in the gospel accounts to be more reliable than you do (After all, I am a believer). However, I have never said that those statements reflect what Jesus Christ actually said with 100% accuracy (Indeed, I don't believe that is necessary). You continue to see Scripture as an either/or proposition (a holdover from your days in Armstrongism).

Miller Jones said...

Anonymous 1/21/17/1:57, While "be like" is the correct grammar, I prefer the way that I expressed it - I think that's the way most folks think about it (as the appearance of a genuine minister). Connie can speak for herself, but I think you paint with too broad a brush. I tend to be more optimistic about people - I think that people can be bright spots (even with all of the dark corners that are inherent to being human). In other words, it is possible to reflect God's goodness in our own lives.

Byker Bob said...

Sometimes just a wink or a smile coming through from Father God can make all the difference in the world in terms of what kind of day or week we are having!

What I find to be both ironic and intriguing is that there have been large patches of time in which the Bible was totally unavailable for the majority of humans to read and understand. And now that it has been readily accessible for hundreds of years, it has been so discussed, and so interpreted, and so many teachers have come forward with their various "truths" that the Bible has been largely obscured and rendered virtually inaccessible by this process, in spite of its ubiquitousness. So many claim to have the truth and the correct understanding, failing to comprehend that their own state of being openly counters even the remotest possibility of this being true. This was never truer than in the case of Armstrongism.


Anonymous said...

The bible easily disproves what's today considered acceptable minister behaviour. For instance, The bibles 'don't condemn' (don't take the law into your own hands) is recognition of peoples right to due process (a fair trial). But we all know that ministers verbally bashing members is rampant.
The bible isn't the true reference point of modern day Christianity. About a decade ago, a article in the Good News magazine stated that according to a five year study, Christianity is simply following secular politics. I had already noticed this. Tele evangelist program content changed according to whom is in the White House and the political climate. Morally, Christianity follows left wing politics. It's right wing in some areas like abortion and defence, but not morally. Observe left wing tactics and minister behaviour. They are very similar.

Anonymous said...

BB, the Armstrongite ministers constantly hijacked scriptures. Not that they have a monopoly on this practice. I find that decades after no longer attending services, I still at times find it hard to see the 'natural' intent of many scripture. If I ignore a book in the bible a long time, then re read it, I see it differently. The church had a world view, then edited and twisted scripture to conform to this view. Even the slivers aren't departing from this rigid world view. Only extensive reading of outside sources can break this mental spell.

Anonymous said...

Responding to Miller Jones, January 21, 2017 at 7:39 AM

It is not the correct grammar, I was only widening the scope of view. If all you see is what you want to see or want them to see, you could more easily end up in a ditch. Connie quoted the verse without her personal interpretation. I added mine. I just think that the first step is deciding to be honest with the reflection from the mirror first, authenticity will always trump authority or at least it should.

Anonymous said...

"I guess the same questions go for "managers", "presidents" or any other in leadership capacity."

Over a decade ago, I was fortunate enough to be a member of an exclusive and private online-forum. The only details worth mentioning here, is that there was hierarchy issues that seem to develop wherever people set up some system for interaction for doing pretty much anything. In short, the same 'ole BS crops up. Finally one day, the admin had reset everyone, including himself, to user. After having put everyone on the same lowest level, some left but most stayed. The few that left could possibly had been the bad seeds? Probably, but we all learned a valuable lesson and it turned out to be the best online experience I had ever experienced. More importantly, it had nothing to do with religion. Maybe that made it easier to learn somethig new about myself and others.