..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The Church of God & the Church of Man

We [Paul and Silas] loved you so much that we were
delighted to share with you not only
the gospel of God but our lives as well, because
you had become so dear to us.
--1 Thessalonians 2:8

Priestcraft ... is fostered whenever
and wherever the ... whole people of God
begins to view the ordained ministry as an
office rather than as a function, and allows
the office to shape the function rather than
the function to shape the office.

Most churches and most Christians in
Britain--the denomination is immaterial--
conceive the ministry as a professionalized
caste with its own exclusive tabus...

The humblest and--in the ecclesiastical sense
--lowest Congregational or Methodist chapel
 is as vulnerable as any to priestcraft, even if
it possesses no ordained minister to play
the role of the priest, for it can and usually
does allow the very absence of a minister to
limit unnecessarily the ministry of its members,
both in the church and in the community.

Such chapels, indeed, quite often openly put
forward their lack of a paid, professional minister
as an excuse for their introversion. "We can't
possibly do this ... study this ... attend that.
We haven't got a minister." The corrosive
influence is especially visible in these churches'
pattern of  worship. Whoever is actually
conducting the services, ordained minister or
visiting lay preacher, the pattern is irretrievably
sacerdotal, the congregation neither speaking
by itself nor performing an action from start to
finish. Even the Lord's Prayer is commonly
"led" in a loud voice from the pulpit,
presumably in case the congregation forgets
the words.

... Christopher Driver (1932-1997), A Future for the Free
Churches?, London: SCM Press, 1962,

photo taken near Glencoe, Scotland

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