can someone define "pastoral authority"?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by nodak, Mar 10, 2012.

  1. nodak

    nodak
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    It often comes up in debates and discussions in Baptist circles.

    If we mean a pastor dealing with sin in a member of the congregation, I think we would all agree Mt. 18 gives us a pretty good outline. The final outcome should (I think) be up to a vote of the church, but that is another debate.

    Usually it isn't used in the matter of sin--like adultery, lying, etc.

    Usually it is used when someone disagrees with the pastor over how church should be done. The pastor may want one kind of music, the congregant another. Or the pastor espouses TULIP, the congregant doesn't. Or the pastor wants to lead in seeker sensitive manner, the congregant believes that denies Christ. Or you can turn all those examples around 180 degrees.

    Then we hear the idea of not touching God's annointed, and finally someone will say to obey them that have authority over you, which means the congregant should just fall in line with the pastor's wishes.

    I have to admit I just don't see that in the Bible. Rather, I think it teaches us to be Bereans and search the scriptures and see if what is being taught or done is correct. Now, obviously, both pastor and congregant could be totally wrong, or one right and one wrong, or just seeing a non essential differently.

    It would seem to me rather than just go along to get along, the member should meet with the pastor and discuss the issue. After that, if the member honestly thinks the pastor is all wet AND that the issue is important, wouldn't the member be correct in leaving (without a big fuss) and just going somewhere else where he agrees with what is taught and done?

    But then, isn't the member of any Baptist church a VOLUNTARY one? How does the pastor gain an authority other than one voluntarily given?

    What am I missing?
     
  2. plain_n_simple

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    I don't think the pastor can have true authority, being hired and fired by a board, elected by the members. Kind of like the sheep choosing the shephard, then deciding on whether to follow or not. Backwards.
     
  3. Crabtownboy

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    I have asked this same question numerously in threads and have yet to receive a rational answer.
     
  4. JonC

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    I would suppose the term to mean that pastors are called as under-shepherds to function and provide oversight under Christ’s authority. But I guess it depends on the context where it is used.

    1 Peter 5:1-3 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

    1 Peter 5:5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.

    The pastor, then, never has authority because the authority belongs to Christ. The pastor oversees and under-shepherds the flock who willingly subjects themselves to him.

    Authority belongs to the Master, not the overseer. The flock is submissive to the overseer in obedience to the Master (as the overseer should do all in accordance with the will of the Master).
     
  5. nodak

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    Agreed up to a point.

    The sticky wicket comes when the member believes the overseer is transgressing the actions or teachings of the Master.

    There are groups that believe, or have in the past, that pastors were priests and have the authority to forgive or retain sins, to allow or disallow a person into heaven.

    As Baptists, we have only one priest--our great high priest Jesus Christ.

    So if I were to get crossways with my pastor over something (I am not in that state!) my pastor has no authority over my soul.

    Let me use a concrete example from one place we lived that did involve me.

    I had been part of a very old Baptist church. I joined it after visiting most of them in the area. I believed their preaching was spot on, their methods Biblical and sound, and loved and still love the people, with whom I have remained friends long after leaving the community.

    Our pastor resigned, and we hired a new guy who seemed compatible. After about six months he told us he was going to lead us into a whole new way of being church. At first I supported his attempts to get us more evangelistic, but eventually I was one of a large minority who believed we were going way past seeker sensitive into a sort of "anything to put butts in the pew and bucks in the plate" mode.

    We met with the pastor. After the meeting we were more convinced than ever the church was headed down a blind alley, but not wanting to cause a church fight or split told him we would quietly and individually be leaving once we found new places to land.

    We were told we were not going to be allowed to transfer our memberships, were under his authority, and needed to first be reconciled to following his leadership before he would even present any requests for membership transfers. Failure to reconcile with him would result in him sending letters blackballing us as trouble makers to every church in the area, Baptist or otherwise.

    Most of us did leave, simply joining other churches by statement.

    So where was his supposed authority? He had every right to preach and teach as he believed the Bible taught, and we had every right to disagree and leave, and did so.

    Do you believe, since we are not born into Baptist churches but voluntarily join them, that we upon joining put ourselves under the authority of the pastor? Or do we come along side him to voluntarily support him unless the situation becomes untenable, and then withdraw our voluntary support?

    What say ye?
     
  6. Iconoclast

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    7Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.


    17Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

    The authority comes from God.He designs his church just like when he designed the Ot tabernacle;
    9According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it


    some rebel against God given authority...like Korah did;


    1Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men:

    2And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown:

    3And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?

    4And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face:

    5And he spake unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, Even to morrow the LORD will shew who are his, and who is holy; and will cause him to come near unto him: even him whom he hath chosen will he cause to come near unto him.

    6This do; Take you censers, Korah, and all his company;

    7And put fire therein, and put incense in them before the LORD to morrow: and it shall be that the man whom the LORD doth choose, he shall be holy: ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi.

    8And Moses said unto Korah, Hear, I pray you, ye sons of Levi:

    9Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them?

    10And he hath brought thee near to him, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee: and seek ye the priesthood also?

    11For which cause both thou and all thy company are gathered together against the LORD: and what is Aaron, that ye murmur against him?

    12And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab: which said, We will not come up:

    13Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us?

    14Moreover thou hast not brought us into a land that floweth with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards: wilt thou put out the eyes of these men? we will not come up.

    15And Moses was very wroth, and said unto the LORD, Respect not thou their offering: I have not taken one ass from them, neither have I hurt one of them.

    16And Moses said unto Korah, Be thou and all thy company before the LORD, thou, and they, and Aaron, to morrow:

    17And take every man his censer, and put incense in them, and bring ye before the LORD every man his censer, two hundred and fifty censers; thou also, and Aaron, each of you his censer.

    18And they took every man his censer, and put fire in them, and laid incense thereon, and stood in the door of the tabernacle of the congregation with Moses and Aaron.

    19And Korah gathered all the congregation against them unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the congregation.

    20And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,

    21Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.

    22And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?

    23And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

    24Speak unto the congregation, saying, Get you up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.

    25And Moses rose up and went unto Dathan and Abiram; and the elders of Israel followed him.

    26And he spake unto the congregation, saying, Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of their's, lest ye be consumed in all their sins.

    27So they gat up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side: and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children.

    28And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind.

    29If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD hath not sent me.

    30But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.

    31And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them:

    32And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.

    33They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.

    34And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also.

    35And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.

    11Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
     
    #6 Iconoclast, Mar 10, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 10, 2012
  7. Crabtownboy

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    Nice quotes, but not an answer to the OP.
     
  8. mandym

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    Nice scriptural response and could not be a better answer to the op.:thumbs:
     
  9. JonC

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    I personally think that he overstepped his bounds as a pastor. I had a very similar experience (except the pastor did not try to prevent anyone from transferring). After some time the church voted the pastor out, which was probably mutual between the pastor and the church at that point.

    I believe that we do put ourselves under the authority of the pastor in regards to leadership, but not in terms of doctrine. This is, however, a voluntary submission.

    So if the pastor is moving the church into one direction, and that direction is not contrary to Scripture but perhaps not the way I would do things, then I would submit to his leadership inasmuch as I can continue to do so voluntarily. If it comes to a point where I believe my convictions are counter to what he is doing, and I can no longer voluntarily submit to his leadership without compromising the authority of Christ in my life, then I would leave.

    While I was attending the church, and it was moving towards “evangelism at all expense” direction, I was convicted that we were ignoring doctrine, worship, and just about everything else to get people in the building. It was a doctrine issue and I left (although I still question whether that was the right decision, or if I should have stayed and voiced my objection louder).
     
  10. mandym

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    Act 17:11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.


    I tell my church to take what I have preached home and examine what I have said. If you agree that I have gotten it right then you now have a responsibility to follow it.
     
  11. gb93433

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    A pastor friend of mine started a church a few years ago with a group of pastors on his advisory board. It seems to work quite well. l.
     
  12. Iconoclast

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    crabt
    God has always defined leaders in His church...there role is defined in part here in Hebrews.....it can be expanded on.....it can be abused....we have pastors, not popes...
    You have some who are not sheep, but goats like Korah....God showed what he thinks of those who despise His God appointed leaders.

    Did you mean something else..crabb?
     
  13. Crabtownboy

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    Yes. I would like some specifics on how this is carried out within a congregation. What authority does a pastor have and how is it exercised? What actions show his authority? What decision shows his authority over the people in the congregation?
     
  14. Iconoclast

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    I found this sermon helpful, last week...give it a listen...I will offer more, later..got to go back to work for a few more hours...
    if you listen, let me know what you thought...he gives some practical helps on this...:thumbs:

    http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=121811954498
     
  15. Tom Butler

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    I'm going to take a stab at it. I'd also be interested in your take on the OP.

    First, there is a reason that the pastor has some authority. It is that he is the one who will have to give account to God.

    Second, if the pastor is ultimately responsible, he must have the commensurate authority. Just like real life. Responsibility and authority go together. The church can't set out the pastor's responsibilities, then tie his hands.

    Third, in a practical sense, since all members are under the authority of the church as a whole, so is the pastor (who is also a member). So there is a balance there. Let's call the pastor the chief among equals.

    Also in a real sense, although he is an elder and undershephered, and has rule over us, he and the congregation must be on the same page. A pastor who tries to push his church in a direction it doesn't want to go is asking for trouble. If he can't lead the church in a certain direction, pushing won't get it done, either without great cost.

    That said, I do tend to give my pastor the benefit of the doubt. We can have only one pastor at a time. However, if he's way off on doctrine, I'll tear the place apart.
     
    #15 Tom Butler, Mar 10, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 10, 2012
  16. Jerome

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    This has been a huge problem among these new 'Reformed Baptists'.

    From John Reisinger's "When Should a Christian Leave a Church?":

     
  17. gb93433

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    And every member has one vote. They not differentiated by maturity and fruit.
     
  18. 12strings

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    In the congregational ruled churches that I am associated with, I would say the pastor does have some measure of spiritual authority in that he is the one speaking to and for the church most often on matters of faith and practice. In that sense, it is a "vested" authority based on the trust of the congregation. They put him in that position, trusting him to speak God's word carefully and accurately and to lead the church in a biblical direction. His authority also comes from God so long as what he says is in accordance with clear biblical teaching.

    However, if the the pastor is promoting beliefs or practice that the majority of the congregation disagrees with they may vote to remove him, or simply to not follow his recomendations in a certain area. So a pastor could propose a building project, a name change (remove "baptist" perhaps), or a change in membership policy...but the church could decide not to go that direction. If all are open and humble in such a process, it doesn't necessesarily mean a vote of no-confidence in the pastor, simply a disagreement in a single area. (of course a wise pastor will not propose things he knows the congregation will hate unless it is a vital doctrinal issue...such as only accepting members who believe Jesus rose from the dead.

    One recent semi-public example of this is John Piper's church. He has taught publically that he believes there is NO biblical grounds for divorce, even in the case of unfaithfulness. He has also taught that he would like his BAPTIST church to accept members from, say, a presbyterian church who feel that their infant baptism was a valid baptism, without requiring another baptism.
    --In both these cases, he is in the minority in his beliefs. He was allowed to publically teach on them and why he thought they were biblical, but then he in turn submitted himself to the rest of the church and its leadership and did not push for those items to be adopted church-wide.

    I think this is a very healthy model to follow. For me as a music guy, we have no real music controversy in my church, but if we did, I think the healthy thing to happen would be for me to teach on why I think drums and guitars are allowed and even helpful in some instances, but then submit myself to the overwhelming majority if they desire a more traditional approach.

    In all these cases, leadership should remembers Jesus' words that though the gentiles Lord over those under them, "it shall not be so with you."
     
  19. Jerome

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    But Piper has made it clear that he fully intends to push for/revisit his extending-membership-to-those-who-refuse-believers-baptism scheme at a more convenient time.
     
  20. 12strings

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    Perhaps, I haven't been following it. I also don't know the status of their churches position on scripturally allowable divorce...

    My point was that the MANNER in which he did these was not telling his people, "I have the authority from God cuz I'm your pastor and you have to do what I say," but rather, "This is what I feel is the most biblical position, but I realize there is room for disagreement so I will tell you what I think, then submit to the will of the other leaders."

    I am simply saying there is a way to lead in such a way that the pastor can even disagree with his people and yet maintain their respect because he respects the positions of other people... and These situations were, while not perfect, a fairly good example of that.

    -Also, is it necessary to refer to his idea on this issue as a "scheme"? Is that because you simply disagree with the idea?
     

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