Thursday, October 11, 2007


I think it was C.H.Spurgeon who suggested we ought to stand on the shoulders of the past great men of God whom we have the privilege to read. One thing of which I am certain is that the Prince of Preachers did not mean that we ought to slavishly follow them and what they taught or wrote.

From the beginning of my years of being a teaching elder (pastor), it was soon made quite apparent that many members of the congregations had an attitude, towards teaching elders in general, that they had the final word on what to believe and do, and that, in effect, such men were literally a Magisterium (aka Roman Catholicism). This was something I vigorously sought to discourage during those many years.

The mistaken attitude of many congregants is that elders are, somehow, spiritually superior beings who have a hot-line to God which "ordinary" Christians don't have. Sadly some, if not many, elders, or whatever label they wear, love to perpetuate the myth.

It was very pleasing to see a blog post which has concerns regarding this destructive, and I believe, evil practice . A commenter said,

"We Protestants profess to hold to sola scriptura. But sometimes our own peculiar traditions or our favorite pastors or other teachers effectively hold the position of a Magisterium in our lives. We sometimes look to them for all the answers, and allow them to interpret Scripture for us.

In other words, we need to hear and practice what many pastors say during their sermons: "Do not accept anything I say here simply because I say it; test everything against the Scripture."

His final quoting of what, "many pastors say", echoes similar words I sought to reinforce often, as I was privileged to speak to those gathered.

In a response to one who commented, Greg gives good advice, of which I am sure CHS would approve, when he says , "One more thought: Sola scriptura means that the Bible is the only /infallible/ authority--it does not mean that we make no use of tradition & councils. We can give them weight without regarding them as infallible." (my emphasis)

It is my firm conviction that God will be glorified, the congregation of the Lord will grow and be seen to be what it was called to be, when those who are entrusted with preaching & teaching, do so, for the purpose of equipping God's people to confidently read, understand, interpret, and minister the word of God; in effect, replacing themselves with competent ministers, and do so without any thought of financial advantage, massaging their ego, maintaining or enhancing their career.

What a sad thing it is to hear folk propping up what they believe by what "the pastor said", what "the Confession said", what "the Constitution said".

What a joy to see a congregation one has the privilege to teach having a mind-set such as the Bereans in Acts 17:11, and confidently able to say, "Thus speaks the Lord in His word"!