Many things led me to leave the Apostolic Pentecostal denomination, but the most prominent reason was the dictatorial and cult leader control some pastors take over God’s heritage – the flock. They believe God gave them [pastors] authority over the daily lives of the saints in the Church. But did He?
Is this Biblical? What Scriptural evidence exists to support Spiritual Fatherhood or Delegated Authority?
In my old church, your high school graduation cards are hand-picked by the pastor. Your marriage ceremony and approved songs are picked by the pastor. Your wedding dress must be approved by the pastor and his wife. Who you date (if you even can) is decided by the pastor, and the person you can date is pastor approved/chosen. If and when you can marry, and to who is decided by the pastor.
Sometimes, your jobs are at the will of the pastor. Vacation was by permission of the pastor. The books you can/can’t read are picked by the pastor to a degree. If you can wear flip-flops to an outdoor church BBQ was a discussion the pastor had to decide. If you can go to the rodeo, or to live plays. My old pastors didn’t allow any television, movies of any sort, certainly, no sports games, viewing or participating…ad nauseam.
But where, and how did modern day pastors, overseeing the Church of God in the dispensation of Grace come to think they had that kind of power, and authority?
My experience wasn’t the pastor saying, ‘As for me, we feel we shouldn’t do these things…’, rather, it was, ‘If you do these things, get out of my Church!’. Oh, and they taught that if you weren’t in their church and obedient to them, you were going to hell, so your choices were pretty limited…
A cursory glance of what the Bible has to say about the church [ekklesia] reveals that it belongs to God, Christ, and Him alone.
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; – 1 Peter 5:2 KJV
The flock (saints) are God’s. Pastors were called to look over the flock, but not by constraint and not for financial gains.
Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. – 1 Peter 5:3, KJV
Again, the Church is God’s. It is his Heritage and the pastors are to be examples of Christ’s love and mercy, not lawmakers, new mini-Moses and kings over the church. They do not lord (exercise authority) over the church but are supposed to do as Paul did and set an example of behavior to imitate.
Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. – 1 Corinthians 11:1, AMP
The only authority of the Church is Christ, and Him alone!
Then Jesus came up and told them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. – Matthew 28:18, ISV
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. – Ephesians 5:22, KJV
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18, KJV
So we cannot find scriptural evidence for a modern-day evangelical pastor taking this kind of authority over the flock of God. I think it is also worth noting that there wasn’t a single Pastor in the Bible. Did you realize this?
The word Pastor(s) is only found in the Bible eight times, and once in the New Testament in the King James Bible that says that God gave some pastors, but none of the disciples claimed to be one. This isn’t to say the office isn’t there, but it’s been corrupted, absolutely by dictatorial men and women who think the word or title gives them power. But this is anti-Christ, as our Lord taught His disciples to shun titles and positions of authority.
But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. – Matthew 23:8-10 KJV
The only Master (position of authority, absolute) is Christ. Rabbi in the Hebrew is a pseudo-equivalent to the modern Pastor as a teacher of the Word of God or God’s Law.
Jesus condemns being pharisaical in behavior, to the point that he calls it ‘Sitting in the Seat of Moses’ who was a giver of the law and placed in authority, by God, in the Old Testament.
Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: – Matthew 23:2 KJV
So you see, any so-called Pastor today who is controlling, who believes obedience to him is tantamount to salvation, is a Pharisee. My old pastors were Pharisees, and you might experience this too.
And I have to admit, the feature image of this post is a little misleading, there are much more than 5 Signs of a Controlling Pastor! But I want to share some websites with you to review some of the top ways in which modern pastors become monarchial kings, setting up their own little mini-kingdoms, taxing his subjects and setting up palaces on the hill where he can ‘oversee’ the flock.
If you find yourself in a church with a controlling pastor, the best thing you can do is leave and find a loving relationship with Jesus. Just consider this last story before reading these websites, and compare Christ’s reaction to sin vs. a controlling pastor today.
They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
11 Signs of a Monster Pastor
9 Warning Signs your Pastor is building his own Kingdom
What Authority does a Pastor Have?
The False Teaching of Delegated Authority
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Yes, I understand that Jesus was merciful, and the woman caught in the act of adultery is a beautiful example, but on the flip side you have Paul telling Corinth to put a fornicator out of the church until he repents. Should a pastor not direct the congregation to do the same?
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Hello, and thanks for stopping by and commenting.
Yes, a pastor should follow the Biblical example, and even the one that Jesus laid down on church discipline. However, there are two considerations;
1) That example, set by Paul and Jesus, was for unrepentant sinners,
2) I’m speaking of the abuse of authority, not following the clear and authoritative directive of Scripture. For example – the cult I attended, that had this abuse, one could be removed for wearing short sleeve shirts, or coloring ones hair, or watching a movie, etc.
This post is directed at the false Doctrine that pastors are spiritual Father’s and delegates of Apostolic Authority. It is not directed at following the simple and clear guidelines of Scripture.
The difficulty I have is who gets to decide the standard for modesty? Just as an example, since you point out sleeve length.
It makes sense to have a clear, defined line somewhere doesn’t it? At what point should something be considered lewd or misconduct?
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No where in Scripture is ‘modesty’ defines, which leads me to believe it is primarily defined by culture and by the Spirit. If man (such as a pastor) is to draw a line so to speak, which is language I don’t like to use, it leads to Legalism and sadly, clique Christianity.
For example, recently a young woman shared a story about how she wore pants to work, but belonging to the UPC/Holiness movement that views women wearing pants as a sin, people at a family camp assumed she was a visitor although she had been a life long member based solely on her pants vs skirts. They judged her spiritually based on something extremely superficial. That’s the problem when ‘man’ starts defining modesty for other man.
I can’t help but wonder where that leads though. I mean, it seems clear from scripture that God wants distinction between the sexes.
So if cross dressing becomes popular in a culture people are sinning by doing it, after a few generations the culture acclimates to it is it still sin once it becomes the norm?