To understand how certification can be so valued within evangelicalism one must fully accept Bible precedent is of little importance to evangelical lords. Until then, nothing makes sense. And over centuries of church history, for the same reason, there has always been scarce need for Bible precedent to justify titles and salaries.
That the twelve were not licensed, that the seventy were not licensed, that no New Testament person was licensed or titled or salaried means between little and nothing within the evangelical way. The only explanation seems to be that evangelicalism must be considered a progression of the Bible, an improvement over that which the earliest (and successful) pioneers were familiar. However….
However a Bible ‘progressed’, a Bible ‘improved’, is not the Bible. It is sand. Jesus warned the house built on sand will surely fall. (“And great was its fall.”)
The pastor of the congregation is simply not building (much of) his life and (much of) his ministry upon the rock of Christ’s sayings. That’s why both life and ministry is sparse of fruit.
It’s difficult for the evangelical to comprehend that the way it is, with its impressive numbers, the way it has been for centuries, could be so wrong. But the alternative is harder yet to accept – that the Bible could be wrong. For example….
What does the New Testament have to say about licenses and certificates?
The word ‘license’, as you know, cannot be found in the Bible. However, evangelicalism is so overwhelming to the evangelical, it simply doesn’t matter what the Bible says or does not say.
An open letter to adherents of the Kelowna Evangelical Ministerial:
Paul taught the Corinthians, “Let two or three…. speak and let the others judge (NKJV).” Please give my proposal prayerful consideration. Thank you.
Whereas there is a division within Christ’s church whereby members are segregated into either the clergy (or ministerial) and laity (laymen, laywomen); and
Whereas such division has no New Testament precedent; and
Whereas this practice is contrary to the words of the Lord Jesus, “All of you are on the same level as brothers and sisters (NLT)” and
Whereas your denominational/associational licenses and ordination certificates are strong symbols propagating such division, I offer the following recommendations:
In the near future, after ample discussion and debate, agree to meet as a group in a public place (such as Kelowna City Park or Prospera Place) for the purpose of publicly disposing all such certificates, this preceded by a public announcement of your intention especially directed to those under your influence.
Consider disposing your certificates by casting them in a fire visible to all, or inserting them in a shredder, or simply tearing them before the audience and, more important, before the Lord Jesus.
And further, select one to vocalize sincere repentance unto the Lord Jesus, expressing the group’s regret for its part in the rendering of the church into two segments.
Please do not be slighted by this proposal, unusual but, from Biblical perspective, reasonable. Instead consider….
Consider: The red words in the Bible give no hint His twelve were to be so endorsed.
Consider: Saul was certified (Acts 9), Paul was anointed.
Consider: Christ appealed to His works for endorsement, not a certificate.
Consider: Differences of conclusions, within your ranks, of various texts nullifies the argument that the practice of licensing protects the purity of the Word.
Faith moves God. Brothers, accepting this proposal could release the power of God in our city. Contemporaries elsewhere would know immediately of your brave deed, and some would follow your example.
If it was God’s intention for christians to confer titles upon christians there would be evidence found in New Testament writings. Perhaps Paul would be Reverend Paul, Peter would be Reverend Peter, and John would be Reverend John. But no, Paul was Paul, Peter was Peter, and John was John. Seems it worked just fine.
Some suggest titles honor the man’s gifting or position, not the man himself.
Reverend (Webster’s): Used as a title of respect applied or prefixed to the name of a member of the clergy or a religious order. Worthy to be revered; entitled to reverence.
This definition doesn’t suggest the function is “worthy to be revered”, but rather the man engaged in that function is “entitled to reverence”.
So the evangelical way would have a brother reverence a fellow brother, not because he is made holy by the blood of the Lamb, but rather because he has attained certification by his own effort.
Matthew 18:3 (NLT): I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins, and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Typically, a reverend, like most of us, starts his christianity with a big heart (“like little children”) and small head (“like little children”). And, like most of us, time shrinks his heart while swelling his head. He lives and ministers from his mind more than his heart. That’s why his eyes and sermons are dry. He affects the minds of his audience much but their hearts little, hearts that desperately need a real, live, caring, doting Jesus.
Many reverends are attracted to the position of pastor because of the salary. The Bible has much to say about supporting the one who busies himself ministering the word – the twelve, and Jesus Himself, were supported by “many women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him” – but such support has no resemblance to a salary.
A salaried minister is an employee. He doesn’t like that description of himself, preferring the softer, more religious term supported, but he does fit the definition of employee. An employee has an employer (or employers); the salaried minister has many employers. (And he doesn’t like that word either.) Employers need to be catered to, heard, satisfied. As “you cannot serve God and mammon”, one cannot serve God and christians.
A salaried reverend is often a partially burned-out reverend. God hasn’t equipped him to do all he does. The workload, coupled with a list of complications as long as the list of members, is too burdensome for most.
The apostles were supported (not salaried) while doing the work of ministry. They did not have a contract with anyone, written or unwritten. Their Lord was Jesus alone – who directed them individually through the Holy Spirit. That’s the way it’s supposed to work, those doing ministry (effectively) – licensed or unlicensed, titled or untitled – supported by concerned others.