Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Gifting or Office?

The following brief exchange is in response to my pastoral letter which may be found under President at www.cmacan.org The letter concerns the authority of a pastor over the teaching of the Word in the church. Sharon's concern is that I have stated that, with all proper disclaimers in place, the word is the word of the Lord. She asks if this is actually a reference to the prophetic gift.

I don't usually respond... but this time I couldn't help it. I was wondering where the gifts of prophet,apostle and evangelist fit in with this ministry of pastor. I think in a practical sense that we combine these roles and gifts -- pastor/evangelist or pastor/prophet. But I don't know anymore if this is really the right understanding or the best way. In the last couple of paragraphs of your letter I think you have combined the gifts of pastor and prophet. I would like to argue for more separation -- we need the prophet in our churches, in our denomination. But I don't necessarily agree that the pastor IS the prophet. I would love to see this conversation continued on your blog and see what others are thinking. Sharon

OK, I’ll move it over to the blog. But briefly what we have here is a distinction between office and gift. So, a pastor may not have the gift of prophet etc. but he is in charge of the teaching in his church by reason of office. And, no matter what, when he preaches he should expect the anointing for that moment. Now, what about pastors who have no giftedness in either prophecy or teaching? One really has to ask if they should be in the position of teaching every week, i.e., should they be the lead pastor? I don’t think so. With Sincerity, Franklin

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Marks of the Church II

Marks of the Church II

Marks of the Church II

One of the respondents asked for a fuller presentation of the Marks of the Church. Thomas Oden’s Systematic Theology, Life in the Spirit, Vol. 3, gives an excellent summary. The Reformed tradition identifies Word (true teaching), Sacrament (proper celebration of Lord’s Supper and Baptism), and Discipline. Earlier creeds identified the church by Unity (founded in Jesus Christ – 2 or 3 gathered in his name…), Holiness (set apart from the world), Catholicity (not bound to a particular place or time) and Apostolicity (grew out of and continues the teaching and ministry of the Apostles). Oden combines the two streams into a “consolidating thesis: That ekklesia in which the Word is rightly preached and sacraments rightly administered and discipline rightly ordered will be one, holy, catholic and apostolic.”

This is very important because we have those who say that we should do mission first, that is, simply proclaim the gospel, and not worry at all about what comes out of it, i.e., the church. At first glance this may seem attractive. But in fact the church begins at Pentecost and it begins with the true preaching of the apostles, with baptism and the breaking of bread, with unity, for as the converts scattered they understood their continuing unity in the Holy Spirit, and with holiness.

This is the core. If we recapture it, then we can stop wasting ink telling each other that a church can be a church even if it meets in a cave or a garage and even if it uses a different format and on and on. Of course it can. But, it can’t be the church without the above marks. So I would beg you that when we talk about how the church needs to change etc. that we start here with the historic understanding of what is being talked about when we say “church.” From here the discussion has promise of being very fruitful.