The Pastor as Surrogate Conscience

Some ex-Brisbane Christian Fellowship members have put up their own blog to assist others in the cult experiencing or recovering from spiritual abuse. The following is an extract from a very clear post on their blog which captures one of the factors leading to spiritual abuse:

The premise of absolute submission is predicated on the hypothesis that the spiritual leaders are in effect (though most Discipleship teaching adherents would emphatically deny the attribution) “spiritual mediators” between God and their followers, who assume the role of hearing from God on the behalf of their followers. According to the premise, the followers are spiritually deficient and inferior to the leaders, and thus basically incapable of seeking and hearing from God for themselves and cultivating on-going communion and fellowship with God, so they need a “mediator,” someone who supposedly has a more elite status with God, to be a priestly “go-between” between them and God. The hypothesis is that the leaders are much more spiritual than the people, and therefore more capable of receiving from God what is best for their followers


…every knowledgeable believer should be thoroughly disgusted and totally outraged at such an idiotic, outlandish, and even blasphemous notion. The Bible explicitly says: “There is one God, and ONE mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all….” (1 Tim. 2:5). There is never, ever to be any “spiritual mediators” between God and men, except the Christ — Jesus Himself.

Read rest of article here.

When we are taught in our churches that we should ‘do what the pastor tells you even if you think it is wrong’ – and I have heard those words preached myself – warning bells should ring. Ultimately this instruction reflects the view of the pastor as mediator between you and God, even in matters of conscience. In this way, the pastor can even become a surrogate conscience.

In matters of church administration its probably not an issue – unless obeying would mean participating in mistreatment of another brother or sister in the congregation. In any other matter, they are stepping beyond the bounds of their authority if they demand such a thing. John Bevere’s popular teaching on submission would seem to fall in this category, as it encourages this sort of obedience.

Besides, if people constantly rely on leaders as their spiritual guides and surrogate consciences without any question, how will they ever mature in their personal relationship with God?

2 thoughts on “The Pastor as Surrogate Conscience

  1. Lets look very carefully my friends; mediator means ‘priest’, doesnt it?

    Arent we a “holy priesthood”?

    1 Peter 2:5
    “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

    1 Peter 2:9
    But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

    I include these to counterpoint:

    1 Timothy 2:5
    “5For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,’

    Interesting then, the use of the word ‘mediator’ and inserting it into the meaning of ‘priesthood’ as my senior pastor does; the scriptures from Tim. & Pet. cannot contradict each other, so our implied ‘mediating-function’ as ‘holy priesthood’ is misplaced, and we are rather ‘servants’ of ‘praise & offerings’ as the scriptures above describe, while the Master himself does the Mediating!

    -Good heavens Ive learned something new!

    And yes, I am otherwise disgusted and in complete agreement with the above quotations & comments!

    Presently I am a member of a church culture that requires I ‘submit’ to authority figures, and while I do so, it is not because I particularly respect them, but because the culture there requires this, in the same way one would call a Catholic priest, ‘father’.

    I quote with interest Pauls behaviour below: Acts 23:

    “4Those who were standing near Paul said, “You dare to insult God’s high priest?”
    5Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.'”

    So who says we have ‘religious rulers’ among us today?

    [Mt23]8″But (B)do not be called (C)Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.
    9″Do not call anyone on earth your father; for (D)One is your Father, He who is in heaven.
    10″Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.
    11″(E)But the greatest among you shall be your servant.”


  2. “The above thread change my life- you guys are doing great work in developing this blog!”


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