Jesus’ words heresy?

First some a couple of references.

Heresy Opinion or doctrine contrary to the orthodox teaching of the Christian Church – Oxford Dictionary

Matthew 20:25-28 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

I moved away some years ago for work and rejoined my local CCC church when I returned after a couple of years. At first it seemed the same but over time I started to realise that new doctrines were being taught. I discussed these with my then pastor and on confirmation that my fears were founded my family and I moved on.

A good and wise friend of mine who also moved on from the same church recently told me about a discussion he had with the pastor after my friend indicated that he was leaving for doctrinal reasons. The discussion went to the verse above and my good friend indicated that to him Jesus’ words meant that no Christian can exercise authority over another.  The pastor indicated that Jesus did not mean these words literally and to take them literally and believe what my friend believes is a heresy.

I know I am at odds with CCC doctrine but this is just too silly.  My old church was telling me for some time to believe what the pastor says over anything else because he is anointed for that purpose. It seems that now we (those with what was referred to as a “different anointing”) are to believe the pastor even over what Jesus says.

I can only reject yet another CCC doctrine that placed a mediator between Jesus and his people.  This is what makes me a “heretic”.  Amen.


12 thoughts on “Jesus’ words heresy?

  1. How do you define the ‘orthodox teaching of the Christian Church’? Catholic dogma would confirm the authority of the papal succession and priesthood. Direct offshoots such as the Anglican Church, would agree, although not acknowledging the authority of the pope, of course, as would the other orthodox churches, under their various patriarchal and bishopric run dogma, such as Eastern, Greek, Russian or Coptic. Would they not all claim the authoritative succession of the bishops?

    Is that an orthodoxy anyone can live with?

    We are still, to an extent, just emerging from the influence of the dark and middle ages, when the authority of the so-called ‘Church’ was practically despotic in some aspects.

    The revelation of the servanthood of leadership is something all Christians are beginning to come to terms with, and leaders are having to let go. They have been slow in doing so, but I don’t think you can single out an isolated CCC Pastor (whose side I’d like to hear on the issue) as an example of CCC teaching on leadership. This is a church-wide dilemma.

    I’d be interested to hear if you’ve found a church which doesn’t have some background of authoritative leadership.

    I agree with you on the servanthood of pastoral care. I completely agree with what Jesus says, of course, in this passage. As with all scripture you need to balance it against the whole canon, not one aspect of the canon. There are other scriptures which clearly indicate the responsibility and authority of leadership, and the admonition to believers to submit themselves to the guidance and oversight of those who have been given leadership gifts, as a matter of compliance and consent, rather than capitulation to despotism, or to be made to feel unquestioningly inferior in anyway.

    We are also admonished to submit to one another, which should be the starting point for everyone in everything, including, and especially for, those called to leadership responsibilities, which should be a qualification for leadership acknowledged long before they are allowed any kind of oversight of others.

    Serving people in a pastoral capacity does include some leadership roles, and does include level of authority and accountability, not to lord it over people, but to serve them with and in the gospel. But always from a position of submission to God’s purposes and to serve those they are given responsibility for. According to scripture, they will be held accountable for the way they served, treated and led the people they were given oversight of.

  2. Does it not bother you that the “church” is still emerging from the influence of the dark ages? Not many other organisations could use the excuse that they were despotic 1000 years ago, and are still trying to clean up their act.

    Shouldnt the church be in the vanguard on this issue, not lagging behind? Shouldnt leaders be pressing forward, not looking back to the dark ages?

    Is it not strange that an pastor in the evangelical/pentecostal tradition should use the concept of heresy – ie. uphold “orthodoxy” against a plain and simple reading of the bible? Is that not cause for some concern? Is that not a return to the dark ages?

  3. Well, yes, it bothers me, and I’m an outspoken opponent of the centrality of the priesthood, and the dumbing of the congregation.

    I thought I’d made the point that the essence of leadership in the Church is serving, not domination, but that the concept of authoritarian government in the Church was much older and far more ingrained in church culture than the C3 movement, or, rather, this individual Pastors’ concept of C3 doctrine on authority in the local church.

    When we left the Anglican community to join a charismatic church some time ago, we were warned about leaving the covering and oversight of the Apostolic authority and lineage of the Anglican Church which stretched all the way back to Jesus and his disciples!

    I am concerned if a Senior Pastor did use the term in context with the teaching of Christ in this case, but as I said, I’d like that confirmed before I would condemn anyone.

  4. Oh that is funny – you given the line about apostolic authority in the Anglican church! It is so interesting that so many _different_ church organisations claim this makes them unique and special over other churches. Apart from the Pente/megachurch version where we have actual ‘apostles’ (given the full weight of ‘apostolic authority’) running the churches in current day times, we also have the apostolic lineage of the Catholics, the Orthodox and now it seems, the Anglican churches.

    Um, FL, I understand that this particular pastor was the person who used the term ‘heresy’ in this context, which was the reason people were rather shocked. This person does not necessarily reflect CCC as a whole, of course. However, in his church, he has stated himself, that he decides what God is saying or not, and therefore if he says it is heresy… well, it must be! Perhaps if challenged he’d say he was only joking.

    Re leadership – I’ve noticed in some church circles that those who aspire to leadership positions sometimes are very submissive to leadership over them, but this does not mean they grasp the meaning of servant leadership.

    Sometimes leadership is viewed as a rung on a hierarchical ladder. People in these positions are more significant, important and spiritual/godly than those who are not, by definition.

    This is not the attitude of everyone going into a leadership position, but when it is, its usually not visible to the ones making decisions to ‘raise up’ those ‘below’ them into leadership roles. It happens in corporations too of course.

  5. Willow creek is just as bad.

    I saw a youtube of Nancy Beech.

    In it she explained what they are doing with their midweek services. You know the ones. They had to create midweek meetings for the Christians because they went all seeker sensitive on the weekend. It turned out that very few Christians went to the midweek meetings because they preferred being entertained on Sunday rather than receive real teaching on the Wednesday.

    So now they are splitting up the group on Wednesday.

    1) Seekers
    2) New Believers
    3) Growing in Christ
    4) Christ Centered (who want real teaching)

    Well. I have a problem with that.

    Define the difference between “growing in Christ” and “Christ Centered”.

    One bunch are immature while the other bunch have “made it”.

    Spiritual Pride is alive and well in Willow Creek. Might as well be up the creek if you ask me.


  6. So now they are splitting up the group on Wednesday.

    1) Seekers
    2) New Believers
    3) Growing in Christ
    4) Christ Centered (who want real teaching)

    Reminds of a CCC website in Sydney I saw where the home-groups were broken up something like:
    1. youth 15-18
    2. youth 19-22
    3. under 30 adults
    4. male movie lovers
    5. female movie lovers
    6. singles – male
    7. singles – female

    I should probably not have laughed as much as I did.

  7. You would hope that the more Christ centred we are, the more effectively we grow, and the more we grow, the more Christ centred we become. Yes, it is a strange distinction between the two groups – hopefully clumsy semantics rather than a reflection that some people have ‘made it’ or not.

  8. The passage heretic quoted on servanthood is very interesting. If you take it in context it is actually a rebuke! It illustrates how a leader serves.

    In the next chapter Jesus gives instructions to his disciples to commandeer a colt so he can ride into the city, rides in to the appreciation of the crowds, then enters the temple and overturns the money-lenders’ tables, rebuking them, then rebukes scribes and Pharisees who get upset because people shouted ‘Hosanna’, identifying him as the Messiah, curses a fig tree, negotiates the chief priests at the temple, who questioned his authority, then gets stuck into them with a couple of parables, and so it goes on.

    There is a similar pattern to the preceding chapter. I was taught early on that context should be established on every scripture. We were taught to read the chapters before and after, as well as establishing social and historical context.

    I don’t think Jesus is in any way denying authority in leadership, but he is ensuring that his disciples don’t seek for position over servanthood.

  9. You have used the word ‘leader’, which is different from ‘ruler’. I think that is the essential distinction. Some leaders seek to rule by enforcing their position as authority or by pressuring or coercing people. This is a worldly model. Also, they seek to ‘rule’ any time they replace Jesus as our Head. For example, when they claim to say they ‘decide’ what is from God or not.

    Some of us have seen too much of this at various churches. A good leader won’t need to refer to their positional authority all the time,if they have that, and will be naturally recognised and respected.

    A good leader won’t seek to ‘rule’, but will inspire by example or will request but not coerce, and will be able to explain why they do what they do in the context of their relationship with Christ.

    There are leaders like this who also have positional authority, but there are others who abuse their positional authority by acting in their own interests in a variety of ways rather than serving.

  10. In the context of Heretic’s post, I think that by

    “…no Christian can exercise authority over another…”

    he means that no Christian can take authority in the sense of lording it over; ordering someone what to do in their life; taking the place of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life; expecting obedience due to the position, as one would expect of an employee for example.

    Of course if someone is carrying out an official role that involves carrying out delegated instructions, this is different. But we are talking about taking that form of instruction into everyday life, for example, Pastor says, “God has told me you are to do A, B and C” – and God has not told you Himself!

  11. According to Jesus you lead by serving. The greater the leader the more slave-like the service. Jesus himself is the example. To twist this into “I am serving you by ordering you around” (as my CCC ex-pastor told me was his role) is to choose the opposite meaning.

    Typically slaves don’t tell their masters what to do – though I am aware that in the ancient world masters did consult their slaves where they were known to be wise.

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