"Authority"--The Most Widely Abused Form Of Fearby Van Robison
"Authority" is a major vehicle of both human governments and religion. The church world exploits millions of people through fear of church leaders. Cult groups are notorious to instill fear in their captives. Causing church goers to fear the loss of salvation if they don't conform to church leadership is a tool of dictatorship. Using very select passages of the Bible to validate authoritarianism is a common practice in the world of churches. Using very select passages of the Bible to validate "prosperity" by financially partnering with celebrity preachers and local pastors is also a very common practice in this day and age. Virtually anyone can quote scriptures, and "the Bible" is quoted probably more than any other reference on earth. The Bible is used as the source book and foundation for false authority, false prosperity, false man-made offices of power over others, false tithing in the New Testament era, false private church empires, and supposedly to validate control of common church goers by "professional" clergy. Innumerable good-hearted church goers have been spiritually abused by church leaders, using "the Bible" as their source of power-mongering, and this practice dates back a very long time in history.
For every New Testament scripture that any pastor may quote to cause people to believe in the authority of church leaders, there are many more scriptures that anyone can quote that counter the idea of authoritarianism. For every scripture pastors may quote to secure money to themselves, there are many more that counter that idea. No one would deny that if Jesus Christ sends out preachers into the highways and byways, they need to eat. But that is a far cry from preaching for money, riches, wealth and fame. Jesus Christ was never a manipulator to control people, as are countless church leaders. Many church leaders want others to believe that obedience to their "headship" is a requirement and a necessity because, unless they can keep a herd of people intact, they lose their free money. This may seem harsh, but no local pastor is going to have a church building unless he has donations. And almost without exception, no local pastor is going to preach unless he or she is paid in cash. Isaiah 55:1 says, "Ho every one that thirsts, come you to the WATERS, and he that has NO MONEY; come you, buy and eat; yes come, buy wine and milk WITHOUT MONEY and WITHOUT PRICE."
The absolute Authority in the universe is God Almighty, and no matter how pastors read scriptures, causing church goers to live in fear of their authority is a sure sign of an insecure "leader." 2 Timothy 1:7 states, "For God has NOT given us the SPIRIT OF FEAR; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." Jesus frequently told His disciples to "fear not", and yet many church leaders have an aura about them of causing fear of their "authority over" church goers. Being an example in following the leadership of Jesus Christ is a far more effective form of leadership than coercion or fear-mongering ever will be. There is no greater role model than Jesus Christ, and He is the real Authority of all born-again believers. Some verses in the New Testament attributed to various disciples differ with what Jesus Christ directly taught, and they are very questionable in translation, understanding, or even authenticity. The responsibility of Peter, Paul and others was to simply convey what Jesus taught, not to embellish professional clergy into power positions. Unfortunately, multitudes of deluded pastors take their false authority over church members, from specific select passages that they have never really given deep thought to, because they contradict the truth in Christ.
Jesus said in His own words that we are ALL brethren (Matthew 23:8), and He is the real Authority in our lives and the ONLY MASTER. Pastors who play the role of being "in authority" over the brethren have exalted themselves upon a pedestal of a collapsing foundation. The real foundation is Jesus Christ. The term "apostle" will not be found in the vocabulary of Jesus Christ as recorded in the four Gospels. The mistaken notion that the word "apostle" is an office (falsely translated) of power and authority over believers is a false premise. The power given by Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit is not power to dominate or control the lives of believers. Most all preachers and Christians alike look upon virtually anything in "the Bible" as a "thus saith the Lord", because of the belief in the "infallibility" of the many writings compiled into one book and called "the Bible." A comparison of the actual teachings of Jesus Christ, with some passages of scriptures, will prove that some verses are either incomprehensible as translated, misunderstood and applied, or possibly even spurious (meaning that words have been placed in the mouths of the supposed authors, which they did not write). I don't personally place unlimited faith in human "scholars" or "theologians", regardless of how many doctorate degrees they have, or even if they can read and "understand" Hebrew and Greek. So what? The things of God are ONLY UNDERSTOOD BY THE HOLY SPIRIT.
With or without "the Bible", Jesus Christ conveys Himself to people through the Holy Spirit. It is God who gives people the power to believe, to know Jesus Christ and to understand truth. We all believe in Jesus Christ by FAITH. Like it or not, Jesus Christ never taught that He expected His followers to have faith in "the Bible." The only ink on papyrus Jesus ever referred to was portions of the "law" and "prophets" of the Old Testament. Believing Christ as a result of the teachings of the disciples is right and proper, but if any preacher ever deviates from what Jesus taught, and proclaim that their authoritarianism is sanctioned by Christ, they are in error. Truth is defined by Jesus Christ, not by churches and pastors. Countless preachers have taught false teachings, and some have gone so far off the deep end that it is a wonder anyone could ever be so deceived.
Men think in terms of rules, money, authority over, formalities, patterns, rituals, customs, traditions, regulations and so forth, because it is natural for human beings to think this way. The truth in Jesus Christ is so simple, that even a cave man ought to understand that the whole purpose of Jesus Christ is LOVE--pure and simple. God does not need or live by man-made rules and regulations. Christ living in us is LOVE living in us. LOVE (the nature of God Almighty) does not need human governments or religion or human mediators. Love automatically loves, and if conduct is not love, then it is not love performing, but rather carnal human nature. The Creator will never ever be bound by human thinking, human governments, human constitutions or legislation, or by human pastors, priests, churches or man-made religions.
There is a great deal of foolishness in the world of churchianity, and millions are bound to reasoning that is "the way that seems right", but which is in reality a man-made bondage. It is preposterous to believe that any born-again believer needs to be bottle fed for a lifetime by nurse maids called "pastors", when they have Jesus Christ living in them 24/7 through the Holy Spirit. For every scripture any pastor quotes to validate that pastors are essential to mature, Spirit filled Christians, there are many more than prove that there are no substitutes for Christ. Mentors are for the unconverted, novices, newborn and babies. How many sermons does any Christian need to hear? Remember the Ethiopian eunuch who encountered Philip in Acts 8? He was mentored for only a very short period of time in one day by Philip, and then Philip disappeared out of his life forever (Acts 8:26-40). Does this not prove that Jesus Christ lives in the born-again through the Holy Spirit, and that there is no need to be "pastored" for years and years and years until you die?
Those who love authority over others are in fact the ones who need to be mentored to with truth, which escapes their lives. Jesus Christ does not rule in our hearts by fear, but by love. Any church goer who is told "you dare not touch God's anointed" or other similar fear mongering, ought to get up and walk out, and never return. Following Jesus Christ is what the sheep of Christ do. Jesus does not use "pastors" to bounce people around, cause people emotional distress for asking questions, or cause people to worship at the feet of professional clergy as if they are infallible representatives of heaven. Many "pastors" teach many errors, and it is the right of any believer to question and confront false doctrines, teachings, customs and traditions--without fear of authority. As followers of Jesus Christ it is our responsibility to discern the spirits whether they be of God, and to prove all things. Church leaders almost never want to be challenged about their teachings, customs and practices, but to blindly follow "pastors" is to be entirely foolish. Jesus taught us to BEWARE of false prophets and teachers, as also did the disciples.
Authoritarianism is a man-invented form of fear, and those who rule by causing fear, dread, and loss of salvation for challenging "authority" are all living by a false Christ. I lived it in the former Worldwide Church of God, under the authoritarian dictatorship of the now deceased Herbert W. Armstrong. And that mentality is still thriving in the world of churches and under the false leadership of many church leaders who rule through causing people to fear them. Many "purpose driven pastors" are in that category. I call them "purpose driven abusers." The answer for any believer bound by authoritarianism or false fear is to simply depart from that environment, and look to Jesus Christ who is the real Good Shepherd of your life.