Critique of THE PROTESTANT'S DILEMMA by Devin Rose

Chapter 30 - Pastoral Authority

Page 191: I once listened to a series of talks given by an Evangelical pastor, whom I will call Pastor Neil, which focused on equipping men to be faithful and strong disciples of Christ. One important point he made was the idea of jurisdiction, which, in Pastor Neil’s parlance, was equivalent to authority. He rightly pointed out that men, as heads of our families, have authority given to us by God the Father and that we must accept this authority and use it to lead our families in a Christ-like way. In a similar way, he said, rightful Christian authorities should lead those in their churches. That makes sense, too. But how to figure out who exactly has that authority is much less clear.
Note: Authority should not be exercised in a Christian church.
And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him 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.” Matthew 20:24-28.
Note: Do you believe Jesus Christ? Are you saved?

Page 191-192: We all have human authorities in our lives. At home when we were children, our parents were our authorities; at school, our teachers and principals were. In civil society, we have authorities at many levels: city council, mayor, law enforcement officers, and legislators. We see that they have authority over us when we break the laws they enact and enforce – because we get a ticket or go to jail! At work, too, we have authorities over us; I have no fewer than six levels of supervisors above me in the authority chain that goes right up to the top of my company.
Note: Authority should not be confused for a Christian church.
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. Romans 13:1-3.
Note: Non-Christians love to exercise authority.

Page 192: But what about in the Christian faith? Ah, here it is different, is it not? Here, surely, we have “no authority over us except Jesus Christ,” which is exactly what many Protestants say when it comes to their beliefs and their church. According to Protestant theology, Jesus is the only infallible authority, so it is only to him that a Christian can give his unqualified allegiance.
Note: According to Jesus Christ, He has all authority in the universe.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Matthew 28:18.
Note: Do you believe Jesus Christ? Are you saved?

Page 192: Yet we know that in the Bible God also revealed offices of Christian leadership: elders, presbyters, and deacons. And so within Protestantism a tension exists between God’s ultimate authority and the subordinate authority held by the human beings Scripture says should be in charge of local churches. When a Protestant believes there’s a conflict between what his elders are telling him and what he understands God’s will to be, he must follow the latter – even if it means breaking off and starting his own church. Does an elder still retain authority if he falls into error? Each Protestant answers that question for himself, judging his leaders based on his own interpretation of what God’s authority says in Scripture.
Note: Church offices are for those who want to serve.
Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:1-4.
Note: Are you a servant of God or a self-promoter?

Page 193: Here’s what Pastor Neil had to say about authority: “Pride will destroy a jurisdiction. Don’t trust Mohammed or Buddha: Who gave them jurisdiction. Where men do not submit to their elders, there will be destruction and disorder in the church. If a man won’t listen to the elders, to the church, if he won’t submit to their jurisdiction (1 Cor. 5:4-5)” Pastor Neil also mentions that Peter told Christians to submit to the government, superiors in the work sphere, human institutions, and authorities for the Lord’s sake.
Note: Authority should not be confused for a Christian church.
“But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:11-12.
Note: Do you believe Jesus Christ? Are you saved?

Page 192: What if we were to apply Pastor Neil’s ideas to the beginnings of Protestantism? Martin Luther and the other leaders of the Reformation did not submit to their elders, the bishops of Christ’s Church, and that did indeed lead to “destruction and disorder.” It led to schism upon schism, to a thousand splinterings that countermanded Christ’s command, and Paul’s, that there be no divisions among Christians.
Note: Unfortunately, self-promoters such as Pope Leo X became leaders.
For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Acts 20:29-30.
Note: Pope Leo X quote: “Since they have given us the papacy, let us enjoy it.”

Page 193: “If a man won’t listen to the elders, to the church, if he won’t submit to their jurisdiction.” How many times has this happened in Christ’s Church through history? The Manichees, the Monophysites, the Doncetists, the Arians, and many other men who chose to reject the elders of Christ’s Church and their authority were delivered to Satan and his authority. So why exactly did it become okay for some sixteenth-century European Christians to throw off the yoke of authority of Christ’s Church and follow their own ideas of what is true? Had Paul’s words ceased to apply?
Note: Jesus Christ will destroy any church that is willfully sinning.
“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, ‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.” Revelation 2:18-23.
Note: Pope Leo X excommunicated Martin Luther and shortly thereafter died.

Pages 193-194: Now, Pastor Neil seemed to mean “church” in the smallest sense possible: the group of people who meet at someone’s home, who rent space at the local school on Sunday, or maybe are lucky enough to have their own building. The “elders” of such church are presumably whoever founded it and became pastor, and perhaps those he chose to be his assistants. But without the one, apostolic, and universal Church that Christ established, following the jurisdiction of such “elders” makes little sense. No surprise, then, that so often a person who disagrees with the elders just leaves and goes to the church down the street, or founds his own church in which he is the elder. We see how ridiculous these scriptural verses on unity become if Christ has no visible, authoritative Church but rather thousands of little churches – with thousands of elders all claiming rightful authority.
Note: Christians will be servants of Jesus Christ and a testimony of Him.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Revelation 1:1-2.
Note: Are you a servant of Jesus Christ or a slave of a bogus church?

Page 194: If Protestantism is true, then if a Christian needs spiritual authority in his life – whether to stave off the devil, fight sin, or make a moral ruling – he has to wade through myriads differing options. Any “elder” of any church where he feels “at home” might do. But how would he know that his elder and this church were teaching the truth of God?
Note: A servant of God will not exercise authority in the church.
And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:24-26.
Note: Will you believe the Apostle Paul? Are you saved?