Saturday, August 25, 2012

Church Governance (19)

I get grumpy when Christian who take the New Testament seriously speak of “fivefold ministries”. This language twists the plain teaching of the scriptures to support our modern governance structures. Firstly, there is no suggestion in Eph 4:7-12 that these are ministries. Paul speaks of gifts. I have discussed this in previous posts.

However, the thing that really makes me grumpy is the number five. Even in English, it clear that there are only four gifts not five, as is often assumed.

Ephesians 4:11 is very clear on this one. It has definite structure using the phrase “men de” in Greek, or “some to be” in English.

some to be apostles
some to be prophets
some to be evangelists
some to be pastors and teachers.
If Paul considered there were five giftings, he would have written:
some to be pastors
and some to be teachers.
Because Paul did not write this, we have to assume that pastor and teacher is a single gifting, which means that Jesus only gave four giftings.

Anyone who can read can see that Paul carefully stated that there are four giftings, but the church has consistently ignored this. The reason is that the teaching about the scriptures is controlled by people who want to be teachers. The problem is that people who function as teachers have vested interest in raising the status of what they do. They like the idea of have "teaching" specified as a separate gifting in this very important passage.

The group with the greatest vested interest in this are those who want to be teachers.

Paul is fairly clear that teaching by itself is dangerous. The reason is that knowledge puffs up.
We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up (1 Cor 8:1).
This is a serious problem with the so-called teaching ministry. Teaching just imparts knowledge, and knowledge puffs up. I know that many Christians have had their lives changed by listening to good teaching. However, I am sure that many more just listen and think to themselves that what they had read or heard was good. But then do nothing with it. I suspect that good teaching may have puffed up more Christians than it actually built up. That is what happens with knowledge is imparted apart from love. Teaching must be accompanied with pastoring, so that love can prevent knowledge from puffing up.

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