x320.......The One Way Pulpit

In our Christians churches--or rather in the tradition that our church operate under--we have something that I would call the "one-way pulpit"

This is our concept that when we gather together to meet, there is one leader--a teacher a pastor a bishop--priest--whatever he or she may be called---but this person has the "authority" to stand before the "congregation" and deliver a message--about which there are no questioned asked. That is to say it certainly would be labled "rebellious" if a person where to stand-up during the "sermon" on Sunday morning and ask a question of what the pastor says in his message. WE have a very strong tradition of this "one-way pulpit" in all of our churches. We have a very strong belief that there is one person who has the "authority" over the rest of us to preach a message without questions being asked--without comments or suggestions being added. This one person has the right to do this and usually he or she is the only person in the entire church who has this right and privilege--and no one dares attempts or even thinks of asking simple questions of what the message says--mush less disagreeing with what is said.

We are sure that we have a leader who gives us the infalible, unquestionable, word from God for us. We are to take it in without questions or comments and definitely without any argument.

Well, where exactly does this come from? It certainly must be in the Bible where someone taught or preached or had this "authority" over other Christians to give a word without question or comment---right??

Well the truth is that it is absolutely impossible to find this "one-way pulpit" in the Bible. Certainly Jesus--and His followers "taught with authority". They had the "exhousia"--the power of God to teach the word of God--and certainly Jesus gave to us His followers of today this same authority or power. However--it is always so important to note about "authority"--that Jesus clearly said that Christians were not to use this authority "over one another"--in fact He clearly stated that this is the way the world operated---the kingdoms of the functioned in this manner--and it was not to be in the church.

25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. 27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. 28 Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. 29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; (Luke 22:25-29, KJV).

Jesus taught with authority--but He was constantly and consistantly questioned about His doctrine--about His teachings by many people--including His own followers. When we think of questioning Jesus we first think of the Pharisees--the Jews who lived in His day who were the leaders of the synagogue. Now many of these leaders were firmly against Jesus and many of them purposely questioned Him attempting to prove Him wrong. However, it is important to realize that many of these leaders (Nicodemos for example) where persuaded by the questions they asked Jesus.

And it is also very clear that the disciples of Jesus were always questioning Him. Questions are how people learn things--today and in the times of the Bible. In the early church the same process applies---there were many questions and even disputes amongst the early church people--yet the Bible still states that they were in "one accord". The unity that the early church had was a unity of the Holy Spirit--not the uniformity that we have mistaken for unity. Unity does not fear questions. Uniformity has fear behind it--it has wrong ideas about authority behind it.

If we could simply realize that the Bible tell us that we are all one body and "one member ought not think more highly of himself than another"--we could function from a simple standpoint of openness--questions are certainly not forbidden by any Bible doctrine or example.

The Bible even tells of a dispute that Peter and Paul had from which both learned and developed a clearer understanding of what the lord wanted for the church. (see Galatians chapter 2--look at verse 11--Paul "gets in Peter's face"!!)

The tradition of a "one-way pulpit" is clearly from the time after the Bible--the time in which the Roman form of government became the status quo for Christian churches. The roman emperor certainly had a dictatorial "one-way" rulership and governing power, and those ideas became intrinsic to church operation. We still carry many of these ideas to this day.

Perhaps the "respect" we have for the pulpit does not come from the Bible but from the tradition of the Roman form of government.

Why should we be able to ask questions of teachers? Simply because we could learn more--simply because it makes sense, we as students could quickly receive what we need--any good teacher knows it is important for the students to ask questions. Jesus followers were called "disciples" meaning "students"---and they certainly asked questions of Jesus--they did not sit in hushed silence with fear of asking or interupting Him. And very often their questions helped them.

We see for example Nicodemus--who asks some simple questions of Jesus--and we receive the knowledge teat we must be born again to enter God's kingdom--that God so loved the world that he gave his son Jesus that we may have eternal life. We see later that Nicodemus apparently was convinced of Jesus doctrine --(John 7:46-52 and John 19:39)

Now don't get me wrong--the type of "preaching" that we have in our churches is fine--and we need it--but we also need and should have by the Biblical example--another type of "teaching" the type where individuals can be heard and can ask questions and receive answers and add what they know to the teaching. WE need preaching--proclaiming the word--but we also need the type of teaching and questioning that will help us develop quickly as Christians.

The church in the Bible operated largely from the homes of the people. They operated apostolically---like a network. Imagine the effectiveness of this system. Many many "houses of God" (it is the Christian home which is called "the pillar and ground of truth" in 1Timothy 3:15---NOT our idea of church institution!)--organized each with it's own area of teaching. Think how simple and direct and effective this was.

Think of the Christians in your area that you know. I am sure there are things that we all could teach (is this Biblcal--that "all be teachers"---"For when for the time ye ought to be teachers...." Hebrews 5:12, KJV)--imagine the church operating as a real school--all the knowledge and gifts working together--on a common level.

Wouldn't it be glorious!