Pastoral Authority Concerning Standards

by Jason

Consider this scenario:

You pastor says short sleeves are immodest, right? Where does he get that? I would bet that he says that God told him so; therefore he must preach it because he is the flock's shepherd. And since you believe that whatever he teaches you must follow, you decide to comply.

Let's say the UPC pastor down Highway 75 in Mounds decides to start preaching that long sleeves are sinful and also claims that God told him so. Who then are we to believe? Neither one can prove their claims with scripture. This is precisely why we must allow scriptures to be the final authority, because anyone can say that God has revealed something to them. In fact, that is precisely what the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. have done. They claim that God has revealed things to them that go above and beyond what the scriptures actually say.

Scriptures alone are the sole authority on the truth. Not your pastor, not the UPC, only the Book. Only the Apostles had the authority to pronounce doctrine.

The Bible says not to add, or take away from the Words of God and that no scriptures are open to private interpretation. If the scenario I presented earlier actually happened, then both have placed their own private interpretation upon the scriptures and have *added* to God's word. We do not have the authority to do that. It matters little to me have often or how passionately your pastor says the Bible backs him up - it doesn't.

As soon as someone starts saying that God has told him or her something that is not backed up by the Bible, they are lying, whether intentionally or not.

Your pastor is free to believe whatever he wishes, but when he starts requiring church members to follow an invented doctrine, or worse, telling them that they will go to hell if they don't, then he is out of line and will be held accountable for it by God.

I was a hard-core-UPC-Standards-Preaching-Fanatic. I would condemn a woman to hell before she could get the word ‘pants’ out of her mouth. But the Lord is long-suffering, kind, patient, loving and full of grace.

Pray and go to the scriptures to find out what to believe, instead of going to the scriptures to prove what you have already decided to believe. You’ll be amazed at what you find, just as I was.

Here is some additional interesting information in light of this belief on pastoral authority.

Ever heard of the International Churches of Christ? Some of their beliefs include that Jesus could have sinned, denial of the original sin, the belief that if you are not an ICC member you will be damned and a bunch of other wacko stuff. One of the *cornerstones* of their teachings is the 'authority' of those over you.

All new converts are assigned an 'overseer' who is given total authority over the new convert's life. Many ex-members of this cult have testified that they had to go to their overseer and get permission before doing practically anything including making any kind of purchase (even for clothes), moving to another home (even in the same city), going on vacation, speaking with family members and a host of other things.

So what is the justification for all of this according to the ICC? The overseers 'love' their members and are only concerned about their salvation. Hmmm, where have I heard that before?

Here are some quotes by prominent ICC teachers, evangelist, an a few former members: (FYI - Kip McKean is the Chief Evangelist and de facto leader of the ICC.)

From a former member: "During this period Kip McKean also first formulated the trademark ICC doctrine of "Baptism as a Disciple" -- the teaching that one must both fully understand the purpose of baptism and have fully committed to following Christ and obeying the leaders in the Church (the two were seen as synonymous) in order for his baptism to be valid. Those who had not been baptized in accordance with this understanding of baptism were no longer considered to be Christian." From REVEAL, a non-profit devoted to former ICC members.

"A better motto... would be the following: 'Where the Bible speaks we are silent, and where the Bible is silent we speak.' Thus, if God has specified something, we shut up and submit. But if He has not, then we have the freedom to discover the most effective way to carry out His principles...." Gordon Ferguson, ICC. Progressive Revelation, Boston Bulletin, May 1988

"To not have a discipleship partner is to be rebellious to God and to the leadership of this congregation.... The person that you are discipling must believe, must trust, that you are out for God and their best interest. Because, you see, there is going to be some advice they will not understand. But if they trust that you are out for God and their best interest, they will obey.... They must believe your judgment is better than theirs." Kip McKean, ICC. Discipleship Partners, 1988 Boston Leadership Conference

"To grumble against God's leaders is to grumble against God himself." Kip McKean. Indianapolis meeting, 17 March 1994, audio tape one, side one.

". . . They set themselves in opposition against the Lord's anointed. That's the issue. When you fall in that state as in Numbers, as in 1 Corinthians 10, you fall from the state of grace." Kip McKean. Indianapolis meeting, 17 March 1994, audio tape two, side one.

"If you oppose the Lord's servants, then you oppose the Lord....God picks the leaders and you gotta get behind them, amen?" Kip McKean. Indianapolis meeting, 17 March 1994, audio tape one, side two.

"And right here, guys, people start talking bad about the evangelist. And people start talking bad about the leader of the movement. You are not grumbling against Moses and Aaron. You are not grumbling against Kip and Marty, Ron and Lavonia. You are grumbling against the Lord. That's either in the scriptures or it is not." Kip McKean. Indianapolis meeting, 17 March 1994, audio tape one, side one.

"Even if (your person of authority) he calls you to do something which disobeys your conscience, you still have an obligation to study it out and prayerfully change your opinion." Kip McKean. Boston Seminar, 1987.

Just food for thought.

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August 23, 1997
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