James, Ordained or Reputed?

December 20, 2009 at 9:43 am 3 comments

I have to say I’ve struggled a lot lately with the leadership structure of the traditional church and the teachings thereof. I’ve always been told that Acts 15 proves that James was the leader of the church in Jerusalem, yet I’m having a difficult time coming to that conclusion.

If James were the leader – why didn’t Paul just address him as such in Galatians 2:9? Wouldn’t Paul have just said: I am not at all inferior to James the Pastor of Jerusalem? Doesn’t this scripture in Galatians really say that leadership in the church is earned by your reputation – that is how much people trust you – and not by ordination (being appointed to an office by some person that is holier than you)?

Or how about the argument that Jesus appeared to James, and so that made James the Pastor of Jerusalem? (1 Corinthians 15:1-7) This says Jesus appeared to Peter, and then to the twelve, and then to five-hundred plus others – and then finally to James. So if you’re the 515th person to walk thru that door – then you become the pastor? I mean what’s up with that argument? I can’t find any scripture anywhere that references a pastor. Sure there are pastors (plural) in Ephesians 4 – but no one in scripture is called a pastor. What’s up with that?

Or how about the argument that certain men came FROM JAMES? (Galatians 2:12). This is seemingly refuted in Acts 15:24 – where James himself said – they went out from us – but we didn’t put that message in their mouths.

And then the tough questions – why would Jesus tell the apostles the church was not to be like a Roman authority structure – and then put James over a structure where he is making authoritative decisions and lording over others? (Matt 20:25; Mark 10:42; Luke 22:25).

And the argument that God has a primary vision carrier (the pastor) in each local congregation. I couldn’t find one scripture anywhere where James had any vision. Peter had vision – Paul had vision – John had plenty of vision – but James had nothing. If James was the leader – why did God give all this stuff to his subordinates? No, most of this James argument stuff doesn’t hold any water at all.

No I think it was just like Paul said it in Galatians 2:9 – James was reputed to be one of the leaders in Jerusalem (not the Pope or Pastor or Lead Elder) – just one of the guys who had earned a great reputation from the brothers – and so they listened to him.


Entry filed under: Church Leadership.

Super Apostles or The Church?

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Tim  |  December 20, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Wow! I get to be the first commenter on your blog.
    I came here from the link on your comment on Out of Ur when you said:
    ” think if you really need a building – God will give you one.”

    What constitutes God giving you a building? Being given a building with no $ paid out or having enough money to buy one?
    I think you mean having enough money to buy one – I might be wrong. Having enough money to buy something does not constitute that you need it or that it is God’s will that you have it. Giving is the first priority for the resources God gives us. We are expected to GIVE HIM of our 1st fruits. Giving to God comes off the top. Spending and buying are down the line. The institutionalized form of faith for the most part equates “pooling money to buy buildings and staff that benefits mostly poolers” with “giving”. Giving is not giving until it goes beyond the givers.

    I don’t know your spiritual journey, but if it was like mine 12 years ago, my faith was fully institutionalized. I had no concept of God’s plan for his church other than getting more people in one door and building bigger buildings to hold them and hiring more staff to keep them “growing”. In the last 12 years, God has opened my eyes to see His design for church life.
    100% of giving goes out the door – no pooling for us
    100% mutual relationships – no pyramid leadership
    100% one another communication – no one-way lectures (preach the word does not equal lecture the word)
    100% reproductive leadership – no perpetual dependency
    I can explain more later if you want more. You may not.

    Regarding your post on James:
    Yes, traditional church leadership is very very corrupted from God’s design. It looks very nice and clean from a distance. The men who wear the titles are often very kind and sweet and at least appear mostly humble. The system they carry out is one of lording. I can amplify on that later if you like.

    Another key scripture you did not include is Matt. 23:1-10. It is very similar in concept to the ones you gave but was prompted by a different circumstance and includes a key phrase “you are all brothers”. It also very directly instructs against the use of leadership titles indicating an institutionalized office. Everything you read in the rest of the NT from Paul, etc MUST be interpreted through these words. You cannot take Pastor -Teacher, Evangelist, Bishop, Overseer, etc and turn them into titles. They are functions and actions – not offices with titles. If you use the KJV, it includes the word “office”. This word is not in the original text. It was interpreted into the text by translators who were limited by a church worldview that REQUIRED the concept of office. (A carry over from the corruption in the Roman Catholic church, and carried forward by men whose flesh had the upper over the Spirit at this point.
    Enough for now.

  • 2. Jerry  |  December 20, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Wow Tim – thanks for the comment – feel free – like you said – I’m just starting this blog – I’ve tried it before, but hopefully I can keep up better this time. I’ve been out of traditional church for 3 or 4 years now – but I’m mostly in the desert asking a lot of questions. I’ve done tons of reading – and reread the scriptures over and over.

    As far as buildings – I don’t recall Jesus buying one – but I’m not saying he would never buy one – but I also never saw Jesus borrow money….. so the vast majority of building programs in my opinion would go against what scripture says – not that you can’t make scripture say anything you want it to – and not that scripture covers every grey area.

    When Jesus needed an upper room for the last supper – it was provided – and I’ve really seen that stuff happen before – it really energizes the group when the Lord invites you into a room he prepared special just for you and what he is doing.

    I understand that Mega Churches have lots of money and can afford to build things debt free – but why not take that money and help out the needy among you? Acts does says there was not a needy person among them. I’ve done enough ministry to the poor in the streets to realize that giving them money – is like flushing it down the toilet – but Acts says they ministered to the ones among them.

    Why is the playbook the same for so many churches in the U.S. – hire a pastor – build (or rent) a building – sit everyone in rows – and lecture them on how to live their life? 30 years later – the mortgate is paid off – and the same people are still sitting there – no transformation – no changed life – no experience of God.

  • 3. Tim  |  December 20, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    I remember the desert 14 years ago. God showed me His new direction in the same verses I had read all my life but had been blind to their meaning with my institutionalized faith filters.

    I’m not against all buildings either. I just see that 99.9% of them are misdirected towards functions God never asked for – ie lining folks up in pews to face a pulpit. Every week I see Jesus disciples preparing rooms for mutual communion and washing one another’s feet. These rooms are in our homes, parks, city sidewalks, at work, last week in a Laundromat, or restaurants.

    You ask: Why is the playbook the same for so many churches….?

    An added question is: Why is it that there are hundreds of different denominations and groups differing on so many minute points, but never differ on the playbook? There is diversity in everything but the playbook. There so little in scripture to substantiate the play book, and the little that is there is easily demonstrated to be twisted application.

    1. The power of human tradition
    2. The depth of the corruption of human flesh, even those that have a Holy Spirit to battle against it.
    a. Lay folks love spectating and cheerleading over playing.
    b. Leaders love a paycheck out of an offering plate and a special title for a special caste of spirituality.
    3. Satan is clever to nurse and coddle human flesh.
    There are many more.


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