ONE MAN MINISTRY
By David Pryor Missionary to Paraguay, S.A.

******************************************************************

Assumptions We Make

We often base our lives on assumptions we have come to accept as truth, rather than on truth itself.  Sadly, our tendency is to ignore the truth when confronted by it, favoring instead our existing assumptions. 

Why do we do this?  Because it’s easier, and safer.  After all, few of us like to admit we’ve been mistaken about something.  Besides, standing for the truth often brings harsh criticism from those who have yet to be enlightened by the truth.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, an assumption is something taken for granted or supposed WITHOUT PROOF.  Truth, on the other hand, is that which is TRUE or CERTAIN concerning any matter or subject.

Assumptions may be collected from a variety of sources.  Family, friends, culture, past experiences, previous teaching, etc., can all play a part in building assumptions.  Unfortunately, assumptions can be dangerous things.  Especially in the area of spiritual matters.

Just what are the assumptions we make concerning one-man ministry?  Let’s examine the major ones that form the foundation upon which this idea is built.

Man of God
It’s quite common for pastors to be called the “Man of God”.  But its typical usage implies that the man being so called is in a special class by himself.  The phrase is a Biblical one, but are we applying it properly?  Let’s look to Scripture to find out.

Examining the original meaning of the phrase in Greek gives us a clear understanding of just who is “the man of God”.  In Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words we find that the Greek word for man used in this phrase is: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos} (Strong’s #444); a human being, male or female, without reference to sex or nationality.”  We get our word anthropology, the study of man, from this word.  Vine’s further explains:

“The phrase ‘the man of God’, 2 Tim. 3:17, is not used as an official designation, nor denoting a special class of believers, it specifies what every believer should be, namely, a person whose life and conduct represent the mind of God and fulfill His will; so in 1 Tim. 6:11, ‘O man of God’.  Some regard this in the O.T. sense as of a prophet acting in a distinctive character, possessed of Divine authority; but the context is of such a general character as to confirm the more extended designation here.”

So, every born-again person, man or women, is a “human being of God”.  Scripture further tells us that God is no respecter of persons (Rom. 2:11), we are all equal in importance (Gal. 3:28), and we are all “saints” (Col. 1:12).  Therefore, no single Christian or group of Christians is more important than another. 

Ministry
Let’s consider the next building block in our assumptions about one-man ministry.  If we believe that a pastor is a special class of Christian, a “Man of God”, then it’s natural for us to place him in a special profession, the “Ministry”. 

In fact, we’ve come to assume that the office of pastor is a paid job for which there has been professional training.  We consider the “Ministry” a sacred profession.  Other occupations are considered secular, and thus deemed less spiritual.  But where did we get this concept? 

Quite simply, the Catholic Church is responsible for creating this distinction between “sacred” and “secular”.  Based on their reasoning, those involved in church work are involved in sacred work.  Conversely, those involved in non-church work are involved in secular work.  Therefore, those in sacred work are the “clergy”, and those in secular work are the “laity”. 

Most Baptist pastors would cringe at the thought of being called “clergy” because of its Catholic connotation.  I ought to know, I’ve been an Independent Baptist missionary since 1989

 

But, these same Baptist pastors will refer to themselves as being in the “Ministry”.  They’ll even say that those in the “Ministry” are in “full-time” Christian service, and all others are just “laymen”.  How is this any different from what the Catholics call the “clergy” and the “laity”?

But, does all of this really matter?  Before we dismiss this as just a minor matter of wording, let’s look a little deeper at this issue of “sacred” vs. “secular”.

Methodology
Whether we want to admit it or not, much of our church methodology comes from assumptions based in human reasoning.  To prove this, let’s examine the assumption that causes us to consider the “Ministry” as a sacred profession.

According to this line of reasoning, SACRED things pertain to the spiritual, eternal and unchanging upper realm of God in heaven.  By contrast, SECULAR things pertain to the physical, temporal and changing lower realm of man on earth.

At first glance, this division seems logical enough.  But, it did not originate in the Bible.  A scholar named Thomas Aquinas first brought this idea into the Catholic Church in the 13th century.  He called the upper realm GRACE and the lower realm NATURE.  But this concept was not original to him.  He was simply borrowing from the teachings of Aristotle.  Aristotle was a student of the Greek philosopher Plato. 

In Plato’s way of thinking, the world was divided into upper and lower realms.  The upper realm he called FORM, the lower realm MATTER.  The upper had to do with the eternal, unchanging, and perfect world of ideas.  The lower had to do with the temporal, changing, and imperfect world of physical matter.

If we lay these ideas side by side, it’s easy to see the progression of this reasoning:

Plato

 

Thomas Aquinas (Aristotle)

 

Today

 

 

(427-347 B.C.)

 

(1225-1274)

 

(1700-present)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FORM

 

GRACE

 

SACRED

 

 

The perfect, eternal, unchanging non-physical realm of ideas.

 

God, angels, prayer, worship – things having to do with the supernatural, eternal, spiritual realm.

 

 

Things pertaining to the spiritual, eternal and unchanging upper realm of God in heaven.

 

 

 

Þ

 

 

 

CLERGY

 

MATTER

 

 

NATURE

 

 

SECULAR

 

Þ

 

LAITY

The imperfect, temporal, changing physical realm.

 

Science, logic, economics, etc. – things having to do with the natural, temporal, material realm.

 

Things pertaining to the physical, temporal and changing lower realm of man on earth.

 

 

Don’t you see how Plato’s upper realm of ideas slowly evolved into the realm of God in heaven, and his lower realm of physical matter into the realm of man on earth?  Clearly, this concept of “sacred” vs. “secular” is based entirely on man’s degenerate reasoning, totally apart from God’s divine revelation. 

Unfortunately, once we accept as truth this idea that all things are divided horizontally into either the  “sacred” or the “secular”, we’re logically forced to also accept the idea of a separate “clergy” and “laity”. 

A better way of visualizing how all things interact is with a vertical line separating everything along a scale.  As things move into harmony with God’s original design, they can be considered “good”.  As things move into conflict with God’s original design, they can be considered “corrupt”.

 

 

 

In

marr

iage

In

Conflict

s

ex

Harmony

with

fam

ily

with

God’s

chu

rch

God’s

Design

gover

nment

Design

(“corrupt”)

busi

ness

(“good”)

 

mu

sic

 

 

l

aw

 

 

spo

rts

 

 

a

rt

 

 

agric

ulture

 

 

medi

cine

 

 

educ

ation

NOTE: A detailed study of these facts concerning “sacred” vs. “secular” can be found in “Part Five: Philosophical Concepts” of Christian Overman’s book, Assumptions That Affect Our Lives, 1996, published by Micah 6:8 of Simi Valley, CA 93063. 

Considering what we’ve discovered about the origin of “sacred” vs. “secular”, we can see that such an idea is in conflict with God’s design for His church.  Especially since it’s a concept that’s foreign to God’s Word. 

More importantly, the evidence we’ve examined thus far should be causing us to seriously question all the assumptions we hold about one-man ministry. 

But, if we strip away all our assumptions, we have no familiar ground left upon which to stand.  After all, everything we’ve been taught and everything we do in the church revolves around one-man ministry

To settle this whole issue about one-man ministry once and for all, let’s turn to Scripture to see what it has to say about a pastor and his role in the local church.

< Back | Top | Next >