Code of Ethics for pastors

The National Association of Evangelicals has developed a Code of Ethics for pastors.  It’s not all that long.  Do you think this is needed?  Is it adequate?  Can you think of anything else that should be included? (I’d especially like to hear reactions to this from pastors.)

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. (2 Corinthians 6:3) Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. (Philippians 1:27)
All who are called by God to the ministry of the gospel solemnly commit to a life of joyful obedience and selfless service in order to glorify God and enrich his people. Therefore, a minister will:
Pursue Integrity
I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. (1 Chronicles 29:17)
• in personal character.
Exalt Christ, not self. Be honest, not exaggerating or overpromising; peace-loving, not contentious; patient, not volatile; diligent, not slothful. Avoid and, when necessary, report conflicts of interest and seek counsel.
• in personal care.
Care for the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical dimensions of your person, for “your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
• in preaching and teaching.
Interpret the Bible accurately and apply it discerningly: “In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:7-8). Speak the truth in love. Give due credit when using the words or ideas of others.
Be Trustworthy
It is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. (1 Corinthians 4:2)
• in leadership.
Model the trustworthiness of God in leadership to encourage and develop trustworthiness in others. Use power and influence prudently and humbly. Foster loyalty. Demonstrate a commitment to the well-being of the entire congregation. Keep promises. Respond sensitively and appropriately to ministry requests and needs: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever
is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10).
• with information.
Guard confidences carefully. Inform a person in advance, if possible, when an admission is about to be made that might legally require the disclosure of that information. Communicate truthfully and discreetly when asked about individuals with destructive or sinful behavior patterns. Tell the truth, or remain discreetly silent: “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret” (Proverbs 11:13).
• with resources.
Be honest and prudent in regard to personal and ministry resources. Refuse gifts that could compromise ministry. Ensure that all designated gifts are used for their intended purpose: “If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:11).
Seek Purity
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)
• in maintaining sexual purity.
Avoid sinful sexual behavior and inappropriate involvement. Resist temptation: “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality” (Ephesians 5:3a).
• in spiritual formation.
Earnestly seek the help of the Holy Spirit for guidance and spiritual growth. Be faithful to maintain a heart of devotion to the Lord. Be consistent and intentional in prayer and scriptural study: “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
• in theology.
Study the Bible regularly and carefully to understand its message, and embrace biblical doctrine. In forming theology, consider biblical teaching authoritative over all other sources.
• in professional practice.
Identify a minister/counselor who can provide personal counseling and advice when needed. Develop an awareness of personal needs and vulnerabilities. Avoid taking advantage of the vulnerabilities of others through exploitation or manipulation. Address the misconduct of another clergy member directly or, if necessary, through appropriate persons to whom that member of the clergy may be accountable.
Embrace Accountability
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (1 Peter 5:2-3)
• in finances.
Promote accepted accounting practices and regular audits. Ensure that church funds are used for their intended ministry purposes.
• in ministry responsibilities.
Ensure clarity in authority structures, decision-making procedures, position descriptions, and grievance policies. Model accountability at the highest organizational levels.
• in a denomination or a ministry organization.
Ensure compliance with denominational standards and expectations, including regular reports.

Facilitate Fairness
Believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. . Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2:1-4)
• with staff.
Follow approved church and denomination practices in staff selection processes. Advocate for equitable pay and benefits for staff. Provide regular staff team building, affirmation, training, evaluation, and feedback. Be honest with staff regarding areas to celebrate as well as those needing improvement.
• with parishioners.
Ensure appropriate access to staff by parishioners. Preach and teach to meet the needs of the entire congregation. Assume responsibility for congregational health. When asked for help beyond personal competence, refer others to those with requisite expertise.
• with the community.
Build God’s Kingdom in cooperation, not competition, with other local ministries. Provide Christian ministries to the public as possible. Encourage good citizenship.
• with a prior congregation.
Do not recruit parishioners from a previous church without permission from the pastor. Avoid interfering in the ministry of a previous congregation.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Joe

    Seems to me that Holy Scripture has this covered.

  • Joe

    Seems to me that Holy Scripture has this covered.

  • fws

    Being a pastor is exactly the same as any vocation such as janitor, husband, wife, plumber, attorney, IRS agent etc.

    Nothing wrong with an ethical code. And nothing required either. Earthly wisdom should govern.

    Not to impressed with this one however. Not specific enough.

  • fws

    Being a pastor is exactly the same as any vocation such as janitor, husband, wife, plumber, attorney, IRS agent etc.

    Nothing wrong with an ethical code. And nothing required either. Earthly wisdom should govern.

    Not to impressed with this one however. Not specific enough.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    Joe is right.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    Joe is right.

  • Rev. Jon Bakker

    While it’s not perfect (nor is it binding; district is advisory :-) ), the LCMS MI District has two sets of ethical guidelines; one for churchworkers, and the other for congregations. You can find them on http://www.michigandistrict.org – study materials are also available.

    They’re not bad at all, and were not adopted without much study and feedback from workers throughout the district, and the study materials are helpful. I don’t know if any congregations have adopted them, but in the event ethical questions arise in our ‘life together’, they provide a good framework for discussion, and certainly give both pastor and congregation plenty of opportunity to pause and examine themselves in light of their corresponding vocations.

  • Rev. Jon Bakker

    While it’s not perfect (nor is it binding; district is advisory :-) ), the LCMS MI District has two sets of ethical guidelines; one for churchworkers, and the other for congregations. You can find them on http://www.michigandistrict.org – study materials are also available.

    They’re not bad at all, and were not adopted without much study and feedback from workers throughout the district, and the study materials are helpful. I don’t know if any congregations have adopted them, but in the event ethical questions arise in our ‘life together’, they provide a good framework for discussion, and certainly give both pastor and congregation plenty of opportunity to pause and examine themselves in light of their corresponding vocations.

  • http://fivepintlutheran2.wordpress.com/ David Cochrane

    Yes St Stephen, Joe nailed it.

    The last bit about not recruiting members from another church. If the church is heterodox, not proclaiming repentance and forgiveness as Jesus commanded or some such it is a pastors duty to inform them of truth. The Gospel saves those who believe. Better to do that then to let the person become offended and deny the faith.

  • http://fivepintlutheran2.wordpress.com/ David Cochrane

    Yes St Stephen, Joe nailed it.

    The last bit about not recruiting members from another church. If the church is heterodox, not proclaiming repentance and forgiveness as Jesus commanded or some such it is a pastors duty to inform them of truth. The Gospel saves those who believe. Better to do that then to let the person become offended and deny the faith.

  • fws

    david cochrane @ 5

    What you stated is contrary to the Lutheran Confessions. The Confessions fully recognize that God himself has set the pope and roman catholic priests as rulers and pastors of their flock.

    What you suggest doesn’t look like an acknowledgement of that as a given fact in Holy Scriptures. I hope I am misunderstanding what you said dear brother.

  • fws

    david cochrane @ 5

    What you stated is contrary to the Lutheran Confessions. The Confessions fully recognize that God himself has set the pope and roman catholic priests as rulers and pastors of their flock.

    What you suggest doesn’t look like an acknowledgement of that as a given fact in Holy Scriptures. I hope I am misunderstanding what you said dear brother.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com John

    I tend to think of this as a reaction to seminaries and worship cultures that put intellectual knowledge and “doctrine” ahead of personal spiritual growth (which I believe can only truly happen within the church). On the other hand, when dealing with a group as large and disparate as “evangelical”, there is probably going to be a lowest common factor thing going on.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com John

    I tend to think of this as a reaction to seminaries and worship cultures that put intellectual knowledge and “doctrine” ahead of personal spiritual growth (which I believe can only truly happen within the church). On the other hand, when dealing with a group as large and disparate as “evangelical”, there is probably going to be a lowest common factor thing going on.

  • Dust

    It’s sad :(

    But this is what these large, committee kind of groups like to do…define exactly how everyone “below” them is to behave, as if those lowly folks can’t figure it out themselves.

    It’s sort of a global epidemic nowadays….what with the UN trying to impose it’s will on everyone, or our congress, etc. all the way down to the school principle…the rules and regulations telling teachers exactly what to do in the classroom and leaving out any room for individuality or creativity…am even pretty sure it’s even infected some prestige professions such as medicine, in so far as docs need to “doc”ument every little thing and follow each and every procedure to the letter. Very little room here for individuality and creativity or responsibility….very little trust that the little guy can do the right thing without help from big brother?

    Seems people who see themselves at the top of some group feel the need to make everyone else below them conform to their standards all in the name of making the world a better place, and oh not to mention, making themselves feel really important and special…it’s like 21st century pharisees gone wild?

    It’s sad :(

  • Dust

    It’s sad :(

    But this is what these large, committee kind of groups like to do…define exactly how everyone “below” them is to behave, as if those lowly folks can’t figure it out themselves.

    It’s sort of a global epidemic nowadays….what with the UN trying to impose it’s will on everyone, or our congress, etc. all the way down to the school principle…the rules and regulations telling teachers exactly what to do in the classroom and leaving out any room for individuality or creativity…am even pretty sure it’s even infected some prestige professions such as medicine, in so far as docs need to “doc”ument every little thing and follow each and every procedure to the letter. Very little room here for individuality and creativity or responsibility….very little trust that the little guy can do the right thing without help from big brother?

    Seems people who see themselves at the top of some group feel the need to make everyone else below them conform to their standards all in the name of making the world a better place, and oh not to mention, making themselves feel really important and special…it’s like 21st century pharisees gone wild?

    It’s sad :(

  • DonS

    I’m with Joe on this one also. Scripture is our Code of Ethics — feel free to read books about being a good pastor, but there is no need to substitute an uninspired human code for the inspired Word of God as our reference source.

    These types of ethical codes are necessary in professions, like my own, where most of the practitioners do not acknowledge the authority of Scripture. But God forbid they become necessary or advisable for pastors.

  • DonS

    I’m with Joe on this one also. Scripture is our Code of Ethics — feel free to read books about being a good pastor, but there is no need to substitute an uninspired human code for the inspired Word of God as our reference source.

    These types of ethical codes are necessary in professions, like my own, where most of the practitioners do not acknowledge the authority of Scripture. But God forbid they become necessary or advisable for pastors.

  • Abby

    I’m with Joe and Don S : Amen. This code/law comes up far short actually. I don’t see a bit of grace expressed anywhere. Is there to be no grace if a pastor messes up? It reads like a “contract.” And I like how Dust expresses her thoughts. When I read it I could see all kinds of “constitutions,” “organization charts,” “job descriptions,” from a corporate standpoint. Now, a large organization needs these things to operate — but a church? I guess I’m too old. Most of the pastors I have been under never had a job description given by a congregation. Neither did any employees. (I being one.) They knew what was right and wrong from the teaching and practice of Scripture. And if a behaviorial question arose, the elders and pastor took it up and handled it. Church work is “messy.” (Where is Matthew 18 and other NT descriptions of
    confrontation/forgiveness?) There is no getting around it — even with a code of ethics. Because everyone is a sinner. But God’s grace does and should abound.

    I also thought it was interesting to read who already signed this code.

  • Abby

    I’m with Joe and Don S : Amen. This code/law comes up far short actually. I don’t see a bit of grace expressed anywhere. Is there to be no grace if a pastor messes up? It reads like a “contract.” And I like how Dust expresses her thoughts. When I read it I could see all kinds of “constitutions,” “organization charts,” “job descriptions,” from a corporate standpoint. Now, a large organization needs these things to operate — but a church? I guess I’m too old. Most of the pastors I have been under never had a job description given by a congregation. Neither did any employees. (I being one.) They knew what was right and wrong from the teaching and practice of Scripture. And if a behaviorial question arose, the elders and pastor took it up and handled it. Church work is “messy.” (Where is Matthew 18 and other NT descriptions of
    confrontation/forgiveness?) There is no getting around it — even with a code of ethics. Because everyone is a sinner. But God’s grace does and should abound.

    I also thought it was interesting to read who already signed this code.

  • fws

    don @ 9
    “scripture is our code of ethics”. Nope. Apply that to the vocations of policeman, judge, attorney,mayor, etc.
    Scripture is a testimony about Christ. Christ did not come to be the new Moses. Men have the Divine Law of God written and revealed in their Reason (Rom 2:15). Aristotle works for morality as good as or even better than the Bible.

    Abby @ 10

    It is Law Abby. There is not supposed to be any Gospel in it. It is meant to accuse, correct, and restrain. What.. so poop scoop ordinances and litter laws, and the IRS code and contract Law and other Law are defective if there is not a word of Gospel in them? No.

    Being a pastor is NO different in this matter than are any other vocation that is meant to govern and bear the sword of the Law, such as meter maids, mayor, IRS auditors etc etc.

    There is nothing at all wrong with rules placed upon pastors by their superiors.

  • fws

    don @ 9
    “scripture is our code of ethics”. Nope. Apply that to the vocations of policeman, judge, attorney,mayor, etc.
    Scripture is a testimony about Christ. Christ did not come to be the new Moses. Men have the Divine Law of God written and revealed in their Reason (Rom 2:15). Aristotle works for morality as good as or even better than the Bible.

    Abby @ 10

    It is Law Abby. There is not supposed to be any Gospel in it. It is meant to accuse, correct, and restrain. What.. so poop scoop ordinances and litter laws, and the IRS code and contract Law and other Law are defective if there is not a word of Gospel in them? No.

    Being a pastor is NO different in this matter than are any other vocation that is meant to govern and bear the sword of the Law, such as meter maids, mayor, IRS auditors etc etc.

    There is nothing at all wrong with rules placed upon pastors by their superiors.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    If they mean “don’t recruit from a church” in the sense of sheep stealing, then it is indeed wrong.

    But, fws, I have to take issue with not taking people from the RCC. The RCC teaches a perverse gospel of works-righteousness and includes idolatry in its saint-veneration. The RCC is antichrist. Yes, there may be Christians among her ranks, but that is in spite of the RCC doctrine, not because of it.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    If they mean “don’t recruit from a church” in the sense of sheep stealing, then it is indeed wrong.

    But, fws, I have to take issue with not taking people from the RCC. The RCC teaches a perverse gospel of works-righteousness and includes idolatry in its saint-veneration. The RCC is antichrist. Yes, there may be Christians among her ranks, but that is in spite of the RCC doctrine, not because of it.

  • Joe

    Frank — Scripture pretty clearly lays out the qualifications and duties of those who hold the pastoral office. That was what my comment was intended to convey.

  • Joe

    Frank — Scripture pretty clearly lays out the qualifications and duties of those who hold the pastoral office. That was what my comment was intended to convey.

  • Morgan

    @fws – A nit to pick:
    “Christ did not come to be the new Moses.”

    I get your point, but I think you’ve blown this one because that’s precisely what Jesus is. From Acts 3, quoting Deuteronomy 18:15:

    “[The Christ] has been appointed for you—even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. “

  • Morgan

    @fws – A nit to pick:
    “Christ did not come to be the new Moses.”

    I get your point, but I think you’ve blown this one because that’s precisely what Jesus is. From Acts 3, quoting Deuteronomy 18:15:

    “[The Christ] has been appointed for you—even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. “

  • fws

    J Dean @ 12

    This was actually a really important question for Lutherans at the time of the Augsburg Confession. The Romans were saying that they were the church, so to separate from them was to separate from THE church.

    Put yourself back then. This was not a trivial issue. Lutherans vs 1500 years of having only one church in western europe.

    And so what was their response? A reverse anathema? That is, to say that Rome was outside the Church? No. Augustana and Apology articles VII and VIII were their response.

    Here they make a distinction between Law and G0spel in the form of Two Kingdoms.

    On earth they say God has established 3 Earthly Governments called Matrimony to rule the household, the Holy Catholic Church to rule all who are baptized, and Society to rule everyone in their relationship to their neighbor.

    The Holy Catholic church is governed by outward rites and ceremonies. It is scattered over the earth unbound by secular borders, ethnicity, language etc. It consists of both hipocrites and true believers. And only in this government will also be found the Communion of Saints which is all true believers.

    The Confessions say that this is a most comforting doctrine, because we can know that the church will always be preserved in , with and under this visible HCC even though it seems to have entirely disappeared. there will always be those 7000 who have not bent the knee to baal.

    So the Lutherans said that even the Antichrist , the Pope, must be recognized as having authority over his flock as a bishop at rome not just by human but by Divine right. His rule over the church at large, only by human right and order.

  • fws

    J Dean @ 12

    This was actually a really important question for Lutherans at the time of the Augsburg Confession. The Romans were saying that they were the church, so to separate from them was to separate from THE church.

    Put yourself back then. This was not a trivial issue. Lutherans vs 1500 years of having only one church in western europe.

    And so what was their response? A reverse anathema? That is, to say that Rome was outside the Church? No. Augustana and Apology articles VII and VIII were their response.

    Here they make a distinction between Law and G0spel in the form of Two Kingdoms.

    On earth they say God has established 3 Earthly Governments called Matrimony to rule the household, the Holy Catholic Church to rule all who are baptized, and Society to rule everyone in their relationship to their neighbor.

    The Holy Catholic church is governed by outward rites and ceremonies. It is scattered over the earth unbound by secular borders, ethnicity, language etc. It consists of both hipocrites and true believers. And only in this government will also be found the Communion of Saints which is all true believers.

    The Confessions say that this is a most comforting doctrine, because we can know that the church will always be preserved in , with and under this visible HCC even though it seems to have entirely disappeared. there will always be those 7000 who have not bent the knee to baal.

    So the Lutherans said that even the Antichrist , the Pope, must be recognized as having authority over his flock as a bishop at rome not just by human but by Divine right. His rule over the church at large, only by human right and order.

  • http://schn00dles.wordpress.com/ Carl Nelson

    The thing has a secular aroma to it. It feels as if it’s written in response to some legal ramifications. God tends to toss us in with all sorts, pastors and parishoners alike.

  • http://schn00dles.wordpress.com/ Carl Nelson

    The thing has a secular aroma to it. It feels as if it’s written in response to some legal ramifications. God tends to toss us in with all sorts, pastors and parishoners alike.

  • Grace

    Joe @ 1

    You made it plain and clear.

    Holy Scripture has this covered

    They certainly do.

    Being a pastor is a special calling in leading the flock. Just like the Apostles who were chosen by the LORD Jesus Christ, a man called to preach and teach the Gospel.

    12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;

    13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
    1 Thessalonians 5

    This passage points to the LORD calling them to preach – God chooses who HE will, to teach and preach, it is a gift, a calling from the LORD –

    And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
    Acts 16:10

  • Grace

    Joe @ 1

    You made it plain and clear.

    Holy Scripture has this covered

    They certainly do.

    Being a pastor is a special calling in leading the flock. Just like the Apostles who were chosen by the LORD Jesus Christ, a man called to preach and teach the Gospel.

    12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;

    13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
    1 Thessalonians 5

    This passage points to the LORD calling them to preach – God chooses who HE will, to teach and preach, it is a gift, a calling from the LORD –

    And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
    Acts 16:10

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    On the one hand, they have assembled a nice collection of passages on the subject. On the other, once you assemble something like this, it tends to become primary. Each point will tend receive the same emphasis as every other point. Points not covered will tend to be forgotten. Tools like this are often helpful when everybody is ignorant of Scripture. They give people a good starting point. They point them to texts they would not have found on their own. But they also often make it difficult to go beyond the reach of the tool.

    I also have to wonder what Christians from other eras would make of some of the wording. For instance: “Provide regular staff team building, affirmation, training, evaluation, and feedback.” This strikes my ear as a bit odd even now. It makes current business models normative. (Even in the church we can’t get away from the world of Office Space.) This kind of language might be even more difficult to get rid of if it’s enshrined in a code of ethics. How might this have been worded if we had used more Scriptural language? Or would these have even been the categories?

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    On the one hand, they have assembled a nice collection of passages on the subject. On the other, once you assemble something like this, it tends to become primary. Each point will tend receive the same emphasis as every other point. Points not covered will tend to be forgotten. Tools like this are often helpful when everybody is ignorant of Scripture. They give people a good starting point. They point them to texts they would not have found on their own. But they also often make it difficult to go beyond the reach of the tool.

    I also have to wonder what Christians from other eras would make of some of the wording. For instance: “Provide regular staff team building, affirmation, training, evaluation, and feedback.” This strikes my ear as a bit odd even now. It makes current business models normative. (Even in the church we can’t get away from the world of Office Space.) This kind of language might be even more difficult to get rid of if it’s enshrined in a code of ethics. How might this have been worded if we had used more Scriptural language? Or would these have even been the categories?

  • fws

    rick @ 18

    Interesting point.
    I would take a different tack. The church is a government in the same sense as any other. I am told that pastoral vestments are the uniform of a 3rd century roman mayor. Whether true or not this makes sense.

    So the problem is not bringing the “secular” into “sacred” space (nor are you suggesting that knowing you…). There is no such distinction.

    It is the short memory of american christianity making the church mimic down to the last detail corporate ettiquette. Marketing. Motivation. Code of Ethics. Even pastors with hawaiian shirts behind plexiglas lecturns with giant graphics resemble. remarkably so, an Apple Corp developer’s conference.

  • fws

    rick @ 18

    Interesting point.
    I would take a different tack. The church is a government in the same sense as any other. I am told that pastoral vestments are the uniform of a 3rd century roman mayor. Whether true or not this makes sense.

    So the problem is not bringing the “secular” into “sacred” space (nor are you suggesting that knowing you…). There is no such distinction.

    It is the short memory of american christianity making the church mimic down to the last detail corporate ettiquette. Marketing. Motivation. Code of Ethics. Even pastors with hawaiian shirts behind plexiglas lecturns with giant graphics resemble. remarkably so, an Apple Corp developer’s conference.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many’” (Matthew 20:25-28).

    Here we are told that the church’s government is NOT to be like any other. And I think that where we adopt the outer accoutrements of the age, we tend to follow the spirit of the age. If the pastoral vestments are the uniform of a 3rd century mayor, that was probably a problem for third century pastors. It ceases to be a problem once people forget what the meaning was. On the other hand, the shepherd’s staff is a good reminder of the nature of the office. So I prefer either vestments whose meaning has been forgotten, or those that directly reference Biblical truths.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many’” (Matthew 20:25-28).

    Here we are told that the church’s government is NOT to be like any other. And I think that where we adopt the outer accoutrements of the age, we tend to follow the spirit of the age. If the pastoral vestments are the uniform of a 3rd century mayor, that was probably a problem for third century pastors. It ceases to be a problem once people forget what the meaning was. On the other hand, the shepherd’s staff is a good reminder of the nature of the office. So I prefer either vestments whose meaning has been forgotten, or those that directly reference Biblical truths.

  • fws

    Rick Ritchey @ 20

    The passage you quoted was 100% Law.

    This was a most appropriate passage to chose.

    The Holy Catholic Church as well is about all we can see and do, which is also 100% Law. God uses his Law to accuse and kill and extort Goodness and Mercy out of Pastors in the form of the right administration (more law) of Word and Sacraments. All Law. All the time. No Gospel there. Just as there is no Gospel in the passage you quoted.

    In, with and under it, in a way that cannot be seen is the Communion of Saints, which is where God rules for Goodness and Mercy to happen among men alone by the Mercy that is the Work of Christ.

  • fws

    Rick Ritchey @ 20

    The passage you quoted was 100% Law.

    This was a most appropriate passage to chose.

    The Holy Catholic Church as well is about all we can see and do, which is also 100% Law. God uses his Law to accuse and kill and extort Goodness and Mercy out of Pastors in the form of the right administration (more law) of Word and Sacraments. All Law. All the time. No Gospel there. Just as there is no Gospel in the passage you quoted.

    In, with and under it, in a way that cannot be seen is the Communion of Saints, which is where God rules for Goodness and Mercy to happen among men alone by the Mercy that is the Work of Christ.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    Your point might be that church government is Law like secular government. But there is a difference between good and bad Law.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    Your point might be that church government is Law like secular government. But there is a difference between good and bad Law.

  • fws

    Rick @ 20

    You are both right and wrong I suggest. The HCC is different than any other government. But you are wrong , I suggest, as to how it is different.

    The difference is not about outward chain of command or top down authority or the deliberate avoidance of that. (cf Large catechism 4th commandment).

    The Holy Catholic Church is a government just like any other in that it is bound and held together by outward rites and rituals. (augustana and apology VII and VIII) It has it’s Laws. We call those doctrines (cf preface to the catechisms here).

    But there is a difference, you are right, between the government/ordo of Church versus the other two Divine Orders/Ordos/governments of Matrimony and Society.

    What is that difference? It is that alone the Communion of Saints is to be certain to be found alone where the visible marks of the Church are found. And those marks are not about church discipline, which is what that passage, that is totally Law that you cited would suggest. The Reformed and Rome , as you know, consider church discipline as a mark of the Church. Lutherans do not.

  • fws

    Rick @ 20

    You are both right and wrong I suggest. The HCC is different than any other government. But you are wrong , I suggest, as to how it is different.

    The difference is not about outward chain of command or top down authority or the deliberate avoidance of that. (cf Large catechism 4th commandment).

    The Holy Catholic Church is a government just like any other in that it is bound and held together by outward rites and rituals. (augustana and apology VII and VIII) It has it’s Laws. We call those doctrines (cf preface to the catechisms here).

    But there is a difference, you are right, between the government/ordo of Church versus the other two Divine Orders/Ordos/governments of Matrimony and Society.

    What is that difference? It is that alone the Communion of Saints is to be certain to be found alone where the visible marks of the Church are found. And those marks are not about church discipline, which is what that passage, that is totally Law that you cited would suggest. The Reformed and Rome , as you know, consider church discipline as a mark of the Church. Lutherans do not.

  • fws

    Rich ritchey @ 22

    My point is , of course to repeat the same law gospel distinction as that found in apology VII and VIII.

    And the point of that is that the Communion of Saints must be believed to exist even when the laws of the church are very very very bad and far far removed from looking like what that Law passage you quoted suggests.

    As you know, I identify that passage as Law following what FC says on law and gospel. the Gospel is often used to illustrate Law. Illustration of the Law with Gospel does not turn Law into Gospel. I am just putting this out there for readers of our exchange. The Corinthian passage on marriage is another great example of this. Marriage is pure law and mortification. The Gospel illustration merely is intended to drive home just how true that is.

  • fws

    Rich ritchey @ 22

    My point is , of course to repeat the same law gospel distinction as that found in apology VII and VIII.

    And the point of that is that the Communion of Saints must be believed to exist even when the laws of the church are very very very bad and far far removed from looking like what that Law passage you quoted suggests.

    As you know, I identify that passage as Law following what FC says on law and gospel. the Gospel is often used to illustrate Law. Illustration of the Law with Gospel does not turn Law into Gospel. I am just putting this out there for readers of our exchange. The Corinthian passage on marriage is another great example of this. Marriage is pure law and mortification. The Gospel illustration merely is intended to drive home just how true that is.

  • fws

    rick @ 22

    I think we agree that application of corporate methods and rules to the Church is worse than bad law. Why? It seeks Life in doing the work of the Church rather than death and Mortification.

    Mortification doesn’t look good as a metric .

  • fws

    rick @ 22

    I think we agree that application of corporate methods and rules to the Church is worse than bad law. Why? It seeks Life in doing the work of the Church rather than death and Mortification.

    Mortification doesn’t look good as a metric .

  • Fws
  • Fws
  • Stephen K

    I’d just prefer if they made a code stating:

    Pastors please forgive sins, preach Christ, baptise and admin TLS.

    Oh ya, try to behave yourselves. And WHEN you fail, Christ forgives you as well!

  • Stephen K

    I’d just prefer if they made a code stating:

    Pastors please forgive sins, preach Christ, baptise and admin TLS.

    Oh ya, try to behave yourselves. And WHEN you fail, Christ forgives you as well!


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