This article challenges the present popular organizational structure of the Christian Church. Arguing from the biblical and historical perspectives and using biblical typology as its interpretative tool, the article holds that clericalization of the Christian Church is not and cannot be the structure Christ intended for His Church because of its problematic nature. The article further concludes that contrary to what Christ intended for his Church, clericalization of the Church has led to both franchization and privatization of the Christian Church for prosperity or money-making purposes at the expense of the Good News of salvation and the ultimate establishment of the kingdom of God as taught by the early Church.
Key Words: ministerial priesthood, clericalization, Christian church, franchization, privatization of the Christian Church, declericalized.
Christianity is one of the major world religions with the highest number of adherents (McDowell & Brown, 2009; McManners, 1990). It is estimated that the Christian population is currently around two billion, which is roughly a third of the world’s population (Woodhead, 2009). During its early days, the religion started like a house on fire, spreading in all directions of the globe (Bruce, 1970). It rapidly spread beyond its original area of Roman-occupied Palestine into the whole of Mediterranean region (McGrath, 2005; Gonzalez, 1984; Neill, 1970). To this day, this remarkable growth has remained unparalleled in the history of the Christian Church. Concerned with the kind of retardation experienced in Christianity in recent years, some people have wondered:
How did it happen that the followers of Jesus, who were obscure provincial Galileans and Judeans, became world figures? What changed the timidity that drove these men to denial and flight at the crucifixion into a boldness that made them stalwart apologists for a new faith? How did preachers who were confessedly “unlearned and ignorant men” (Acts 4:13) make such an impact on the world that they created an entirely new culture that reshaped the face of all Western civilization? (Tenney, 1998: 231).
These questions find their answers in the book of Acts. The rapid spread of the Apostles’ teaching, spoken of in the above quotation, was experienced at the time when the Christian Church was run by ordinary believers as missionaries under the leadership of the Apostles as its elders (Barclay, 1993; Biggs, 1974; Chadwick, 1974). These were simple people with a simple message. Their message centered on the death and resurrection of the Messiah (Christ) and what these two events meant for the ordinary people in the light of the Messianic prophesies as found in the Torah (Kee, 1990). This was a straightforward message that was narrated with passion and which was a living experience to those who had interacted with the Messiah at personal level during his earthly life (Neill, 1970; Acts 2:14-41). These early Christian believers worked as a team with no one daring to impose his ideas or teaching on others (Acts 2:42-47). When a problem occurred, it was solved together and only after much deliberation were they able to settle on what they considered the best solution (Acts 15). They generally lived what they preached because they taught out of conviction that Jesus was, indeed the promised Messiah (Acts 5:29-32).
This state of affairs did not, however, continue for long. As the Church continued to grow, a need to have it reorganized arose (Walker, 1992). It was while it was being reorganized that it gradually became a clericalized church with some believers claiming superiority and more power over others. According to Urubshurow:
In the second and third centuries the Christian Church grew into a formal institution that gradually became more and more powerful. Three categories of ministry evolved: deacon, presbyter, and bishop. Bishops were elder presbyters, and popes were drawn from among them – after 1054 when the Bishop of Rome broke from the Bishops of the Byzantine Empire (2008:105).
What used to be a rapidly growing church became a stagnant squabbling church where some believers claimed superiority and more power while others earned themselves such derogatory names as heretics (Schwarz, 1995). In this situation one man could easily turn his own teaching into the church’s teaching and threaten those who disagreed with him with excommunication (Gonzalez, 1984). History of the Christian Church is littered with instances of this nature (McSorley, 1947). The whole situation created so much dissatisfaction among some members of the church that many decided to leave the church and form their own new Christian communities which ultimately became independent churches (Urubshurow, 2008). That was the beginning of the fragmentation of the Christian Church. The church experienced one schism after another. Today no religion is as fragmented as the Christian Religion. New Christian Church denominations that are run by self-appointed pastors and bishops mushroom in their thousands the world over. The Christian Church today abounds with doctrines which are not only diverse, but are also contradicting one another. Those who cannot stand this confusing state of affairs in the Church are leaving this religion for other religions of the world – the situation which appears to go against Jesus’ teaching that the Gospel should be taken to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:19-20).
In the midst of all this, the question this article is seeking to address is: Given that the problems of the Christian Church appear to have started with its clericalization, was it ever the intention of Jesus to have a clericalized church under the New Covenant? Given its divisive effect on the unity of the Christian Church in both doctrine and mission, is clericalization of the Christian Church something that is biblically justifiable? Through a critical analysis of various relevant biblical texts and using biblical typology as its interpretative tool, the article will attempt to address the above questions.
Typology is a method of biblical interpretation whereby an element found in the Old Testament is seen to prefigure one found in the New Testament. The initial one is called the type and the fulfillment is designated the antitype. Either type or antitype may be a person, thing, or event, but often the type is messianic and frequently related to the idea of salvation. The use of Biblical typology enjoyed greater popularity in previous centuries, although even now it is by no means ignored as a hermeneutic.
Typological interpretation is specifically the interpretation of the Old Testament based on the fundamental theological unity of the two Testaments whereby something in the Old shadows, prefigures, adumbrates something in the New. Hence, what is interpreted in the Old is not foreign or peculiar or hidden, but arises naturally out of the text due to the relationship of the two Testaments. (http://www.theopedia.com/biblical-typology)
Did Jesus Intend His Church to be Clericalized?
There is no scriptural evidence that Jesus intended his church to be clericalized, yet this is what the Christian Church has become today. The New Testament Scripture teaches that the clericalized Temple that operated in the Old Covenant was but “a copy and shadow of what is in Heaven” (Hebrews 8:5). It also teaches that Jesus now “serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by Yahweh not by man” (Hebrew 8:2) in Heaven not only as the High Priest (Hebrews 8:1) but also as the sole mediator between Yahweh and His people (1 Timothy 2:5). Yahweh calls this new setting a New Covenant with His people (Hebrew 8:8) for the Scripture says: “by calling this covenant ‘new’, He has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and ageing will soon disappear” (Hebrews 8:13). These prophetic words of the Scripture were ultimately fulfilled when the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD (Wijngaards, 1981) as prophesied by Jesus (Luke 20: 9-18) and was, to this day, never rebuilt. The Scripture further states that with Jesus being the new High Priest and the only mediator between Humankind and the Creator, “the former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to our God” (Hebrews 8:18-19). The Jerusalem Temple worship was a system that was mainly composed of animal sacrifices, ministerial priesthood and its regulatory framework. Therefore the destruction of this temple in 70 CE, in essence, meant that the animal sacrifices, ministerial priesthood, and its regulatory framework had also been done away with because of their being integral to the Temple.
In the light of the above, it would appear that the existence of or perpetuation of the ministerial priesthood in the Christian Church today is tantamount to misunderstanding the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. From the scriptural texts quoted above, it is clear that Christians, as people belonging to the New Covenant, no longer need priests to offer sacrifices or act as mediators between them and their Creator. As Knight (2009:163) correctly puts it:
The most sacred place in the Jewish religious system was the inner sanctuary of the tabernacle or temple, known as “the most holy”…which represented God’s holy and awesome presence. Only the high priest could enter this section of the temple, and even he could do so only once a year, on the Day of Atonement. On this special occasion, he offered a sacrifice – first for his own sins and then for the sins of the people (Leviticus 16:1-6).
When Jesus died on the cross, the heavy veil or curtain that sealed off this section of the temple was torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:50-51). This symbolized that all people now had access to God’s presence and forgiveness through the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus.
Jesus is now the perfect priest or Minister of the True Tabernacle in heaven. There, He conducts His ministry of intercession for all believers. “He is able to save completely those who come to God through him,” the writer of Hebrews declares, “because he always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 7:25).
From the foregone discussion, one message remains clear: with what a copy and shadow (animal sacrifices, ministerial priesthood, and its regulatory framework) pointed to now in place, namely, Christ, the High Priest of God’s Temple in Heaven, copies and shadows should go and give way to what they were meant to represent. Typologically speaking, they cannot be left to exist alongside each other. According to the Scriptures quoted above, the former regulation has been set aside. In other words, Jesus, the perfect Lamb of Yahweh has been sacrificed to take care of humankind’s sins once and for all. His is a sacrifice that needs not be repeated “because by one sacrifice He has made perfect for ever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14). What now remains of priesthood on earth is a common priesthood of all believers because a priestly duty of proclaiming the Good News (Romans 15:16) and of praying for each other is now given not to a few individuals with specialized knowledge (theological training) in the person of priests as was the situation in the Old Covenant, but to all who believe in Jesus as their collective responsibility (Matthew 28:19-20).
Aware of the imminent obsoleteness of the ministerial priesthood in the new dispensation, both Jesus and his Apostles began to use the word temple in a different sense from the way it had been understood all along. For example, Jesus began to use the word to refer to his body such as when He said “tear this temple and three days I will build it again” (Luke 20:1-8). Elsewhere the Apostle Paul used the word to refer to the body of an individual believer in Jesus or believers collectively taken together, not to the physical Jerusalem Temple anymore as was the case before (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 3:9; Ephesians 2:19-22; 2 Corinthians 6:16). It was with this new understanding of what the word ‘temple’ had come to mean that the Apostle Paul was able to say to believers in Jesus: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3: 16). It is probably with the same understanding that Yahweh has not made it possible for the Jerusalem Temple to be rebuilt to this day.
With the Jerusalem Temple gone, there is hardly any justification for continuing to have ministerial priesthood (as many Christian Church denominations are doing today); or for continuing to offer animal sacrifices (as many of the Zionist-type of Christian Church denominations in Africa are doing today) and perpetuating collection of tithes which, as has been seen, was part of the regulatory framework that regulated the Old Covenant Levitical priesthood (in the order of Aaron) whose place has been taken by Jesus’ priesthood which is in the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:11). Asked by the Samaritan woman whether it was better to worship in the Jerusalem Temple or on the Gerzim (John 4:20), Jesus answered by saying: “the time will come when men will not worship the Father either on this mountain or in Jerusalem…the real worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (John 4:20-24). In the light of everything said so far, it would look like by saying this, Jesus was making his disciples aware of the imminent commencement of a completely new way of worship which needed no special/ministerial priesthood, a special physical building called a temple or animal sacrifices. It looks like his disciples understood what He was trying to tell them for after disentangling themselves from their old Jewish religion (Judaism), they finally conducted worship in each other’s homes without any priests and animal sacrifices or collection of tithes.
The Acts of the Apostles portrays the first Christian community in Jerusalem as gathering in the temple colonnades and “breaking bread in their homes.” As the Christian message gained a wider hearing in eastern Mediterranean cities, early believers commonly met in the homes of the community’s more prominent members: Gaius, Titius Justus, and Stephanas at Corinth, Phoebe at Cenchcrea, Priscilla (Prisca) and Aquila at Ephesus, Nympha at Laodicea.
Though houses came in various styles and sizes, an atrium in a Roman villa (or a spacious dining room of a Greek house) would accommodate the needs of the small Christian communities. The account of Eutychus’ late-night plunge from his window seat suggests that, in Troas, the Christians met in the third-story dining room of a Greek house. ().
Logically speaking, when the whole goes, it goes with all its integral parts. Ministerial priesthood, animal sacrifices and tithing were the integral parts of the old Jerusalem Temple system. Therefore with that old Temple system gone, these (ministerial priesthood, animal sacrifices and tithing) too are to be considered gone. With ministerial priesthood gone, also go the positions of bishops, patriarchs and cardinals which draw membership from the ministerial priesthood.
To clericalize the Christian Church is to continue the Jerusalem Temple system and everything associated with it beyond its life span. Many of the houses of worship whose leaders are priests and bishops are generally referred to as temples and their setup is very much like that of the Jerusalem Temple in terms of furniture and liturgical arrangement including vestments — a clear indication that clericalization of the Christian Church is, indeed an attempt to continue the Jerusalem Temple system whose services, as seen above, were only there to point to Jesus Christ as the only perfect sacrifice and the actual High Priest typified by the Old Testament priesthood. Once that to whom they pointed to, namely, Jesus Christ, has accomplished his mission as he said he did when he died on the cross (John 19:30), the whole system should cease to exist. This is what appears to have been the teaching of Jesus as understood and continued by his disciples after his ascension into Heaven where he is now said to be the only ministerial Heavenly High Priest – “one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron” (Hebrews 7:11) serving in the heavenly temple (Hebrews 8:2) as the only mediator between Yahweh and His people (1 Timothy 2:5).
What about Having Pastors?
Other Christian Church denominations have evaded the use of the word ‘priest’ and are, instead, using the word ‘pastor’ to refer to their clergy because of the association of the word ‘priest’ with the Catholic understanding of the Lord’s Supper as re-enactment of Jesus’ sacrifice as opposed to the common Protestant understanding of it as a mere memorial service of Jesus’ redemptive work. A closer look at Christian Scriptures, however, shows that even this is not without problems. There is just nowhere in the Bible where it is said that the church should be administratively under the clergy called pastors. Even where the Apostle Paul gives what many consider to be a biblically sanctioned hierarchical structure of the Christian Church’s administration, no mention is made of pastors (1 Corinthians 12:27-28). Instead, we read from the Bible that wherever they established new Christian communities, the early followers of Jesus left such communities under the leadership of a team of elders and deacons (in some cases) whose qualifications were as spelt out in the writings of the Apostle Paul (1 Timothy 4:1-10; Titus 1:5-9). Christian communities were left under the care of a team of elders, not one elder. Given the number of doctrinal conflicts that have plagued the clericalized Christian Church overtime, it would appear that this was a prudent move on the part of the disciples. It made it difficult, if not impossible, for one person to mislead the entire congregation in the early Christian Church. It was an arrangement under which the early Christian Church remained undivided in both doctrine and purpose (Acts 1-28). This was probably because when the elders worked as a team over their congregation, they were in a position to correct one another when one of them went astray and misled the congregation with his teaching. It was the situation under which, for example, the Apostle Paul was able to oppose Peter when he did what Paul considered wrong as stated in the following Christian Scriptural text:
When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? (Galatians 2:11-14).
From what one reads from the history of the early Christian Church, as contained in the Christian Scriptures, it does not look like there was ever any office that was found to be above that of an elder in the early Christian Church. Even the Apostles who were supposed to be in the top leadership of the Christian Church (by virtue of having been appointed by Jesus Himself as His first-hand witnesses of everything He did and that happened to Him) never saw themselves as priests, pastors or bishops (in the sense of the clergy), but as fellow elders (in the sense of experienced ordinary believers in Jesus) with others in the church (1 Peter 5:1). Given the fact that the Apostle Paul places them (Apostles) at the top of the leadership service in the Christian Church (1 Corinthians 12:27-28), one would expect them to identify themselves as ministerial bishops (who today occupy the top structure of the clericalized Christian Church). But as said above, they never regarded themselves as anything other than mere elders to these communities. It was probably because of the elders’ prominent position in the church that when anyone was sick in the church it was said that “he should call the elders of the church to pray over him” (James 5:14). The question is: Why was the sick person not directed to call the Christian Church’s clergy in the person of priests, pastors or bishops? The reason is simple: there were no offices of pastors, priests or bishops in the early Christian Church. To tend or to shepherd (from which comes the word ‘pastor’) Yahweh’s flock and to oversee (from which comes the word ‘bishop’) were part of the job description for the early Christian Church elders. Shepherding and overseeing were never conceived of as separate or independent offices within the church. This is seen, for example, in the following words of the Apostle Peter addressed to the Christian Church elders:
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds (bolding mine) of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (1 Peter 5:1-4).
When one Christian community sent its help (in the form of money, food or clothes) to another Christian community, such assistance was sent to the Christian Church elders to receive it on behalf of their congregations because these (elders) were the highest governing body in the early church (Acts 11:30). There were no popes, patriarchs, cardinals, bishops, ministerial priests or pastors as found in the Christian Church today. When the Apostle Paul made his farewell speech in Ephesus, he made it before the Ephesian church elders (Acts 20:17-36), not before the popes, patriarchs, cardinals, bishops, ministerial priests or pastors because these were non-existent in the early church. These controversial and problematic offices are man-made offices in the Christian Church.
It is not very clear as to when exactly the ministerial priesthood was introduced into the Christian Church, but it is highly possible that it found its way into the Christian Church when two dominant groups of believers in the Christian Church started having two opposing conceptions of the Lord’s Supper observance: some regarding it as the memorial service of Jesus’ redemptive work in which believers proclaimed Jesus’ death until he comes again (1 Corinthians 11:26) while others saw it as the re-enactment or re-dramatization of the Jesus’ sacrifice. Some of these early believers had been adherents of Judaism before. They were therefore quite aware that there was no way they could talk of the Lord’s Supper as the re-enactment of Jesus’ sacrifice unless they had priests to do so as only priests could present a sacrifice to Yahweh according to Judaism. Therefore, to be able to validly offer such a sacrifice:
They required a new law to set over against the old law of Moses, a new service to take the place of the temple service of the Old Testament, a new daily sacrifice, "the new law's new oblation" instead of the sacrifices of Moses, a new ritual which after it had gradually grown complex enough was found to correspond bit by bit with the ritual of Jerusalem, and a new priesthood whose functions were to be not unlike the duties of the sons of Aaron ().
The question of whether or not this was what Jesus wanted for his Church, it would appear, never crossed their minds when they were doing all this. To justify their introduction of the ministerial priesthood into the Christian Church, a new understanding of what Jesus did on Thursday when He ate the Last Supper with His Disciples was developed. It was taught that when Jesus “took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19), he was actually instituting the sacrament of priesthood. They took this as true interpretation of what happened on that day even though Jesus himself never mentioned the word, ‘priest’ at that occasion and the Apostles and those who followed their teaching, celebrated the Lord’s Supper in their homes as a simple memorial of Jesus’ redemptive work that required no special church building or any special ministers in the person of priests/pastors or bishops (Acts 2:46) to officiate.
To justify the existence of the office of a pastor in their churches, some Christians have appealed to Ephesians 4:11 where pastors are mentioned as part of various groupings of believers that constitute the Christian community. A careful look at this word as used in this context, however, reveals that it is still used in reference to the church elders. Unlike the words ‘apostles’, ‘prophets’ and ‘evangelists’, which are also listed in the said text, the word ‘pastors’ is not mentioned alone, but it is paired with the word ‘teachers’. In other words, what the text appears to be saying is that apart from the apostles, prophets, and evangelists, there is also a fourth group of people who are both pastors and teachers in terms of what they do in the Christian Church as their work. That is, they tend/shepherd and teach the flock. Now, from what we have already seen in 1 Peter 5:1-4, tending or shepherding the flock is part of the job description for elders in the Christian Church. Teaching too is the job reserved for the church elders (1 Timothy 5:17). That being the case, it would appear that the word ‘pastors’ as used in Ephesians 4:11 refers to the role of the Christian Church elders in the community of believers, not to any special group of people to be called by that name.
Problems Associated with the Clericalization of the Christian Church
Clericalization of the church has led to both franchization and privatization of the Christian Church for prosperity or money-making purposes, not for salvation anymore. In this situation individual pastors or bishops, owning the so-called mega-churches, franchise the Church in order to generate income for their families through rigorous tithing.
One of the main causes of the Christian Church’s continued prolific fragmentation today is this tithing which is apparently used as a quick means of acquiring wealth by not only those considered to be genuine church leaders, but also by many shady characters who disguise themselves as ministers of religion and continuously rob many believers in Christianity of their money in the name of fulfilling a biblical obligation. When one watches religious programmes on television and listens to what Christian religious leaders preach on radio programmes, one cannot fail but to realize that in this world nothing has been taken advantage of and opportunistically used by pastors/priests/bishops to fragment the Christian Church on account of profit-making as is tithing. The degree that proponents of tithing manipulate Christians is more than most schemers in the world would dare to do, and they do it without shame, ignoring the Apostles statement that “since through Yahweh’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of Yahweh. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of Yahweh” (2 Corinthians 4:1-2).
It is even more absurd to have tithing collected by Christian Church denominations which are known to have no ministerial priesthood considering that it was only collected by priests in the Old Testament. The New Testament teaches that: “Each man should give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Apart from being to give under compulsion, tithing is also part of the Old Covenant regulatory framework that has been done away with in the New Covenant as already seen above (Hebrews 8:13). Christians never tithed in the early Christian Church, but gave freely to the Church. Belonging to a perfect covenant with better promises (Hebrews 8:6-13), it was better for them to give freely to the Church than to give out of compulsion, which was an imperfect way of giving under the old imperfect covenant. The entire Book of the Acts of the Apostles bears witness to this fact. Giving witness to this, the Apostle Paul wrote:
I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saint (2 Corinthians 8: 3-4).
Because it is a church whose primary purpose is prosperity or wealth accumulation, the running of the franchised and privatized Christian Church is done through family lines. When the father dies, the son inherits the church in order to continue the family’s business. When it comes to teaching in such churches, the emphasis is no longer on the Gospel of Salvation as taught by Jesus’ to his disciples, but on the Gospel of Prosperity. This is so because it appears that a motivating factor for the establishment of such churches is money-making through rigorous tithing and other many questionable ways such as counterfeit healings for which people pay in one way or another. Here it has to be remembered that according to the Christian Scriptures supernatural signs and wonders may be performed by some believers, but that does not mean they must be from God, for it is written that there will be a time in the history of the Christian Church when: “false Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). Speaking prophetically of the existence of such leaders in the Christian Church, the Apostle Paul said:
And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. (2 Corinthians 11:12-15).
The above discussion has made it abundantly clear that the Christian Church is supposed to be a declericalized church that should not be treated as a private property by any individual. According to the Christian Scriptures referred to above, the Christian Church is the church of Yahweh with Jesus, His Son as its Head; and is supposed to be under the guidance of the church elders, not the popes, patriarchs, cardinals, bishops, ministerial priests or pastors because these appear to be man-made structures. It is not supposed to be privately owned by any individuals. The moment it becomes a private property, such a church stops being the church of Yahweh. The Scripture condemns identification of the church of Yahweh with individuals (1 Corinthians 3:1-15). The Apostle Paul condemned this in Corinth when he said:
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Jesus.”
Is Jesus divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power (1 Corinthians 1:10-17).
Privatization of the Christian Church exposes Christians to all sorts of abuses by people who claim to be pastors when they are, strictly speaking, more of money-makers than pastors. Clericalized churches, especially those run by self-appointed clerics, have a potential to easily become a breeding ground for all sorts of abuses and misleading teachings due to lack of checks and balances found in the churches that are under collective leadership of their elders. A declericalized church is more likely to produce believers who are spiritually mature and well-grounded in their faith than a clericalized church, which more often than not, is characterized by an overdependence of believers upon their religious leader.
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