Sunday, December 21, 2008

when self feeding becomes a pastors nightmare, people thinking for themselves and not agreeing with you. :)

One of the curiosities about self-feeding is that when it is prescribed it seems to come up in cases where you would think that self-feeding might actually be what you DON'T want if you're in church leadership. The paradox, the tension afoot in self-feeding is that if someone is a strong enough of a Christian with a strong enough of a personal walk with the Lord and knowledge of Scripture to feed themselves what do they need you for, the pastor? A pastor may understand his (or her, in some denominations) role to be putting the food and milk of the Gospel out there for people to partake of. That's the thing, if you are being like Peter and tasked with feeding the sheep then if the sheep can feed themselves who needs you? Certainly not God and arguably not the sheep!

If the sheep are smart enough to feed themselves (and I'll leave most of the humor and irony involved in this statement unexplored for now) then a pastor who aspires to have sheep who can feed themselves is aspiring to obsolescence, to not having a job. Think about it, if the role of the pastor is to tell people to feed themselves then the more they decide to feed themselves the less they have need of a pastor to tell them what is food or not. In churches that appeal to a common authority that must be agreed to on catechisjm/confessional grounds, then what is considered food and milk acceptable to eat and drink becomes clear.

For instance, what if a person studies the Scriptures and meditates on the Word and discerns that infant baptism is great and biblical and should be done but the pastoral leadership doesn't see it that way? Does the man who ascribes to infant baptism suddenly stop being a self-feeder and a divisive man who is dead weight to the local church? Pastors who want self-feeders should be careful what they wish for and Orthodox and Catholics might rush to point out that this is where most schisms tend to happen. I'm just cynical enough about church history that I'm not sure it's quite that simple, either, but the joke stands on its own. It is often the case that pastors want the flock to feed themselves just so long as everyone agrees on what food is.

Which is why confessional and creedal language is so valuable. If certain pastors did not feel a need to avoid confessional and creedal language in favor of reinventing the wheel then there would be less room for misunderstanding and for articulating would appear to be ostensibly orthodox Christian talking points in a way that is not as orthodox as first appears if one reads them without presupposing a staggering amount of doctrine.

Which I will get to in a different post.

1 comment:

Matt J. said...

Right on. Self-feed, but not too much... Again, the creeds are useful here. Just about everywhere I've ever been could turn up the credo.