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12 Observations on Spiritual Authority
Just what I've noticed.
1. Pastors who abuse their authority are in sin, and pastors who persist unrepentantly in this sin are morally and spiritually disqualified from ministry.
2. The Bible does not minimize this sin. In fact, it warns that people in positions of spiritual authority will incur stricter judgment. (James 3:1)
3. In order to believe those with spiritual authority will incur stricter judgment, you have to also believe that spiritual authority exists.
4. If spiritual authority exists, it is possible for it to be used rightly.
5. There are times in life where spiritual authority can be used rightly while some will think it was used wrongly. The deeply felt convictions of who refuse to wear a mask in the store do not change the store’s right to enforce the rules, or the wisdom of the rule itself. Sincere opposition to authority does not automatically make the authority wrong.
6. There are teachings in the Bible that cause distress and anger in many people. Those teachings are often transmitted by teachers who are in some measure of spiritual authority as they transmit the teachings.
7. People in spiritual authority teach these controversial things, and consequently can incur the opposition of some who will accuse the teacher of abusing authority because what they taught from the Bible caused distress and anger.
8. The reality of #7 has led some in spiritual authority to assume that all distress and anger directed at them (or others in similar positions of authority) originated due to unbelief at hard teachings of the Bible. This assumption creates a blind spot in some teachers that can lead to disastrous, harmful consequences.
9. The reality of #8 has led some on the receiving end of spiritual authority to assume that the key ingredient in disastrous, harmful church cultures is always spiritual authority itself. This assumption leads them to reject #4, consequently fomenting a a kind of personal independence and autonomy that the Bible rejects.
10. Whether a person will be naturally cynical or supportive of spiritual authority in their life depends to a large degree on what spiritual authority has done to them or those close to them.
11. Lots of people have had situation #8 happen to them. Lots of people have had situation #9 happen to them.
12. It is impossible to speak to both groups of people at the same time on the Internet.