Wednesday, May 04, 2011

But what do I know? I'm just a layman.

I read those words in a Facebook comment this morning and few things are sadder or upset me more than the attitude in the church that those who are "just layman", i.e. those who don't have special religious education or special religious titles granted by some ecclesiastical organization are somehow irrelevant to the great conversations of the church. Those who are just "layman" don't have a voice. They just accept what is decided by the wisest and best educated among us.

Guess what? The apostles were "just layman". They had no formal theological training. They didn't have any fancy titles or ecclesiastical ordination. They were just regular guys with regular jobs who were called by Christ to be His sheep and to proclaim His message. Surely it was in a special and a unique way but the fact remains that their main "qualification" was being called and being witnesses.

This division between the professional learned class who makes the decisions and proclamations and the rest of the church that just mutely shrugs and accepts whatever they are told is unhealthy and tragic. There is a great deal of wisdom bottled up in the church in mature brothers and sisters who might not have a title or degree but who have a lifetime of humble servanthood. Likewise there is plenty of foolishness propagated by men with multiple degrees and ecclesiastical honorifics. We are never going to win the world with clever arguments or lengthy dissertations on theological minutiae, we will only see people won to Christ by the foolish proclamation of the cross proclaimed by the weak, the low and the despised of the world.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart." Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." (1Co 1:18-31)


Jeph said...

Thank you. I've noticed a bright spot in the recent church plant movement to be highly integrated with lay-leadership, working side by side with gifted members in various ways. Unfortunately, it's still the small minority of churches who think this way. Established churches ask, "why have we declined as a whole the last 20 years?" and one of my answers is to examine this hierarchy of leadership in the reformed church.

If people wanted to be Catholic, they'd go to Mass.

Arthur Sido said...


If people wanted to be Catholic, they'd go to Mass.

Bingo! It is odd that people don't see the linkage between how most Protestant churches are organized and function with the Roman Catholic model.