Monday, September 20, 2004

Nothing New Under the Sun

George Mallone's Furnace of Renewal: A Vision for the Church, written almost a quarter of a century ago (1981), contains some really interesting gems on the issue of leadership and the Body. George was from a Plymouth Brethren background in Vancouver Canada, although he later pastored a Vineyard in Arlington Texas (USA) until his early promotion to heaven in the mid-90's.

Commenting on Matthew 20:25, George writes:
"People who have spent all their energies getting to the top now let others feel the full weight of their authority. They lord it over others and are concerned to exercise authority over others. They are preoccupied with position. They 'love' their people by keeping an oppressive heel on the back of their necks. Words of affection flowed from men like Idi Amin, the Shah of Iran, and Jim Jones, when all along they really were oppressive potentates.

"These are harsh political and cult examples, but there are milder and more subtle forms within the church. There are those who pressure us to believe that the church is a business corporation with a director at the top. Everyone is to jump when the boss speaks. To others it is the professor who knows Greek and Hebrew and who alone can untangle for us the mysteries of Scripture. To other it is the man or woman who has pastoral gifts of discernment and prophecy, who demand that their disciples be obedient to the vision that they have for them."
While it's interesting that George wrote these words (prophetically?) over 30 years ago, it's also encouraging to realize that there have always been voices calling the Church back to its First Love and to being about the business of discipling people, not running programs.

True, it's sobering that evidently some people weren't listening to voices like George's, but I find it encouraging to realize that those of us who are questioning praxis and ecclesiology in the 21st century are actually standing in very good company with believers of previous generations.

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