Religious Attributes


Religion Divides


Denominations Empires


It is Finished


Clergy & Laity



Author's Brief Testimony

Accessing the life of God
Without being sidetracked by religious tradition."

By Charles Pinkney

An important caveat:
Spirituality and expression of heart-felt faith can be found in most traditional churches today. People are faithful to their own familiar institutions. Traditional churches have sustained values that have laid the moral and social foundations of our great nation. The historic inheritance of Christian Churches in America and other countries has been a noble one. Yet, today, we find a disturbing tendency for institutional churches to depart from their Biblical roots. Worldly thought and values are replacing the fundamentals of the Gospel of Christ.

God, finds His transforming way into the heart of people within churches who worship in more formal, liturgical ways. To the extent that the Word is taught and valued and the true worship of God is encouraged there is fruitfulness. The principle emphasis of these writings is that there is more, more, always more to be known and to be experienced. And these experiences are entirely consistent with apostolic teachings. The more freedom and liberty is given to the Holy Spirit, the more spiritual growth will be "experienced" when those believers gather together.

I will focus upon the negative attributes of the Religious paradigm which impact faith and spiritual growth. There are doctrines and practices familiar to us all, these are mostly the practices followed in the pastor-church house setting, that can actually keep individuals from ever experiencing the Kingdom of God or the greatest gift of God, salvation.

It takes a long time to become familiar and understand the Scriptures recorded in the Holy Bible. Truthfully, none of us even the most astute students of the Word come close to plumbing its depths. From the outsiders point of view many questions challenge us. Is the Bible history or fable? Is it the word of God and relevant to life in the 21st Century? Is it inviolate truth or not?

It is only after we have studied the Bible with the intent to understand that we begin to glimpse its consistency  and simplicity. It has been called many things, such as the "The Makers users manual,"  "A love letter from God," "A book that foretells things to come." 

Theologians make a career of the study of scripture. The deeper their studies the more it seems that they veer away from simple exegesis (interpreting) and understanding. Although study and understanding is the aim, any study without the unveiling power of the Holy Spirit can result in confusion and doctrinal unbelief.

The apostle Paul was highly educated and situated in the Jewish religion, but after his conversion he proclaimed that scholarship, philosophy and theology did not lead to his knowing God. (See 1 Cor. 1:21) Human knowlege is not Spiritual knowledge. Truth and wisdom is a Spiritually derived gift. Spiritual life is outside of religion. For it is only God himself through the revelation of the Holy Spirit who imparts the necessary understanding and revelation of the Mysteries of God
to human beings.
(Read 1Corinthians Ch.1&2)


When will the kingdoms of this world give way to the Kingdom of God? We have the seen the evidence of religious rulers who have sought to introduce a theocratic kingdom upon the earth. The governence of God's kingdom by human authority has limitations and will always come short of the Glory of God even though our efforts have been founded upon good intentions. Even with intentions based upon Scriptural guidance. Formal theology and ministry systems find themselves at variance with the kingdom of God, which is a spiritual kingdom outside of the natural world philosophy and paradigms.

Where did the clergy and the laity doctrine come from? I can imagine through my own decades of studying the Word and watching religious scenes playing out, how the world overtakes the Spiritual side of Christian belief.
Jude exhorts in his short epistle to contend for the faith lest it be lost or distorted.

With respect of the ministry as a clergy-centered activity, in light of the gospel, we see that there is a clear pathway of revelation which leads away from any doctrine of priesthood.
Priesthood is any system in which a man (person) intervenes with God on behalf of others. The revelation of the Gospel points to a new dispensation:  a priesthood of all believers.

We can not compare the forms of worship described in the Epistles to the formal church practices which are known today. In the early days of the church there was no formalized ministry, no theology schools, no accreditation to ministry credentials. There were only believers who had been told the good news that any person could receive the free gift of salvation through the Son of God and experience the powers of the world to come, (The Kingdom of Heaven.)

These believers were not graduates Bible schools, but experienced the mighty works of God after learning that Jesus (Yeshua the Messiah) made it possible for any and all to become adopted children of God. Believers then as well as now being new creations and temples of the Holy Spirit began to be discipled to do the same kinds of exploits that were familiar to Jesus' ministry.

Changes heralded for the status of humanity
In the time period after Eden, before Christ the Messiah was manifested in human form man, for the most part, could not know God, could not meet nor have fellowship with him. After Jesus Christ came and fulfilled his mission as the "son of man" and the lamb of God, We could at last, know Him, meet with Him, have fellowship with Him, and even call Him Abba, Daddy. This is the Good News!

Throughout the earliest days of the Christian faith the question has been asked and must continue being asked, "Should we obey God or man?" In order to distinguish between these two voices something is required of us:
Each of us must search the Word of Truth and trust it to be the single valid source of correct doctrine;
Secondly it is required of us to listen to the voice of the inner witness which God has given to all his children.
If we are spiritual infants given milk polluted with religious doctrine, our understandings will be corrupted to some extent. We may well received the wrong Jesus, the wrong spirit, or the wrong gospel. Discerning  truth is not always easy. Religion presents teachings or stipulations which become binding or obligatory upon the followers. Are we to question the teachings of traditional authorities? Are we to question the doctrine of our church or church leadership? Is this heretical? It may be called this but it may be the path to liberty.

What is a Minister

In the New Testament texts, the word translated ministry is translated from service. The term   ministry comes from Greek Diakonia. Thus ministry means service. Through the process of generations of religious practice, ministry has come to mean something else, something formal and liturgical. Within the context of "church" practices ministry has been restricted to that which is done behind a pulpit and then only by the few with "credentials."

Discipleship is for all believers.
According to the Scripture, discipleship is the keystone of the gospel. Yet, it is rarely taught to church congregations with the emphasis that Jesus gave to his first disciples or apostles. All believers are trainees or disciples in the Kingdom of God. And all disciples are expected to to minister what he has been given by the Holy Spirit (A particular gift of God). "As every person has received the (free) gift, so minister the same to one another." (1Peter 4:10)
To grow in the Spiritual life of God we are instructed that we can be transformed into the pattern of Jesus the Son of God. and through him becoming partakers of the Lord's ministry as well as his spiritual attributes. These attributes include the gifts of the Spirit, (Galations 5:22) love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. All demonstrate the character of compassion and the ability to serve in kindness, (charity) through the Spirit of Love. Through such ministry (service) the path is open to see human lives restored and perfected. 

The Tradition of the Professional Clergy

The fortresses of institutional religion remain resistant and resolute. Institutional religion is the domain of the crow and not the eagle. Institutional religion is in descendancy but does not have the insight or grace to resign to its own demise. Old habits and traditions die hard.

We may well question the role and appropriateness of a trained clergy person. Some of these are not only brilliant communicators but men of compassion and dedication. These have their own fruitfulness in their calling and are beloved by those who they touch or disciple. But conversely there are others who may not even know God, in his promises and power. Unlike the apostle Paul who said I determine to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ crucified and to demonstrate the reality of his rulership by the power of God; these trained professionals presume to substitute sermonettes rather than demonstrating Spiritual understanding and the power of the Spirit. Many professional clergy assume their own pre-eminence owing to their credentials.

Examining The Clergy and the Laity

The Clergy-Laity doctrine divides the flock into two disparate parts.
The good shepherd story described in John's gospel, chapter 10, describes the characteristics of a good shepherd. It lists among the virtues, intimacy and closeness of the shepherd to the flock. The shepherd knows each of his charges by name; he will sacrifice his personal comfort and life for the flock. Finally we are told that Jesus is this shepherd. The psalmist has written almost a thousand years before, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." It is unlikely that a human shepherd could duplicate all the qualities of Christ Jesus the true bishop (overseer) and shepherd (pastor) of our souls."

Jesus modeled correct shepherding, in his ministry process of preaching, teaching and leading with care and compassion. The Lord demonstrated his Spiritual credentials with miracles, signs and wonders, and with deliverance from the demonic. To those who did not know of the Father's plan to extend the Kingdom of God he Preached the Gospel of the Kingdom; To his closest disciples, he gave more intimate insight and he taught them through dialogue of questions and answers.

Jesus came and ministered with meekness. He was a friend to sinners. He came to seek and to save and to serve.  Modern church members tend to exalt leadership and place them on unrealistic pedestals and grant them unusual authority. Jesus taught us about those who lead: "Who is the greatest among you, Jesus said, shall be a servant to all." This might qualify as a template by which to measure the character and role of those in the role of clergy. 

The role and calling of a Spiritual shepherd is truly a gift to the body he ministers to (serves.) But he must minister that gift outside of the parameters of religious formalism. The shepherding gift brings with it a necessary compassion and wisdom to minister hope, encouragement, wisdom to strengthen the flock.

More than one leadership gift
One with a pastoral gifting must be fully aware that he does not hold the full potentiality of the other ministry gifts which he must call upon as needed. (Ephesians 4)

God in fact has more than one finger on his hands. There is something called the 5-fold ministry, which includes apostles, prophets, teachers, pastors, and evangelists.  On the other hand are 5 other ministries which serve in a less formal or visible way. 

The religious tradition of "Clergy and Laity" is not found in the Bible per se and must be examined in the light of Scripture. The practice no doubt made inroads into common practice through the doctrine of the five public ministry gifts (offices) described in Ephesians chapter 4. The five fold ministry has one aim; that to build up all believers for the work of the ministry until we all come to the unity of the faith to the stature of a mature man (Christ Jesus).

Doctrinal guidance by Spiritually wise and experienced

Throughout the apostolic letters we are told that mature men of God were to guide and direct and to maintain purity of doctrine and practices. These were to be overseers (Gr. presbuteros) of the local flocks of God who met in places having no resemblance to church houses that are the norm today.

Overseers need spiritual experience more than theological credentials! The intention of keeping our faith and traditions accurate and steadfast, holding the Apostle's teaching as the model is still a priority. What was written was written with the intention of providing mature guidance and knowledge of Scripture to all believers mature and less mature, being discipled in the faith.

Maturity in faith and spiritual understanding is recognized in elders or overseers.
Men and woman who have depth of experience in the Spiritual life provide balance and correction as necessary to assure that true doctrine can be maintained and enforced among the fellowship.

Following the beginnings of Christianity, somehow in the course of time, elders, pastors, or overseers evolved into assuming the whole responsibility of "ministry." and from this to the clergy of today.

"It is the Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom"
© Charles Pinkney, 1995 -2017