Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Christ Centered vs. Man Centered

I was on the discussion side of the ex-CoC board, and saw some people talking about why they go to church, and if they would go somewhere if they didn't like the preacher, etc...and it got me thinking.

Without realizing it, I believe the people in the CoC make things man-centered, because they rely so much on having a "good and sound preacher." Without a good preacher, what else is there, really? There's the Bible, but even though they tell you you don't need anyone to interpret the Bible, in practice they expect the preacher to provide sound interpretation, and to give good sermons about that interpretation...that is the height and pinnacle of the CoC service, the sermon, which is completely dependent upon the interpretation of a man.

Isn't it interesting that Catholics are so often accused of being man-centered because of the hierarchy and setup of the Church...and yet, when I go to mass, it's not for any man, it's not for the priest, it's not to hear his homily, it's first and foremost for Christ, for the Eucharist. Even if it's a parish where there are some liturgical abuses that can get under my skin, or a priest that isn't my favorite, I still know that the mass is still the mass, and that Christ is there, and THAT is what matters primarily, and I don't have to worry about any man. I wish I could impress upon non-Catholics when talking to them how huge this difference is, and how important the Eucharist is to Catholics...it's hard to describe, though, it's much easier to understand when you experience it.

It's just such a difference, and it reminds me how well Satan can twist things and encourage people to believe that up is down and down is up. It's like bizarro world where everything is backwards! Man centered becomes Christ centered and vice versa. Let us pray that the reality is made apparent to all of those who currently see otherwise!

32 comments:

jdavidb said...

Well, down here I was raised with a healthy dose of disrespect for churches of Christ that are still essentially practicing the Protestant/Baptist "pastor" system. There's supposed to be a body of bishops overseeing the teaching in that church. Not just some charismatic guy who does all the thinking for everybody. But why do it God's way and be different when you can be like all the nations around you? :)

Even if it's a parish where there are some liturgical abuses that can get under my skin

What kind of liturgical abuses are we talking about here? Why is it I've seen Catholics who mourn like its an offense taking up arms over when a nonbeliever sells a consecrated host on ebay, but at the same time I here that Catholics are supposed to tolerate liturgical abuses in their own church? At what point are you supposed to "phone Rome" and say, "Hey, there's something wrong going on here, and I became one with this body because we were supposed to be the ones who did it right"?

For that matter, the point is raised in churches of Christ (though probably not often enough) that we should be participating in the assembly even if everything is not as high a "quality" as it could be, as an act of obedience to God if nothing else. But there are human-centered and human-seeking people in any church, I think.

On another note, I've had a similar thought to yours about those faith-only Protestant fundamentalists who are so adamant that any type of initiation ritual required on the part of Christ would constitute man-centered, works-salvation. They insist so strongly on being "Christ centered" and on "sola Christus" that they discount Christ's commandments. :( What could be more man-centered. As you said, Satan is working hard to twist things.

Stephanie said...

Well, down here I was raised with a healthy dose of disrespect for churches of Christ that are still essentially practicing the Protestant/Baptist "pastor" system. There's supposed to be a body of bishops overseeing the teaching in that church. Not just some charismatic guy who does all the thinking for everybody.

Yes I was raised the same way...and I give the CoC points for trying to avoid such things, but I think it's much harder to actually put into practice. I mean, certainly the elders can point out error being taught, but what happens when the elders disagree? Whose interpretation do you follow when everyone is equally sincere in their attempts at finding truth? It's just a tough situation all around!

What kind of liturgical abuses are we talking about here?

I'm really thinking of more minor things like the foot washing thing I mentioned on Holy Thursday, and things like songs with heretical lyrics being used, and unauthorized additions being made, etc.

Why is it I've seen Catholics who mourn like its an offense taking up arms over when a nonbeliever sells a consecrated host on ebay, but at the same time I here that Catholics are supposed to tolerate liturgical abuses in their own church?

Oh my!! Because the latter is SO SO SO much more infinitely worse! The Church is made up of people...human people, lol, and things will never be perfect. Most people don't even realize a lot of these things are abuses, especially in America where even Catholic Churches tend to be a bit protestant in culture. They are things that should be fixed, but they are not affecting the validity of the sacraments...and those are the most important things to us. There's a hierarchy of important issues, selling a consecrated host on ebay would be pretty close to the top on blasphemous things to do!! I mean, it's kind of like comparing a car crash to a small scratch on the car...make sense?

At what point are you supposed to "phone Rome" and say, "Hey, there's something wrong going on here, and I became one with this body because we were supposed to be the ones who did it right"?

It is being done already, really. =) We have a cardinal who is the prefect for liturgical affairs (Cardinal Arinze, a wonderful and orthodox African priest). It's just that a creature as large as the Catholic Church moves slowly but deliberately. I believe liturgical reform has already begun, though it will take a while for it to spread, just as it took a while for the abuses to spread.

For that matter, the point is raised in churches of Christ (though probably not often enough) that we should be participating in the assembly even if everything is not as high a "quality" as it could be, as an act of obedience to God if nothing else. But there are human-centered and human-seeking people in any church, I think.

Absolutely agreed! I know lots of people who "offer up" their distractions in mass caused by (minor) liturgical abuses, obedience in such things is truly a virtue.

On another note, I've had a similar thought to yours about those faith-only Protestant fundamentalists who are so adamant that any type of initiation ritual required on the part of Christ would constitute man-centered, works-salvation. They insist so strongly on being "Christ centered" and on "sola Christus" that they discount Christ's commandments. :( What could be more man-centered. As you said, Satan is working hard to twist things.

And of course I absolutely and positively agree with you there!

Sara said...

Because selling a consecrated host is selling Jesus himself! That's way more grave than holding hands during the our father or using protestant hymns. (Although, I wish someone would declare Haugen and Haas abuses. I'm sure there are some who like them, but not really my style of hymn.)

jdavidb said...

Yes, Sara, I do certainly understand that the act I mentioned is considered much, much worse. But what I was trying to do is pick something very serious and something not so serious and ask the question, "Where's the line in between where it becomes so serious you have to leave, or contact the authorities, or something else?"

Also, to a Protestant, the term "liturgical abuses" sounds much more serious than I think it apparently is. Sounds more like "liturgical mistakes." The term "abuse" makes it sound serious. (And since I once read a book by an Anglican priest who used the term "abuse" to describe an abuse of the eucharist, that's where my mind tends to go when I hear such a phrase.

Stephanie said...

But what I was trying to do is pick something very serious and something not so serious and ask the question, "Where's the line in between where it becomes so serious you have to leave, or contact the authorities, or something else?"

Yes I see...and you're correct, the phrase "liturgical abuse" can sound a lot more serious than some of them are! As far as "where's the line?" Well...the thing is, there would never be a line to make me say, "Whoa, they're doing these liturgical abuses and they're so bad I'm going to leave the Catholic Church!" In the very worst case I might switch parishes, while also writing to the bishop and explaining what's happening (but that would have to be REALLY serious liturgical abuses...like, having a lay person give the homily, or having "liturgical dance," or changing up the words to the consecration (which would mess with the sacrament!) and things like that, and they would need to be happening every week all the time! Even the worst of those, though, doesn't come near desacrating the Eucharist.)

But I would never leave the Church...because Christ is there. He told us there would be chaff among the wheat, the Church is made up of humans and so there will always be imperfections to deal with...but that's why the Church is set up the way she is. It might take a while for things to be taken care of, but the main thing is I believe Christ is there, that the truth is there, and nowhere else can come close in my mind!

Actually I'm reminded of a great post talking to converts by Mark Shea a while back...here is the relevant quote:

The main counsel I give anybody coming in to the Church is that "faith" means "you stay." The Catholic Church is and always has been the vessel of salvation for the *world*. That means that most of the people you meet are going to be *ordinary*--like you and me. They are going to have the ordinary tastes, prejudices, mediocrities, failures, and virtues of their time and place. There are, to be sure, great heros and extraordinary people in the Catholic communion. But to expect that as the norm and then be outraged and disappointed when it is not is, I think, great folly and, in the end, great pride. One of the things I came to appreciate very early was the counsel of Uncle Screwtape, who urges Wormwood to keep far from his "patient's" mind the thought, "If I, being what I am, can consider myself in some sense a Christian, then why can't these people next to me in the pew"?

Consequently, though I have been appalled by some of the sins that have been revealed in the ranks of the Church in the past few years, I've never been shocked. What did I expect? They're just sinners like I am, and I know what I'm capable of. In the same way, the stupid and tuneless OCP songs, the suburban Church of Aren't We Fabulous smugness, the Our Lady of Pizza Hut architecture, the True Meaning of the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes homilies, and the other stuff that sometimes ails the Church has never been sufficient to put me off. Because they are all just reminders that the Church, thank God, has room for people like me and that this mediocrity and averageness is a sign of the tremendous mercy of God for mediocre folk like myself.

"Well then," it may be asked, "if the Church is so mediocre, then why bother joining her?" To quote Walker Percy, "What else is there?" After all, it is not the Church that is mediocre, but only we, her members. The Church is, curiously, something that exists before she has any members, because it is founded not by us, but by Christ. The Church is the spotless Bride of Christ, made so by the Holy Spirit in the washing with water and the Word. We, her members, are generally nebbishes and schleps. But she is glorious and beautiful, terrible as an army with banners. And in her all the fullness of the deposit of faith subsists, a deposit through which, by the grace of God, I hope one day to be made perfect in love of God and neighbor.

jdavidb said...

Thanks for the explanations.

To further clarify, when I looked for the line "where it becomes so serious you have to leave," I knew that wasn't going to entail leaving the Catholic Church. I was thinking, "Get up and walk out of this particular assembly." (Possibly raising a fuss and making a disturbance along the way, depending on what happened.) I guess that's wrapped up under switching parishes, which is more like what I had in mind.

liturgical dance

Another new add for my "list of things I'm glad I don't have to worry about encountering by surprise Sunday morning when visiting a new church." :)

changing up the words to the consecration (which would mess with the sacrament!) and things like that, and they would need to be happening every week all the time! Even the worst of those, though, doesn't come near desacrating the Eucharist.)

Took me a minute to follow why changing the consecration words wouldn't be as bad. I guess in that case there's no valid Eucharist to be desecrated?

Lastly, there's something great about how that quote encompasses quotations from an Anglican writer as well as Yiddish words while making a Catholic point. :)

Stephanie said...

liturgical dance

Another new add for my "list of things I'm glad I don't have to worry about encountering by surprise Sunday morning when visiting a new church." :)


Lol! Tell me about it! Fortunately, it's a pretty rare thing!

Took me a minute to follow why changing the consecration words wouldn't be as bad. I guess in that case there's no valid Eucharist to be desecrated?

You got it!

Lastly, there's something great about how that quote encompasses quotations from an Anglican writer as well as Yiddish words while making a Catholic point. :)

So true, lol!

Tiber Jumper said...

The irony is that the Liturgy is designed so man cannot dominate, influence or inject his personal influence into it. We are accused of "man centered" religion yet most protestant independent Churches are "cults of personality" where the "man" the pastor, sets the tone and becomes center stage for the whole service!!
See what happens to one of these 'Christ centered' churches when the pastor leaves. Does the Church flourish because it is founded on Christ?
The answer sadly can be found by googling "church staff layoffs" in a certain part of Colorado.
The part of Catholicism that has really spoken to me(even before I came back to the Church) was the way Catholics didn't jump ship even in the worst of the scandals. Why? Because Christ, the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. Not the personality, preaching, good looks of Fr. Flanagan and the angelic strains of the hottest worship band in town!

Faith said...

Why is holding hands during the Our Father a liturgical abuse? This has always puzzled me. I don't understand the rationale behind condemning it. I have always rather liked it.

BTW, I love your blog!

Sara said...

Faith,

As to the holding hands during the Our Father--there's nothing in the GIRM saying you can or can't, so it doesn't really bother me on that front (I'm not a touchy feely person, so that's where my objection arises.) In my opinion, it becomes an abuse when it's a "required" part of worship. I have no problem with individuals making the decision to do so on their own.

Sara

Kasia said...

I have to second Sara on that. As far as I know the GIRM doesn't speak to it, so it's permissible. My issue with it is when someone tries to push compliance with it on me - it's not something with which I'm required to comply!

For example, at our Chrism Mass my sister and I were standing in the back (because apparently half an hour early isn't early enough to score seats). During the Our Father, when I had my hands folded in front of me, head bowed, and eyes closed (how I typically pray it), there came an insistent tapping on my right shoulder. I looked up and saw the man next to me meaningfully pointing to the woman in the last pew, who was holding out her left hand. I looked at him, looked at her, looked back at him, and quietly resumed my original posture.

I've also known people to grab for my hands, which is why I try to maintain the very 'closed' posture. I did make an exception recently when I attended Mass with a dear friend who's also a neophyte; she just reached out for my hand and I, not wanting to hurt her feelings or make an issue of it at that particular moment, took it, along with the hand of the woman on my other side (whom I didn't know).

I don't know if I'd even call it a true 'abuse' then, because the direction isn't coming from the priest. But 'liturgical abuse' to me generally means when a portion of the liturgy that has specific definition is knowingly disobeyed.

For example, I think it's reasonable to expect that a cardinal should know that the Precious Blood is not supposed to be held in glass, pottery, or otherwise breakable containers. So when a cardinal presides over a Mass where the Blood is consecrated in a glass pitcher, I would call that an abuse, and because it involves the Blood of Christ, I would say (just by my own reckoning) that it's worse than, say, liturgical dancers in the sanctuary.

However, it's probably not AS bad as having a woman preside over the Consecration, as my sister witnessed at a local parish about ten years ago. She didn't go up for Communion, figuring that at best it wasn't a valid Eucharist and at worst it was sacreligious, and she hasn't been back to that parish since.

I for one would have been inclined to 'phone Rome' (as David so aptly put it) over the woman performing the Consecration, would probably have quietly left the cardinal's Mass with the glass pitchers, and would probably tolerate the liturgical dancers unless they were a regular occurrence. What do the rest of you Catholics say to my reckoning?

Stephanie said...

Thanks Faith! I don't know that I'd put most hand holding in the category of outright abuse...but it's more the mentality behind it that can be bothersome. Here's something I C&Ped from my board about the whole hand holding thing, sorry it's a bit long!

Ok, this is the deal. The liturgy specifically lays out what goes on during the mass. There's this thing called the GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal) that lays out what is to be done and what isn't to be done. Nowhere in there is there any mention of "holding hands" while saying the Our Father.

Now...that's not to say it's BAD to hold hands with your family if you want or something, there isn't any instruction saying NOT to either...what is not so good (and what can be seen as an abuse) is for hand holding to be EXPECTED by the people at mass, for it to be ENCOURAGED by the priest at mass, for instance, as if it IS part of the liturgy, because it's just not part of the GIRM, there's no real reason for it.

Also, what isn't good is the fact that the lay people have kind of taken it upon themselves to change something in this way and make it so that no one would know it isn't actually part of the liturgy. If they can do that, what else can they do? How far can it go?

And, the whole hand holding thing itself...well, what is the purpose? To show unity? This is a very protestant idea, because we Catholics have the Eucharist which is our ultimate sign of unity. I've been to masses where the Our Father is SO built up (music leading up to it, everyone, I mean EVERYONE across the aisles, etc, joining hands, to where you HAVE to even if you don't want to) that it kind of outshines the consecration. That is absolutely not a good thing. The Eucharist should always be the height and pinnacle of the mass, not the Our Father. (That's not to say every mass where hand holding happens is this way, at our parish, it's really not a huge deal...some people hold hands, some people don't, there's no moving around to join hands across the aisle, etc, so it doesn't bother me as much.)

It's also just kind of a leftover thing from the "peace and love" 70s, let's all sing kumbaya type attitude...and, well, I'm just definitely not a child of the 70s, lol.

So...that's where the "it's an abuse" camp is probably coming from. On my part, it's not so much that, "Oh the HORROR we have to STOP the hand holding!!!!" It's more of a question of, if lay people can arbitrarily add their own things to mass, where does that end, ya know?

And now for my necessary disclaimer: I don't even notice at mass who does and doesn't hold hands, because I'm not looking at people during the Our Father, and I couldn't care less what they decide to do, really, and I'm not sitting there thinking how awful they are or anything of the sort. I personally don't do it because it's not in the GIRM and isn't part of the liturgy and isn't required of me, and I secretly like that a whole lot because I hate holding hands with people I don't know anyway, lol. So if you're a hand holder, I don't think you're bad, there is no judgement coming from me about you, so please don't think there is!! However if you try to grab my hand at mass when I didn't offer it I will close my eyes and ignore you until it is time for the sign of peace when I will smile sweetly and act like I didn't even notice how rudely you invaded my personal space for something that is not required of me. Lol! ;-D

Stephanie said...

Wow, you have witnessed some..uh...interesting goings on at mass, Kasia. :-/ I very much agree with you, especially on all the "which is worse" type stuff you said!

jdavidb said...

Hmm, if a woman presides over the consecration, I'm betting she hasn't received a valid ordination. So I'm betting she can't actually do that. And if you're going to say that the person performing the consecration doesn't have to be ordained, then you might as well decide the words used don't matter, either. And if you do that, then you've just made almost every single Protestant Lord's Supper service a valid, transubstantiated eucharist. Even if they don't know it. ;)

Stephanie said...

True that =)

Kasia said...

JDavidB,

You're right that she would not have received a valid ordination. That's one of the many problems with that scenario.

What it comes down to is this: for a sacrament (including the Eucharist) it has to have proper form and matter. So the "Eucharist" that she "consecrated" would not be valid, no.

BUT, what she DID do by doing so (and there was a priest sitting off to the side the whole time - this is a notoriously 'progressive' parish) was cause scandal and lead many astray. The priest would be even more culpable. And I don't know what the spiritual consequences would be for the parishioners, receiving an invalid Eucharist when they thought they were receiving a valid one. I especially feel for homebound and hospitalized parishioners, who might not have known what happened and thus cannot make an informed decision not to receive. Of course that would mitigate their culpability, but would they still receive the grace that we receive from the Eucharist?

One can't physically police all the parishes and make sure that shenanigans like that aren't happening, so in a very limited sense of the word "ability" she was ABLE to do this, but she was *not* able to consecrate the Eucharist into the Body and Blood of Christ according to the Church.

But you're right about what the logical conclusion would be...if she was able to VALIDLY perform the sacrament under those circumstances, there doesn't seem to be a reason why Pastor Joe Protestant couldn't as well. Oh, how lovely and ecumenical... ;-)

Kasia said...

LOL, Stephanie - in fairness, I have not personally witnessed most of that (just the Our Father bits). Liturgical dancers have not yet been invited to my parish (though we're getting a new pastor in July), and my current priest is waaayyy too orthodox to use anything other than appropriate chalices for the Precious Blood.

As I said, my sister witnessed the woman "consecrating" the "Eucharist." The glass containers and liturgical dancers were based on pictures I have seen from another, notoriously heterodox archdiocese.

Really, I've been very fortunate. However, if I do end up marrying my Canadian boyfriend and moving to southwestern Ontario, I will have to endure many, many more guitar Glorias and Our Fathers...yeesh...did I mention my boyfriend didn't know until I told him THIS YEAR that Good Friday is a day of fasting? My (less than perfectly charitable) response was "Let's hear it for southwestern Ontario orthodoxy!"

Stephanie said...

Lol!!!

Faith said...

Thanks for the explanation about the hand holding. I only hold hands with my family. I have always found it a great way to get my kids to pay attention! But I don't try to hold hands with those I don't know. However, my little kids sometimes do and they usually get a sweet smile from whomever it is next to them in the pew. I remember once my 6 yo son was sitting next to a little elderly black woman and when it was time for the Our Father my son innocently put his hand in hers. It was the sweetest moment. The lady just beamed over at me. It was a little tender moment that glorified God. And I don't think it detracted one bit from the Eucharist, in fact I know it filled my heart with thanksgiving.

I have never had anyone insist I hold hands with them. Though, I might not remember because I guess I am a hand holder! I am a child of the 70s so maybe that's why it doesn't bother me! And while I agree that liturgical abuses need to go, I also think people can get hung up on the minor ones and get a little too judgemental for their own good.

Stephanie said...

Of course there's no reason to be judgemental about it, and certainly it can be taken too far. =) In my experience, right now the bigger problem is people not even knowing what is and isn't called for in the GIRM, rather than people knowing and being judgemental about it. I have, unfortunately, been forced to hold hands, my husband has had his hands grabbed by people, etc...my main problem is not with hand holding, as I said, it's the fact that people don't even KNOW that it's not actually part of the liturgy, know what I mean? That's bothersome to me. Did you read my post entitled Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi at the bottom of the page? It explains a little more why, for my, getting the liturgy "right" is so important...simply because I want to grab onto all the meaning I can, and I don't want to lose any of it! :-D It's not out of bitterness or crankiness or curmudgeonliness, lol, it's out of a strong desire to know and experience the fullness of the liturgy the way it was meant to be. :-)

Thanks for your comments, Faith, God bless!

Cheryl said...

(Joining late on this conversation)

Last thing I would have expected from a coC is emphasis on a good preacher, when (in my experience) there is no set preacher?

(I assume this is something that could be different in other areas, though, and beginning congregations or very small ones may be making use of one or two people *a lot*, especially if an evangelist is helping them out)

I do agree, though, that the focus often (more than often...) seems to be the lesson, not worship.

Stephanie said...

No set preacher? You mean that the elders can change the preacher? Certainly that's true...I just mean that, in the context of worship, if it's going to be a good worship service, it's pretty much dependent upon whether the preacher gives a good sermon or not, ya know? At mass, regardless of who the priest is, as long as he does the consecration properly, Christ is there front and center, and He's the center of attention =)

ColdStorage said...

Good post Stephanie. With fundamentalism, the theology technically doesn't go any further than what the man at the front of the auditorium is saying due to a lack of creeds, catechism, doctrine, dogma. If you ask how the congregants all came to believe the same thing, the response is usually, "It's in the Bible." But who taught them how to get that Bible-based conclusion? The man at the front of the church (church building, of course).

State then that this teaching is a church tradition and watch them start prooftexting. Can't have any tradition in the church, of course!

Cheryl S said...

No set preacher meaning any male member of the congregation may ask to be put into the speaking rotation (though some ask not to speak on Sunday mornings, etc. - the hubby speaks sometimes, but generally just on Wednesday nights).

We do have elders and an evangelist, and they speak as well, though just in the rotation like the other folks who speak.

Stephanie said...

Really? Interesting, I've never heard of that before! I mean, we certainly had guest speakers from time to time (especially since my church had a preaching school at it, we often had preacher students) but we definitely had a main preacher!

jdavidb said...

Cheryl, there are some churches of Christ who think its wrong to have a paid, "fulltime," "located" preacher. Meanwhile, there are some who almost exclusively would have "fulltime" preachers and would eschew a preacher with another separate career. The Bible provides examples of both cases. :) But some churches have got some wrong ideas that only one or the other is allowed, or even if they think both are allowed they focus on one to the detriment of the other.

I've always wanted to be in a church with a rotation of all the willing and able men teaching. I was just explaining this to my wife last week. :) But I've never actually seen a church that did that.

jdavidb said...

ColdStorage, just about all of the men who taught me are dead, and I hadn't attended service regularly with most of them in the past 10-15 years, so the idea that we all learned from the man at the front of the church building doesn't seem to make any sense, to me.

State then that this teaching is a church tradition and watch them start prooftexting. Can't have any tradition in the church, of course!

Interesting. My church is full of apostolic tradition. :)

Stephanie said...

I think, jdavidb, that what coldstorage is saying is that while some would have us believe that if we sat in a room all alone and read the Bible we'd all come to the conclusions the CoC as a whole has come to, the truth is that probably isn't so...the reason we all believe what we do is because we were taught...by people! And the primary teacher at most congregations is the preacher...so whether you've had one or many, you're still relying on "a man" to teach you. I mean, not that I think there's anything wrong with that! It's just that some people I've discussed with have denied that it is actually so, and basically want to cut out the middle man and say that they don't listen to any man, they only listen to the Bible. I think that's a noble idea, but I think denying any part a man plays is a bit unrealistic when it's obvious there's a preacher (and other teachers) for a reason, the Bible doesn't grow a mouth and start interpreting scripture for us and telling us how to apply it properly. ;-)

Cheryl said...

Jdavidb, the no-set-preacher thing is pretty much the norm in our immediate area. Our congregation *does* have a paid evangelist ("the laborer is worthy of his wages", 1 Timothy 5:18), who was originally brought in to, well, help us learn to evangelize (thus the title). He's still with us, and doesn't seem to have any serious desire to move elsewhere - so while he may go off the payroll at some point, I don't see it as being likely that he'll go to another congregation, nor do we have anyone with the authority to order him to do so. I've heard of other evangelists and established "preachers" going to congregations to help them out (especially if they are low on folks who feel ready to teach, and who want training themselves), but as far as having one set preacher - I've only seen that in a VERY VERY few places, where it's because the congregation is mostly older (and, unfortunately, the speaking men have been dying with no younger members coming up to replace them - the congregations where you can easily and sadly imagine that in ten more years, there won't be one).

Generally, when I've heard the title "preacher", the man referred to has come in to help teach folks to teach, or is known for being an excellent teacher and travels holding meetings.

Cheryl said...

Point of clarification from the hubby.

Most of the "preachers" referred to above are paid by a specific congregation as their evangelist, just as ours is - and the idea is that that person is able to devote themselves to studying with possible converts, etc., not having the time demands of a different job to support himself and his family. This is, indeed, what our evangelist is still on the payroll for - being available to study anytime that it's convenient for those wishing to do so (as well as making hospital visits and the like).

jdavidb said...

Yes, I think I got coldstorage's point, and I'd never deny that most Christians were taught most of what they know by some person, nor would I call that a bad thing.

But my point was that obviously there are people in some (many?) congregations who did not share a source for their teaching, but have compatible conclusions.

Also, it wouldn't be correct to say that 100% of what a person believes came from a human teacher. I know for a fact that I've got some conclusions that came out of Scripture rather than some person teaching me, because some of my conclusions don't match up with my teachers. :)

Stephanie said...

True enough! If everyone was always taught the same thing and never came to different conclusions than anyone else, there would never be any splits, lol.

I have to admit, though, while I wouldn't say it's impossible, I think it's not very likely that most congregations popped up on their own out of the blue with people just reading scripture in different places on their own...most of them were started by people who were already raised in the CoC tradition, and so they are passing down that tradition. (I only say this because that's not how it was always presented to me growing up, I was led to believe that people really did sit down, read the Bible, and come up with the exact same CoC ideas in lots of different places without talking to each other.)

Basically, I don't think it's likely that two people will read the same book seperately and come away with exactly the same conclusions (as you mentioned, you've reached different conclusions than some of your teachers.)

But then, that's why I'm Catholic!