This is the third part of an excellent article by Dr. Thomas Williamson on this subject. Part IV will e posted tomorrow.
Touch Not the Lord’s Anointed” Is the Command for Today? By: Thomas Williamson, Th.M, Ph.D. 3131 S. Archer Avenue Chicago, Ill., 60608
Some pastors seem to have the idea that because they are ordained to the ministry, they are on a higher and more exalted level than their followers, but at the same time they are to be held to a lower level of standard of conduct. Because they are preachers, they say, it is inevitable that they will offend people, and they are not going to try to avoid giving offenses, because if they did, they would have to stop preaching.
This is the very opposite of the teaching of the Word of God, which insists that preachers are to be held to a higher standard of conduct than their people: “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12.) “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all.” (James 3:1-2.)
Where do Baptists Stand?
This writer is a Baptist, and historically, the Baptist ministers have not held themselves to be on a higher and more exalted level than their people, but have regarded themselves as being on the same level before God as their members. Sad to say, some Baptist preachers have now begun to elevate themselves above their people, and to claim a higher privilege of rank. If anyone does not bow to their claims and allow them to rule over the people, then they accuse such detractors of “Touching the Lord’s anointed.” Perhaps such modern-day Baptist popes have been watching too many charismatic preachers on the boob tube.
As an antidote to such deluded thinking, allow me to quote from a few respected Baptist authors on the subject. First, from D.B. Ray, and his book Baptist Succession – A Handbook of Baptist History,published in 1912:
“Thus we find that the elders are to rule by example and by feeding the flock of Christ. Whatever may be the different gifts or offices in the Church of Christ, no member has a right to claim the pre-eminence in the execution of the laws of Christ. The very fact that the ministers or elders are chosen or ordained by the churches, proves that they are inferior in point of authority to the churches which have invested them with the ministerial office. The apostles themselves only claimed to be servants of the churches, for Paul said, ‘We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.’ 2 Corinthians 4:5. The only way to become great in the kingdom is to be a great servant. Every minister is equal in point of privilege with every other member of the church; but, as a minister in his official capacity, he is subject to, and inferior to the church. His individual acts or decisions have no more binding force than those of any other member.” (Pp. 227-228.)
Then we turn to the book Baptists, Thorough Reformers, by John Quincy Adams (not the sixth president of the United States, but a Baptist author of the late 19th century) who wrote:
“The principles of church government in the Baptist denomination are expressed in the text: ‘One is your Master,even Christ and all we are brethren.’ There is no opportunity for the assumption of authority by a few, if it were desired. All meet on the broad, even platform of equality. The rich and the poor, the minister, deacons, and people, are all brethren. The pastor is no more; the poorest member is no lees, than one of the brethren. Each church, in its collective capacity, transacts its own business, exercises its own discipline, and receives and excludes its own members, subject only to the authority of Christ, and governed by His Word…. In a Baptist church there is perfect equality. It could not be otherwise. They recognize the church as a voluntary organization, into which persons enter by their own choice, and whose privileges and benefits all have an equal right to share. Christ has nowhere delegated his authority to a body of arrogant ministers, or prelatical bishops, or blasphemous popes; and Christians have no right to recognize and uphold the assumption of authority by them. It is not a matter of indifference. To support the assumptions of men, who have arrogated to themselves authority which belongs only to Christ, is to engage with them in rebellion against the one only Master; and where this is done knowingly, such cannot be held guiltless.”
This is the historic Baptist position. The rise, among Baptists, of preachers who demand for themselves a position of dictatorship and lordship over the Lord’s church, and who defend themselves by crying, “Touch not the Lord’s anointed,” is a relatively recent development. It is not by any means a distinctively Baptist problem. The same tendency is arising among many denominations. It is the way of all flesh, the way of pride, of desire to dominate, desire to have the preeminence, a desire that goes back at least as far as the infamous Diotrephes, who took control of the church membership roll for himself, as some preachers do today (3 John 9, 10).
PART IV TOMORROW
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