Friday, June 11, 2010
BOOK REVIEW: CORINTHIAN ELDERS by Jack Fortenberry
"The absence of a New Testament model for the present role of preachers or leaders has not slowed the prevalence of the current model of one or two elders leading a congregation of followers since the time of Constantine. But Scripture warns us of being defrauded of our prize by following leaders in the church. Not just bad leaders but leaders.
"By eliminating our use of a favorite teacher and turning to New Testament commands in order to grow in the knowledge of our Father, we will have an unobstructed view of Christ. By our progress in understanding and trusting the person and character of Jesus Christ, God will grow us into conformity with His joy, holiness and loving kindness." Jack Fortenberry, from the Prologue "Corinthian Elders."
"But you are not to be called rabbi (teacher), for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone [in the church] on earth father, for you have one Father, Who is in heaven. And you must not be called masters (leaders), for you have one Master (Leader), the Christ. He who is greatest among you shall be your servant." Our Lord, Jesus Christ: Matthew 2:8-11
Will the church be converted to God's Eternal Purpose? Our Lord desires to express His Headship throughout His many-membered, many-functioned, many-splendored body. Right now, His Headship is over-localized in a single member, be it priest, pastor, or preacher, on any given Sunday. The Church of Jesus Christ as originally conceived, had no human head, no human officiator, no human artifice but Jesus Christ Himself. Shocking! Don't believe it? Uncover the truth in the "Corinthian Elders."
The fact that this conversation is even going on leads me to believe that Jesus Christ is coming back for His Church and that He is intent on restoring its primal glory without all the dead weight of a top-down, hierarchical structure that has impinged His Headship from operating throughout His body, through each member functioning, as and when He chooses.
Jack Fortenberry's little book "Corinthian Elders" is big on substance and goes a long way in challenging most of our current church practices that can't be found in the New Testament. The fact that Jack once served as an "ruling elder" in the Presbyterian Chuirch of America adds some weight and clarity to his message.
Quite frankly, if you have had very little exposure to this type of thinking and have grown up in the institutional church with its teaching on "authority" and "submission" and "covering" and the role of "head pastor," my guess is you may not get it, at first anyway. Much of this book will sound like a foreign language; but really, this is an indication of how far we have fallen from the vitality and genius of the early church in its primal infancy. You see, they knew an indwelling Lord, and when they assembled together, they didn't look to "special teachers and preachers" (the Corinthian Church was an exception, but Paul straightened that out) to edify them because they learned how to edify one another as they spoke Jesus Christ out of the abundance of their hearts, one to another (Colossians 3:16). They could do this because they were directed by apostolic tradition to center their meetings, and their very lives, on the Lord Jesus Christ, alone.
We have greatly erred in the way we have set up worldly leadership structures above the Headship of Jesus
Christ. It's time for the church to be converted to God's eternal purpose. May this book be another piece in the puzzle that has so long eluded us. Come Lord Jesus and take Your rightful place of supremacy in Your church.
Order here: CORINTHIAN ELDERS by Jack Fortenberry
Posted by Clark Wade at 8:07 PM