14. The Responsibility of Leadership (Part1)

The “Church” Paradigm (a la Tozer)

Neil Girrard

Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Ex. 32:32 π Num. 16:26 π Num. 16:31-32 π 1 Sam. 8:3 π 1 Sam. 8:5 π 1 Sam. 8:7 π 1 Sam. 8:18 π 1 Ki. 11:38 π 1 Ki. 12:20-21 π 1 Ki. 12:26 π 1 Ki. 12:27-29 π 1 Ki. 13:1-10 π 1 Ki. 15:34 π Isa. 5:20 π Jer. 48:13 π Hos. 10:15 π Amos 4:4-5 π Amos 7:8-9 π Amos 7:13 π Mt. 7:23 π Mt. 13:41 π Mt. 18:20 π Mt. 20:25-26 π Mk. 6:7 π Acts 5:42 π Acts 13:2 π Rom. 8:7 π 1 Cor. 3:4 π 1 Cor. 14:26 π 1 Cor. 14:33 π Eph. 4:11 π Eph. 4:12 π Eph. 4:13 π Col. 1:18 π 2 Tim. 2:19 π 1 Jn. 2:21 π Jude 3 π Rev. 19:1

All quotes from A.W. Tozer are from his book, God Tells the Man Who Cares unless otherwise specified.

Tozer wrote:

The public is never capable of acting en masse. Without a leader it is headless and a headless body is power less. Always someone must lead. Even the mob engaged in pillage and murder is not the disorganized thing it appears to be. Somewhere behind the violence is a leader whose ideas it is simply putting into effect.

Israel sometimes rebelled against her leaders, it is true, but the rebellions were not spontaneous. The people merely switched to a new leader and followed him. The point is, they always had to have a leader. (“The Responsibility of Leadership,” pp. 59-60)

In this quote Tozer overlooks two details in his underlying premise. “The public,” he wrote, “is never capable of acting en masse… Always someone must lead. …they always have to have a leader.”

The first detail is exposed by asking the question, “When did God say that the way of Christ was supposed to be a mass movement?” That large numbers of people will have followed Christ is seen in the Revelation given to John. ( Rev. 19:1 ) But nowhere in the New Testament do we see the large assemblies as we do today – or we should say the ekklesia was never assembled in the New Testament in numbers too large to prevent everyone from having active participation. (see 1 Cor. 14:26 , etc.; top)

The initial failure of the followers of Christ in this process of degenerating into apostasy stems from failing to distinguish between the mixed multitude and the ekklesia. If you come to “church,” you’re okay (so long as you “accept Christ,” read the Scriptures and are willing to pray as Tozer pointed out so well in a previous quote – see “The Way of Christ Is Still Narrow,” pp. 66-67). This fuzzy reasoning, however, only produces a confused mixed multitude but yet it is still called “church,” linking it back to the New Testament word ekklesia while retaining different elements in its meaning – it is the essence of deception to say one thing while meaning another. And this is the essence of the deceptive, demonic “church” paradigm! “This” is not “that” but it is still called “that”! (see Isa. 5:20; top ) The inability to differentiate between opposites is the essence of spiritual blindness!

The mega-“church” that tries to nest a group of home fellowships under its umbrella is the epitome of this confusion. On Sundays and at mid-week, the mixed multitude is herded in and out for the regular “services” characterized by a time of music usually followed by a Bible-based lecture where only the “pastor” (or someone he allows to share his pulpit) speaks. This model is completely foreign to the New Testament and completely inappropriate for the spiritual health of an ekklesia – and it is only partly applicable to the mixed multitude. But this is what is commonly called “church”! When the “pastor” or his guest speaker is in fact controlled or influenced by the demonic, the pulpit of the mega-“church” becomes a platform by which the demonic can implant deception or even other demonic spirits into the hearts and lives of the listeners. That this is so is seen in the fact that the hidden sins of the “pastor” (arrogance, lust, whatever) are transferred to and practiced by many people in the congregation who never see or know that the “pastor” commits these sins.

The home fellowships under the umbrella of the mega-“church” are a closer rendition to the New Testament pattern of meeting in houses. But often, the “pastor” tries to exert control over even these and tries to make them satellites of his own “ministry” by doing such things as having the people discuss only what he covered in his Sunday morning lecture. Interestingly, in such settings, the main things remembered only a few days after Sunday are the “pastor’s” jokes and anecdotes – most cannot even remember the main Scriptural text! Again, though the home fellowship is a closer approximation to the New Testament pattern of ekklesia for the saints, the larger-scale meetings of the mixed multitude is what is commonly called “church”! Such confusion and deception is not from God. ( 1 Cor. 14:33 , 1 Jn. 2:21; top )

Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” ( Mt. 18:20 ) He did not say, “…two or more…” He did say, “…two or three…” Larger meetings are not prohibited – they simply are not where Christ does His best and deepest work in our midst. Jesus sent out His disciples in twos ( Mk. 6:7 ) and there is no reason to believe that the apostles did not go in pairs to every house after teaching daily at Solomon’s porch in the Jerusalem temple. ( Acts 5:42 ) Paul and Barnabas (two men) were separated out from a group of prophets and teachers in the only instance we see in the New Testament of apostles being appointed. ( Acts 13:2; top ) The “church” systematically excludes the two and three groupings and opts instead for large-scale meetings and then (at least the small percentage of genuine followers of Christ at any rate) wonders why there is such rampant sin and shallow spirituality!

The second detail overlooked by Tozer in this quote is that leaders are for the immature. Tozer wrote, “Always someone must lead. …they always have to have a leader.” (emphasis added) This statement is flatly contradicted in Scripture. The fivefold men of Eph. 4:11 are given by God to equip the saints for the work of serving God and His people (v. 12 ) until we all come to the completeness and maturity that is found in the fullness of Christ (v. 13 ) The “church” has many ways in which it systematically removes a key ingredient of attaining to spiritual maturity (the large-scale, mixed multitude meeting instead of two and three committed believers we’ve already seen in this chapter is but one of many instances of this practice) so it is virtually impossible to attain to the fullness of Christ while remaining in an institutional “church” setting. The “church” requires you to attach yourself to the man who leads and this carnality (see 1 Cor. 3:4 ) alone prevents almost everyone from attaining to the fullness of Christ. (also see Rom. 8:7; top )

These fivefold giftings, even when appropriately doing their work of equipping, are not to act as heads over the people however. ( Mt. 20:25-26 ) Tozer wrote, “Without a leader [a group] is headless and a headless body is power less.” To support this statement, he cites the “public,” a “mob” and the Old Testament Israelites. But none of these are the ekklesia who already has a Head, Christ Jesus, who is supposed to have the preeminence in all things. ( Col. 1:18; top ) If a group claiming to be ekklesia does not have this Head, whose fault is that? That most “churches” do not operate according to the dictates of the Head Christ Jesus is simply evidence that the people have a different head, most often the “pastor.”

When a body has two heads, it has plenty of power.; But it has limited functionality. Cerebral palsy acts as an imitator of certain brain (head) functions and will cause body parts to jerk uncontrollably and spasmodically or it may prevent the brain (head) from having perfect motor control over various body parts. This is the picture of a follower of Christ submitting to a second head that usurps the authority of Christ and derails the follower from attaining to the fullness of Christ.

In pointing to the Israelite’s rebellions, Tozer misses some obvious points. Let us look at three rebellions: Korah’s, Israel’s and Jeroboam’s.

In Korah’s rebellion (Num. 16), we find some people rebelling against Moses and, in the end, God unquestionably demonstrated Moses’ genuine place of leadership by literally removing Korah from the scene by way of a new opening in the ground beneath Korah and his followers’ feet. ( Num. 16:31-32 ) In all of his time as Israel’s leader, Moses never left his place as a true shepherd, even offering to take Israel’s punishment upon himself. ( Ex. 32:32 ) Here is a picture of someone refusing to submit to the genuine works of the fivefold men that God would use to bring that one to the fullness of Christ. To attach one’s self to a “church” “pastor” is to refuse to submit to genuine apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers – it is the same thing as rejecting Moses and attaching one’s self to Korah. God still says, “Depart now from the tents of these wicked men! Touch nothing of theirs, lets you be consumed in all their sins.” ( Num. 16:26 ) Paul echoes this language when he writes, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” ( 2 Tim. 2:19; top )

In Israel’s rebellion against God (1 Sam. 8), we find the Israelites rightfully unhappy with Samuel’s sons (who, after Samuel installed them as judges became corrupt in their dealings with the people – 1 Sam. 8:3 ) so they demand that Samuel give them a king. ( 1 Sam. 8:5 ) Samuel, acting under God’s orders, warned them that the new king would rule over them and use them sorely so that they would cry out to the LORD but the LORD would not hear them in that day. ( 1 Sam. 8:18 ) The people insisted on getting a king and the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.” ( 1 Sam. 8:7 ) Those “churches” and groups who insist on having a king (a second head, a “pastor”) are those who are rejecting the Kingship, the Headship, of Christ Jesus over His ekklesia. And in the day when these groups find out just how much their “pastor” has robbed them of, they will say, “Lord, Lord!” And He will say to them, “Depart from Me – I never knew you!” ( Mt. 7:23; top )

In the rebellion of Jeroboam (1 Ki. 12), we find Jeroboam taking ten of the tribes of Israel away from Solomon’s rightful heir, Rehoboam. ( 1 Ki. 12:20-21 ) As part of God’s judgment against the house of David, Jeroboam is given the kingship of the ten tribes and given the opportunity to follow God. ( 1 Ki. 11:38 ) Instead, because he fears in his heart that the kingdom may revert to the house of David ( 1 Ki. 12:26 ) he reasoned, “‘If these people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn back to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and go back to Rehoboam king of Judah’ Therefore [Jeroboam] took counsel and made two calves of gold, and said to the people, ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!’ And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan.” ( 1 Ki. 12:27-29; top )

Apparently, few people had any real problems with this and throughout the remainder of the history of the kings of Israel we read, “[The new king] did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin.” ( 1 Ki. 15:34 , etc.) Interestingly, the altar at Bethel (which means “the house of God,” no less!) was immediately denounced by an anonymous man of God even as Jeroboam sacrificed on it. ( 1 Ki. 13:1-10 ) Bethel was also denounced by the LORD to Amos when He said, “Seek Me and live; but do not seek Bethel…[for]…Bethel shall come to nothing.” ( Amos 4:4-5 ) The Lord later said to Amos, “I am setting a plumb line in the midst of My people… I will not pass by them anymore. …the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste.” ( Amos 7:8-9 ) When Amaziah the priest of Bethel heard of Amos’ prophecies against Jeroboam and Israel, he told Amos to “never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is the royal residence.” ( Amos 7:13 ) Jeremiah referenced Bethel as the confidence of Israel that became their shame. ( Jer. 48:13 ) And Hosea warned Israel that Bethel’s great wickedness would cause the king to be cut off entirely in one morning. ( Hos. 10:15; top )

The parallels between the story of Bethel (“the house of God”) and the “church” (“the house of God”) are incredible! The idolatry of Bethel traces to one man, Jeroboam. The chief idolatry at a “church” is “pastor” worship – either unduly exalting the man or the position – and this stems mostly from the writings of one man, Ignatius of Antioch and the “church” has followed in the sins of Ignatius ever since. The “church” is viewed as (even routinely called!) a sanctuary and anyone who speaks against a “pastor” or a “church” is told to “never speak here again.” Many people trust in their “church” attendance to get them through on judgment day – just as Jeroboam gave credit to Bethel’s golden calf for bringing Israel out of Egypt and Israel, to it shame, saw Bethel’s idolatry as its confidence. The “pastor” will also be cut off in a single moment when the angels come to remove from Christ’s kingdom everyone who does what is right in his own eyes. ( Mt. 13:41; top )

“The people merely switched to a new leader,” Tozer wrote, “and followed him.” This is not only the sad commentary of Israel, it is the sad summary of church history. Luther reformed the Catholic dogmas, Wesley differed from and improved upon Luther and Calvin, the evangelicals departed from the protestants, etc., etc., ad nauseum. And completely rejected is the Headship of Christ as each sect (denomination) does what is right in its own eyes. Simultaneously, the schemes of the devil (false religion, clergyism, error, tolerance, money misuse, etc.) have become the core integral building blocks of the “church.” This is the great apostasy, the great falling away from the faith that was given once for all. ( Jude 3; top ) And the vast majority of it is being accomplished in the name of Christ.

13. Artificial Divisions Are Harmful π 15. The Responsibility of Leadership (Part 2)
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