The Clergy System


As Christianity began to solidify into a human organization, it began to move from practicing the priesthood of all believers to a system whereby one person or group began to take control of the church. The normal way of the world is to replace guidance by the Holy Spirit with control by men with an agenda. The account in 3 John 9-11 tells us of a man named Diotrephes who rejected John's letters to the church and  the helpers sent by John to minister to the church. He then put himself into the preeminent place as the sole leader of the church and then was removing people from the church who disagreed with him. John made it clear that he would call attention to his deeds when he came (3 John 10). I wrote a book on this subject years ago entitled The Heresy of Diotrephes which is available on Amazon. Ironically, this presumptuous, egotistical attitude of Diotrephes is often practiced in today's churches.  One person, or a group of people, take control of the affairs of a church and reject those who disagree with their control. 

God has given leadership to the local churches to older, mature men referred to as elders of overseers  who were under mandate to lead the church by example as led by the Holy Spirit (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Phil. 1:1; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 5:1-3;  Acts 20:28; 14:23). They are the shepherds of the sheep of God (Acts 20:28). Jesus promised the disciples that the Holy Spirit would be sent and He "will guide you into all the truth" (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit is to lead us, not men with an agenda. When the affairs of the church are left in the hands of men who are not led by scripture and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the tendency is to conform to the world's carnal methods leading us away from truth given to us by the Holy Spirit and revealed in His word.

Paul warned of this in his letter to the Ephesians:  "As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming" (Eph. 4:14). Misguided men use winds of doctrine, trickery, craftiness and deceitful scheming to build what they think is the church. It ends up being a man-made and man-controlled organization that uses human power and ability to construct the church according to the world's ways instead of the the ways of the Holy Spirit.

The end result of this is a clergy system, where men assume the position of church leaders replacing the priesthood of all believers. God's people are called a holy priesthood to God (1 Peter 2;5) and a kingdom of priests to God (Rev. 1:6). Priests are able to with confidence ". . .  enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,  by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb. 10:19-22). This passage is written to the priests of the new covenant opened to us through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus. When He died the separating veil was torn down symbolizing God's provision of a spiritual priesthood made up of all believers. That includes you if you know Christ.

Any expression of the church must make way for this priesthood of all believers by providing a setting for believers to minister according to the gifts God has granted them (Eph. 4:7; 1 Cor. 14:1, 3, 26, 31; 12:7; Acts 2:42). For a special class of academically trained preachers to do almost all of the priestly duties is a return to the heresy of Diotrephes who liked to be the number one guy and refused the clear testimony of God's word and the leading of the Holy Spirit. The church must be a forum for the speaking of its Guest of honor, the One who died for us and sent His Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth.