I realize that some may be coming into the middle of this ongoing series of posts I have been doing on clergy and laity. Some have have varying degrees of knowledge of how blogs works as well. I am building toward some things with these posts and if you want to catch up on where we have been I would invite you to click on the "Klaos" link under the categories section or click here for an index. The September 16 post is really the first in this discussion.
Also, two books that have had a major impact on my thinking are:
Stevens' book is on the academic side, and requires some work to fully process parts of what is saying but it is well worth the read. I think it is one the most important books I have read. So many of the loose pieces and vague doubts about church structures and my vocation came into sharp focus when I read this book a few years ago.
Ogden's book is geared toward pastor's and leaders but has application for every believer. He tends to get closer to practical ministry application than Steven's and fleshes out some important concepts like equipping.
Tom Gillespie, former President of Princeton Seminary, wrote an article 25 years ago called The Laity in Biblical Perspective which I would also recommend. I got permission from him last month to post a unpublished article he wrote on "Ministerial Orders in the Reformed Tradition." I have just begun to OCR it and it is a long one.
Many people have described the Christian walk as a journey. One of the more widely read magazines in Evangelical circles is Sojourners. I can’t count the number of times I have heard or seen “sojourn” or “journey” in the title of songs and poems written by Christians, in Church and organizational names, and in a host of other places. We seem to have a sense that we are on some type of journey. As I have studied the Bible over the years I have become aware of another theme as well. Let me illustrate it with a few quick references.
The Bible opens with the creation story. God created Adam and Eve, and told them to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth. Their descendants were to be on a journey until the mission was accomplished. Adam and Eve sinned and their son Cain went into full rebellion. Rather then being fruitful and multiplying, he chose to kill and destroy. Rather than fill the earth, he chose to dig in and create his own world. He called both his first son and the city he built “Enoch,” meaning “to initiate.” Cain was announcing the establishment of life apart from God. Genesis tells us that he settled in the land of Nod. Nod literally means “wandering.” So Cain settled in the land of wandering. Was ever a truer word written about the human condition?
After God destroyed humanity with a flood, he told Noah to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth. What is the first story we encounter after the account of Noah? The people of Babel build a city and start constructing a tower to the heavens declaring that “We will make a name for ourselves.” While this relates to achieving renown, it also refers to the ancient belief that the act of naming was an exercise of authority over the person or thing named. The people of Babel were intent on overthrowing God’s authority by naming themselves. Rather than disperse and fill the earth, they sent down roots and united in rebellion against God.
With Abraham and the beginning of Israel, there are increasingly clear indications that God created his chosen people to be beacon to the rest of the world of God’s love, justice, and provision. Through Israel, God would call all people to him and redeem the nations. Instead, the Israelites took their chosen status as an indication of privilege. They became content with the home God provided and they became indifferent to God’s objective of redemption. They ended up loosing not only God's favor, but their home, as God dispersed them throughout the world.
When Jesus came, he sent the Church on a mission to reach Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. After his resurrection, the “Reverse Babel” of Pentecost came, where everyone understood everyone else and became united in their mission through Christ. It took divine intervention with people like Peter to see beyond their own communities but the Church began to spread for several generations. Then a man named Constantine offered the church a “home.”
Over the centuries there have been pockets of Christians who have boldly taken the grace of God outside their homes but for more than 1,500 years the church became entangled in the project of building Enoch, Babel, Jerusalem, and Rome. The sojourners, charged with Christ’s mission of going into the world and bringing every realm under his loving Lordship, opted to build homes rather than stay on the road.
Jesus calls transformers into a journey to transform every realm. He sends us out into the world to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth with his presence. Some of Jesus’ most powerful metaphors concerning mission deal with the dispersion of substances so that the mission might be realized. Salt to preserve food and add taste. Yeast to leaven bread. Seeds to grow crops. The mission of the Church is to disperse and bring every realm under the loving Lordship of Christ. Realm does not just mean geographic regions. It also means social institutions and varied human relationships. Jesus' strategy is the dispersion of his people into every realm so that each realm and person may be transformed into extensions of God’s love and justice.
Transformers of the realms require dogged determination, passion, courage, and commitment, to name just a few traits. They must develop specialized knowledge and skills to address their realms of ministry. The leaders know that they can not fight the battles for the ministers under their charge. They are there to equip and aid in the transformation of the transformers, even as the transformers seek the transformation of others. Such a mission has no place for “laity.” The leaders can not be with their dispersed ministers out on the road, engaged in the journey. The leader can’t possibly have the expertise in every realm to which the ministers have been called. These ministers must mature and become effective leaders in their own right in the realm where God has sent them.
Instead, like Cain, like the folks at Babel, and like the Israelites, we have opted to build homes and put down roots. God wiped out the rebellious descendants of Cain, he dispersed the people of Babel, and he dispersed the Israelites. What do you suppose God has in mind for the “homes” we call congregations and denominations, used to avoid being on the journey?
I have been writing about clergy and laity. Where the mission is simply to maintain a home, a clergy/laity dichotomy may cut it (even if it isn’t biblical.) The clergy is the professional head of household for a family full of dependents. However, in the context of transforming realms, the clergy/laity mindset is deadly to the mission. Each disciple has to become a competent minister dispersed into the realm to which they are called. The trivialization of the dispersed ministers and the obsession with “house” work is a direct result of the dichotomy. I think as people begin to understand the mission established by Christ, the “laity” concept becomes plainly transparent for the destructive force it is. Problem is, many of us are quite content in Babel and would just as soon not here about mission.
It seems to me that the first thing we need to do is find those among us who are restless in Babel. Then we need to talk to them about three things: mission, mission, and mission. After that, we should begin talking to them about mission. We follow this with some conversation about mission. Not everyone is going to leave Babel, but as rumors of the mission of a lifetime circulate, and others witness others on the road, maybe we will see an exodus from Babel into world transforming mission.
I have been haranguing on the clergy/laity dichotomy in my recent posts. So let me anticipate the next question. Am I proposing some sort of radical egalitarian existence without church structures or hierarchy? Certainly not. I do think we need to rethink how we think about structures and hierarchy.
I wrote about Ephesians 4 yesterday where Paul wrote that the Church was given apostles, prophets, evangelists, and preacher/teachers as gifts to the church. Paul goes on to list leadership gifts in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. There is a glaring omission if one brings the lists together. The idea of priests, mediators between God and humanity, would still have been very much a part of the Jewish Christian’s mindset concerning religious authority. God did not give the church priests!
Matthew 23:8-12 records the following as part of Jesus commentary about leadership:
But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father -- the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted. (NRSV)
There is a distinction in the social sciences between power and authority that I suspect comes straight from the Bible.
Power – The ability to compel compliance to the leader’s will, even against the will of followers.
Authority – The strong inclination by others to submit their will to the will of the leader out of a firm belief that the leader is acting in the followers’ best interest.
The one who leads based on power loses authority. People come to trust such a leader less, which requires the exercise of more power to gain compliance. Generally, the less one uses power in leadership to gain compliance, the greater becomes their authority.
The one who leads based on authority must occasionally resort to the use of power for the greater good of the persons affected. However, as just stated, a reliance on power will destroy authority. The more one is able to lead by authority the less the need for exercising power.
God calls people to positions of authority among the body of Christ. The positions listed in Ephesians 4 are a sampling of authority positions. But from where does this authority come? It does not come exclusively by a discerned call of the one seeking a position of authority. It must also come out of a discernment of the people that a prospective leader is exhibiting authority commensurate with the position they are considering.
The clear message I take from scripture is that, post-Pentecost, each of us has direct access to Christ without the need for any mediator. The head has direct connection with every other part of the body. It does not need to tell the kidney to tell the finger what to do. It does not need the toe to tell the lung what to do. However, God has ordained that some parts of the body are to be focused on the integration and health of the individual body parts. We call these specialists elders, some of whom are even more specialized as pastor/teacher elders (Minister of Word and Sacrament in the PCUSA.) They equip the body in the sense I wrote yesterday: Fix what is broken, bring back in to proper alignment, and supplement that which is missing. Equip them for what? To answer God’s call to ministry in whatever aspect of creation stewardship, kingdom service, or exercising gifts God desires of them.
No one elder does all aspects of equipping well. However, if an individual does not exhibit giftedness at doing at least one of these well, they are not called to be an elder.
But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift.
The first six verses of Ephesians 4, tell of our oneness in Christ. Paul begins this following sentence with “but.” While we are united in Christ, we are not uniform. Grace has been given to each of us uniquely through the work of Christ. As Paul writes elsewhere, “one body, many gifts.”
8 Therefore it is said, "When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people." 9 (When it says, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.)
Verse 8 is quoting Psalm 68:18. This verse is referring to the Ark of the Covenant being brought up to Jerusalem. It symbolizes the triumphal reign of God who conquered all enemies and initiated his dwelling with Israel. (Commentators note that Paul did not go on to quote the rest of Psalm 68:18 where it speaks explicitly of God dwelling with his people. That has not yet fully come.) When a conqueror established himself, the vanquished gave gifts in tribute. The conqueror would then lavish these gifts on whomever he chose.
Paul emphasizes in verse 9, that Christ the conqueror, descended “into the lower parts of the earth,” which is a euphemism for death. Verse 10 says he ascended far above anything we can imagine. From the depths of death to the highest place we can imagine, Christ has conquered all! Nothing is outside his reign.
So it is from the context of a call to be one, though variously gifted by the one who has conquered all, even death itself, that we come to the next passage.
11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to…
Is this a comprehensive list of gifts? Comparing it with other lists in the New Testament, I think the answer is clearly no. Paul seems to be focused on these four gifts (the Greek makes “pastors and teachers” as one gift) because they are for a particular purpose. What purpose? To be chaplains for people who know God? To build sacred edifices where we can meet each week? To create spiritual Wal-Marts where we can come and get our spiritual needs met? To create intriguing philosophical societies?
… 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
Equip the saints for the work of ministry!!! Did I yell that loud enough? While I am at it, let me yell this too. “Work of ministry” categorically and empathically does not equate to training people for leadership positions within the church institutional hierarchy for “ministry” done within the four walls of sacred structure!!!
I wrote in an earlier post that ministry is not defined by what we do. Ministry is defined by WHO we are doing for. I wrote of the Trinitarian call of Creation Stewardship, Kingdom Service and Exercise of Gifts. What ever we do in response to God is ministry. Period! All of us have a call to ministry and for a small minority of us, that call will be to work inside of ecclesiastical structures, equipping the rest of us to do ministry!
Greg Ogden, in his book Unfinished Business, shows that there are essentially three aspects to equipping as described in various places throughout scripture (see Chapter 6 of his book): 1. Fixing what is broken. 2. Bringing back into proper alignment. 3. Supplementing that which is missing. It requires a team of mature leaders to do all these well. However, let us make no mistake, this equipping is the primary agenda of the apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor/teachers. Only when this happens, do we achieve the unity of which Paul writes and fully realize the reality of Christ as Lord of all.
14 We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people's trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body's growth in building itself up in love.
In our culture, the head is a metaphor for intellect and the heart is a metaphor for emotion. Not so for the Greeks. The heart was the metaphor for mind, emotion, will, and intellect. The head was a metaphor for life giving source. Life emanates from the head out through the body. It makes sense when you think about it. Where does most input into the body occur? Food through the mouth. Air through the nose. Sight through the eyes. Hearing through the ears. The head is what gives life and sustenance to the rest of the body. This is the metaphor that Paul was using. Jesus is Lord of all but he is also the animating source to his body, the Church.
The problem is that the body is sickly and prone to infection and disease. We must become healthy by fixing what is broken, bringing life into proper alignment, and supplementing the body with that which is missing, even as Christ nourishes us, the body, with his life animating presence.
John Stott notes that “speaking the truth in love” is an imperfect translation of verse 15. We do not have some of the same verb tenses in English as in Greek. A more literal reading would be “truthing in love.” In other words, truth should be oozing from our pores in word, thought and deed, all the time showing the love of Christ.
Well, here is a feeble attempt on my part to be” truthing in love.” It is time drop the charade of clergy and laity, and for each of us to fully own our call to ministry, being equipped by people God has gifted us with for that purpose. The clergy/laity dichotomy is a parasite to the Body of Christ that obscures calling, trivializes equipping, and kills ministry.
1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
I worked for a highly successful entrepreneur who said the key to business success was managing expectations. Always set expectations and exceed them. Never create false expectations or you will loose your customers and ultimately the business. My experience is that false expectations are one of the single biggest problems in the church. We look to church as a place that will “meet our needs” and be a nearly utopian fellowship. Look at the first three verses and see what Paul’s expectations are.
First, “prisoner in the Lord” does not sound like someone who is trying to get his needs met. This is someone who is so sold out to Jesus that his very will has been taken captive. Second, Paul talks about “bearing with one another.” “Bearing is from the Greek anechomai and can mean bear with, put up with, forbear, endure, suffer. Doesn’t sound much like the kind of place we would choose to get our needs met. And that is precisely the point. God is the one who gathers us into community with a whole array of very annoying people and sends us out in mission. After all, as Tony Campolo used to say, “Jesus is the light of the world; and as we all know, light attracts bugs.”
Verses 4-6 talk a lot about “one.” Many people talk about this or that group of Christians (i.e., ethnicity, worship style, generation, theological distinctive, etc.) and ask if we can become one? Bad question. We are one through Christ and there is nothing we can do about it. We are stuck with each other for eternity. The only question is will we choose to live like we are one. Yes, I know there is heresy and error but what is the appropriate response to an errant sister or brother? Shall we go back and visit verses 1-3? Now what does “bearing with” mean to us? There is an old Quaker saying that goes “All are queer but thee and me…and sometimes I wonder about thee.” The fact is, I don’t really want to put up with you and I expect if you really knew me, you would not want to put up with me either.
I have made the case in the last two posts that each person is called to ministry and that the clergy/laity distinction is a false one. Does this mean that we are to be a totally egalitarian community? Are there roles of authority and how do they function in the life of the church? I want to begin an investigation of this question by first visiting Calvin’s idea of Jesus and munus triplex, “the triple office."
As we read through the Old Testament we discover that there were three types of offices to which people were anointed or ordained, if you will: prophets, priests and kings. Each of these played a vital role in the life of Israel. Jesus life, death and resurrection changed all this.
Hebrews tells us that Jesus functions as our high priest, but he is unlike any high priest who has come before. Hebrews 5:6 says that he was a priest “according to the order of Melchizedek.” Melchizedek was the King-Priest of Salem who blessed Abraham in Genesis 14. The New Testament is filled with references to Jesus Lordship. Jesus was also known as a prophet and certainly he excelled beyond all others in “telling forth” God’s purposes and bringing hope as he brought people to repentance and faith. Jesus fulfilled all three offices. At no point after Jesus’ resurrection is there an anointing to these three offices.
With the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, individual believers had direct access to God. Bruce Waltke and Jerry MacGreggor in Finding the Will of God: A Pagan Notion? point out that all through the Old Testament, decisions were made by casting lots, using the “urim and thummim,” and “fleeces” to discern God’s will. The last instance of this we see is with the selection of Matthias as the disciple to replace Judas just before Pentecost. From that point on, divination is no longer needed, because we have direct communication with God through the Holy Spirit. Christ is our mediator and we no longer need earthly priests.
Christ is the prophet, priest, and king. None of us individually is prophet, priest or king but because we are united to Christ as his body, we corporately fulfill these functions to the world. As Chirst’s body we fulfill the munus triplex. With this in mind, I want to take a look at the first sixteen verses of Ephesians 4.
Where did we get the clergy/laity dichotomy? The word “clergy” comes from the Greek word kleros, which means “lot” or “inheritance.” When used figuratively, as in, “we are God’s inheritance,” or “we share in the inheritance of Christ,” it refers without exception to the whole people of God. It never refers to a specially called elite subgroup of people. “Clergy” and “the people of God” (laos tou theou) are one in the same group!
The term “laity” is not a direct translation from the noun laos (“people”) as is often purported. It came indirectly from laos through the adjective laikos, meaning “of the common people.” Laikos is not in the New Testament and it is not in the ancient Greek version of the Old Testament called the Septuagint.
The first known mentions of laikos come from about 300 BCE. It was an adjective used in papyri to describe the profane things of the rural people in Egypt. The earliest known use of the word in Christian literature is in a letter by Clement of Rome to the Corinthian church, written circa 96 CE. In exhorting the church to preserve godly order, he alludes to the order of the Old Testament era. He discusses the responsibilities of those who were neither priests nor Levites, and calls them laymen (laikos anthropos.) (1 Clement 40:5) (1)
Laikos was used sparingly by Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion in their Greek translations of the Old Testament during the second and third centuries. It was used as a synonym for bebelos which means “profane” or “unholy.” Laikos was also a synonym in Greek literature for idiotes which meant “nonprofessional.” (It is the word from which we get “idiot.”) Laikos did not begin to enter the common Christian vocabulary until the third and fourth centuries. Over time and across languages, the adjective evolved into the noun “laity” to represent the unprofessional, common, and profane people contrasted with the educated, holy, and sacred people known as “clergy.” (2)
The Reformers saw this as a problem but they also struggled with church order. The outcome of their struggle to reconcile the issues was retention of the clergy/laity distinction while trying to elevate the laity. (3) Did they succeed? Ask yourself if you prefer ministry by a lay- Christian, anymore than you do surgery from a lay-surgeon, or legal advice from a lay-lawyer?
Real ministry is what is done by a caste of Christians called “clergy,” those with special training and an extra endowment of spirituality. Laity exists to assist clergy in real ministry. We say we believe in the priesthood of believers but look at our language and structures. Clergy do “full-time” Christian ministry. We send people to seminaries to prepare for the ministry. We install them in our congregations as the minister. Prayer is deferred to the clergy because they have special status with God. The sick have not been cared for until visited by clergy.
Ask anyone for a definition of laity and it nearly always is given in terms of the negative:
Function – they do not administer the sacraments.
Status – they don’t have reverend in front of their name.
Location – they don’t serve primarily in the church.
Education – they don’t have a degree from seminary.
Remuneration – they are not paid for church work.
Lifestyle – they are occupied with the “secular” instead of the “sacred.” (4)
When “laypeople” are referred to positively, they are said to be “the people of God” (laos tou theou.) True enough, but the “people of God” in contrast to whom? The clergy? Scripture only uses clergy (kleros) in reference to the whole people of God. Laos tou theou are the clergy!
The primary locus for ministry is the congregation in dispersion throughout the community during the week. We have moved the locus to the gathered congregation. Why? Because non-pastor Christians are “idiots!” (laity = laikos = idiotes = idiots.) They can be helpful assistants to clergy but they can not be fully trusted with the things of God. Real ministry can only be done by professional Christians, and since they can’t be everywhere, it is the job of the “laity” to bring unbelievers to the professionals for real ministry. Consequently, the saints are thoroughly under- equipped for ministry in dispersion, and they are demeaned and trivialized for ministry among the gathered. Am I exaggerating? Do people in the pews have any sense of call? Look at the best selling book list. What continues to be at the top? The Purpose-Driven Life. You may love the book or hate it, but it is being read by millions of people who have received no discernment of call and ministry from the Church.
It is time to dispel the myth of laity and embrace the reality that all the baptized are clergy. We are all kleros + laos = klaos; "the clergy people of God."
I quoted Karl Barth recently and what he wrote needs to be repeated:
“Theology is not the private reserve of theologians. It is not a private affair for professors…Nor is it a private affair for pastors…Theology is a matter for the church. It does not get on well without professors and pastors. But its problem, the purity of the church’s service, is put to the whole church. The term ‘laity’ is one of the worst in the vocabulary of religion and ought to be banished from Christian conversation.” (5)
1 Weber, Hans-Ruedi. “On Being Christian in the World: Reflections on the ecumenical discussion about the laity.” Document at World Council of Churches website: www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/what/education/ weber.html. 1999. Accessed May 1, 2005 2 Ibid. 3 Gillespie, Thomas W. “Ministerial Orders in the Reformed Tradition: A Study in Origins.” A paper presented to the delegations to the Consultation on Church Union from the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. and the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. circa 1979? 4 Stevens, R. Paul, The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work, and Ministry in Biblical Perspective (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1999), 24-25. 5 Karl Barth. Theologische Fragen und Antworten, 1957, 183-184, quoted in R. J. Erler and R. Marquard, eds., translator, G. W. Bromiley. A Karl Barth Reader. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986, 8-9. I found the quote in R. Paul Stevens. The Other Six Days. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999, 24.
Two weeks ago I said I wanted to enter a discussion about calling and vocations in our current environment. This is my first installment.
R. Paul Stevens, in his book The Other Six Days, makes a case for a Trinitarian view of call. I haven’t seen this perspective presented elsewhere but it is core to my understanding. Stevens suggests that God’s call comes to us in these ways.
Father = Creation Stewardship – Being stewards of creation and co-creators with God. Son = Kingdom Service – Carrying on the works of Jesus. Spirit = Exercising Gifts – Using gifts for the growth and health of the Church and humanity.
All are called to participate in all three. The callings are integrated and yet each has identifiable aspects. However, in terms of how we spend the hours of our days, the great majority of us spend the great majority of our time in Creation Stewardship. Accounting, farming, sales, factory work, teaching, art, plumbing, even (and especially) diaper changing, are Creation Stewardship.
Stevens sees this Trinitarian idea of call reflected in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6:
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. (NIV)
Spirit – Gifts Lord – Service God – Works
In addition to these general calls, God gives us temperament, gifts, life experiences and passions. Form these we discern our personal vocation. However, the exercise of our vocation is always contextual. The particular context we are in always shapes how our vocation is expressed. In the best of circumstances, our employment, or occupation, will be an extension of the vocation God has given us. This means that our occupation is but one expression of our vocation which can find expression in other ways apart from employment. Thus, how we respond the Trinitarian call is unique to each of us:
Temperament/gifts/experience + passion = personal vocation Temperament/gifts/experience + passion + context = occupation (in the broadest sense of “what I am occupied with,” which may mean employment)
Notice that I have said nothing here about ministry. Ministry is not defined by what we do. It is defined by WHO we are doing for! If we are using our vocation in service to the Trinitarian call of God, that is ministry, period!
Notice I have said nothing of church or ecclesiastical leadership. While ecclesiastical service is an occupation for a few, it categorically is not THE ministry. I am convinced that ecclesiastical structures should exist to equip, nurture, and empower people do the ministry as I just defined it; whatever we do in service to God.
So how is it that all but a very small number of us who have never darkened the hallways of a seminary have no sense of call to ministry in our lives?
(Warning: I have great passion about these issues. Potential flaming ahead.)
“…In the almost thirty of my professional career, my church has never once suggested that there be any type of accounting of my on-the-job ministry to others. My church has never once offered to improve those skills which could make me a better minister, nor has it ever asked if I needed any kind of support in what I was doing. There has never been and enquiry into the types of ethical decisions I must face, or whether I seek to communicate the faith to my co-workers. I have never been in a congregation where there was any type of public affirmation of a ministry in my career. In short, I must conclude that my church doesn’t have the least interest whether or how I minister in my daily work.” (William E. Diehl. Christianity and Real Life. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976. v.-vi. Diehl was an executive at Bethlehem Steel.)
“Theology is not the private reserve of theologians. It is not a private affair for professors…Nor is it a private affair for pastors…Theology is a matter for the church. It does not get on well without professors and pastors. But its problem, the purity of the church’s service, is put to the whole church. The term ‘laity’ is one of the worst in the vocabulary of religion and ought to be banished from Christian conversation.” (Karl Barth. Theologische Fragen und Antworten, 1957, 183-184, quoted in R. J. Erler and R. Marquard, eds., translator, G. W. Bromiley. A Karl Barth Reader. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986, 8-9. I found the quote in R. Paul Stevens. The Other Six Days. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999, 24)
“This then is the ‘new direction’ which a biblical perspective on the Christian laity requires of us today. It calls for a widespread recognition and honoring of the biblical vision of the unity of the laos of God, of the ministry of all members, of the priesthood of all believers, of the vocation of all Christians. It will be realized only if the ‘nonclergy’ are willing to move up, if the ‘clergy’ are willing to move over, and all of God’s people are willing to move out. For the ministry of this community is rendered first and foremost in the world and for the world. It is performed in the daily lives of its people, in their participation and involvement in the structures of a complex society, in their sacrificial obedience in ‘worldly affairs,’ in their mission to reclaim the world for the God who claims the world in love.” (Thomas W. Gillespie, “The Laity in Biblical Perspective.” Theology Today, v. 36, no. 3, Oct. 1979, p. 315-327. p. 327. Dr. Gillespie is a retired pastor, former president of Princeton Seminary, and a fellow General Assembly Council member.)