Information Comes From Clergy TO Information Is A Click Away From Any Search Engine
From Caterpillar to Cocoon to Butterfly – Part XVI
In this series we have been asking the question, “What happens with metamorphosis during the cocoon stage?” How, structurally, do you get a butterfly from what once was a caterpillar? In my Aug. 20, 2011’s blog, I listed several forms of transformation that I see occurring inside the cocoon of change for the church. Today we will look at the principle: Information comes from clergy or staff (caterpillar) TO Information is a click away thanks to search engines. (butterfly).
Caterpillar: “The Dark Ages” were aptly named because of keeping people “in the dark”. Only the wealthy or clergy were literate and educated, the masses were not. This allowed the hierarchal structure of the Roman Catholic Church to dictate its doctrines and dogma to the masses. The masses were instructed to “trust” their clergy to give them correct interpretation of the Bible. You didn’t question a priest. With the invention of the printing press, literacy grew throughout Europe birthing the Age of Enlightenment. At first these newly printed Bibles were banned and their printers even martyred, but as the masses learned how to read, the Bible became their main source of text. They soon discovered the church dogma that presided over their lives had little Biblical basis, thus the birth of the Reformation, where people read the scriptures themselves, and “protested” by breaking away from the mother church, being tagged as “Protest-ants”. Martin Luther became one of the first to lead the charge, discovering salvation by grace not works, and advocating the “priesthood of believers”, yet when it came time to establish church government, he copied the same hierarchal, pyramidal structure of clergy (instead of priests) and laity (non-trained or uneducated). This structured has been followed from Luther’s day into the present with little if any modification.
Butterfly: I believe that the “priesthood of believers” that Luther advocated will be the structure of the future church on a linear, horizontal plain of relational peers. Luther’s seed will sprout to this generation. The emphasis will not be on relying on the clergy and their staff as professionals to “teach” them the word through westernized theological preaching nor being pew sitters nurturing apathy, but will rely on the Holy Spirit to teach each believer as they individually study the word, walking out what they have read in faith in their daily lives, and becoming very active in practicing and sharing their faith in their present culture. The emphasis of church structure will change as it goal changes. What will now be important is the “equipping of the ‘saints’”, not the clergy and the “staff” for the purpose of “service”. That reciprocal service of give and take will create accountability through deepened, established horizontal relationships.
The Differences: The differences are obvious: Under the old system, the trickle down effect was emphasized. Leadership heard from God and relayed it down to the people through sermons. Professional leadership’s interpretation of the scriptures always superseded those of the saints in the pews, for they were the “learned”, the “educated”, the studiers of Latin and Greek. The “sermon” by the educated clergy became the keystone to most church services. Even Bible studies were highly scripted and guided studies written by clergy, often lead by clergy, and approved by the denomination or sect with which one belonged. Under the new system, personal inquiry is encouraged; seek the scriptures yourself, ask the Holy Spirit to “teach you all things” about the passage, and access all the Biblical commentaries, etc. available through one click of the mouse through search engines on the internet.
Implications Today: Today, one can get the Bible in printed form and through the internet on their lap top, IPad, and even Smart Phone in printed and oral form. Today we are facing the linear age, where communications occurs on a horizontal plain of peers. Biblical discussions can occur in internet chat rooms, through Facebook entries, through tweets on Twitter with attached links to websites about the discussed passages, and through blogs. All this electronic communication by passes the screening of today’s clergy. They use to be able to control the printed material, but today they can’t touch nor control the vastness of the internet. When in the past, when there were carefully planned and taught curriculums supporting one’s religious group or sect, today the average person is faced with an ocean of information at their fingertips through the internet. The church needs to teach its people how to discern “truth” through “false” or “heretical” teaching. This will be part of “equipping the saints”. The Bible will still be the standard, but how to sift through all this interpretation will be the challenge.
Conclusion: As the masses obtain the power to read for themselves, study for themselves, discern for themselves rather than counting on “church professionals” interpreting everything for them in their “expertise”, I believe there will be a sifting out of religious “dogma” imposed by centuries of church indoctrinations, and the “apostle’s teaching”, the simplicity of the gospel, the good news, will again be restored to the church as it had been birthed in the first century. Systems produce massive amounts of interpretive literature. The Jewish religion went from the Torah to add the Talmud, interpretations of the Torah. The Christian Church went from the cannon of scriptures to multitudes of commentaries filling library shelves of their interpretations. With the age of the internet, that massive amount of information and everyone’s interpretations are out there. It will be the job of the “priesthood of believers” to sift through all of it, and restore the apostle’s teachings of simplicity. The gospel is simple; we, the church have made it complex. We now need to reverse that pattern.