‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life’ [Jo 3:16].
The Problem Stated:
God in Christ has established solidarity with humanity. God’s love bestows great honor, dignity and worth. His love bestows worth by his calling, by the destiny to which he leads us, and by enabling us to respond to God.
Love provides intimations of honor, dignity and worth. But sometimes, no intimations of love exist to counterbalance the overwhelming testimony of eyes and ears against our claims to ‘love.’ If only we could imitate God by trying harder. That’s more easily said than done. God love and patience toward us are limitless. We know we should do the same toward others. But for now, maybe we should just tell people that we ‘love’ them.
The problem is, God lavishes grace and love with such scandalous ease!
A ‘Workable’ Solution:
So say we minimize humanity’s honor, dignity and worth. We check those and other blessings of God’s grace into a spiritual repository. By virtue of his position, the pastor is the guardian and dispenser of these blessings.
As you work, contribute, serve church programs, and more or less directly elevate the pastor, you gain his favor [and maybe God’s also]. Pastor can then access the repository for blessings and dispense them as favors for faithful and obedient service rendered. There may be other perks also — as pastoral attention, or recognition of your ‘value,’ work and devotion to the congregation. And as you’re now ‘like us,’ you’ve become lovable.
Loving you is no longer such a challenge. Hey — you’ve earned it!
Enter Baptist Sacerdotialism:
sac·er·do·tal·ism | noun: religious belief emphasizing the powers of priests as essential mediators between God and humankind.
Supposedly Rome is the natural home of sacerdotal theology. As God’s representative on earth, the Church retains his grace in its care. This grace can then made available to those who confess and serve. Absolution is proclaimed. Honor, dignity and worth are restored. Go now and sin no more.
While preparing this post, I learned that I’m not the first to reference ‘baptist sacerdotalists.’ The word ‘sacerdotal’ may be new to you; but perhaps you’ve seen similar dynamics in IFB sects you’ve attended. How odd this is, given that IFBs may use Jo 3:16 more than anyone! Anyone sensing a little tension here?
Rome has been around for a long time. They’re bound to have picked up some tricks along the way. Perhaps IFBs are cleverer than we thought.
Well … some of them anyway.