Clergy: solution or problem?
Thomas Friedman wrote a great editorial in the Friday September 29 NYT's that keeps echoing in my mind. In it he says that one of the key differences between Islam and Christianity is that Islam has no pope, no clerical hierarchy and Christianity does. So when one rogue pastor spouts off some racist diatribe, his or her denominational supervisors (superintendents, bishops, execustive presbyters, etc.) can step in and say they disavow the speach and they can discipline heterodox and heretical speech. Not so with the Islamic mullahs, over whom there is no hierarchy. They are the ultimate independent clergy, who are as authoritative as the crowds they can command (Joel Osteen anyone??).
The thing that got me thinking was about the role of the professional religious persons in our society. Are we part of solution making or problem stirring? It's interesting that a number of reforming movements in history are anti-clerical (French Revolution for one, Communism for another). Does Greg Boyd's book on "The Myth of a Christian Nation" carry more weight when he focusses on on the necessity of divesting ourselves of "power over people" and instead adopting Jesus' method of "power under people" in servanthood and sacrifice?
In a conversation today with a person who asked me to attend a parachurch dinner, he asked me how I should be listed in the program? I asked him how he was listed. He said by his first and last name. For the first time I asked if he would just list me as "Don Johnson." No "Rev." or "Pastor" or "Sr. Pastor", just me. I really want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.