An Overview of the Preeminence Issue
A Powerful Unleashing
Ever since the 4th century A.D. Jesus has rarely been in full unimpeded control of his church. That is why most of us have no real experience as to what the church should be like. For most, if not all of us, a church fully run by Jesus and not being usurped by those in preeminence is merely a theory. Can we even imagine what the unleashing of that power and authority would be like?
Historically, we can get a sketchy glimpse when Jesus was in complete control, starting with a small group of about 120 Christians at Pentecost. From there, it exploded throughout the world until it was drastically curtailed by those who usurped the preeminence of Jesus Christ.
I liken the potential unleashing of this power to that of the atomic bomb. When it was being readied for its first test southeast of Socorro, New Mexico on July 16, 1945, there were many who were fearful of whether the chain reaction would stop with the extremely dense plutonium-239. Some thought it possible the chain reaction would continue through the atmosphere and the earth’s matter until the entire planet exploded.
In a good way, when thinking about unleashing the power of God, I relish that apprehension. If the shackles of usurped preeminence are broken, I believe a powerful cascading chain reaction will push back the darkness that has spread throughout the world.
Ruining the Mystery?
Some people enjoy jumping to the end of a mystery novel to quickly unveil the mystery. The suspense is too much for them. Afterwards, they enjoy reading the novel as they see it weave its way toward the anticipated grand finale.
This website is not designed to hold you in suspense. Rather to get right to the point. And that point is that we need a reformation, and we need it now. Building the case for a reformation is relatively easy as there is so much in the Bible and both sociologically and psychologically as you will immediately see by exploring the Praxis menu. If you’ve already gone there then most of you have already been given a vision into what needs to be done. The details will be covered in a variety of way on this site to give you many more of the facets (themes) to aid in your reformation participation.
Elementary / Straightforward / Uncomplicated
We live in a day and age when there is an intrigue in finding hidden codes. It is as if the more difficult the journey, the more worthwhile the reward. But that is not how it works with God. He has made things so simple that a little child can understand. It is just a matter of letting go and allowing God to do his amazing work, so too with God’s church. We need to stop thinking we can run it better than God and let him shepherd and guide us. If we take control, God’s work will be impeded.
It is God who must open our understanding to truly comprehend the truth.
Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, Luke 24:45.
To understand the simplicity requires stripping away the many cultural entrapments brought upon by those who have usurped the preeminence of Jesus Christ. It might seem impossible to us, but God relishes doing the “impossible”. He will help you look through a new lens. If you made your way through Pedagogy of the Suppressed from the Praxis menu then you have most likely been reading the Bible in a new light. Like popcorn, it starts with a kernel exploding here and there, but shortly the kernels will fire away like a machine gun. This website will bring out many of those eye-opening Biblical insights. And I am sure that you will run across many more yourself that I hope you will share in a posting. How wonderful and exciting that in a true fellowship we will all be free to share those gems with others and vice versa.
Initially, I tend to look at things very optimistically. I will envision an endeavor to the most extreme positive territory and then begin to walk my way toward a very pessimistic realm. From there the pendulum eventually swings to a middle ground where reality will often dwell. This site hopes to take you on this journey to help you get a sense of the reality for bringing about a desperately needed reformation.
When true believers realize they are a part of suppressing the work of God, by supporting a culture of ecclesiastical preeminence, that should bring about a deep grief, shame, and then repentance. If so, then every step will be taken to strip away preeminence from the gathering of believers. The church will be transformed beyond our imagination because Jesus is in full control, and his work will go far beyond our finite expectations. With all the tools currently at our disposal, the gospel will explode throughout the world and into every culture. The best part of that explosion is a powerfully restored faith that can boldly shout out a profound “Yes!” to Jesus’ question: “…when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8
Preeminence, however, is both highly addictive for the elite and tranquilizing for the passive spectators. These are extreme hurdles that can only be overcome through a complete reliance upon God who has been usurped by this broken man-made church system. Few will seek to break this preeminent hold and resign themselves to what has been accepted down through the ages. Personal peace will take precedence. Only a trickle will be pulled out of the fire. With those who have glimpsed the truth, most will not find others to reinforce them, especially in a true fellowship. The preeminent church like Ulysses’ sirens will coax many back into its fold. There will still be a few who resist, hobbling along but with a deep sense of loss, not finding a platform for sharing the truth, but nevertheless, still holding strong knowing how important it is not to be a disappointment at the Lord’s return.
What is most likely is that both will continue. Which may be a good thing. Few tares will want to enter a true fellowship where everyone is accountable and expected to be a participant. A purer fellowship is far more powerful than one having to deal with the myriad problems that come with the tares. Though fewer in number, the Lord seems to delight in working through the small and weak as we see with David versus Goliath and Gideon and his army of 300 out of an original 32,000. So, a small fellowship should be something to be excited about especially in light of the rapid spread of the gospel through much of the world, starting with just the 120 believers at Pentecost.
No effort of man or Satan can entirely suppress the work of God. The Bible is full of examples where we see God’s magnificent work take shape despite major suppressive efforts. Just look at Joseph, sold into slavery; David, fleeing from King Saul; Jonah trying to run away from delivering God’s message to the Ninevites; the religious leaders trying to destroy Jesus and his work.
That does not mean the effects of suppression really do not matter, with no need for concern. Holding back human preeminence was a constant battle with Jesus and the Apostles, as we particularly see with Paul and in his letters handed down to us in the Bible. Those efforts, during that early period, held back preeminent suppression, leaving Jesus to freely guide his church through the most productive period in church history.
Today, we are locked into preeminence as a foundation of virtually every Christian institution. I daresay, few if any reading this have experienced a fellowship unhindered by human preeminence. Therefore, it is hard to chart the magnitude of the difference. Nevertheless, I will make a stab at trying to give a graphical image of the magnitude between the church run freely by Jesus and the church by those in preeminence. Some might say I am depicting the magnitude difference as too much. However, because we are dealing with Jesus’ infinite capability versus finite man, I might be far short on the difference.
Each graph relates to a church with 100 members showing its growth over a 10-year period. The power ranking is arbitrary and useful only for comparative purposes between the graph showing preeminence versus the two with no preeminence.
With Graph #1 you see the ecclesiastical person in preeminence becomes more polished and significantly grows in the area of ministry, while the 100 members show little growth over the 10 years.
With Graph #2 preeminence is absent, everyone grows nicely over the 10 years for a nearly seven-fold increase in the Power Ranking.
Graph #3 depicts everyone in the fellowship dynamically working together as a unified Jesus-directed body for an exponential jump that is nearly 75-fold from Graph #2 and 500-fold from Graph #1.
21In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. 15But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 2:21-22; 4:15-16
11Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: 12That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. II Thessalonians 1:11-12
Hopefully, this provides a glimpse of the magnitude of crippling that takes place, when there are those who usurp the preeminence of Christ and suppress the powerful work of God throughout any fellowship body.
With preeminence having such a profound crippling effect and with the Bible bursting with exhortations that condemn preeminence, we should all be shocked over this damaging cultural integration. What can give an answer to explain this phenomenon that has ensnared the church for over 1,600 years? Here is where we need to get serious and ask ourselves if we fully trust in Jesus; completely believing that Jesus could be in control of every church fellowship. Or, do we have more faith in those who are preeminent to lead and shape what those gatherings should be like; gatherings that we are commanded to turn from because they have a form of godliness, but deny the true power; a power that only comes when Jesus is in full control (II Timothy 3:5).
What I consider the most haunting verse in the Bible is from Luke 18:8. “…when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Do we really have faith that Jesus can lead his church or are we satisfied with man’s worship/fellowship formulas?
One of the features of the seven churches in Revelation is that they seem to coincide with time periods where each church represents the predominant church for that time period. The last church, which would reflect our end-time period, is that of Laodicea. Jesus, who should be the leader; the shepherd; is outside knocking at the door, with the hope that he will be let inside. The only thing I can think of that would push Jesus out from his church is a lack of faith in him and putting our allegiance onto that of preeminent men and women.
Here are a few things the Bible reveals about truly putting our trust and faith in Jesus. Thousands were in the wilderness with Jesus on two occasions and were so hungry that Jesus said they would faint on their way back home. They only had a couple baskets of food and his disciples basically said it was impossible and to send the people away quickly. Jesus though was in control and the thousands were all totally filled with some nice baskets of leftovers remaining.
Then there was Jesus getting ready to triumphantly enter Jerusalem. Jesus told some disciples to go into the city and they would see a donkey with her colt and to take it and bring them to him. And it happened. How? Perhaps Jesus was in control beyond our expectations.
Later, Jesus told some disciples to go to a house and the Passover fixings would all be prepared. And it was just like Jesus said. Perhaps Jesus, once again, was in control beyond their expectations.
Our faith in Jesus and his work should be like the Roman Centurion in the book of Luke; a Gentile who had a complete trust and faith in him; requiring no physical manifestation as he sought for Jesus to heal one of his servants who was close to death.
6Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: 7Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. 8For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 9When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 10And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick. Luke 7:6-10
The church of today is not close to having that kind of faith for Jesus to be in control. Rather, it goes through its stage production that is supposed to be worshipful and glorifying to God, but where is Jesus in all of this? Hovering around as their spectator guest? Virtually everything is choreographed. Can anyone imagine Jesus telling us that is exactly what he planned as head of the church, as the Shepherd of his sheep?
28Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. John 6:28-29
This is where we, as individuals, must ask ourselves whether we have the faith for Jesus to be in control. If so, then what we call miracles will just be the norm. Why? Because “with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
God’s work is detailed and complicated beyond our comprehension. But for us, he has made it so simple a child can understand. As a matter of fact, just watch children and you see some of the dynamics in operation. Most of the time when they are together, they find all sorts of activities as their imaginations run wild and free. Of course, you will often see one of the children demanding that everyone does exactly what he wants and how he wants it to be done. That is the bully or preeminent one trying to assert himself. Delightfully, you often see the group ignore the bully and continue with what they were doing. Often the bully pouts a bit, but then resigns himself to be equal and just have fun.
To have a true fellowship is as easy as simply getting together in the acknowledgment that only Jesus is preeminent and actively shepherding his flock. When everyone rests in that, then what takes place is what should take place. The moment anyone tries to systemize the gathering, it is a sign of ecclesiastical preeminence and trying to put God and his sheep into a restrictive box.
Every fellowship will be dynamic and situational, according to the people who make it up. That does not mean there are no defining elements. They will be covered on this site in a variety of ways, but I will briefly list some of them.
- There will be dialogue which will increase more and more as brothers and sisters get to deeply know one another.
- Increasingly, everyone will be treated with dignity and respect.
- Everyone will be a participant even though it might take some time for some to feel comfortable in their expression.
- This fellowship will develop a deep charity (love in action) for one another.
- Believers will become more hospitable to one another and with others, touching many people’s lives on a deeper level.
- Christian stewardship will find greater fulfillment as each person finds an outlet for their gifts, talents, and resources to share with all in the fellowship.
- As Jesus draws each person deep into relationship, everyone will experience the reality of being a part of a true Christian family that will become closer than their genetic family.
- The bond of a true fellowship will naturally extend to the fringes of people’s lives where others will be drawn into this natural sharing of the gospel.
- Prayer will increase and become more personalized as the fellowship bonds and everyone gets to know one another.
- Young people will not be pushed aside or hidden from the fellowship body. Instead, like Jesus at age 12, will be encouraged to interact and be an integral part of his church, which should always welcome children.
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.Luke 18:16
- Due to Jesus’ work, this fellowship will grow and bear fruit in a natural way, touching neighbors, friends, relatives, and others both spiritually and culturally.
- With everyone involved, you will begin to see exhortation increase more and more in accordance with God’s command.
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:25
- It will be so fulfilling getting together that you will find yourselves interacting more and more and for longer periods of time.
And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. Acts 5:42
Preeminence nurtures and breeds preeminence: That means the system of preeminence from the church’s beginnings and especially through these past 1,600 years has taken many steps to make sure the preeminent culture will remain. One area is in the definition of Biblical words. The words bishop, deacon, minister, pastor, preacher, shepherd, priest, evangelist, and prophet should primarily be set in an operational context.
11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” Ephesians 4:11-12
This is a list of functions that facilitate and edify the Body of Christ. If you are facilitating or edifying, then you would be pastoring, teaching, evangelizing, prophesizing, etc. You do not get a certificate, credentials, or anything else, no more than when you take out the garbage does someone confer on you a doctorate in Janitorology. Today you could be pastoring and be considered a pastor, tomorrow teaching and considered a teacher, the next day sharing the gospel and considered an evangelist. The function is good and appropriate all by itself, without attempting to assign it a title.
The preeminent elites have misconstrued these words to help establish their authority. Then they solidified their malformations by turning many of these functions into titles.
These distortions should have been obvious and never allowed to become grounded into the fabric of the church. Jesus made it clear that the world’s view of authority is not the way for a Christian. The Biblical view of authority turned the world’s view upside down; the greater the authority, the more that position was to be one of servanthood.
24And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. 25And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. 27For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. Luke 22:24-27
Our understanding of these positions should fit more like that of a participant referee; like a person who not only plays the sport but is a referee as well. This referee would be one who is held to a higher, uncompromising standard like we see the requirements for being a bishop, deacon, or elder. The referee does not play the whole game himself while everyone else sits on the sidelines and watches. That is what a referee would do if he acted according to preeminence.
For example, let us look at a possible bishop scenario. During a fellowship, he would be scanning for anything that would help facilitate or possibly impede the fellowship. If garbage was strewn about, he would pick it up and possibly provide receptacles for other garbage and then exhort the believers to be careful about what they do with any garbage. He might notice that certain participants had handicaps and he would help to position them comfortably. Someone might be talking and saying something that was not true or was attempting to apply a scriptural application that was a bit suspect. After waiting for someone to dialogue over these issues and if nothing came up, the bishop would try to get a conversation going that would help reconcile these possible problems. A good bishop would not let up on the interaction until the issues were adequately addressed.
The key to looking properly at these church positions is to make sure they are viewed and implemented in the context of serving the assembly (as much in the background as possible). If someone in a church position begins to monopolize things where he or she become the focus, that should gently but firmly be squelched, as quickly as possible so as not to allow the establishment of preeminence.
Heresies / Divisions / Other Problems
There should be great concern over the problems that will occur within any true church fellowship. The Bible has a lengthy list. The question is whether we truly have the faith in Jesus to guide us through those problems or instead, we put our faith in those who usurp the preeminence of Christ and take upon themselves that mantle of preeminence.
The early church with all their problems expanded at an amazing pace. The New Testament was still being formed, with various inspired narratives and letters being copied and passed around. They did not have as full a picture as we have today with the Bible easily accessible in both printed form and on various media like the internet.
The temptation for the preeminent elite to emerge was always there but with Jesus as the only legitimate head of every local flock, the problems were fully dealt with. As they bonded together, everyone grew more and more in knowledge, wisdom, and faith, and the church flourished, spreading the gospel throughout the Roman Empire and beyond.
Heresies were constantly arising, but Jesus guided his church through these dangers. Divisions were always threatened, especially as preeminent usurpers tried to lead these breakaways into their camp. They too were dealt with by the Great Shepherd – Jesus Christ.
The battle was constantly raging, with a constant stream of thieves and robbers trying to sneak into God’s sheepfold instead of going through the door, which was Jesus. They were there to steal away Jesus’ sheep. They wanted them to follow their way of thinking, their theology. Jesus battled back, calling out to his sheep: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” Philippians 2:5
For nearly 300 years the divisions were avoided. Then the persecution ended, the political system got involved, and the preeminent elites stole many of Christ’s sheep, and did everything they could to make Jesus into one of their spectators. The divisions increased exponentially until today we see world Christianity consisting of 6 major ecclesiastical-cultural blocs, divided into 300 major ecclesiastical traditions, composed of over 33,000 distinct denominations in 238 countries. These denominations themselves are composed of over 3,400,000 worship centers, churches, or congregations.
When man usurps Jesus and takes control for himself is there any wonder our churches and governments are in such disarray and decadence? If you are aware of how bad things have become, then you will understand the church age we are in.
14And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Revelation 3:14-22
Throw out the baby with the bath water?
Preeminence is exclusionary, whereas true fellowship is inclusive. Virtually everything a preeminent person desires to do for the Kingdom of God is included within a true fellowship. He can teach, preach, visit the sick and elderly, counsel people, organize activities, and the list goes on and on. However, everyone else can also teach, preach, visit the sick and elderly, counsel people, organize activities, and that list goes on and on. The only difference is that the preeminent person loses his control over others, and for most in that position it is a power they are unwilling to surrender to God.
Those who repent from their preeminence should be welcomed into a true fellowship. It might require going through a rehabilitation as preeminence is addictive in nature like that of alcohol and drugs. But every believer has so much to offer, if only they are able to fall under the preeminence of Jesus Christ in equal status with all the other believers in a fellowship.
Many will be concerned over the entire organizational structure, including property and some very elaborate buildings. True fellowship requires none of that, which does not mean you must destroy it or walk away from it. If there becomes a struggle between a true fellowship and those who desire the preeminence and the material things that go with it, Jesus will probably direct the fellowship not to contest anything. If certain material things are fully uncontested and available and can enhance a true fellowship, then they probably should be utilized. It might require modification to certain physical things like pews, but to have a nice place to meet should not be thrown away. The absolute key in determining what to do resides in Jesus Christ. He might want the properties sold off and used for some other purpose. Each fellowship, surrendered to the leading of Jesus, will be guided to the proper choice.
World class decathlon athlete or marionette?
The Body of Christ should function much like a highly trained and extremely fit decathlon athlete. Picture yourself as this athlete at the starting line of the Olympics. Ahead of you are these 10 events: 100-meter sprint, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400-meter run, 110-meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and 1,500-meter run. You are the overwhelming favorite and extremely poised and confident.
The body has one head that is tuned to command the body to do amazing things. The gun sounds and you blaze through the 100-meter sprint, leaving the entire field far behind. Every muscle explodes with focused energy that is perfectly coordinated to the commands that are issued from your head. You are so ready for the next event: the long jump. As you prepare for your first run and jump, a strange thing begins to happen. A few invisible strings begin attaching to some of your limbs. As you run down the ramp the lines jerk a bit here and there, throwing your timing off and impeding the jump. It happens after the 2nd and then the final attempt. You are so in shape and prepared that despite the distractions, you still win that event. Now you come to the third event: the shot put. You ready your first toss but realize the number of invisible strings has increased. It affects your throw by not keeping the shot on line and inhibiting the overall score. This time you barely lose to one of your opponents. As each new event comes up, the strings increase more and more, causing you to lose one event after another. By the last event as you attempt to launch out for the 1,500-meter run, the invisible strings are now practically innumerable. You try to run straight but the strings jerk here and there, causing you to stagger all over like a drunken sailor in a roiling storm. Often, you trip and fall to the ground, finding it almost impossible to stand upright. You are driven to finish but have not even made it halfway. They have even turned out the stadium flood lights. You continue flopping your way toward the finish line. Sadly, as you look into the distance you see no one there waiting to greet you.
This dismal description depicts the preeminent ones who through the ages have turned the Body of Christ into a virtual marionette. Jesus Christ will finish the race despite all the inhibitions. We are near the end of the church age. We can sit back and let Christ’s body struggle, or we can be a part of a reformation that will sever the strings so that the race will be finished with a glorious burst of freedom and power.