My pastor tells me that he has full spiritual authority over me and that I should not look at Christian websites because (in his words), "you will only get confused." I put one of the arguments to him which I found on your website but I did not quote any website as my source. He said, "That's very good, I really agree with that." But if a website is quoted he does not like it at all. Does he really have total control over my spiritual life?
UK Apologetics Reply:
Hmm. This is a somewhat tricky one because I really like to back up local pastors where I can. More correctly, your pastor should say, 'Under Christ, I have authority over your spiritual life as long as you remain a member of this church.' If however you left to 'join' another church, he would no longer have this authority. I say "join" because this is the way that so many people seem to view these things, though it is actually erroneous. A baptized Christian who walks with our Lord Jesus Christ is a member of the Eternal Church whose names are written in Heaven. That's it: full stop, or, 'period,' as the Americans say. So when somebody says to my wife or I, 'Why are you not a member of any specific church?' I can reply - with biblical authority - but we are, we are members of the Church of God and of the body of Christ!
This specific local congregation membership thing is a relic of the denominationalism which is now just about dead; we have now come through the age of denominationalism. Having stated that, I don't want to knock it too hard because much good has come from it and some, indeed many, really prosper (I mean spiritually prosper), as long-term congregation members. But I repeat what I wrote a month or so ago, more mature Christians now seem to be moving away from it; they are saying, 'We are Christians but not members of any particular congregation.' For our part, my wife and I seek warm friendly relations with two or three biblical churches in the area in which we live, but we no longer seek membership - we have been there, done that, but it is in the past. Having said all of that, newer Christians probably need a close association with a good, biblical church.
Christ alone is the head of every believer's spiritual life; under Him, a strong spiritual mentor/pastor/minister is needed. For much more mature Christians, perhaps less so, but such believers will still tend to seek further biblical/spiritual instruction wherever they can.
Robin A. Brace. September 25th, 2011.