For sometime now, there has been an interest in redefining — maybe, reformulating? — the role of pastor. As the mainline churches moved into moral therapeutic deism, pastors became counselors. Now, as churches become overly top heavy, with quotas and diagrams and attendance measures, pastors are told to become something like CEOs. But, in a time of theological and ecclesiastical decay in the West, perhaps we should expect our pastors to become something different.
We overuse the word “prophetic,” insisting that this term is applied to the straight white male fighting perceived oppression — although we bristle if it is used to describe a racial or sexual “minority” fighting for traditional Christian teaching. We insist this term is used for those fighting the patriarchal empire, capitalism, or any other host of liberal and pseudo-liberal causes deemed worthy by pontificating progressivism. This is not the actual meaning of the term, but as with many ersatz intellectuals, words matter little, only the fostered meaning, usually applied in an agenda driven tango to the irrelevant bottom.
With this in mind, I want to suggest that the pastor — along with being the public theologian, or maybe as an aspect of this role — should take the role of prophet. We have to remember that “prophet” doesn’t mean activist, but rather, revealer. Without quoting on and on, we find this need expressed in the Reformers — notably Zwingli and Calvin — when the notion of the Protestant pastor truly appeared. I have no problem with the manifold ministry of the Priest, but I’m not speaking specifically to that.
Pastors should act as priests and prophets, in my opinion.
No doubt, the pastor must lead the congregation against Empire, against oppression — and sin, and towards Christ. Again, this doesn’t mean activist, but Teacher. Revealer. Seerer. What would a pastoral prophet or a prophetic pastor look like? I imagine them as one who could and would call the congregation to pray, fast, and stand together against a cause the Spirit has led the pastor to call attention to. Granted, for those pastors bound by covenant, they must first deal with the vows they took — and if anything, Scripture is clear on vow breakers. And yes, you can be prophetic and obey your vows.
Could a congregation, especially a mainline congregation, stand a pastor saying, “The Spirit has told me…” or worse, “I am convicted of God that we have drifted away from Christian teaching.” What would your congregation think if your mainline pastor stood up and said, “I feel led by God to…” — and heaven forbid, if it was inline with traditional Christian teaching?
What if the mainline pastor preached the Book of Amos but in a modern paraphrase?
This type of pastor is likely the theologian as well, since prophecy and theology goes together like a hand and a glove. After all, engrained in the Creeds is the early baptismal formula calling us to the Lordship of Christ, freeing us from Caesar. This is theological. This is prophetic. Suddenly, what is revealed to us in this formula — and in the Creed — is the great cosmic struggle against the principality of sin. Jesus is Lord; Caesar is not. Without theology, and without prophecy, you cannot know what this fully means.
So, what do you think? Should pastors be more prophetic? How would that look?