More Pie III: Pietism & Leadership

Note: See previous posts, “More Pie I: Ecumenicalism” for introductory comments & part 1, & “More Pie II: Gender”. This post is part 3 of a 4 part series.

 

Discussion of Pietism and holiness eventually begs the question- what is the origin of holiness? Theologians have long gone round and round about do people seek God first or does God seek people first and so on. What I mean is, is a church holy then its leaders/clergy are holy or are the leader/clergy holy then the church is holy? Is leadership reflective of the community or is community reflective of the leadership?

 

Yes.

 

If one holds to priesthood of all believers, then naturally all Christians have the responsibility and calling to be holy- mind, heart, actions- whether lay, clergy, or otherwise. Spener writes in Pia Desideria– “It is certain that a young man [or woman!] who fervently loves God, although adorned with limited gifts, will be more useful to the church than a vain & worldly fool with double doctor’s degrees who is very clever but has not been taught by God.” [p. 108]

 

I am not opposed to formal education [obviously as I am a Master’s student], but heart matters and experiencing God outside of a book can at times be at least as important, if not more important. If I want/need information, I will look at Wikipedia or a book on my own. If I want/need guidance, lived experience, I will go to person including but not limited to clergy and a spiritual director.

 

Ideally, every Christian is held to the same standard of holiness- Jesus Christ- amongst ourselves, but the reality is that those in leadership are often held to a higher standard. James tells us this will be the case in “Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.” [James 3:1]

 

Knowing that this higher standard is the reality of life and religious/spiritual leadership, how then do we, Christians, seminarians, leaders, respond? Do we respond by saying the higher standard is antithetical to priesthood of the believer and is therefore unfair, and continue in any behavior/attitude/irresponsibility that does not please God?

 

Put down the alcohol, complaining, language, fornication, anger, gossip, recreational drugs, gluttony, deliberate blindness, disrespect, wastefulness… Whether we like it or not, people around us whether in our church, Christian, or otherwise, see what we do, say, and attitudes, then form an opinion of our God, the supposed ‘Lord of our Life’, accordingly. A lack of continuity within the faith- action, speech, and thought- drives more people away from Christ than anything else.

 

“Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives… For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him…  So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires.” [Romans 6:1-4; 7-8;11-12]

 

Holiness is worth the effort because genuine desire for humble holiness will produce it under the influence of the Holy Spirit. After all, God’s call for holy living is not to give people something to do, but to protect people [you & me!] from the pain and suffering of sin. All Christians are forgiven when we approach God with genuine repentance, but to repent means to turn away from the sin and turn toward God- holiness, piety.

 

“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” [Romans 2:4]

 

“People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” [Proverbs 28:13]

 

Let us unite orthodoxy [right belief], orthopathy [right feeling/attitude], and orthopraxy [right actions] in order to be truly pious as we move toward complete perfection and holiness as understood from Jesus Christ.

 

“It will, I believe, be everywhere found, that as the clergy are, or are not what they ought to be, so are the rest of the nation.” -Jane Austen

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