Sopater:Brother Lutherius, I have been told you have some issues with the hierarchy of the Church.
I see Lutherius. As Beroeans, we have a reputation throughout the church as noble and ones who always have verified the New Testament against the Old Testament. Shall we do that now?
Lutherius:Yes Sopater, I do. I have found many areas where the teaching of the elders are not in line with how I interpret the letters of the Christ’s Apostles. I have discussed this with some others in our church, most noteably Swagarian, and we are preparing to start a new church. Would you be interested in joining us?
Sopater:I am surprised to hear this Lutherius. I have had some discussions with Swagarian and I know he has some unusual ideas. Do you agree with him in all his propositions?
Lutherius:Well, not in all areas, but in the most important areas, yes. We are both in agreement that the elders are wrong in several areas. In addition, we both agree that some of the elders are sinful men. We will not follow sinners.
Sopater:Yes, I must admit we have had some scandals among our leadership. But our Lord and the Apostle Paul warned us about this. And Jesus in the Gospels and the Letter to the Hebrews both tell us to obey our prelates even if they are not the holiest of people. For example, in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us we mu. . .
Lutherius:No Sopater! We will not follow sinners!
Sopater:Very well Lutherius, let us not pursue that subject at this time. Maybe we can discuss that later. Please, first clarify your use of the term “elder”. I realize that “elder” is used throughout the letters of the Apostles interchangeably with presbyteroi, deaconoi, episcopai, and bishop. But we are in the year 101 AD, Lutherius. The hierarchical priesthood has been well established for years now, and its titles solidified sometime after the destruction of the temple in 70 AD when the Judaic Levitical priesthood disappeared. We no longer have to worry about the confusion of terms between Judaic priests with our own. We have deacons, priests, and bishops now.
Lutherius:And there, my poor Sopater, is one area where the elders have erred. The original naming should not have been “solidified” as you call it. It should be left to each church to decide this issue.
Sopater:Well, I would imagine if we left it up to each individual church, we would someday have hundreds, if not thousands, of different churches.
Lutherius:You exaggerate Sopater! The Holy Spirit will not let that happen. All one need do is read the Gospels and the Letters of the Apostles under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and all doctrines will be clear.
Sopater:Aah! If that is true, then you and I would not be in disagreement with the “elders” as you choose to call them. Since you do have disagreements with the elders, I fear someone thinks they have the protection of the Holy Spirit and someone else may be gravely mistaken. For the Apostle Peters tells us in 2 Pet 2:36 (or so) that many will twist scripture to their own destruction. But I fear, my dear Lutherius, that is yet another discussion we could have.
For now, pray, tell me. In what areas do you interpret the teachings of the elders to be in error?
Lutherius:Many areas Sopater. First and foremost I think the elders have no right to hold the authority over the entire church. Take the term priest which you feel has been “solidified”. After all, the Apostle Peter tells us in 1 Pet 2:5 we are all called to be a holy priesthood. Why have the elders established the titles of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons for those they appoint? We all are priests and we should be appointing our own elders.
Also, I have some ideas about the bread and the cup. How can the bread and wine be the actual body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as plainly taught by the elders? That is absurd! And I am also indignant at the Church of Corinth and our own church for giving such weight to the letter of Clement in Rome. Rome! Clement has no business interfering with the church in Corinth. Why do all the elders give such respect to Clement? Why do they continue to give such respect to his letter, and now, by implication, his successor? And I have other areas as well. Would you like to hear them?
Sopater:Yes I would Lutherius. But maybe we should save them for another time. I fear this bright sun we enjoy today will set long before we come close to sufficiently discussing the areas already mentioned. I realize now the severity of your issues. And of all the areas mentioned, may we please start with the one that encompasses them all. You said you and Swagarian are going to start a new church. When you say “a new church” do you mean that you are going to break away from current hierarchy?
Lutherius:I mean exactly that Sopater. As I said before, we are all a royal priesthood. Who are the elders to claim all the authority. Swagarian and I want to be elders too.