The modern office and role of the “pastor” (or minister, in some circles), has a fixed place in the minds and hearts of believers and unbelievers. Even the atheists and members of other religions recognize the pastorate as being a necessary fixture in the church. But does it have any Scriptural backing in the New Testament? Is there any evidence in Paul’s, Peter’s, or John’s epistles that the churches of the 1st century recognized the role of “pastor” as we see it today?
In Jon Zens’ latest, “The Pastor Has No Clothes”, he answers these questions with a resounding “no”. In fact, the church didn’t see any such office until around the year 250 A.D. (this was a Catholic installment). The Protestants followed this tradition of one-person being the center of every “church service”, funeral, marriage, and ministry.
Jon Zens has often been called a pioneering voice who declares the centrality of Christ to the church and body. He is a biblical scholar, church planter, author of numerous articles and books on church life, and editor of the magazine, Searching Together, that has been in print since 1972; he has published numerous articles. Most of all, he is a lover of Jesus Christ and the bride of Christ, the church. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Jon and having a few conversations with him. To me, it is quite obvious where the burden of his heart lies: the eternal purpose of God in the church.
The book is compiled of multiple articles Jon has written over the years with some new ones added. The first one is the same as the title, “The Pastor Has No Clothes” where he takes the verse in 1 Corinthians 12:14, “The Body is not one part, but many” and masterfully breaks down how the modern role of “pastor” has taken the function and ministry from the rest of the “body parts” (or a.k.a. the “laity”), and dropped all the weight that’s supposed to belong to all the body parts onto the pastor. He gives reasons why it is unbiblical and unhealthy. He even states popular rebuttals and arguments against his views and examines why those arguments are wrong and based on tradition, not the word of God.
The New Testament (NT from here onward), if full of the phrase “one another”. It is also full of examples and accounts of mutual edification and sharing. Especially in 1 Corinthians 11-14. Jon brings these accounts to the table and compares them with modern tradition of one man (or woman) as the center and spiritual “head” of the church. He uses these accounts in Scripture to challenge the use of pulpit/pew and clergy/laity.
Not only does he challenge the pastoral role, but he also uses these same passages in Scripture to examine how the NT churches functioned and even how they one-anothered. One of the articles in the book, “Building Up the Body: One Man or One Another?”, he gives detailed accounts of how the early church was a place of mutual submission and edification, not submission to the pastor, or edified-by-one during a sermon each Sunday.
There are many gifts in the Body of Christ. She is a many membered person with arms, legs, eyes, hands, feet, and ears. Nowhere in the NT is there any evidence that the pastor is to be the one person in charge of ministry. Nor is there any evidence that states anything about a pulpit and pews. Instead, it is filled to the brim with mutual sharing and building up.
Towards the end of the book there are excerpts from Jon’s response to Dr. Ben Witherington’s review of Pagan Christianity (Barna, Viola).
I would personally recommend this book to any truth-seeking Christian. Even if you don’t agree with Jon’s statements, it is worth a read. It’s a pretty short book just over 150 pages including the Introduction and Prelude. I am very interested to see what rebuttals and arguments against the book are going to be because I am 100% sold on his views in this work (that, and I enjoy a good intellectual/theological debate).
More on “The Pastor Has No Clothes”:
Jon Zen’s on his latest book:
Now On Kindle, Click Here
“The Pastor Has No Clothes” on World Net Daily