2 Corinthians 3:1 | Credentialism is Killing the Church

The world is changing. The post covid world is being shaped before our lives as we live through this historic event. My trust in institutions, experts, scientists, and authorities has been completely broken. Between the media war on the former president and their absolute covering for the current president to the complete failure of leaders to remove politics and focus on helping people in the pandemic it is clear to me that salvation and help will never come from the institutions, national government, or press. Both groups are cut from the same educational institutions and both groups have a global agenda that does not care for the every day person.

I realize this intro is much more political than normal but these realizations have brought me to a place where I am questioning the desire of the western world to credential everyone and only those with credentials have any value to add. This covid world makes it obviously clear that it is unwise to think that only those with credentials should be listened too.

The same happens in the church. Preachers go to seminary for degrees and preachers are the only authority that may speak God’s word in the church. The members of the church are just fine letting the better educated preacher do all the work of ministry. That kind of church is dysfunctional and will die.

Paul writes to the Corinthians and poses a question.

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? 2 Corinthians 3:1 ESV

Paul wants to know if he needs to be credentialed in order to speak to the church. Who has authority to speak or teach in the church? Is that decided by people or should that be decided by God?

4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 ESV

Paul answers the question… “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything… but our sufficiency is from God”. Paul does not need letters of recommendation because Paul was made sufficient by God. Jesus called Paul to preach the gospel and Jesus backs that call up by the lives changed, miracles worked, and the impact on communities where Paul is sent.

The same is true of the disciples. Very few of them were educated and credentialed to do what Jesus called them to do by the standards of society.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13 ESV

In the eyes of the religious leaders Peter and John were recognized not as illiterate simpletons but they were recognized as uncredentialled. No journalist would go to Peter and John for a quote and call them an “expert” or a “source”. They had not achieved the academic rigor necessary to speak on these topics. I have an advanced degree from a seminary. True that education makes me a better teacher however that credential does not give me an authority to be a teacher in the local church. Jesus calling me to teach in the church makes me a teacher. I am sufficient to teach because he called and over the years I have worked hard to be a worker approved as directed by Jesus not some earthly authority. Peter and John were sufficient to be disciples because Jesus called them. “but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant”.

There is a quote that I keep close as I love the local church. I keep this quote close as my desire to see the church grow might lead me to schemes and marketing ideas help God along.

The problem with modern Christianity’s obsession with principles is that it removes any real conversation with God. Find the principle, apply the principle – what do you need God for? (John Eldredge, Wild at Heart, p210, 2001)

Our obsession should be not with governments, schools, marketing, media, social media preachers, or other organizations staffed with sinners… our obsession must be with Jesus and what he wants from us.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15 ESV

What is Jesus asking of you uncredentialled or over credentialed sinner? How does Jesus want you to spend your time in the local church? If you love him then get busy because he is sufficient for that task that he, the Creator, called you to do.

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