Tuesday, December 09, 2014

"Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up?"

David Bercot ( website here; wikipedia here) an attorney who became an early church historian and ordained Anglican (and now  a Mennonite "layperson") has his critics... but the issues he raises (regarding how faithful were the Reformation and the contemporary evangelical church to Scripture; especially to how the early fathers..90 to 199 AD... interpreted it) should be wrestled with.

From his website:

David Bercot began his professional career in 1980 as an attorney, and he still practices law part time. However, for most of his life, his driving passion has been for Christ. In 1985, to satisfy his theological curiosity, he began reading all of the existing writings of the early Christians (A.D. 100-325). Although his aim at the time was merely for theological inquiry, what he learned about Christianity in the early centuries profoundly affected his entire life. When David shared what he had discovered with various Christian friends, they encouraged him to write a book about how Christianity looked when it was still young.
Bercot eventually followed up on their suggestion, and he wrote the book Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up, which was published in 1989. That book provides a provocative look at early Christianity in contrast to modern Christianity. Since the book challenges many of the cherished beliefs of evangelicals, Protestants, and Catholics alike, Bercot wasn’t sure what type of response the book would have. To his astonishment, the book sold out of its first printing in six months—and the Heretics book is still in demand over twenty years later.
When Bercot began receiving letters from his various readers, he learned about various Christian churches and groups that he had never even heard of before. What he has learned as he has interacted with different groups of Christians has had an enormous spiritual impact on his own life and that of his family. Today, David Bercot works full-time as an author and speaker. For a complete list of the books authored by David Bercot, please click here.
As you can see,  his seminal work is "Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up."
(much shorter version of his argument is in this Kindle book,

An excerpt  below on one area of his teaching which hits home on this blog (role of the pastor)
and some video below.church-w

From "Real Heretics..":

Shepherds Who Graduated From the School of Hard Knocks

..Today's evangelical churches are typically governed by a pastor and a body of elders and/or a board of deacons.  Normally,the pastor is a professionally-trained man with a seminary degree who wasn't raised in the congregation that has hired him.  Frequently, he has no governing authority other than the power of persuasion.  The body of elders or board of deacons are normally men with full-time secular jobs.  They oversee church finances and programs, and they establish church policy.  But typically, no one in the church goes to them for counseling, and they aren't usually the shepherds of the flock.
Although we use many of the same names for church leaders..our church government differs considerably from theirs in substance  .  Instead of a sole professional pastor, the entire body of elders (presbyters) were full-time pastors in the early churches.  As Christianity grew, all Christians in a given city were not able to meet together in one place.  But each separate fellowship of believers in that city had at least one elder or presbyter to shepherd them.  And each city had one overseer or bishop who coordinated all of the individual congregations in that city..

The overseer (bishop) and elders (presbyters) weren't outsiders brought into the local church.  Rather, they had generally lived in that community for years.  Their strengths and weaknesses were well-known to the entire congregation.  Furthermore, they didn't qualify to serve...by studying in school and stuffing their heads with knowledge....As Tertullian told the Romans, 'Our presbyters are proven men who obtain their position not by purchase, but by established character.'

..Once an elder or overseer was appointed, he normally stayed in that local church for the rest of his life, unless persecution forced him to moved.  He didn't serve for three or four years and then move to a large congregation with better compensation...the entire body of elders were normally full-time shepherds and teachers.  Unless the congregation was simply too small to support them, elders were expected to free themselves from any secular jobs.  By doing so, they could devote their full attention to the flock..

..With so many full-time pastors, each member of the congregation undoubtedly received close, individual attention.

To serve as an elder or overseer in the early church, a man had to be willing to lay down everything for Christ.  This began with material possessions.  An elder didn't leave his secular occupation in exchange for middle-class salary from the congregation.  It was considered heretical for a congregation to pay any salary to its overseers or elders.  Instead the church financially maintained its leaders on the same basis it supported  widows and orphans .   pp 44-47 Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up."


"It's Just War" - Should Christians Fight? Debate from FollowersOfTheWay on Vimeo.
On March 28, 2014, Anchor-Cross Publishing and Followers of the Way sponsored a debate on the subject of just war. We sought to bring leading thinkers together to discuss the issue in historic Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston. Speaking of behalf of just war were Dr. Peter Kreeft (professor of philosophy at Boston College) and Dr. J. Daryl Charles (Berry College). Speaking against just war and for biblical nonresistance were David Bercot and Dean Taylor.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!