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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Pastors Called To Watch Their Egos

Richard Baxter

In this excerpt, Richard Baxter addresses a problem that has its root in the natural man but also often afflicts church leadership. It is easy for personal pride to be elevated in those who have authority in the church. Some govern themselves and their behavior well while others see themselves anointed by divine right. The latter attitude leads to many problems in the church. Baxter writes:

It comes to pass, that men [many pastors and teachers] so magnify their own opinions, and are as censorious of any that differ from them in lesser things, as if it were all one to differ from them and from God; and expect that all should be conformed to their judgments, as if they were the rulers of the Church’s faith! And while we cry down Papal infallibility and determination of controversies, we would, too many of us, be popes ourselves, and have all stand to our determination, as if it were infallible.

It is true, we have more modesty than expressly to say so: we pretend that it is only the evidence of truth that appears in our reasons that we expect men should yield to, and our zeal is for the truth, and not for ourselves: but as that must needs be taken for truth which is ours, so our reasons must needs be taken for valid; and if they be freely examined, and found to be infirm and fallacious, and so discovered, as we are exceeding backward to see it ourselves, because they are ours, so how angry are we that it should be disclosed to others! We so espouse the cause of our errors, as if all that were spoken against them were spoken against our persons, and we were heinously injured to have our arguments fully confuted, by which we injured the truth and the minds of men!

So that the matter is come to that pass through our pride, that if an error or fallacious argument does fall under the patronage of a reverend name, (which is no whit rare,) we must either give it the victory and give away the truth, or else become injurious to the name that doth patronize it. For though you meddle not with their persons, yet do they put themselves under all the strokes which you give their arguments, and feel [narcissism] it as sensibly as if you had spoken it of themselves, because they think it will follow in the eyes of men, that weak arguing is a sign of a weak man. If, therefore, you take it for your duty to shame their errors and false reasonings, by discovering their nakedness, they take it as if you shamed their persons; and so their names must be a garrison or fortress to their mistakes and their reverence must defend all their sayings from the light. (From the book: The Reformed Pastor)

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