Dear Paul: I just left the church building this evening. They’ve been collecting some of your letters and shared them with us tonight. I must say, I am quite disturbed. If the elders enact some of what you suggest, I’ll tell you, I will probably just have to leave. I can’t believe you have the nerve to be as bold as you are in some of your statements.
First off, I can’t believe that they took time away from the sermon to read letters. I mean, the preacher should have been preaching, what are we paying him for. I think, if I’m honest what bothers me most about it is that it is so easy to understand. I mean so little of it sounds like theology and church language. I’d rather debate theory or just not understand what’s being said, at least then I have an excuse to not do it. I read the “systematic theology” masterpiece you sent to the folks in Rome. I loved that - first you stepped all over those godless Gentiles and then you threw down on the Jews. Near the end you said some things that bothered me but overall - now that’s preaching.
I’ll probably have to write this over several separate notes so bear with me but I’m just so upset right now I wanted to start this while it was on my mind.
In your letter to Timothy you seem to insinuate that elders have some authority in matters concerning the local church - even some rule (3:5; 5:17). Now, in theory the idea of elders is good - as long as they are shepherds and never make a mistake (i.e. do, say or make a decision that in any way I disagree with them in) but I tell you, if you meant to say they have the right to rule in the church then I’m out of here. I don’t even mind them thinking they have some say over matters, but I’m as much a member of the church as they are and if they think they are going to tell me anything about how to live my life - well, Paul, you’ve got another thing coming to you. And, you know, as long as they are doing the really important stuff like making sure the heat and air are running and picking out carpet and stuff I’m suppose I’m fine. But I don’t need a shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). I don’t need someone giving me advice or praying for me or calling me out when I do wrong. Simply put, I'm not "under" anyone - or anyone's authority. Isn't that what Christianity is about - freedom? How dare you even imagine - I don’t think you get what a shepherd is Paul!
I’ve got more to say on some of the other stuff you said but I’m so worked up over this right now I don’t think I can even think about all the other stuff.