Christianity, as practiced in the
Over the course of church history the position of minister has become highly exalted. It is quite common to hear these ones in authority extolled as great examples of virtue, knowledge, and piety. Since a key aspect of being a minister is the responsibility to instruct in righteousness, formal religious education has generally been prized in those individuals. Schools of theology have existed from the very beginning of Christianity.
The existence of those in the church who seek and exercise authority over others by means of assuming the role of instructor, Bible interpreter, and spiritual mentor leads to an inevitable conundrum. The congregants are almost assuredly taught that they need to take charge of their own spiritual/religious well being because they will answer to God individually for their right beliefs and conduct. Then concurrently they are enjoined to pay close attention to what the preacher teaches and to avoid any differing message from other sources. Though personally responsible to God, that responsibility includes accepting the preacher as God's chosen minister and honoring his interpretation of righteousness as God's own.
In effect, the church member becomes responsible, first and foremost to the church and the preacher. In sanctioning the preacher or minister as God's legitimate messenger and instructor, the church forces its affiliates to put the minister in the position of pre-eminence. God cannot or does not speak directly to the church member, the Bible not withstanding; but the preacher most certainly does. A man or woman who can gain our approval as God's spokesperson, becomes our God effectively. We are obliged to honor that person with a reverence which mirrors that we would extend to God. Under church theology God does not reveal Himself to each individual; instead He reveals Himself through special individuals exclusively chosen to guide and rule over the rest.