Carl Braaten on Theological Roots of the Mainline Crisis

The fifth issue is about the Church as a divine institution and the challenge of the democratic
cult of egalitarianism. We live in a democracy, and we have a right to be thankful for that. Democracy
is a form of government, as Abraham Lincoln orated in his Gettysburg Address, “of the
people, by the people, and for the people.” But the church is not a democracy. It is not “of the
people and by the people.” It is of God! Christ is king, the Lord of the church. Mistakenly we
often take our doctrine of the “priesthood of all believers” to mean that we are all equal in the
church. The doctrine of the priesthood of all believers is important; it means that we all have
equal access to Jesus Christ who is the sole Mediator between God and human beings. It is not a
definition of the church. Ordination is a sign that God calls certain ones to be leaders. Hebrews
13:17 says: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls.”
Some are shepherds, some are sheep. Authority in the church must be a function of the ministry
to which God has given special responsibility to make the church the church, where the gospel is
truly preached and the sacraments are rightly administered. Gnostics don’t like that and never

Read the whole thing here.

One thought on “Carl Braaten on Theological Roots of the Mainline Crisis

  1. Thanks. This is marvelous stuff, and even more timely now than it was back in 2008 when Braaten first gave this speech. I heartily agree with his diagnosis of the problems we face in all the so-called “mainline” or oldline denominations.

    The seven issues he highlights are indeed the real underlying issues, including the life and death battle against the gnosticism, pluralism, relativism, and antinomianism so rampant in the American church.

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