Archive Nota Bene Steven Wedgeworth


Friend and associate Alastair Roberts has posted some great thoughts on the question of leadership, what it is and how we should define it, here. I have personally asked this very question of myself for years, and so Mr. Robert’s contribution is of more than academic interest. Here is a snippet which illustrates his primary question:

As surprisingly few people have devoted close attention to the question of what a priest or pastor actually is—even in the midst of extensive debates over women should be them—the character of the priesthood is likely to be determined (often unwittingly) primarily by prevailing models and metaphors of leadership in the wider culture, being conformed to their patterns.

When Scripture is appealed to, the appeal can take the character of a quest for isolated evidence in support of a position that was arrived at on other grounds, rather than a careful attempt to develop our understanding out of intensive engagement with the witness of the text itself.

An example of this is the way that scriptural images such as that of the ‘shepherd’ are appealed to, in a manner that largely ignores the way that these images function within the scriptures themselves. The images are abstracted from their scriptural context and reinterpreted in terms of their within our own cultural context. Our cultural image of the shepherd, quite in contrast to that of the Scripture, has little emphasis upon the shepherd as a figure employing and facing force and violence to protect and provide for a flock in the midst of numerous dangers. As a result, when many people talk about being ‘pastoral’ today, they think primarily about a visiting vicar drinking tea with their granny, saying a comforting word by a graveside, getting alongside someone as a ‘wounded healer’ in a counselling situation, or nurturing the church with a gentle homily. They are less likely to think about such ‘pastoral’ work as the forceful and unequivocal condemnation of error and its teachers, the exercise of church discipline, the protection of the members of a congregation from dangerous spiritual influences, and the driving out of those who would oppose the Church’s mission.

All of this has a huge effect upon the sort of people that we deem suitable for pastoral leadership.

Read the whole thing.

By Steven Wedgeworth

Steven Wedgeworth is the Rector of Christ Church Anglican in South Bend, Indiana. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a founding member of the Davenant Institute.