The Pulpit – Open or Respected?

First, it is clear that there is no such thing as “an open pulpit.” We realize what the phrase was meant to convey, but in reality there is no such thing as a pulpit that is truly open to any and all doctrines, ideas, philosophies and arguments. No true preacher of the gospel would allow doctrines, etc that were detrimental to his flock to be preached openly and unrestrained. Neither is there such a thing as an open pulpit amongst brethren of the ministry (even when it was meant to be it became obvious to all that under certain circumstances it could not live up to its name).

Therefore, we conclude that the proper and true phrase amongst us preachers (as well as in the local church) is not the misnomer of an “open pulpit,” but rather a “respected pulpit.” By this, we mean a pulpit that is handled with respect from both the speaker and his listeners. A mutual agreement of respect that prevents either side of the pulpit from dishonoring the sacred position of the pulpit.

The respected pulpit is restrained only by honor and godliness. A respected pulpit is in no way a pulpit that is restricted from preaching truth, nor is it a programmed or intimidated pulpit. The respected pulpit never becomes a place of personal vendetta or of a rude and coarse display of human spirit, but rather a manifestation of the Spirit of God. All brethren should be free to preach what they deem as the message that God has inspired and to preach it as an oracle of God. We simultaneously affirm a minister’s liberty to preach as well as his responsibility to respect those to whom he preaches.

The “respected” pulpit is the true “open” pulpit.

We believe that one of the major shortcomings that contribute to the corruption of any ministerial group is the lack of “respect” among the group for one another. Men that abuse the privilege of the pulpit by making it a place of personal advantage do a grave injustice to the fellowship by eroding respect. We feel strongly that for any ministerial fellowship to function in a godly manner an atmosphere of “respect” must pervade throughout the group in any and all functions. Merits of respect are solely derived from a call of God to the ministry; no preacher ought to experience anything less than the honor his call deems appropriate.

The office of the ministry should be upheld by each and every preacher of the gospel. Paul said, “I magnify mine office.” The “office” is that which God ordained and the apostle gives glory to God for the function of a tool of God, not the man himself. This “office” must receive the utmost respect.

It is “God’s calling” on a man not the size of his church that demands respect. The five-fold ministry, in God’s eyes, is one of honor.

No one man should ever be so presumptuous as to be deceived into thinking that he is of more value to the kingdom of God that any other “God-called” preacher.

Man made “offices” must always be in remembrance that they are MAN MADE. Therefore, they can only function as long as the men that made the offices agree to their function. Once the “office” becomes a “holy” thing and is no longer functioning for the aid of men but to the control of men, then this condition is showing gross disrespect to the group as a whole.

Disrespect is always a sign that one individual values his brother less than himself! True Biblical love is always full of respect. “Speaking down” to another is an expression that states well the position of the speaker.

Courtesy is a FRUIT of respect. The acid test of respect is: can I disagree with my brother and not be disrespectful? Disrespect is used by many to abuse an individual that they cannot control.

We must all pray for a spirit of respect—it is still the essence of true maturity and godliness.

— jlg —

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