When people rant about “organised religion” they may or may not know what they are dissing.
Westporo Baptist Church (the infamous “god hates fags” church) has no official (or unofficial?) ties to ANY denomination or other church(s). Â There are untold thousands of less-controversial churches and preachers, which nonetheless stray off into variously worrying forms of fundamentalism.
For these kinds of churches & pastors, ‘freedom of conscience’ and ‘the priesthood of the believer’ (both of which I hold to firmly), are held toÂ at the expense ofÂ such things as accountability or governing structure (congregational or denominational). Â Church “hierarchy”, like any kind of structure, can be wise or foolishly designed and implemented.
While I could never say that a pastor must have a degree to be qualified, the slogan “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called” betrays not a little naivety. Â It’s not about insisting that a pastor must have a masters degree or anything, but at the very least, they should beÂ accountableÂ toÂ someone other than themselves.
The Baptist Union of NZ does not require any particular degree, but in order to maintain your denominational registration, you must fulfill the (very flexible and practical) requirements within a “Ministry Development Agreement”. Â I personally think (and I should, as a registered Baptist pastor, huh!?) this is a wise middle ground between a very dangerous brand of ‘independence’ (or should we call it anti-dependence?) on the one hand, and very constrictive forms of church ‘accountability’ (control!).