An Alternate History of the Church
Lyle TimminsSUPPOSITION: Suppose Jesus had set up a top-down government in His young church. I propose this is what might have happened.
After Pentecost, Paul sent in his application for ministerial training. Two years later, Paul was accepted, but on probation. He began serving tables under the deacons first to prove his repentance. Then an official noticed how clean his tables were and decided that Paul was good material and recommended him to the apostle in charge of education. Six months later, Paul was placed in training for the ministry. Four years later, after an apostolic council review, they decided to ordain Paul and put him out in the field.
After five years, Paul was raised to "Pastor." Paul discovered he had a real talent for spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles and reported back to headquarters about the great light he had seen on the way to Damascus, the converts he had made, and the new insight he had on scripture. Paul was reprimanded severely and warned never to say anything about the light or the "conversation" he had with it, or to discuss those new ideas with anyone. Paul was reassigned to a smaller church.
Later that year, Paul's assistant, Barnabus, got upset about some of Paul's orders and walked off in a huff. Headquarters fired Barnabus for not calling headquarters first and getting permission before he walked off.
Paul couldn't help himself, and secretly preached to the Gentiles again. Somehow headquarters found out about it and reported it to the apostle-in-chief. Peter sent a tough area supervisor to reprimand Paul face-to-face and in front of his congregation, for daring to go outside of the guidelines set by headquarters. Paul was demoted to "minister" and sent to the far part of the Sinai desert. Peter said, "We can't have people going off on their own without authorization. No telling how much damage that would do. The Church's sacred rules have to be followed."
The next apostolic conference decided to de-emphasize the missionary efforts to the "lost tribes of Israel" and to concentrate on ministering to the Jews due to budget constraints. Peter was elevated to the position of Most Eminent Apostle, receiving a bigger office and one more secretary (now he has two) and a greater salary. A lawyer was hired to handle the tax problem with King Herod and to work out the Title 501.2b incorporation papers. The field ministry was reduced in salary to make up for the greater expenses and growth at headquarters.
Great plans were being made to discuss a Mission Statement at the next apostolic conference, possibly to be held on the sunny isle of Cyprus. Meanwhile, Paul's quarterly paycheck got lost in Accounting.