This is Part 2 of the Korah series. In Part 1 we discussed pastoral authority and how the Korah scripture was used to exert imagined pastoral authority over people. Another pattern I saw when the Korah scripture was used (or abused) is: what happens when congregants ask questions. We’ve touched on this subject before and it will most likely come up again and again because it is a key issue in abusive church situations: asking church leaders questions.
Can I Ask You a Question?
When I am teaching music to students, I love it when they ask me questions. It shows they are following along with me, they respect my opinions and experience, and want further information. They most likely will improve their musicianship by increasing their knowledge base and applying it to their abilities. People asking questions might be confused, might not understand, or might want to know more info. It should not be viewed as a threat to ask a question. It’s not a threat to me if someone questions me. In fact, there have been times I may have overlooked a small detail on sheet music and I appreciate that they are paying close attention to details. I know that I’m far from perfect and they are well on their way to being fine musicians by noticing these details (even those details that I missed). This actually excites me because I know they are progressing to a higher level. It is thrilling for me to play a small part in someone’s life musically.
I think of a pastor as a shepherd who cares for the flock and a teacher. If a pastor is confident about his teaching and beliefs, one would think he would be comfortable with people asking questions. I’m convinced that when most people ask questions, they are trying to work out this particular issue in their own mind, not at all trying to create problems. There are so many issues in the Bible that are open for interpretation. We look to the shepherd of the church as a teacher of God’s Word, one who has studied well, one whom we respect, and hope to find answers so that we can have the same assurances and confidence he has.
We are taught in school: there is no dumb question. Why is this seen as a threat for some pastors? Is it a threat? What do they think it is a threat to: their knowledge, their position, their authority, the church, God’s Word? Is there something they are trying to hide? Do they not know the answer to the question? Are they afraid that the congregant could be right and don’t want to be proven wrong? Are they afraid that the congregant may know more? Is it wrong for a congregant to have more knowledge than a pastor? Think about the situation where there is young pastor with congregants who have been Christians longer than the pastor has been alive. Doesn’t it make sense that congregants may have more knowledge/experience? It is all very puzzling to me.
Why is it that sometimes questions are not answered at all, but instead the focus is turned around and put on the questioner? Why does the person asking the question sometimes have to endure a barrage of questions of “why” he/she is asking the pastor a question, what their motive is, and is their heart right before the Lord? Is it a sin to ask a pastor a question? How is it that when someone asks a question, they are given scripture verses on how they are acting like Korah? By calling someone out as if they are in the sin of Korah, are they not saying: “I’m the authority and you have to obey me unquestioningly?
The bottom line and unspoken rule is: do not question authority. The cost has been dear for those who have dared to question Chuck O’Neal.
Thankfully, that false power is no longer over us and we have the freedom to express our thoughts and opinions here.
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 1
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 2
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 3
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here, Part 4