BUIES CREEK -- Some church leaders today have shifted the focus away from Jesus and what he did to themselves and what they do, David M. Moffitt said during the Campbell Divinity School’s Prevatte Biblical Studies Lecture Series he delivered Monday in Butler Chapel. Examples are those who preach a “wealth and health gospel” message, Moffitt said, such as “You can become successful, too, [if you] do what I’ve done.”
The effect is that some churches today reflect the world’s standards instead of God’s and that there is disunity between God and humanity as well as among humanity. “The wisdom of the spirit shows us that standards of wealth, power and influence are not in line with the reality of the church as God’s temple,” said Moffitt, who was an assistant professor of New Testament and Greek at Campbell for two years before joining the University of St. Andrews’ School of Divinity this summer as a senior lecturer. “In fact, God will harshly judge those who try to run the church according to the demonic structures of the world.”
What the church and its leaders need today, Moffitt added, is “a lot more righteous sense than common sense.”
This isn’t a new challenge for churches. Notably, the Apostle Paul wrote a series of letters sometime between 53 A.D. and 57 A.D. to the church in Corinth that comprise I and II Corinthians. That church, as some do today, substituted themselves in the place of Jesus, said Moffitt, who spoke Monday in depth on I and II Corinthians over two lectures -- “Life and the Spirit at the Ends of the Ages” and “Reconciliation and Suffering at the Ends of the Ages.”
Throughout I Corinthians, Paul appeals to unity; and in II Corinthians, Paul addresses the characteristics of a legitimate minister of Christ. Paul writes that both unity and ministry must be viewed from the theological perspective of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus and that the authorities of the church must be assessed based on the patterns of Jesus, Moffitt said. Given that, to tell who is a legitimate minister of Christ, Moffitt said, “Paul’s answer is in part, ‘Do they suffer?’”
“Suffering precedes glory, and . . . those who happen to be glorified as Jesus was glorified have to endure suffering,” Moffitt said. “This is precisely the way that God chose to reconcile the world.”
Paul himself exemplifies a legitimate minister and church leader trying to follow the pattern of Jesus, Moffitt said. In his letters, Paul tells the church of Corinth not “You can become successful, too, [if you] do what I’ve done,” but rather “Look at what I’ve become: I’ve been beaten. I’ve been stoned. I’ve been thrown out of cities.”
“All these varying things happened to Paul, and they are all markers that he is doing the right thing,” Moffitt said.
“Suffering," he added, "is the mark of a legitimate ministry.”
About David M. Moffitt: David M. Moffitt is a New Testament scholar and a senior lecturer in the School of Divinity at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Previously, he was an assistant professor of New Testament and Greek from 2011 to July 2013. He received the prestigious Manfred Lautenschläger Award for Theological Promise 2013 for his book “Atonement and the Logic of Resurrection in the Epistle to the Hebrews,” which was published by Brill in 2011. Moffitt has also contributed several essays to various edited volumes and has published articles in academic journals such as the Journal of Biblical Literature, Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der Älteren Kirche, Zeitschrift für Neues Testament, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik and Perspectives in Religious Studies. He received his Ph.D. in religion and a Master of Theology from Duke University, a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a bachelor’s degree from Grove City College. During his doctoral work, he spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar at the Eberhard-Karls Universität Tübingen in Germany. He has also been a Society of Biblical Literature Regional Scholar, and he’s ordained by the East Cedar Grove Association of Missionary Baptist Churches.
About the Prevatte Biblical Studies Lecture Series: E.J. and Amaretta Prevatte established the E.J. and Amaretta Prevatte Biblical Studies Lecture Series in 1985 to provide a forum in which “renowned Biblical scholars [can] share their wisdom” through an “in-depth study of the Bible that the ordinary degree work [does] not provide.” E.J. Prevatte practiced law for more than 60 years in the Southport, N.C., area. He received both his B.S. in business and government and his law degree from Wake Forest University. His wife, Amaretta, graduated from Appalachian State University.
Article by Cherry Crayton, digital content coordinator