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Corinthian Elders [Paperback]

Jack Fortenberry
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Nov. 21 2008
Although we are called to make disciples these are disciples of Christ. Corinthian Elders addresses the Pauline concern that Christian leaders can actually harm your relationship with Christ. Using a high view of the New Testament and the original manuscripts the book analyzes the reasons for divisions in the church at Corinth and concludes the problem was their focus on even godly teachers. The conclusion that an emphasis on teachers was hindering the Corinthian believer from abiding in Christ is corroborated by examining the Book of Colossians where Paul expressed alarm that Colossian believers were submitting to teachers and authoritative church leaders. Corinthian Elders calls for a return to Paul's model of the church in order to glorify and enjoy God.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pithy, Focused and Powerful Feb. 15 2011
By B. Breen TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Jack Fortenberry has written a book that while short (92 pages), packs a powerful punch. In a time where the exodus from institutional churches is growing and simple or organic church is growing in its impact and profile, there's a need for many people not only to learn what the Bible has to say about important subjects, but in some cases there is a need to "unlearn" the conventional knowledge or wisdom that carries out of the institution.

The fact is, eldership as a servant role in a non-hierarchical environment, although that was the way the early church operated, seems counter-intuitive when you look at it today. Eldership to many people means power, decision-making and a position to be striven for by people looking for respect, influence and public profile. So many look at the Bible through the lens of existing church hierarchy, to where when they see the term "elder" they immediately think of that word as it functions today in institutional contexts and those assumptions become circular and self-fulfilling.

Corinthian Elders approaches this situation with two important messages. First, as noted above, "eldership" is a function and not an office. Second, the traditional form generally known and accepted today in an institutional context is not only not Biblical, but it is also counterproductive to a healthy church body.

Using the Corinthian Epistles, Fortenberry moves through many of the issues that had arisen in Corinth and then weaves in other passages helping the reader move through the fog of institutional "conventional wisdom" and toward an understanding of what an elder was (and is) in the past before the term was co opted by a position within the institutional church that bears little likeness.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CORINTHIAN ELDERS- RELEVANT FOR AFRICA TOO Sept. 2 2009
By Jim Nduruchi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
CORINTHIAN ELDERS
This book, written by Jack Fortenberry, is a gem that each one of us, especially those in the business of pursuing true fellowship with the Godhead must get hold of and read. You cannot put it down after beginning reading it, especially if you've been sensitive enough to notice a bizarreness that upsets one's spiritual balance within the institutionalized church. Everybody has a right to think; we are entitled to our opinions, it's acceptable; BUT we all meet at the point where there's mutual agreement that something different about fellowship with each other and with Christ and the Holy Spirit has to be done, urgently. For there's an ominous visible void in people's hearts; a persistent yearning for more of the Word, more of love and less of clergy and less of interpretation of scripture, which calls for eloquence and consequently manipulation of God's people.

Here in Africa pastors have programmed morning devotions, and lunch hour services, evening sessions, deliverance services, and overnights and vigils and home cells, and revival programs and youth services, and missions even to the holy land etc, in an attempt to fill the spiritual void in their congregations, but this did not work. In fact Sunday services begin as early as 6:00 am and end at 8:00 pm in many churches here. but people return home tired and empty. On Monday they go back to their old lives- corruption and the rest.

All the Christian programming from the West- TBN, the God Channel and love TV and many more are aired here for free, featuring eloquent speakers and documentaries. But the spiritual wilderness in the hearts of African believers still stubbornly abide. "Church" is on 24 hours seven. Yet a glance at faces of people sitting on pews on Sunday morning and further glimpse over their lives at work and in their homes reveals a shimmering desire for spiritual fulfillment. Many "prosperity gospel" preachers have influenced great wealth creation among some members of their congregations, but this didn't quench that hunger for a true encounter with the Lord. Finally in the last few years, more and more people (especially the elite) are falling out of church, and the youth are most hit. There's mutiny in homes with young people getting into things unimaginable.

Jack Fortenberry has a revelation about where the problem is, and in his book "Corinthian Elders" he ably discourses with the reader's heart about returning the Christ into His rightful position of headship for His Church; removing human obstacles brought about by unscrupulous people trying steal glory that's not theirs; glory that belongs to a jealous God who says, "I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images (Isaiah 42:8). These meddlers have upset the divine order between the LORD and his people. Jack Fortenberry rightly points out that elders are rarely directly addressed in most Epistles that emphasizes the one-on -one relationship we need to have with our creator. He takes us back to the Corinthian church and exhaustively explains the role of elders in the New Testament church and what happened when there was a deviation from what was rightly theirs to do. He goes on to marry this with what's going on in the contemporary traditional church that has found herself in the same situation. Paul had a stance about the steaming favoritism and confusion and said, "My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom (1Cor 2:4).

In the "Corinthian Elders" the author notes that just like believers in Corinth and Colossae shared a desire to pursue Christ but lost their connection to the vine by not trusting His love and indwelling, we too become worldly if after experiencing the revelation of His character and the veracity of his word we again rely on men to lead us into spiritual truth. He emphasizes the need for fellowship with one another as believers by asking the question, "Would our relationship with other believers be described as in unity? If not disunity, or even apathy, is evidence our eyes are not on Christ alone for salvation and edification. "The one who loves his brother abides in the light (Christ) and there's no cause for stumbling in him." 1 John 2:10 (page 18). He goes on to say, "The point is simply that we are guilty of not loving each other as were those brothers in Corinth which indicates we are not looking to Christ." (page 21). Jack deciphers the calling and importance of "elders" in the Corinthian versus our traditional church. He gets into issues of favoritism for the clergy in the assembly, church governance (governing by consensus), ...not by majority vote of a congregation but by consensus of everyone who is meeting together." (Page 50). He masterfully brings it all together, pointing the reader to the Cross of Christ and says, "Complete in Christ." Wow! What a revelation!

Every believer should seek after this well-researched and prayerfully laid out work. It has answered a lot of questions that have perplexed my mind with regards to `going to church' versus `being the church' and understanding my rightful position within the assembly of believers. After reading the book, my view about church and fellowship has really been sharpened. Now I know this to the truth: Colossians 2:18-19 "Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize... and not holding fast to the head (Christ). Please find time and read this book. It will sharpen the revelation that the Spirit is pouring unto many souls around the world, that Christ is preparing His pride for the rapture and it's time she embraced Him and not `middle-men' in fellowships and all dealings with Him. Kudos Brother Jack Fortenberry for this great, inspired piece.

Brother Jim Nduruchi
Kenya
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pithy, Focused and Powerful Feb. 15 2011
By B. Breen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Jack Fortenberry has written a book that while short (92 pages), packs a powerful punch. In a time where the exodus from institutional churches is growing and simple or organic church is growing in its impact and profile, there's a need for many people not only to learn what the Bible has to say about important subjects, but in some cases there is a need to "unlearn" the conventional knowledge or wisdom that carries out of the institution.

The fact is, eldership as a servant role in a non-hierarchical environment, although that was the way the early church operated, seems counter-intuitive when you look at it today. Eldership to many people means power, decision-making and a position to be striven for by people looking for respect, influence and public profile. So many look at the Bible through the lens of existing church hierarchy, to where when they see the term "elder" they immediately think of that word as it functions today in institutional contexts and those assumptions become circular and self-fulfilling.

Corinthian Elders approaches this situation with two important messages. First, as noted above, "eldership" is a function and not an office. Second, the traditional form generally known and accepted today in an institutional context is not only not Biblical, but it is also counterproductive to a healthy church body.

Using the Corinthian Epistles, Fortenberry moves through many of the issues that had arisen in Corinth and then weaves in other passages helping the reader move through the fog of institutional "conventional wisdom" and toward an understanding of what an elder was (and is) in the past before the term was co opted by a position within the institutional church that bears little likeness.

In a very direct and efficient manner referencing scripture and using some basic reference tools to provide clarity for the original language, the book progresses through some very basic and very fundamental understandings of what the function of elder is all about. The warnings found in Corinthians serve as a framework and a surprisingly timely and current message for today.

Jack has provided a tool that can serve the needs of both individuals with questions or even a group study for a beginning simple church or organic fellowship. I was reminded while reading this work of many of the insights offered by Frank Viola in some of his longer works. This provides many similar insights but in more targeted and direct manner.

I'm glad to have had the opportunity to read this work, and I appreciate the courtesy of the author providing me a copy to review. That said, my evaluation of the book is independent and no promises were made in return for this review.

I recommend this book enthusiastically.

5 stars.

Bart Breen
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fresh Air Sept. 2 2009
By Brenda Weltner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Having been a churchgoer, pastor's wife and someone with 'inside knowledge' as to how churches operate, I was blessed, encouraged and heartened by Jack Fortenberry's explanation of healthy, scriptural church leadership. Though this book is relatively short, I found there was plenty of meat to chew on! If you've ever felt oppressed under the present 'church-as-usual' ecclesiastical hierarchical structure, you'll find Jack's words and insight a breath of fresh air. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who is on a search to discover clarity and simplicity in their 'church' experience.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Balanced, concise and scriptural treatment of the subject of Elders Aug. 3 2009
By Macgyver in PA - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Yesterday I received the book "Corinthian Elders" to read and review. I sat down to read it, and in one sitting was able to do so. It's not a very long book, and people who enjoy reading - particularly the subject material will likely finish it very quickly.

I really appreciate the gist of Jack's "essay" on the role of elders in the local church - which is that we've gone off camber as The Church by embracing the teaching of men - even those who are good teachers. Jack does a good job of showing how this has been somewhat of a problem since the first century church when there were divisions because of individuals aligning themselves with Paul, Peter, and so on. Of course, these apostles were upright, good teachers, and could provide much insight into Jesus having spent time with him, etc. However, Paul still encouraged his readers to align themselves under the headship of Jesus Christ and not other men.

Jack does a good job summarizing the New Testament view of the New Covenant truth that The Spirit of God now resides in us and is able to communicate truth to us through the Scripture without the need of intermediaries who spoon-feed us or otherwise play a middle-man role in our walk with the Lord.

Further, a main theme in Jack's work is the Centrality and Supremacy of Jesus Christ. This is something that is showing up more and more in the thoughts and reflections of the saints which I believe is evidence of God at work! The Church has largely just paid lip service to Jesus Christ for nearly two thousand years and it's time for Jesus to actively be the head of His body in every aspect of The Church - including leadership. Jack makes the appeal for Jesus to be our head both personally and corporately.

Another aspect I appreciate about this book, and others like it, is it's ability to bring harmony to what often seem like opposing views. Specifically, the role of elders in the local church along with a consensus understanding of God's direction among the congregation. I think Jack does a great job highlighting the role of elder without giving it more or less value than the Scriptures allow.

Those accustomed to more institutional views of Church would likely struggle with the ideas expressed in this book because tradition is not easily dislodged from the soul. I am not saying all tradition is bad, but some traditions keep us from accepting the plain truths of scripture. I believe the truths that Jack has written about here are necessary to hear and must result in a change of thinking in some areas of our understanding.

If you're a person who longs to see Jesus lead His Church - not as a metaphor, but literally - you need to read this book. If you're a leader or otherwise involved in a local fellowship - read this book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful book for the organic renewal... March 3 2009
By Jeff Rhodes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Jack sent me a copy of this book to review last week, and I'm glad he did! His handling of the divisions within the church at Corinth are quite revealing in light of modern pastoral roles. He convincingly weaves the story of Scripture into a thoughtful explanation of the dangers of trusting ourselves and our teachers over Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Paul was clear in his writings concerning the roles of leadership within Jesus' churches, yet time and tradition have clouded the purity of Scripture for too many. It seems to be easier to process and ingest "pre-chewed" food rather than looking to the Source for our nourishment.

To add to Jack's discussion, Jesus personally confronted the same problem in Revlation chapter 2 when He addressed the church in Pergamum. In verses 14-16, Jesus compares the Nicolaitans with Balaam who was a renouned false "prophet-for-hire" found in Numbers. These Nicolaitans were "people rulers", as the name means, who were a rising faction within churches within the first Century. They were seeking domination over the brethren and getting paid for it! Scholars have debated the exact identity of the Nicolaitans, but the text clearly indicates who they were with Jesus' comparison with Balaam. The word "Nicolaitans" is derived from "nikao", to conquer, and "laos", people, which is where we get the word laity. Jesus' instructions were clear: repent, before He showed up to fight against this early heresy of a divide between a clergy and the laity!

Jesus wants His followers to follow HIM! No matter how good, exciting, or accurate a great teacher may be, they should never lord over people, nor should people depend on them for their "nourishment".

Thank you, Jack, for sharing the purity of the Scriptures regarding this issue that has hindered the church for far too long.
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