Frankly, I have never heard that term until listening to a sermon by Pastor Ralph Ovadal of Pilgrims Covenant Church, Most Dangerous Minister of All. But as I thought about it I guess I get it.
What is meant by the term Protestant Pope? Of course, it is based on the office of the Pope of the Roman Catholic church who is viewed as the pastor of the entire Church, exercising full power over the entire church. The Roman Catholics believe that the Pope’s authority descends from the Apostle Peter to whom Jesus said, “Thou art Peter and upon this rock, I will build my church”. They believe that Jesus was endowing the Apostle Peter as the head of the church; and therefore, is the church’s supreme authority.
However, Jesus is the head of the church. Jesus Christ is the Rock upon which the church is built; in fact, he is the chief cornerstone. Jesus was not appointing the Apostle Peter as the head of the church, but commending Peter for recognizing Jesus as the Son of the Living God.
The term protestant pope refers to churches where the pastor operates as the final authority within the congregation. There are some churches that have one pastor, maybe designated as the senior pastor, and may have under them other ministers who may be also designated as pastors over specific ministries, but they report to the Senior Pastor.
The “Protestant Pope” – Pastor usually is the one who determines the vision and direction for the congregation. In some churches, they answer to no one but God, and the congregation yields to this governing believing that he leads them as God directly leads him.
But what about when the pastor takes a detour? What about when the church begins to go down an heretical path? What if actions taken by the pastor are not supported by scripture? Who is the pastor accountable to?
Just like the Apostle Paul openly rebuked the Apostle Peter for his hypocrisy, all of us need to be accountable. Galatians 2:11-14
The Apostle Paul also tells Timothy, a young minister of the gospel, to not rebuke an elder but exhort him as a father in I Timothy 5:1, but later explains:
Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. I Timothy 5:19-20
Paul also warns in this same book and also Galatians, that if any man teaches what is contrary to sound doctrine, to withdraw, or count them as accursed.
I believe that this is the primary reason that Christian churches should always hold those in pastoral leadership accountable to the Word of God. Why? Because some will depart from the faith.
…in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, I Timothy 4:1b KJV
What say ye?