Let us imagine that, after the death of its founder and the founder's appointed successor, there was a Church whose remaining officers voted themselves a lifetime salary sufficient for all their temporal concerns, howsoever small a pittance this living stipend might be in comparison with what they could obtain were they to leave the ministry; that is to say, they became paid ministers, whose craft was playing the role of priests, leaders, and rulers unto the Church.
Let us further imagine that the vast majority of these paid ministers died in the office of their ministry from natural causes - and that the sole exceptions to this rule occurred very early in the Church's history.
Let us further imagine that these paid ministers replenished their ranks from those whose faith in the Church, implicitly meaning faith in the leadership of the Church, had never wavered.
Let us further imagine that those considered for leadership positions in the Church also were successful in whatever their careers were prior to consideration for leadership, thus demonstrating the ability to get along well in hierarchies, as well as other skills that the leadership might have use for, such as business management, law, and the like.
Let us further imagine that divorce was eventually considered by the leadership to be an instant disqualification from consideration for leadership positions in the Church.
Let us further imagine that those considered for leadership positions in the Church also underwent stringent background checks and screenings to ensure their reputation was beyond known reproach, lest the Church be embarrassed by scandal arising from their appointment to the ministry.
Let us imagine this Church had these items within their duly canonized scriptures.
5 For a man to lay down his all, his character and reputation, his honor and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his lands, his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even his own life also, counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, requires more than mere belief, or supposition that he is doing the will of God, but actual knowledge: realizing, that when these sufferings are ended he will enter into eternal rest; and be a partaker of the glory of God.
7 Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things: it was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things, that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has, for the truth's sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice, because he seeks to do his will, he does know most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice & offering, & that he has not nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life.
8 It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they in like manner offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him.
12 But those who have not made this sacrifice to God, do not know that the course which they pursue is well pleasing in his sight; for whatever may be their belief or their opinion, it is a matter of doubt and uncertainty in their mind; and where doubt and uncertainty is, there faith is not, nor can it be. For doubt and faith do not exist in the same person at the same time. So that persons whose minds are under doubts and fears cannot have unshaken confidence, and where unshaken confidence is not, there faith is weak, and where faith is weak, the persons will not be able to contend against all the opposition, tribulations and afflictions which they will have to encounter in order to be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ Jesus; and they will grow weary in their minds, and the adversary will have power over them and destroy them.Let us further imagine that the forgoing items of canonized scripture are true.
What may be concluded about the leadership of this hypothetical Church? Could they have the faith to be saved? Could they have possibly performed the sacrifice of all things before ascending to their positions of leadership? Wouldn't the vetting process of this hypothetical Church have weeded out all such? And if these leaders die in office, can they have performed the sacrifice of all things? Can they have other than vainly sought the face of God?
How might the leadership of such an hypothetical Church react to a challenge to their authority based on the aforementioned duly canonized items of scripture, particularly if they are not able to contend against the charges by way of truth and demonstration thereof?
Why does baloney reject the grinder?
And, lastly, if such a Church were to be more than hypothetical, wouldn't it resemble this?
NET Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy lies. The priests exercise power by their own authority. And my people love to have it this way. But they will not be able to help you when the time of judgment comes!
Same as it ever was.