A new book on pastoral authority

I wrote last week
“A question that I’ve been pondering: is the distinction made between
clergy and laity in the Christian church a caste system?” It is
serendipitous that I read this morning in Christian Century (October 18, 2005, p. 25), the following mini-review by Anthony B. Robinson of Who Are You to Say?: Establishing Pastoral Authority in Matters of Faith:

    A UCC pastor, Rosenberger raises the important
    questions too few are willing to ask: Is there a place for authority in
    the pastoral role and office? What is the nature of appropriate
    authority and what are its grounds and sources? Is Christian community
    really possible absent legitimate authority?

I just put an interlibrary loan request for the book through the campus
library. I certainly believe that there is a place for pastoral
authority, and there there are solid grounds for such authority in the
Bible (and in long Christian tradition). What has bothered are the
perks and privileges that often come with being a clergy. The divide
between clergy and lay staff in a church can be stark at times. I have
to ask myself whether my question is motivated by envy since I’m not
part of the clergy. Moreover, as an elder in the PCUSA, I am a lay
leader myself and have enjoyed a certain status within the church. I
too must wrestle with being leader who professes to have Jesus of
Nazareth as my supreme model.