“Our Bounden Duty…”: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

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26 Responses

  1. Steph says:

    I completely agree, as does The Bible. If a shepherd is not amongst his sheep on a daily basis, he’s not meant to be a shepherd. Fairly easy parable to understand. The shepherd takes care of all of the sheep and even goes after just one.
    I went to a church for many years where the head pastor was potentially convinced that he was a celebrity being stalked. He stayed in his office during church worship time and was ushered to the pulpit immediately following. After service, right back to the office and only available by appointment! (Why did I stay at this church?! Long story for another day.) And this was on a Sunday morning!!! Anything else, during the week was done almost entirely by the assistant pastors: including anything to do with children (Big guy didn’t even know kids names that had attended the church for 15 years) Assistant pastors even have a secret, and supposed out of practice, handbook for directions on how to serve the big guy in charge (meaning the head pastor, not God!) They did almost everything in the church other than preaching on Sunday and Wednesday nights, unless the celeb was traveling, which was fairly often.

    “He’s a gifted speaker though….funny and down to Earth”.

    Self sacrifice is not every remotely close to what you’d associate with this guy. I wish he’d read your post….but he’s too busy calling his assistants and making sure the ship’s still sailing, crossing fingers that funds are still coming in.

  2. Duane Arnold says:


    I’m afraid it is a story that could be repeated a thousand times…

  3. Michael says:


    That was well said…and the current norm.
    Assistants do whatever works of ministry are performed in hopes of a promotion so they won’t have to anymore…

  4. Michael says:

    Needless to say, I heartily agree with all Duane wrote here.
    Unfortunately, our own tribe finds this vocation archaic…

  5. Duane Arnold says:


    Many thanks… I will say, by way of correction, the vast majority of our own tribe finds this archaic… Thank God for the remnant who do not!

  6. Em says:

    The Apostle Paul called himself a bondslave of Christ.. . hmmm
    It seems to me (FWIW) that we can have academics devoted to teaching and they should not call themselves pastors… So?
    Do we understand how a church should be manned… Does one big shot – one personality boy – even make sense? Can one person do all the ministries of a church? One man and a body of pew sitters? How many in a congrgation even know that God has given them a gift of one kind or another? A gift to be used?
    Lots to ponder, Dr. Duane….

  7. Duane Arnold says:


    All relevant questions, but I’m writing here primarily about the pastoral relationship…

  8. Xenia Moos says:

    I calculated that over the course of a life full of church attendance I have sat through probably 6000 sermons, if you count assorted evening services and Sunday school classes and not counting the hundreds of sermons I have heard on the radio, by podcast, etc. I barely remember the content of any of them. I don’t really care very much about sermons; my main concern is that they be short.

    What attracts me to a pastor is a man who demonstrates his faithfulness to God by his life. Is he faithful to his family? Does he show interest and compassion to the members of his flock? What does he do when no one except God is watching? That kind of thing. Some say this is too much to expect of a pastor but I say it is expected of all of us, not just him. But he should lead the way in helping us live our lives in Christ.

  9. Duane Arnold says:


    I think a pastor/priest is defined by the ordinary pastoral duties – day in and day out – much more so than the public moments…

  10. Em says:

    Dr. Duane @11:21
    Raises another question for me – should a pastor, then, even fill the role of a teacher in the pulpit?
    Xenia would have liked my old Presby church. There was a big clock mounted on the front of the balcony facing the pulpit and Dr. Kerr had strict orders to never go over 15 minutes. The first time my Baptist husband heard him, he said, ” He’s a very good teacher, but how come he keeps his messages so short? ” 😉

  11. Jean says:


    Tell me if I understand your intent or whether I am over reading it: Human nature has a tendency to take God’s call to serve, each in his given vocation (you have focused on vocation of pastor/priest), and inverts it to serve the self. I think this is very true and was trying to apply what you’re saying in a wider Christian context, without diminishing any of the concerns you have with the ministry. Are we on the same page?

  12. Duane Arnold says:


    Yes, I think a pastor should fulfill his role in the pulpit. That being said, that is perhaps only the smallest part of pastoral ministry. We’ve made it the singular and preeminent role…

  13. Duane Arnold says:


    Yes, I think that sort of inversion takes place. I think the wider application might be that we are increasingly using secular business models as normative in the Church…

  14. bob1 says:


    Great piece with some great insights.

    I agree that the “public exercise of ministry” is only one piece of what the true pastoral ministry covers.

    This shallow and superficial media age has contributed a lot to this, IMHO.

    Plus, in how many conservative Protestant denoms. do pastors even do traditional pastor functions, like visiting the sick and administering the Sacraments, etc. etc? I’m sure many Anglican and Lutheran pastors do, not sure about the others.

    A few years ago in my community, in a short time,I heard of 2 evangelical pastors who quit their pastorates. In both cases they wanted to just focus on “teaching” and I know at least one of them because an itinerant Bible teacher. Kinda sad, but maybe they didn’t have any role models for a traditional pastoral ministry.

  15. Clarity says:

    “Yes, I think a pastor should fulfill his role in the pulpit. That being said, that is perhaps only the smallest part of pastoral ministry. We’ve made it the singular and preeminent role…”

    I can’t stress this enough- EXACTLY!

  16. Mike E. says:

    Very interesting Duane and jogs my thinking. Pastors/priests today are “professionals.” That is to say, they generally have some (in some cases, very little) “professional training” or some kind of academic credentials. My question: Is this the biblical model? I’m particularly interested because I believe I have a call for some type of pastoral ministry, but I’m wondering exactly what is the necessary training/education? What part does life experience play? Would it be possible to exercise at least some of the duties of a pastor through online interaction? Must a pastor have a specific congregation, or can he/she minister pastoral ministry through other means? Somewhat confusing. A brave new world, indeed.

  17. Duane Arnold says:

    Bob 1

    “…but maybe they didn’t have any role models for a traditional pastoral ministry.”

    That is part of the problem… and it is getting worse.

  18. Duane Arnold says:

    Mike E.

    I mentor or provide spiritual direction for five pastors/priests. Most of it is done online or on the phone. While there can be benefit, my conclusion is that physical, one to one, face to face contact is still the gold standard. You are right, however, we are in a new world in many ways…

  19. Corby says:

    My wife and I have been flirting with an ACNA (Anglican) for about a year now. Much of what is posted in this post are the main reasons why. When people find out I have a pastoral background, they ask if I’ll ever go back into ministry. My answer has been not in the same way I was before, if at all, and its hard to explain why to most as their only experience is either modern evangelical (which they like), or former Catholic who are now evangelical and don’t want anything to do with liturgical and/or sacramental churches.

    One idea you mentioned I particularly resonate with is the idea that ones faith is supposed to be systemic to one’s life. Pastors and parishioners still compartmentalize their lives. Being a follower of Jesus sis supposed to be a holistic experience. But I digress.

    Duane, you used a phrase that keyed some other thoughts/questions I can’t quite wrap my somewhat theologically-homeless head around yet. “…I always regarded saying the Offices as an obligation on behalf of the church…” On behalf of the church. I don’t seek to correct but to understand.

    In theory, the evangelical is supposed to believe in the priesthood of all believers, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at it (see above comment about being systemic). Granted, this verse/phrase is used by the evangelical in a rather narrow range. Typically, it is used to summarize that the individual believer doesn’t need any intermediary. No need for confession or absolution to/from a person because Jesus does/has done that. The titles priest or rather also offend the evangelical sensibility because we have a Priest, we have a Father individually and collectively. The example you gave with the young priest and the Daily Office being seen as a personal exercise, I get where he’s coming from. Although, even the text/form of the Daily Office is supposed to be administered by a Priest, ideally, if I’m not mistaken. Basically, Im talking about what McKenzie calls Me vs We in a sense.

    I understand that the Anglican rests some, not all, but some authority in tradition, something that the evangelical seems to selectively react against. I point this out because I can’t think of a scriptural example of the concept of a pastor/priest acting on behalf of, or in the stead of, a local church, so I’m thinking it comes from a tradition.

    All of that to clarify my own context and ask the question, how can one person (a priest in this instance) say the Offices on behalf of a group of people (a church), and it have any efficacy or make any difference to anyone in that group? If the priest can do x, y, and z on behalf of the church, why does any one individual every live out x, y, or z? It loops back into the lack of systemic living out one’s faith. Not a correction statement, a question to better understand my own perspective.

  20. Duane Arnold says:


    There is, in my opinion, a sacrificial element that is related to pastoral/priestly ministry. Presiding over the Lord’s Supper, the priest is persona Christi as they repeat Christ’s words, “This is my Body…”. The concept, however, goes deeper than that. From the early centuries, the term “priest” was applied to the one who presided. It was given not to take away from the priesthood of all believers, but as a singular embodiment of that theological truth. More than that, the very role of a pastor was/is to carry a sacrificial element, “a good shepherd gives his life for the sheep”. In my view, we give our life for the sheep daily – by prayer, by administration of sacraments, by pastoral care, etc. – all being “our bounden duty and service”. In praying, the pastor/priest prays for us…

  21. Jean says:

    I think a lot of the insights into the priesthood held by the early church were gleaned from the unique role of the Aaronic priesthood in Israelite worship. Israel also had the priesthood of believers, but it was distinguished from the Aaronic priesthood. In other words I agree with you, but just wanted to indicate where scripturally some of those distinctions originated.

  22. Duane Arnold says:


    Yes, in the early centuries, I think there was an almost unconscious linkage…

  23. Jean says:

    And, Duane, the Reformation, at least from Luther’s perspective, was not designed to destroy the calling/vocation of the priest, but to recognize the callings/vocations of the laity as also being priestly and holy when done in faith.

  24. Duane Arnold says:


    Cranmer as well…

  25. Jean says:


    I looked up Cranmer and it appears he had a substantial overlap with Luther. Do you know if they knew each other or how close their theology was to one another?

  26. Duane Arnold says:


    They didn’t know each other, but Luther influenced the early English Reformation through Robert Barnes, whose writings were known by Cranmer. As to their theology, Cranmer would have had no problems with the Augsburg Confession. The English Church, however, tended not to have expanded and precise definitions as is found in confessional Lutheranism. It was much closer to Scandinavian Lutheranism…

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