Ezekiel Stoddard, Uneducated Pastor

As reported in the Washington Post, we have a sad story from Temple Hills, Md. It is sad because Ezekiel Stoddard is having his life shortchanged by his parents who have pushed him into Bible study and writing sermons instead of following a proper school curriculum.

Ezekiel, 11,  believes that the Lord spoke to him two years ago and that he must spread the word of God.

Ezekiel says God spoke to him in a dream when he was 8. “God said, ‘You are going to lay hands on the sick and preach to the poor,’ ” Ezekiel said.

The voice, Ezekiel said in another interview, sounded like fire. “He said, ‘Son, you are going to be something.’ ” The boy’s mission? “Ministering the Gospel,” Ezekiel said, “and running souls right over to Him.”

He was recently ordained as a pastor in the independent church in which both of his parents are also preachers.

“The kingdom of God is at hand,” he said in a sermon at his ordination. His hands punctured the air, seeming to reach out to all of the 50 or so well-wishers present.

“Repent,” he said in a voice at once forceful and pre-pubescent. “To repent may be deeper than you think. You have to give your life over to the Lord. Don’t act like this world. . . . Have your own mind set in Christ.” The audience cheered.

Ezekiel is home schooled by his mother, and besides wearing his khaki uniform and doing schoolwork he spends a 13-14 a week studies the bible.

There are many who believe that God speaks through preachers. For them there is nothing unusual in an 11 year old in front of a church. For many other Christians, the idea of someone so young understanding the intricacies of theology is unbelievable. What can he possible have to offer followers other than bible quotes and empty platitudes. It could be said that no matter the age of the pastor, religion has nothing else to offer anyway. However, in the preachers I have met, the experience of years do tend to bring at least some understanding of human foibles.

Some children develop an aptitude at an early age for a skill such as music, mathematics, or sports. These skills should be developed if possible, and this encouragement of his talent as a speaker by Ezekiel’s parents is a positive thing, even if I personally don’t agree with this particular route. However, children also need to be given the skills to branch out or change in the future. While his parents state that Ezekiel spends time playing sports and in other activities, I can’t help but wonder how well rounded a adult he will develop into.

It’s easy to criticize this as parent’s brainwashing a child, and there may be some of that here. It’s more difficult to step back and ask what will be the long term impact on Ezekiel’s life? Will he grow to experience and understand the world outside of his Church’s narrow view? I very much doubt it.

That’s what makes this a sad story.

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6 Responses to Ezekiel Stoddard, Uneducated Pastor

  1. It is almost sad, it will go one of two ways, either he will spend his whole life caught up in the hype, and we will see him leading a mega-church in the future, or, he will spend a chunk of his adult life wondering what he missed out on, and being annoyed at wasted time

  2. Ilene says:

    If anyone opens their bibles.read 1 timothy 4:12. Then tell God who he can give knowledge to! Wow no one read anymore? Shame on you all to mock Gods word! LET NO ONE DESPISE YOUR YOUTH! OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BABES! way to go kid!!!!!!!!

    • Whether or not Saul thinks that being young has no impact on a person’s ability is irrelevant. Reading the Bible is highly recommended for anyone wishing to understand the sociology of ancient peoples, but it is a very mockable book.

  3. R says:

    first of all the bible quotes are very powerful for one. Secondly education doesn’t determine our fitness for ministry it’s our anointing.There are many education religious men who really were empty vessels serving dried out sermons that do nothing more than tickle the intellect and not touch the soul, besides the truth is the truth no matter who’s mouth it comes out of. A child can tell you that your house is on fire and be right about it! Lastly God has called Samuel, Jeremiah and even king David when they were young. Now he also is not solo. He has parents helping him and directing him in ministry and keeping his young head on straight. He also is not just going to church he goes to school, other interests. It also should be said this that serving the Lord from a young age is important and not getting tangled up in. You don’t get to be a better preacher by having sinned. In fact you kill your anointing. I believe that if he stays with the Lord he may not be complete right now as a young man of God but he will be a force to be reckoned with.

  4. R says:

    Don’t get me wrong I believe we do have to have some learning for our yearning but it doesn’t entirely dictate our ability to preach. the man who was my pastor had a 3rd grade education and knew that bible better than most I know…

  5. As I said above, Ezekiel may be a gifted orator, but I do question the idea that being immersed in the bible at such a young age will help in life in any way other than as a preacher. Perhaps his parents write hi sermons, perhaps not, but he absolutely too young to understand the meaning of his words.

    Should you choose to believe that your god speaks through a child, that’s fine for you. Others have a different opinion and don’t have such a positive view of that type of indoctrinating childrearing.

    As for your examples above Jeremiah was just a preacher, but Samuel and David were bloodthirsty and genocidal. If that’s the result of being anointed by God, the world is much better of without such beliefs.

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