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Who Runs the Church? 4 Views on Church Government

Discussion in 'Semper Reformanda' started by JM, Jun 20, 2019.

  1. JM

    JM Orthodox Protestant Supporter

    Who Runs the Church? is a book published by Zondervan offers four different perspectives on church government;

    1. Episcopalianism/Anglicanism (Peter Toon),
    2. Presbyterianism (L. Roy Taylor),
    3. Single-Elder Congregationalism (Paige Patterson)
    4. & Plural-Elder Congregationalism (Samuel E. Waldron)

    As I listen I try to assume person perspectives and presuppositions, just for the sake of argument, and I have come to appreciate each point of view. I believe history has example of each one of these models being used at one time or another.

    What is the most powerful evidence you have to support the form of government you believe is biblical?

    Yours in the Lord,

    We teamed up with Faith Counseling. Can they help you today?
  2. jannikitty

    jannikitty wise ole owl

    United States
    Good question. The book of Acts and the model chosen by the early churches is good criteria for leadership selection today as it was even then. Hierarchical denominations tend to be much too legalistic to meet the biblical standards although authorities usually do try to model leadership on biblical standards..so much else gets included. Leaders should be those who have a call to lead in their lives..God chosen like so many of those in the bible. Specifically leaders should be encouraged, recognized and chosen by the members of the individual congregation, not simply appointed by the denomination. Good leadership qualities and gifts and how they live out their walk with Jesus should be based on biblical standards. see..I Corinthians 12 and 13. The most important thing is to decern whether they are following the model set up by Jesus in the gospels. Remember when Jesus asked Peter.."Do you love me." three times and Jesus said to Peter.."Feed my sheep." They should be leaders who are called to be shepherds of the sheep..those who love them, take responsibility (as Peter eventually did) and care for the sheep. Church is more than a building or an organization. Church is people..the sheep.
  3. Jonaitis

    Jonaitis Pilgrim

    United States
    Plural Elder-led Congregationalism...

    Well, biblically...I'm still figuring it out...
  4. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

    There's a limit to how much you can get from Scripture on church structure. The offices of deacon and elder are certainly there. Although the duties of elder aren't clearly described, it's reasonable to assume that they include leadership.

    But this is consistent with most models that treat deacons as real officers and not just stepping stones to the priesthood.

    The impression we get from Paul's letters are the he and also others worked with many congregations providing guidance. But it doesn't appear that he had actual organizational control. I don't see evidence that anyone did.

    Still, experience over recent centuries seems to show that accountability is important. So something like Anglican or Presbyterian seems easy to justify, though there are intermediate forms where the equivalent of the Presbytery doesn't have legal power over the congregation.

    Nominally, Anglican and Presbyterian are simply different way of setting up a structure to implement accountability. But strong versions of episcopal authority tend to be based on concepts of apostolic succession that I consider unjustified. Methodists, of course, don't do that. But there's another issue with episcopal organization. Churches with an episcopal organization tend not to have real deacons and elders in the local church.

    So I'd accept either a Presbyterian organization or one with a similar organization that had Methodist-style bishops. But the Anglican / Episcopal tradition doesn't fit that because of their non-use of elders and deacons in the local church. There have been Reformed churches with bishops, which I'd consider acceptable. They'd be equivalent to our executive presbyters.
  5. JM

    JM Orthodox Protestant Supporter

    Plural Elders makes sense. From my reading of the early church I've come to understand that it had to be some type of succession and placement.
  6. twin1954

    twin1954 Baptist by the Bible

    None of the above. The Bible has the Apostles as leaders of the church until their deaths and the completion of canon. From that time on there where pastors and elders, deacons were not leaders but men who saw to the physical needs of the church. Nowhere do we find the church being a democracy. We follow a man as he follows Christ. When the Lord calls and gifts a man He does so for a local congregation. He puts him in place and the people follow him. The man called and placed in the local church by Christ the Lord is a servant not a master. He is not a CEO either.
  7. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

    This is a good topic, JM, but I have to say that there is something a bit odd there as it is written. Not having read the book myself, I still can hardly believe that Peter Toon, the conservative Anglican, would make specifically "Anglican" polity one of his four. Episcopal of course means governance by bishops, presumably ones in Apostolic Succession, so that would include quite a number of denominations, even if "Papal" should be considered a separate category (as some writers do).