Forms of Church Government

Posted: February 18, 2009 in Uncategorized

Now that I have torqued off all of the Grudem-ites out there by disagreeing with him on church government and arguing that he has oversimplified the issue of women and church leadership, I’ll now see who else I can tick off!

The Waynester analyzes three different forms of church government: episcopalian, Presbyterian and congregational.  It breaks down like this:

The episcopalian forms have a government by a distinct category of church officers known as a priesthood, and final authority for decision-making is found outside the local church…

The Presbyterian forms have a government by elders, some of whom have authority not only over their local congregation, but also, through the presbytery and the general assembly, over all the churches in a region and then in the denomination as a whole. The congregational forms of church government all have final governing authority resting with the local congregation, although various degrees of self-rule are given up through denominational affiliation, and the actual form of local church government may vary considerably.

It probably won’t surprise anyone that Grudem prefers the congregational form of government with a plurality of local elders because of its basis in Scripture.

The Great and Powerful Grudem believes that local elders should be elected but it in my experience this can produce a number of problems such as electing the most likeable or the most successful rather than the most spiritually mature.  Moreover, I don’t think election of elders has a clear basis in Scripture.  Grudem likes to argue that since whole congregations were involved in church discipline then they must have had a hand in selecting church officers as well.  Yet, such an argument certainly runs beyond the evidence.  The texts dealing with church discipline, (Matt. 18:17 and 1 Cor. 5:4), could easily be interpreted as a shaming exercise intended to discourage discord and guarantee excommunication from the whole community and nothing more.

Tomorrow we come to a more in depth discussion on whether women should serve in church leadership roles.  So, we’ll see if I can honk off the few remaining Christians who read this blog!

Until then, grace and peace.


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