Monday, May 08, 2006

"Burdens are lifted at Calvary" Or are they?

A sad article was posted today at Christianity Today's website. Sad, because it's never good to see churches - made up of sinners saved by God's grace - warring amongst themselves. Very little good comes out of it, and it can take decades to heal.

The story (read it here) revolves around the goings-on at Calvary Albequerque (a church affiliated with the Calvary Chapel movement).

Part of the problem involves polity (meaning church government). Consider the following from Rob Moll's CT article:

"Chuck Smith founded the Calvary Chapel movement in the '70's when he left a
denominational church. Smith had resisted the oversight of his
denomination, and he now teaches that the senior pastor is solely accountable to
God. 'The pastor is ruled over by the Lord and recognized by the
congregation as God's anointed instrument to lead the church, with the board
guiding and directing,' Smith writes in Calvary Chapel
. Though there is no standard for church government, most
Calvary Chapels follow the so-called 'Moses model,' which gives the senior
pastor extensive authority to run the church as he sees fit."

To much authority without accountability is a dangerous thing - even when it's given to a man of God.

A bigger problem, however, isn't so much the model of church government as it is the people who serve in church government. We're all sinful and subject to various and manifold temptations. No form of government is a "magic wand" that will solve every problem and guarantee a healthy and well-balanced church. The New Testament gives the church some wide latitude when it comes to church government, in my opinion. The issue, ultimately, is not elder-rule vs. presbyterianism vs. congregationalism vs. episcopalianism vs. the "Moses principle" - it is who those leaders are. Godly, mature church leaders will flourish and rule well regardless of the polity in which they serve.


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