reload The Race by Maurice McCracken

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Questions about authority

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 1 comments
Ok, so at least in my small circle of UK evangelicalism there seems to be an endless and rather frutrating discussion about the connection between CUs and local churches.

No doubt as Bish says , this is related to another very healthy trend amongst a lot of conservative evangelicals and restorationist charismatic churches to work on developing a proper Biblical ecclesiology. (although Anglicans will always be a bit limited in this exercise;)) Bish chats about how that has helped develop a healthier attitude to local churches amongst CU members here.

However, a corollary of this has been, in my experience church leaders seeking to throw around theier "authority" - that is saying to students (and others) -church is important, therefore respect your local church leaders, that is us, therefore you need our permission before you do anything, and where you don't know what to do,you should do what I say.

As a church leader myself, I struggle with this, because there is a real significant move away from the great principle of the Reformation that it is God's word that has authority, and all people sit under that authority together, rather than authority being mediated through a church leader. In some places it has even meant church leaders "warning" their congregations against studying the Bible or doing evangelism outside of their formal church sturctures. I mean, has anyone heard of Tyndale?

What's more, it doesn't seem to me that this sort of heavy "leading" authority is what the Bible envisages for church leaders anyway - it seems that leaders in God's kingdom are supposed to serve humbly rather than enforce their opinions powerfully.

Recently I sat in on a group discussion where someone was seriously suggesting that they needed to ask a church's permission (permission I tell you!) before doing evangelism somewhere! Surely,what has started in an attempt to recover what perhaps had been lacking, a thought through ecclesiology, is beginning to mean adopting quite an unhelpful model of almost Roman Catholic leadership along with it.

The reason we think the church is important is because the Bible says it is. Because we all sit under its perfect guiding rule. Church leaders like myself would do well to heed what it says about what leadership means and be careful not to sinfully subvert and undermine its perfect authority over us.