Thread: Eldership
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Old 09-15-2008, 10:22 AM   #12
aron
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Natal Transvaal
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Debelak View Post
I don't have a problem with the burden of proof being on me to put forth "compelling reasons" to feel that church organization, as described in the Bible, is not normative. The first is not an historical or factual one, but rather a logical one:

Formal church structure, it seems to me, is logically contrary to the New Covenant.

You cannot say there is a prescription of obedience to anyone other than Christ and still maintain that there is, in fact, a New Covenant wherein the only Head of the Body is Christ - who indwells every believer and makes them into the new priesthood.
I was considering your point, and my response, and decided I had a better word for what I am addressing here. You used the word "formal", as in 'formal church structure'; I had used the word "organize", and others.

I decided I like better the word "institution", or "institutionalize", as a good label to capture what might be happening here. We believers gather, or rather are gathered, by our Shepherd. We are "assembled" together, as when you buy a bicycle for your son and it says "Some assembly required". God is assembling us together. Naturally, some are "elders" and some are "youngers". Fine.

But what we have tended to do is "institutionalize" these relationships. We create institutions out of our assemblies. So at first, a man has a ministry to transfer to his neighbors, who have been languishing in darkness; he shares, or ministers, something of the reality that has come to him in Christ Jesus. Fine. But then he mistakenly institutionalizes his ministry, and those to whom he ministered eventually end up not ministering Christ to one another, but rather serving "The Ministry", an institution, rather than the Lord.

I see the question of eldership in this light. Having a ministry is not wrong. In fact, it is probably necessary. You want to serve God. Wonderful. Also, having elders is not wrong on its face. As I said, when two or three gather, one will be elder, one younger. But do we need to institutionalize the process? I think the NT gives us a description of what happened, not necessarily a prescription to follow. The apostle John, I believe, realized this trend, and wrote about it. As I said in the previous post, the epistles to the seven assemblies in Asia are meant to be read by all, not merely those seven. The call to 'repent' is a broad one.

And not unrelated, I think, are the two great women in Revelation. One is seen in chapter 12, clothed with the sun. She is the glorious assembly of the called-out ones. The woman riding the beast in chapter 17, clothed in scarlet and having a golden cup full of abominations, is the institutionalized "church".
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