Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Position-Expedient Authority vs. Servant-Example Authority: One is Unnecessary

Elder Led Consensus Video

They are as different from each other as the world is from the church.

I feel that those who advocate a hybrid of 'Position-Servant Authority' advocate a mixing of the world with the church.

Here are the differences between 'Position-Expediency' (P-EA) and 'Servant-Example' Authority (S-EA) as I see them:

Position-Expedient Authority (what we have today in churches of Christ) divides the body of Christ based on unequal status. Servant-Example Authority (what I believe is found in 1 Peter 5:1-7 and the rest of the NT) unifies the body of Christ based on equal status, but acknowledges spiritual gifts of young and old alike.

P-EA creates a separate class of Christians. S-EA includes all Christians. There is no need to ask the question "why give qualifications for elders and deacons?" in disbelief when the purpose for their qualities is to set the example for all to follow in serving others when needs arise. If one must have a type of "directive" authority to meet the needs of others (Acts 6), then others may be persuaded to help that leader (elder/deacon) based on his character--not because they are fearful or have been shamed into 'obeying' them. If that elder or deacon cannot persuade others to help him meet the need, then maybe he needs to change his behavior, or perhaps the problem is with the followers.

P-EA allows for misbehavior to often remain unchecked/unchallenged and unchanged. S-EA demands that behavior remain blameless, because one must be a doer of the work--not a 'constant delegating authority' of others who do the work. Wisdom and advice from those no longer able to do what they formally could may persuade the younger.

P-EA allows for men to make laws in addition to the NT to rule others. S-EA demands all Christians keep Jesus' laws. Self control is what is commanded Christians, not 'other-control.'

P-EA allows the church to hold a few in honor based on arbitrary exaltation of certain works. S-EA allows all to be honored based on loving, humble service in any work. Rather than promote a clergy, or ranking "gospel preaching" or "being an elder" as the "greatest works," all Christians, professional or non-professional will be viewed alike who serve their Lord in all they do from their hearts.

P-EA copies the world-government and its dysfunctions. S-EA is divine wisdom from man's Creator. Does not the acknowledgement of and complaints of so many Christians against elders reveal that the system we have is flawed? Can we stop making excuses for behaviors when the "qualifications" for elders are behavioral? Get rid of the 'position' mentality and lets get some servants leading us and showing us the Christian way to live and serve.

P-EA influences Christians to show favoritism toward the powerful. S-EA influences Christians to treat all equally. Remove the position mentality and Christ is the one with "all power."

P-EA mandates a treasury to be controlled by the few. S-EA teaches stewardship of one's (God's) money to all. 'Par heauto' ("by him"(self), KJV) is an idiom that means "at home." If you were to say someone is 'by himself" what would you mean? Now what do you think it means in 1 Cor. 16:2? These were private treasuries stewarded by individuals/households, not a church treasury controlled by a few Christians except when it was delivered to Jerusalem and distributed to the poor for whom it was privately collected (Acts 11:27-30; 1 Cor. 16:1-4; cf. Rom. 15:25-26; Gal. 2:10).

P-EA maintains a continuous dependency upon a few exalted Christians. S-EA encourages growth and independence among all. The only change that occurs in our present system is whoever is 'exalted' to elder or deacon to replace the previous occupiers of the limited static positions. This encourages favoritism since the system in place has the existing elders choosing additional elders because of their supposed 'position.'  We do not have elder led consensus. We have elders who decide what they think is best for everyone. This leaves out hundreds of people with useful comments in an elder led assembly like Acts 15:4-29 very often for the opinions of as few as two elders. Not wise or 'Scriptural' (which is really the same thing isn't it?).

P-EA does not believe in the ability of all Christians. S-EA has faith in the ability of all Christians. The P-EA system prevents those who desire to grow/mature from rising above the abilities/opinions of the elders. Again, often as few as two men.

P-EA operates under the delusion of 'order' while excusing chaotic misbehavior. S-EA demands behavior as the basis of order to prevent chaos. This is one of the big arguments. People have only been taught top-down control leadership, and it is also all we see in our government, media society today, so people just cannot believe that there may be a different kind of authority. Their only response seems to be that chaos would reign without a few calling the shots all the time. Newsflash! We already have chaos all over the place.

P-EA guarantees that the many give up freedoms to the few. S-EA guarantees freedom for all. If you don't want it, at least don't keep others from getting it.

P-EA mandates assemblies not found in the NT. S-EA does not make certain assemblies a condition of salvation. Time and money are the two largest assets. If any portion may be controlled by another then true freedom does not exist. The church does not need to be like the US Government.

P-EA lets only one 'professional' Christian speak in the assembly week after week. S-EA allows different but equal Christians to speak every week/assembly. What we have is clergy/laity with or without robes, with or without titles. It's the behavior that counts. People need to be influenced by the credibility of one argument against another--not based on the 'position' or status of the one speaking.

P-EA encourages man's weakness to exalt certain men over others. S-EA discourages man's weakness to exalt certain men over others. Man has always had a problem with maturation. People will always choose a human king to rule them, rather than be responsible for themselves.

P-EA is based on the supposition that older people always 'should' know better. S-EA is based on the reality that proven responsibility is a better indicator of maturity than one's age. Older people often do not know best and cannot do what many younger people can, especially when they count on age rather than ability/character traits.

P-EA is often based on pedigree, popularity and skills that the world says is successful. S-EA is based solely on character, respect and skills that God says is successful. The world exalts power, the church exalts service. Well, a hybrid servant-rule that occupies itself with ruling far more than serving. Imagine that.

P-EA is influenced by who contributes the most money to pay for institutional expenses. S-EA is influenced only by who contributes to the well being of the needy in the community/world.

P-EA insists on only certain/fewer Christians only doing certain/fewer works usually with an extreme focus on institutional worship. S-EA insists on many Christians doing more works with a broader focus on all of life's needs.

Get rid of the public buildings, church treasuries, and professional Christians and what need is there for 'position-expedient authority?'

The truth is that each of us only controls him/herself. Nobody else controls you, but you.

Everything you do is because you choose to do it. This fact alone shows that 'persuasion' not 'control' is God's way, because he created us this way.

He created us this way so that we can be free. If you choose to give up your freedom for whatever reason, then you have been persuaded--not controlled. Control authority is not God's way.

Servant-example authority is God's way. Control is worldly government's way.

Someone who does not want to be a Christian cannot be forced to become one, or be forced to remain faithful by others controlling them.

God commands maturity, not dependency, therefore His ways do not lead to the dependency and inequality in the comparisons above.

Older Christians may set a better example in living the Christian life by their proven experience for all to be persuaded by. Younger Christians will legitimately be persuaded by a better example and desire to imitate Christ themselves, but wisely they will not be misled by an older Christian occupying a static unequal 'position' such as has happened with mandatory meetings, the collection, and the Lord's Supper being forbidden to be eaten as a meal.

Also, with Servant-Example Authority, the older Christians may learn from the servant-example of younger, gifted Christians and their God-given abilities.

Christ then gets all the glory as the only Head of the Church.

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