Thursday, August 27, 2009

Authority (7) - Religious

In the religious form of the doctrine of delegated authority, church leaders claim to have authority over their church. They believe that God has given them delegated authority to care for his church. This gives pastors and elders enormous power. They can made decisions about what the Church must believe. It gives them authority to tell people in the church how to behave and what they should do with their money. Tithing is a claim to delegated authority over a tenth of every church member’s income. Some pastors claim veto authority over career decisions.

The delegated authority of church leaders is a fraud. The only authority that Jesus gave to his disciples was authority to cast out demons and authority to heal the sick (Luke 9:1). Most leaders are not that enthusiastic about this authority. They seem to be more enthusiastic about a delegated authority that he did not give. Jesus did not say to his disciples or apostles, “I am giving you authority over my church”. The claim to delegated authority distorts the truth.

Elders do have authority over newer disciples, but it is not delegated authority The authority of elders comes from below, from new disciples who submit to them. A new Christian finds more a mature Christian and asks them to teach them how to be a better Christian. They ask an elder to watch over them and give them a warning, if they do something stupid. They invite the elder to resist the enemy on their behalf, of they come under spiritual attack.

When a Christian submits to an elder, they limit their freedom of thought and action, and give authority to the elder. Authority from submission is voluntary and temporary. It is voluntary, because the elder cannot demand it. The disciple gives it freely. The authority is temporary, because the disciple can take the authority back at any time. If the elder loses the plot, or the disciple does not like the elder’s advice, they can withdraw the submission. When the submission is withdrawn, the authority of the elder disappears. Once they have grown a bit, the disciple can tell the elder that they want to stand on their own. The disciple can withdraw the submission, even when they are going astray.

The elder does not have authority to force the disciple to submit, if the disciple has withdrawn submission. The authority of elders is not an authority delegated by God, but come through voluntary submission. When submission is withdrawn, the elder’s authority evaporates.

The idea that God has delegated authority to pastors is dangerous, because it keeps disciples locked in immaturity. The more serious danger is that it allows church leaders to control members of their church. This is very harmful.

The doctrine of delegated authority destroys voluntary submission by making it compulsory. It turns voluntary authority that is safe into imposed authority that is dangerous. Unfortunately, the claim that it comes from above is a distortion of the word of God. It is a fake delegated authority.

1 comment:

Jim Fedako said...

Godd stuff, as always.