Monday, March 28, 2011

Dangers of hierarchy

There has been a debate in the Church on how to manage its affairs. The Roman Catholic has opted for a hierarchical structure in the tradition of a bureaucracy. Others have opted for a less structured, but still hierarchical structure, such as the Episcopals. The LC-MS at its origin kept its Church affairs between it and Christ, the anti-thesis of a hierarchy. The independent church who practices Church discipline and seeks the Truth/Word is closest to the churches Paul wrote about. A hierarchy has the real risk of supplanting Christ's role as head of the Church. The best example of this is the pope, who is the "vicar of Christ", but the pope's word can override the Gospel- an anti-Christ action. This places a man in the place of the Son of God. It is the result of the very human desire to find a "king". This is very similar to the Israelites electing to have Saul over God. It is the sinful human condition, but the search for a king must start and end at Christ. Anyone/anything else is just a poor substitution and denial of Christ.


Pumice said...


I can't disagree with what you said about the dangers of a hierarchy but I think you miss the dangers of the other extreme. Many churches/cults are under the influence of one very strong individual. The congregational system lacks the checks and balances of a larger organization. Biblically, Paul exercised a lot of authority as he traveled between churches, except when he was being stoned.

I see issues with both styles. The key is for the local believers to keep in touch with the word and the Spirit and be ready to stand up for what is right.

Grace and Peace

VirginiaLutherans said...

There is most certainly a balance that must be struck. It seems that pushing too far to the hierarchy leads to a more persistent problem, where it doesn't take a strong personality to win allegiance. Study of the Word and daily practice of it is the only true way to have a faithful congregation.

yeti said...

I think hierarchy is dangerous when one person holds unlimited power. But how does a church have healthy leadership and accountability?

VirginiaLutherans said...

The Church is accountable to a single person, who also happens to be God- that is Christ. Any organization placed to hold order will eventually start to usurp the proper role of Christ. Unlimited power isn't necessary for dangerous and misleading things to develop. The Pope holds somewhat unlimited power and that has not helped the Roman Catholic church. However, many evangelists (Billy Graham for example) hold very little official power, and yet lead people down differing paths, some of them more detrimental than others. The early church had Christ as her head and did well. Focus on God's Word and everything else will either be shown to be golden or chaff.