The Church. A Democracy or a Theocracy

THE CHURCH. A DEMOCRACY or a  THEOCRACY?

 A Dictionary defines Democracy and Theocracy as follows;

  • Democracy; a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections
  • Theocracy; government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided

Shortly after our salvation experience of 1979 where God drew us to Himself (John 6:44) we began attending a fundamental church. As for church government we had not been involved or active participants in either our previous church or state governments. Yes, we voted but that was the extent of our participation.

While we were unsaved our church lives had witnessed the church government of the Roman Catholic church but we were Sunday only participants so we never really observed or were involved with the RC Church’s’ government and decision making. Nor had we given any thought to whether or not it lined up with scripture. And of course with our countries government we leaned toward a Democracy. It only made sense and seemed to be the best route for all church decisions as well as for U.S. Government decisions. It just made sense that the people would be involved in all or most of the decision making processes of the church also.

So we brought that baggage with us into our new faith.  And of course that logic did not take into account that God’s ways and thoughts are not our ways and thoughts (Isa 55:8) nor did it take into account the biblical process for church government. The Holy Spirit has put the passage from Isaiah in front of me many times over the past few years reminding me that I cannot rely upon human logic to provide answers. To be lined up with God’s will we must have God’s wisdom and that only comes via prayer and study of His word found in the Bible.

Back to our old church and it’s form of government.  The church government had Elders and Deacons. The Pastor being one of the Elders. For decision making the Elders and Deacons would formulate recommendations and then take them to the congregation for a vote. There were a few exceptions where if the monies were a small enough percentage of the annual budget and the project did not affect certain areas then the Elder and Deacon board could make the decision while keeping the congregation aware of their actions. We participated in that form of church government for the first 32 years of our Christian lives.

Over the years we saw many congregational meetings to approve or disprove Elder recommendations. Most if not all of them usually ended up with some level of hard feelings during and after the process which directly conflicts with God’s command for His Church to be unified and not divided (John 13:34-35). Unity was never the outcome of those meetings. In 2010 our Lord moved us to another city in Iowa and to a new church. After seeking God’s will for where He would have us fellowship and use our Spiritual Gifts we began to attend our new church.

The biggest thing to keep in focus when choosing a church for your family to fellowship at is not what can the church provide you and your family but where can and where does our Lord desire you serve Him while using your Spiritual Gift(s). And of course first and foremost is the research of the church doctrine to make sure it lines up with scripture. Many times the reason we do not find a ministry we would like to see in a church is because God is asking me or our family to attend there and assist or lead in that need at that assembly. So eliminating a church based on their missing a ministry we desire for them to have can be totally outside of God’s will for your life. We did have some questions and met with the lead Pastor  on different questions and at different times and were satisfied that God would have us to attend there. We immediately noted differences in how the decision making process was occuring in our new church versus our old church. The Elders were making decisions based on the congregation being the primary decision making group.

When you study scripture you do not find democracy as God’s form of government. Now do not judge where I am going or more importantly what form of church Government our Lord designed just yet. Read on and be sure to study the scriptures. That is not to say the church is led by dictators seeking their own will. Godly leadership requires the Elders to be led by the Holy Spirit while using God’s direction for His church as their guiding focus. Which is why our God has scriptural requirements for Elders and Deacons.  The qualifications for the Elders and Deacons is outlined in scripture in Titus 1 and I Timothy 3 and 5. Biblical church government is a Theocracy. Remember the definition for each is;

  • Democracy; a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections
  • Theocracy; government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided

One example seen in scripture is when the first major conflict came up within the church in Jerusalem. The church at Jerusalem was made up primarily of ‘born again’ Jews. Later  God graciously included the Gentiles. PRAISE IS TO OUR GOD! Some of the saved Jews based on their previous traditions and beliefs started to believe that for the Gentiles to come into the church they needed to be circumcised. I suppose it would be similar to us saying today that for a person to be saved and a church member they need to be baptized or align with some other biblical command or style we felt appropriate. The issue in the Jerusalem church was a candidate for splitting the church. The Elders held the first church counsel to discuss the matter and seek God’s will as seen in Acts chapter 15. When they reached a consensus on what God’s will was on the matter they presented it the church. Not for a vote by the congregation but as God’s direction for the church. The decision was that circumcision was not needed for a person to be saved.

Another example is found in Act’s chapter 6. After prayer and fasting seeking God’s will and wisdom the Elders led the selection of the first Deacons. The Deacons would be ministry leaders in certain areas of the church distributions to see that all needs were met. The Elders directed the Church to seek out a certain number of men with certain qualifications to lead those ministries. The qualifications are very similar to those of being an Elder. Again, no vote was taken on the direction of meeting the need. The Elders led the process via God’s strength, will and wisdom.

Another example is found in Act’s chapter 5. This one having to do with church discipline. The church was growing rapidly and some of the members were not being ministered to appropriately to meet their needs. The first church pooled many of their material resources with the funds being distributed by the Elders as they saw the need. Ananias and Sapphira allowed the flesh to get into their lives and lied about their participation with the church finances. The Elders disciplined them.

Another reason or biblical logic for using a Theocracy form of Church government is found in James 4 and 5. We see there that we are not to judge the motives or intents of persons. That is to be left up to God. Along with that truth goes the Mat 18 concept of what to do with someone who has sinned against you. It is to be between you and them first and if that does not resolve it then you go to the Church leaders. The concept of voting on all matters as a Democracy dictates that the will of the majority rules. That directly goes against scripture.

I Tim 5:17-19 “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” 19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.”

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