Suzanne has posted some brief comments on my post on The Language of Athenian Democracy in the New Testament, wherein I have learned that the Exclusive Brethren denomination has used similar arguments for their decision not to name elders. I don't have time to deal with Church government in great detail right at the moment, but I do want to point out that I did not intend to deal with that question in my previous post on the 'democratic' nature of the Church. What I did mean to point out was that the early Church accepted everyone regardless of their worldly status, and, furthermore, that this worldly status was seen as being of no importance to one's status within the Church. We are all equal in our status in Christ. In fact the Greek concept of isonomia, or equality before law, which was regarded as the cornerstone of democracy, is very central to Christianity. All human beings are equal before God's law - equally condemned! However, we as Christians are likewise equally redeemed in Christ (Romans 3:23-24). None of us is less condemned without Christ, or more saved with him, than any other.
However, these 'democratic' concepts in no way undermine the idea of there being offices of Church government. The office of elder seems to have been around from the very beginning of the Church, and the office of deacon was appointed not long after (in Acts 6, I suppose). I do think that the New Testament uses elder (presbuteros) and overseer/bishop (episkopos) interchangeably. They come to mean two different things around the early third century, if I recall correctly. But the point is that the apostles themselves appointed people to these positions, and there is never any discussion of these people being chosen by a majority vote (although the people do put forward candidates for deacon in the passage in Acts, then have them confirmed by the apostles). I think the concept of electing spiritual leaders within the Church is contrary to Scripture but, as I said, I don't have time to make a detailed argument right now, so let me simply point out that the use of the words ekklesia and kerux is certainly not sufficient evidence to draw such a conclusion from, particularly in light of the evidence to the contrary, and I did not mean to suggest such a thing.Posted by Kenny at April 18, 2006 1:13 PM
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