Monday, June 13, 2011

Is congregationalism Satanic?

Denny Burk, responds to a blog post by James MacDonald who contends that “Congregational Government is From Satan.” Since I, too, belong to a Baptist denomination Burk's comments interested me. So far as I know, congregationalism is common to all Baptists. Burk describes it:
Congregationalism holds that the final court of appeal in the local church is not a bishop or a pope (as in the Roman Catholic or Episcopal churches) and not an elder, board of elders, or general assembly of elders (as in Presbyterianism). The final court of appeal in matters of discipline, doctrine, dispute, and membership is the local congregation itself. Congregational churches tend to operate through democratic processes, but it’s a misnomer to call such churches “democracies” in the strict sense.
And then the argument against it:
Pastor MacDonald contends that this form of church government is not only the “tool” of Satan, but that it is also the “invention” of Satan. This is significant because he is not merely contending that congregationalism can be co-opted by Satan for evil purposes. MacDonald argues that congregationalism itself finds its origin not in the Bible but in the machinations of Satan. ....

McDonald’s evaluation is driven more by pragmatic observation than by the Bible. In other words, he has seen examples of congregationalism in practice, and he has concluded that it doesn’t work. It creates forums for division, it crushes pastors, and it negates pastoral authority. His argument goes like this. He supports his thesis that “Congregational government is from Satan” with five observations:
  1. Congregational Meetings Are Forums for Division
  2. Voting Is Not Biblical
  3. Eldership Is Sometimes Unpopular
  4. Congregationalism Crushes Pastors
  5. Priesthood Not Eldership of All Believers
If you read his discussion under each of these points, I think you’ll find that at least three of his five reasons are not biblically founded, but pragmatically founded. He observes abuses of congregationalism and reasons backwards that there must be something unbiblical about congregationalism itself. But we could level that argument against any form of church government. Believe me; I could multiply anecdotes of Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Elder Rule models that have gone seriously awry. .... [more]
I was reminded of Churchill's observation: "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."

» Is Congregationalism from Satan? | Denny Burk