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Is it Strange to speak of the Scriptures teaching more than one form of church polity


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NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Does anyone else think it is strange to speak of the Scriptures teaching more than one system of church government?
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
Does anyone else think it is strange to speak of the Scriptures teaching more than one system of church government?

I do not think they teach more than one, but I do think that the blue print in Scripture is more guidance than rule. For example: Is it essential for a congregation to have more than one presbyter?
 

sastark

Puritan Board Graduate
Scripture cannot contradict itself, and as ecclesiology is not adiaphora, then Scripture cannot teach more than one form of church government.

Now, if we have achieved the perfected form of church government, well, that's a whole other question.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Yes, it's strange indeed. I think the fly in the ointment is not that people think it teaches different things, but that different people think it teaches clearly one thing (but they don't agree on what that one thing is). ;)
 
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wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Does anyone else think it is strange to speak of the Scriptures teaching more than one system of church government?

I do not think they teach more than one, but I do think that the blue print in Scripture is more guidance than rule. For example: Is it essential for a congregation to have more than one presbyter?

This is why in the Presbyterian churches we say that the form of govenrment goes to the well being of the Church versus the essence of the Church.
 

jaybird0827

PuritanBoard Honor Roll
It is strange. The idea of ambivilence or multiple valid positions can be traced to modern skepticism.
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
This is why in the Presbyterian churches we say that the form of govenrment goes to the well being of the Church versus the essence of the Church.

Surely then you would have to demonstrate that your form of polity provides for the greatest well being of the Church over and against other forms of polity. Does that not then wrest authority from Scripture to that of "well being"?

I think Article 20 is spot on in saying "The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure word of God is preached and the sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same."
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Surely then you would have to demonstrate that your form of polity provides for the greatest well being of the Church over and against other forms of polity. Does that not then wrest authority from Scripture to that of "well being"?

Yes one would have to demonstate that a particular form provides the greatest well being based on biblical warrant, but the point is that the marks of the Church whether looking at the marks of the true church or just simply the visible church, polity is the mark of neither (note: discipline can be performed under any existing form of governing). Therefore, church government does not go to the essence of the church.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I believe Dr. Blackwood taught me that three forms of government were taught in the scriptures. Hierarchy, Presbyterianism, and Congregationalism. That is if I remember correctly.

He made a case from the scriptures for each one. He was convinced Presbyterianism was the order set from acts 15. I am not convinced that Acts 15 is the place to really plea for the cause though.

http://www.reformedbaptist.co.uk/What%20Council%20of%20Jerusalem.htm

Here is an old thread where we discussed the differences a bit here and the article I linked to above.

http://www.puritanboard.com/f47/congregational-vs-presbyterian-8180/

I have grown more stronger in my convicition that Plural Elder rule Congregationalism is more biblical.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Yes, it's strange indeed. I think the fly in the ointment is not that people think it teaches different things, but that different people think it teaches clearly one thing (but they don't agree on what that one thing is). ;)

My point exactly. The law of non-contradiction prevents the Bible from teaching A and non A at the same time and in the same respect (without being in contradiction with itself). It does not, however, gurantee that what YOU or I think it teaches "clearly" is correct. We may both be wrong.

That Godly, Bible-believing, Christians can hold different views on polity with sincerity and without evident danger to their souls, does not imply that there is not ONE correct answer. It does, however, suggest to me that diversity on this issue does not bear the same implications as disagreement on the deity of Christ, for example.

[Sorry, Vic, I initially hit edit instead of quote. All fixed now.]
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
Clearly the Bible only can teach one form of govt. However I voted that it is not strange because I do not think that all of the detailed expressions of presbyterianism are alike in degree of clarity.

I believe that presbyterianism is the "best system" because I think that it is the most biblical. I do not think, however that it is so clear as to rule out all other forms or expessions as being still a possible interpretation.
 

JohnOwen007

Puritan Board Sophomore
The bigger question (In my humble opinion) is why so many great Puritan thinkers who had so much in common theologically fragmented on the issue of church government?

I suspect this tells us something about the clarity of the issue of church government in the NT.

In my humble opinion there wasn't a blueprint given to the church. We find something of a development over the period of the NT writings.

Hence, I suspect that many approaches to church government are not unbiblical even if they may be extra-biblical.
 
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