samedi 5 mai 2007

Apostles and autonomous local churches??

Adrian Warnock has recently published an interview with Liam Goligher on the Crisis in Evangelicalism, Part Four. Liam says:

I see in newfrontiers, for example, an effective attempt to recreate the balance between the autonomy of the local church and an appropriate, biblical ‘apostolic’ authority. We all need to look at models like that and see what we can learn from them.

In response to this, I posted the response below, which seems not to have made it past moderation to publication:

"The problem I see here is that while in everyday circumstances local elders are left to get on with the job, if push comes to shove the apostolic authority calls the shots. If the eldership as a whole does not "receive" the apostolic line then the church simply leaves the movement, but if there is disagreement in the eldership the appeal is to the apostolic authority. There is no room for outside intermediation because, as the doctrine goes, only the "apostolic ministry" has the "anointing" to deal with the situation effectively.

The hold of apostles over local churches is further strengthened by the teaching that elders are to be appointed by apostles or their "delegates" and not by local membership."

I don't think anything I've said there is untrue, and I'm left banging my head against the wall at the flight from interaction with respect to significant issues.

2 commentaires:

Peter Kirk a dit…

David, thank you for this. Adrian must be very touchy if he doesn't allow comments like this. Or maybe he just hasn't got round to approving it. Anyway, I have just asked him who appoints elders in NF churches. If it is the apostles, then of course there is a strong link to them which is unlikely to be broken, even if the church membership doesn't approve. I personally like this part of our Anglican system, in which the bishop (apostolic representative) and elected representatives of the church have to appoint a new vicar jointly, and no one can be appointed without approval from both sides. I think it is now initially for the congregation to nominate, but only from those who are already ordained and so likely to be approved by the bishop. But I don't like the way that there is no way for a local congregation to break away and become independent, at least not without losing all its assets including its buildings. This has caused serious problems in places where conservative congregations have had serious problems with liberal dioceses.

David a dit…

Peter, unfortunately, I'm confident that my comment on Adrian's blog was passed over, because there were no comments on the post when I submitted mine.

I suspect the reason is because it addresses a key issue in this debate which is where authority lies in terms of doctrine and practice, whether over individuals or churches. At the end of the day authority flows from the top down in newfrontiers to my mind. Like I say, this is not immediately apparent, which is good in one sense but bad in that it only becomes apparent when there is trouble, which is likely to be all the more serious as a result.

With respect to Adrian's claim that newfrontiers elders are "basically emerge gradually over time and are recognised":

This is true as far as it goes. Any sensible apostle and/or their delegate is going to try and choose an elder who is recognised as having some leadership ability by the church. However, passages such as Titus 1:5 are used as the grounds for the authority for all such appointments being vested firmly in the apostles or their delegates:

The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.

These people will systematically be involved in the public appointment of elders.

Again, while a well-intentioned elder will of course feel some measure of responsibility for the flock, the teaching is that accountability for their actions is in one direction only - upwards. As I said, this may only become apparent when there is a conflict. I think Adrian's reluctance to spell this out is evidence of this.