- Scriptural Evidence
- The Problem
- Moving Forward
- From Experience
A couple of year ago, I wrote a series on the topic of Church Polity. You can see the links to the posts in that series above.
In almost every instance, the question of polity arises in the context of making decisions as a church. Occasionally, the concept of polity is also seen as overlapping the issue of authority among the church. In that series, I first stepped through the definitions, scriptural evidences, and scriptural problems with the concepts of Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Congregational polities (governments).
I suggested that when turning to Scripture to support any of these polities, there are problems:
So far, in order to support any type of church polity, we must ignore the fact that there is no direct evidence, ignore passages that indicate indirectly other forms of church polity, and ignore the fact that polity is not important in any of the writings of the New Testament.
But, there is one more thing that we must ignore exegetically. We must ignore what Scripture says about all believers; things like the fact that all believers are indwelled by the Holy Spirit or all believers have the mind of Christ. We must ignore the fact that believers are to submit to one another. (I would assume this includes leaders? Even bishops? Even the presbyters?) We must ignore that believers are to consider others (and the opinions and desires of others) as more important than themselves. (I would assume this would include the majority versus the minority.)
Then, I suggested that there is another way forward, a way that does not include episcopal, presbyterian, or congregational polity: consensus. I admitted that seeking consensus among a group of believers can be impractical and often time consuming. But, still, I believe that consensus – the entire church working together to come to a decision – best describes what we read about the church in Scripture.
Recently, I noticed that the series above gets quite a few hits (through various search engines). People reach that series by searching for “episcopal church polity,” or “presbyterian church polity,” or “congregational church polity.” Sometimes, combined search strings such as “episcopal presbyterian congregational” hit that series.
But, you know what I haven’t noticed? Very few people are searching for information about consensus. I thought there may be a few reasons for this:
1) People are using a different term other than “consensus.”
2) People interested in consensus are not searching for information.
3) People don’t think consensus is a viable option.
(Perhaps there are other reasons as well…)
But, I wonder, what do you think about consensus? Is it possible that a group of Christians can come together and make decisions by consensus? Or, is this just wishful thinking… idealism… too impractical?