Saturday, July 23, 2011

Luke 22:24-27, Does Christ Forbid Bishops, a Class of Clergy that Rules over the Rest?

"A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, 'The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.'"

Referring to Titus 1:5-9, I have said before that the Bible knows no office of "bishop," except as a synonym for "elder." In particular, I believe that the office of monarchical bishop as it exists in the Catholic, Orthodox, and Episcopal Churches is opposed to Scripture, and, in fact, rebellion against the only Head of the Church. Such an office sets one clergyman in rule over his fellows. And, of course, the office of the Pope sets one man over even his fellow bishops.

I believe that the Westminster Confession of Faith (XXV:6) is correct in saying, "There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God." The passage above is a key support for this doctrine. If Christ forbids an apostle from ruling over the others, requiring them instead mutually to serve one another, how can any lesser person claim such authority for himself? I won't even go into what these verses say about the supposed supremacy of Peter!

Christ, as Head of the Church, has given her a government of elders, whether primarily ruling or primarily teaching. And these elders hold no rule over any other elder (except in the sense of mutual subjection). The Pope and all the popelets in the world have set themselves up in rebellion against their Head. How can such rebels feed the flock from illegitimate places of power? Yet this is the fundamental calling of their office (I Peter 5:2)!

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