1 Sam. 8:7 π Mt. 7:21-23 π Mt. 7:23 π Mt. 10:7 π Mt. 13:41 π Mt. 15:14 π Mt. 16:18 π Mt. 23:8 π Mt. 28:18-20 π Mk. 6:12 π Lk. 9:2 π Lk. 11:31 π Lk. 22:25-26 π Lk. 22:26 π Jn. 15:5 π Rom. 3:18 π 1 Cor. 3:12-15 π 1 Cor. 12:24-25 π 2 Cor. 10:5 π Gal. 3:24-25 π Eph. 4:11 π Eph. 4:16 π 1 Tim. 3:9 π Tit. 1:9 π Jas. 1:21-22 π Jas. 3:17 π Jude 4
"Fuhrer...title used by Adolph Hitler to define his role of absolute authority in Germany's Third Reich (1933-45). A personality cult was built around the fuhrer... Organizationally, the fuhrer stood at the apex of a hierarchy. Directly below him were several 'Reich leaders' with various portfolios, such as finance, propaganda, foreign policy, and law, as well as Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler, head of the unified police system. Also directly responsible to (and selected by) the fuhrer were many territorial 'district leaders.'" (Encyclopedia Britannica, "Fuhrer," 1990, 5:36)
When one puts the idea of the loving, self-sacrificing God and Christ of the Bible together with the idea of tyranny and oppression such has become associated with the German word "fuhrer" (literally, leader), one immediately sees the contrast and incompatibility. We have great difficulty seeing any connection or similarity between the two. Yet many a religious man - "pastor," "apostle," "bishop," "elder," etc. - has no problem whatsoever participating in and perpetuating a system that more closely resembles that of the fuhrer than anything else (provided that the people in charge and the people associating themselves with that system perceive the system as accomplishing something "good" or "beneficial" to the community). This "benevolent dictatorship" - which places the "pastor" or "apostle" or whatever at the top of a hierarchical, organizational pyramid - is quite often called a "theocracy," implying that God's edicts trickle down through the men whom He has supposedly placed at the top of the pyramid schematic. But whether or not the will (wishes, desires, commands, etc.) of the supposed Head - God and Christ - is ever accomplished, is rarely addressed. Let us look at some of these things more closely.
Theocracy - the notion that God rules through people - is usually patterned after Moses or the kings of Israel. In the case of Moses, the Lord spoke to Moses, gave him His laws for him and the people to follow and clearly honored him as the designated leader. In the New Testament however, the law of Moses is only a tutor to bring us to Christ. ( Gal. 3:24-25 ) Moses is not to be our Master - Christ is. And in the case of the kings of Israel, we find that giving Israel a king was a concession on God's part because Israel, by demanding a king, was rejecting God as their King. ( 1 Sam. 8:7 ) Let us also remember that Jesus plainly declared that one greater than Solomon, the greatest of Israel's kings, had come. ( Lk. 11:31; top )
When Jesus arrived on the scene, He and the disciples He sent out preached only one message: "Repent! The kingdom of God is here!" (see Mt. 10:7 , Mk. 6:12 , Lk. 9:2; top ) After centuries of religious subterfuge called "church," most people who claim to follow Christ do not know what this message of the kingdom means. Or if they do possess some idea of what it means, it is most often entangled in the jargon of their particular sect (denomination) or obscured in the language of their own particular theological "distinctives." But Jesus' message is simple: "The King - Jesus the Christ - is here. Turn from your own ways and follow Him." Any one who follows any other - no matter how much Scripture is used to rationalize, disguise and obscure the reality - is partaking of a different gospel. It is that simple.
Jesus also said, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called 'benefactors.' But not so among you..." ( Lk. 22:25-26; top )
There are two elements to lording over - but most people recognize only the sin and error of heavy-handed authoritarianism. But lording - exercising headship - is only half of the equation. Jesus said, "You are all brothers." ( Mt. 23:8 - emphasis added; top) Jesus implies here an equality of station that is entirely inconsistent and incompatible with the hierarchical pyramid structure. Being over others is as much an evil as lording - actually exercising authority. Being over others produces a subtle division and distinction that separates parts of the body away from other parts - no matter how much one denies it or tries to use that division to produce some perceived good.
The "Senior Pastor" of the mega-"church" with his hierarchy of "Assistant Pastors" and a board of "Elders" or "Deacons" and a group of home fellowship leaders most closely resembles the hierarchy of the Third Reich. But not much different from the "Senior Pastor" is the "Apostle" who surrounds himself with "armor bearers" (too often sincere servants who are manipulated and used to serve as lackies and gophers for the main star of the show) or the "Bishop" who secures for himself a position of importance and headship over other "men of God," "churches" and/or "fellowships." When either of these types of "ministries" are challenged, the system reverts almost automatically to "damage control" and any pretended similarity to the kingdom of God simply vanishes.
One man wrote, "The very notion of government of the elect, or theocracy, implies that it is forever threatened by the forces of unregenerate evil or, at best, by its surviving vestiges. Theocracy, then, may never relent, for, as long as danger exists - and the very a absence of enthusiasm for theocratic rule is interpreted as danger - the repressive force may not relax. Wielders of such force must be shown proof that their subjects...live in a permanent state of enthusiasm." (Thomas Molnar, Utopia: The Perennial Heresy, 1967, p. 7)
When challenged, the "Pastor" or "Apostle" or "Bishop" and his "ministry" to the people is suddenly much more important to the "kingdom of God" or to the "body of Christ" than is that poor schmuck who, for some inexplicable reason thinks he has a legitimate grievance against that man or "ministry." Instead of simply and quietly going to the wounded brother and confessing sins (as equal brothers would do), such admissions of guilt are perceived as damaging or dangerous to the "ministry" because it is just bad "church" business to let the paying customers think their spiritual guru might actually be wrong or just some other mere human. So instead of resolution, the agents of the theocracy must repress the truth, investigate just how far the insurrection reaches (especially into their wallets) and assess who remains loyal and who must be shoved out the door.
In the case of doctrinal challenge, rather than plainly and patiently demonstrate that their wisdom is from above ( Jas. 3:17 ) and that their peculiar revelations are truly capable of tearing down strongholds that oppose the true knowledge of God ( 2 Cor. 10:5; top ), these "Apostles," "Pastors" and "Bishops" simply refuse to discuss the matter with those who disagree with their teachings. This is inherent in every "theocratic" structure that is in reality just another man-made hierarchy. As the fruit, so the root.
Jesus also said, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." ( Mt. 28:18-20; top )
Theocracy - another of those big religious words bandied about in "Christian" circles but which cannot be found anywhere in the Scriptures - is inextricably linked to the notion of delegated authority. If I were a king or ruler of some place or boss over some business and I had some mission or errand or job that I thought needed done but I could not or did not want to attend to it myself, I would send a delegate or a representative - one who would go in my place and take care of this business of mine as best he was able to or wanted to or understood my wishes.
This is precisely where the notion of theocracy - supposedly God-given rule over others - contradicts the Scriptures.
1) The King - who lives in my heart - goes wherever I go. If I am in Christ and doing His will, everything He has and is is mine to accomplish His purpose. If I am not really in Christ but living according to the desires of my flesh - or worse yet, captivated by some scheme or deception of the demonic - by what twisted logic can I be said to be coming in the authority of Christ and doing His work? Let your boss send you on an errand and you do whatever you want to and see how long you still have a job!
2) A delegate - by definition - is one sent apart from the sender to accomplish some purpose in the sender's absence. Jesus said, "Apart from Me you can do nothing." ( Jn. 15:5 ) Doing what is right in one's own eyes, even when done in the name of Christ, is still lawlessness - and it still excludes one from the kingdom of God. ( Mt. 7:23 , 13:41; top )
3) The spirit of antichrist (Greek, against or in the place of the real Christ) labors diligently to get us to place any person or any thing in any rightful place of God (either Father, Son or Spirit) without our recognizing the substitution or the damage being done to ourselves and others around us in any way.
Theocracy - as it is most commonly practiced - is built squarely on the notion that God and Christ are absent and either incapable or unwilling to exercise Their Lordship and Kingship over those people who claim to be His! Men have taken advantage of God's mercy and have assumed that because God has not immediately struck them down for practicing their version of theocracy, their version must be the right one. In so doing, these have fulfilled the end-time prophecy that godless men (men who are in reality their own god) have concealed themselves in positions of "Christian" leadership and turn the grace (mercy and favor) of God into a license for sin and they deny the only Sovereign, Lord, King and Master His right to rule and reign over those who claim to be His own. ( Jude 4; top )
It is to be carefully noted that these false leaders could not be leaders at all without the followers who have grafted themselves onto that man or "ministry." Jesus said that blind followers of blind leaders would end up falling into the ditch together. ( Mt. 15:14 ) There is something within the human heart that is quite content to let the "man of God" go into the presence of God in our place and bring back laws that we can obey (or disobey as we wish) without our ever once having to enter into a life-changing relationship with God. We substitute gaining the approval of some man or some organization for the approval of God. We fear what men will think or say or do to us and, like the rest of fallen humanity, there is no fear of God in us. ( Rom. 3:18; top )
The notion of theocracy is further aided by the belief that there are "offices" or "ministerial positions" to be held in the body of Christ. And then we look to men's approval (either some man's or some organization's) to get the position of "Deacon" or "Assistant Pastor" or "Armor Bearer" or "Elder" or whatever. This is deception of the first order! Every body part has a role to play or else the body of Christ does not get built up. ( Eph. 4:16; top ) Any "ministry" that creates or perpetuates the passivity of even one believer in Christ is either in error or in active, intended, rebellious antagonism against the work of building up Christ's body. One man routinely speaking down to an audience of dozens or hundreds or even thousands of passive listeners is the workshop of the devil - no matter how well-intentioned the speaker and/or the listeners may be!
If we were to translate "ministerial positions" into plain, ordinary speech such as was used by the writers of the New Testament, we would say something like "serving functions" - and this would be truth! We are all called to serve one another in love! Deception enters in when we think there are some body parts who, under the guise of serving the others, get to exercise headship over those others. "It shall not be so among you..." ( Lk. 22:26; top ) That this spiritual reality is not possible to practice in the context of carnal "church" does not negate the reality - it indicts and condemns the normal, routine and usual practice of "church"!
When we look at the Scriptures we find that God places parts where and how He wills - and part of His plan is that there will be no schism, no division, in His body. ( 1 Cor. 12:24-25; top ) That the "church" is characterized by schism and division is all the proof one needs to be certain that the "church" is quite different from His body!
Jesus also said that He would build His ekklesia. ( Mt. 16:18 ) Our efforts apart from Him will amount to nothing (wood, hay or stubble - 1 Cor. 3:12-15 ) or it will cost us everything ("Depart from Me you who practice what is right in your own eyes!" - Mt. 7:21-23; top )
The "fivefold ministry" of Eph. 4:11 is not a list of superior positions available to an elite few. This thinking will always produce spiritual fuhrers - and little else. The fivefold ministry of Christ is simply the different ways He expresses Himself through different people. Notice carefully that no qualifications for any of these fivefold ministries are ever detailed in Scripture as they are for overseers/elders (veterans) and deacons (servants). The true veteran and servant is the one who has always held fast the Word implanted in his heart by the Spirit of truth. ( Jas. 1:21-22 , 1 Tim. 3:9 , Tit. 1:9; top ) Those who have intentionally or negligently relaxed or relinquished their grip on the Word in their heart and have instead taken up some tradition of men or some teaching that in reality comes from the realms of the demonic is not an experienced leader that will help you attain to the will of God for your life. At best he is a dupe, a deceived victim of the work of the demonic. At worst he is a tare among the wheat, a son of the devil, out to steal, kill and destroy whatever and whomever he can. Either way, run - do not walk - to the nearest exit!
Let he who has ears hear.
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