Spreading God's Love Thru Prayer
Dictatorship within the Protestant Christian church has been, and is continuing to be, a significant problem. There are elders, deacons, pastors and other church leaders who insist upon lording over their church members by way of making every important decision for the church and insisting that each member brings all of their life's major decisions before the leaders so that they can guide the member in their decision.
These sorts of practices are absolutely wrong. Church leaders absolutely do not have unquestioned authority over everything that goes on in the church. Church leaders justify their use of authority by arguing that the biblical Greek word for "bishop" is episkopos, which means overseer. Church leaders argue that the meaning of the term grants them absolute authority.
They also argue for their absolute authority from verses like:
"You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE" [1 Peter 5:5].
"Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith." [Hebrews 13:7].
However, the practices of the church leaders contradict the practices and teachings found in the New Testament. The New Testament makes it very clear that while the apostles had authority, they very rarely, if ever, used it. The Christian church is absolutely not supposed to be a dictatorship, as is evidenced from the following verse:
1 Corinthians 9:12: "If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ."
Even Paul denounced his own authority over his followers by saying, "Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm." [2 Cor. 1:24].
Even Episcopal authority is limited authority and not the absolute authority of kings. Peter, the first pope, said that bishops are to be examples to the flock and not overlords, "Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness" [1 Peter 5:2-3].
Instead, all members of the Christian Church are to be thought as equals. Christ rebuked the Pharisees for not treating all Jews as equals and commanded his disciples to treat each other and members of the church as equals by saying, "But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers" [Mattew 23:6].
Therefore, no church leader can ostracize a member of the church, or fellowship group for not confirming an important life's decision with the church leaders before acting upon the decision. No church leader can take full authority over a church member's life and decisions. We are all equal. We can equally learn and understand the Word and commands of God. We are equally capable of deciding how to act in accordance with the Word of God.
Some church leaders even feel that it is within their authority to judge the actions of their members and to call their members "lawless" or "sinners."
It is out of arrogance and pride that a church leader desires to rule over and judge its members. Therefore, a church leader better think pretty hard before, out of the desire to rule, he judges a member, because the sin of arrogance is the worst sin of all and leads to all other sins. A church leader who desires to rule over its members not only does not have the authority to do so, he is also not seeing God's commands clearly.
While it is sinful for a church leader to assume a dictatorial role, it is equally sinful for the church or fellowship he/she is lording over to accept it. In a sense, church leaders should be considered servants of the church. If after rebuke, the leader of church still insists on maintaining his dictatorship position, then the members of the church or fellowship group should leave the church or fellowship. It is not a godly church or fellowship group, and never will be.