The Need for Church Authority?

Why are large churches needed when Jesus showed no interest in such structures?
Jesus not only did not invite people to join a large church organisation, he specifically taught that in the small scale movements eg the mustard seed, two or three gathered in his name, a little yeast leavening the lump etc) that the kingdom grew. Am I alone in thinking with the wisdom of hindsight, that mass movements take away the need for individual decision making and individual response to conscience. When the same Churches formulate their own theology eg shaping formulations of creeds, catechisms etc and shaping their own doctrines eg the complex beliefs about heaven and hell, the Virgin Mary and even taking it upon themselves to absolve sins, it may be time to ask has the authority of the Church moved from the original message. Even the doctrine of Apostolic succession so much beloved by the Catholic and Anglican Churches appears to be an artificial construct in that it did not emerge until the Church of Rome determined it was appropriate. If Jesus did not require training for sharing in his non structured communion, has the Church taken upon itself a perception of authority that Jesus himself did not exercise when they determine who shall be eligible to offer communion and who shall be eligible to receive it? Where the Church is very large eg the Roman Catholic Church, church authority decides for the individual, even determining what constitutes acceptable behaviour to enter heaven. The question here is: do the large Churches draw attention away from the sort of individual response of the sort Jesus appeared to be saying grew the kingdom of God?
Responses please.

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5 Responses to The Need for Church Authority?

  1. Cherel says:

    I do think large churches draw people away from individual response and responsibility. The organized church of today seems to be way off track. Centralized church governments seem to be more concerned about maintaining their upper eschelon elites than about caring for their congregations and truly advancing the Kingdom of God.

    Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again to make it to heaven. Church membership, which is so important today, is not required to make it to heaven and may even discourage people from actually seeking a born again relationship with God.

    I believe any true believer is qualified to share communion and baptize new believers.
    The New Testament says believers are priests unto God– which qualifies them for priestly service. I was baptized in the church by my pastor when I was a teenager. I was baptized in a lake by a Christian friend when I experienced the new birth in my twenties. It was a glorious experience totally outside the organized church world.

    That doesn’t invalidate anyone else’s experience in the church setting. I was just sharing my experience. I have always been an “out of the box” thinker, questioning the status quo and looking for the truth– not someone else’s version of it.

    Good question, Bill.

  2. Charles says:

    Please remove my name and address from this site.

    • peddiebill says:

      After the flak I have been getting, I was thinking of removing my own name and address from this site. Sorry my articles are having that effect on you.
      Only one small problem. I have not stored your name and address on my site,
      therefore to remove it is beyond my current power. However if you post it to me as a comment, I promise to remove it! Altiora Peto!

  3. dave says:

    I thought the Christian churches are generally based on the teachings of Jesus, but not on how he conducted his teachings.

    According to chapter 1 of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus has the bloodline to David, son of Abraham, making him the successor as King of the Jews. A number of authors have noted 1:18-19 can be interpreted as a pregnancy before marriage. If Joseph is not the biological father (so Jesus was born with a human mother but no human father???), then the gospel’s lines 1:2-16 have no relevance.

    Matthew chapter 2 tells the story of three ‘wise men’ looking for (2:2) ‘he that is born King of the Jews.’

    If this ancestry is valid, then Jesus was born to be the religious and political leader of the Jews. John’s Gospel chapter 12 12-13: “On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

    There is of course some controversy about James the Just being the brother of Jesus.

    The Acts of the Apostles contains a chronicle of interactions between Paul and James, where Paul is a Roman convert to the teachings of Jesus but who never met Jesus while James is portrayed as being the political leader of the Jews in the region of Jerusalem. Several books have been written about James and the first century, including the interactions between these two critical persons for what became the early church.

    If James was the brother of Jesus and James was involved with the religious and political leadership of the Jews after the death of Jesus and if Paul was the original architect of the effort converting the Gentiles away from Judaism that became the Church in Rome then there will always be an inherent disconnect between the teachings of Jesus and the non-Jewish religions. These Christian ‘churches’ are based on an amalgam of the teachings of Jesus (a Jew) and of Paul (a Roman citizen). Some of those teachings from Jesus might be characterized as having a morality character – since Jesus would have been acting as a religious leader to the Jews, while some of those from Paul might be characterized as having an evangelical nature – since that is what Paul was primarily doing, teaching to non-Jews.

    Of course ‘Jesus showed no interest in [church] structures’ because that is not the context of his time, when he was part of the Jewish community. Only later (after his death) did others (like Paul) take his teachings and interpret them for their mission. Whenever I read someone citing a reference to any of Paul’s epistles I recognize this is Paul interpreting Jesus. Paul was the ‘original’ evangelical.

    This is why there will always be dissension about the collection of Christian teachings, because of the inevitable interpretation that is required.

    Is the primary mission of a Christian church its evangelical effort, to find converts, or its attempt to provide religious and/or moral leadership? The above essay, with references to creeds and catechisms, seems oriented toward the evangelical mission. That mission (in the context of a Christian church) is founded on Paul not Jesus.

  4. peddiebill says:

    As it happens I think the actions of the Churches are the most important part of the mission and I see little point in proseletising for followers unless they are being called to a mission which has practical outcomes, whether it be in the area of moral leadership or in assistance for those in need. However your reasoning is helpful in clarify where the Church should be putting its emphasis and also distinguishing between the roles of Jesus and Paul.

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