Vol. 7, No. 12
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It is important to emphasize biblical fundamentals, especially when they differ from contemporary religion. Since, the churches of Christ belong to Jesus Christ (Romans 16:16), they are obligated to conduct themselves according to what Jesus authorizes (Colossians 3:17). Really, all people living in the Gospel Age must heed the words of Jesus Christ rather than Moses or the Old Testament prophets (Matthew 17:1-5; John 12:48). Further, Jesus Christ is the Lawgiver (James 4:12) and Mediator (Hebrews 9:15) of the New Testament, to which people living today must turn for religious instruction. In addition, Jesus Christ condemns alteration of divine instruction with "the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9), and the inspired apostle Paul likewise condemned false Gospels (Galatians 1:6-9) and the human will when substituted for the divine will (Colossians 2:23). Hence, one must turn exclusively to the New Testament to learn what God has authorized respecting Christianity.
Manmade religion has improvised regarding several aspects of church leadership--displacing the leadership in religion that God authorized in the New Testament. One way in which mankind has altered religion from the New Testament pattern is by introduction of a formal clergy. Often this clergy is distinguished from the rest of the church by special clothing for the clergy (e.g., often colorful, flowing robes and headgear). Companion to special clothing for clergy are special religious titles reserved for clergy, which Jesus disallowed (Matthew 23:8-10). Many denominations have formalized worship with this special clergy beyond what the New Testament reveals respecting worship under Christianity. "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:3).
Another way in which mankind has altered religion from the New Testament pattern is by introduction of leadership roles for women in the church. For instance, she elders are foreign to what the New Testament authorizes (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6). In addition, female preachers to audiences of men and women are prohibited by New Testament Scripture (1 Timothy 2:11-12; 1 Corinthians 14:34). These verses are plain and open to no misunderstanding. Further, the respective roles for men and women in the church and in the home are not culturally based, but go back to near creation and were implemented by God before there was any culture (1 Timothy 2:13-14; 1 Corinthians 11:8-9).
The churches of Christ are obligated to implement the type of church leadership that the New Testament authorizes; the churches of Christ are obligated to adhere to what the New Testament authorizes for church leadership. This includes not developing a clergy and not distinguishing its leaders by special clothing and special titles. Subsequently, formalized worship services, etc. beyond what the New Testament authorizes is ill-conceived.
The churches of Christ do not have female leadership in the church because it is not authorized by God. However, despite differing God-given roles for men and women in the church and in the home, male and female Christians are spiritually equal (Galatians 3:26-28). Furthermore, there is sufficient work for women to do within the framework of their God-given role (Titus 2:3-5; 1 Timothy 5:14), without which neither the home nor the church will be all that they can be. Since God has restricted women from leadership roles in the church, this places a serious responsibility upon male members of the church to assume their God-given role (1 Timothy 2:8).
Anyone unconcerned about biblical authority or pleasing God can do anything or nothing at all in religion. However, everyone who respects biblical authority and wants to please God will concern himself with what Almighty God has authorized. In the case of church leadership, that means that the local church will be led by godly men, and that the church will have neither a clergy nor female leaders.
Likewise, anyone unconcerned about biblical authority or pleasing God can do anything or nothing at all regarding human salvation; such a person will remain lost. However, everyone who respects biblical authority and wants to please God will implement God's divine plan of salvation in his or her life (Mark 16:16 for non-Christians; 1 John 1:9 for erring Christians).