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The Moses Model Revisited -- Why Biblical Church Government Matters

chucksmith.jpgChristianity Today has posted yet another sad story on the internal troubles at Calvary Chapel.  Click here: Day of Reckoning | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.  I dealt with the "Moses Model of ministry" a while back, when these same issues surfaced previously.  Click here: Riddleblog - The Latest Post - The "Moses Model" of Ministry Backfires . . .

I post this link not because I am glad that this sorry saga continues.  On the contrary, there is nothing mentioned in the CT article in regards to the failings and sins of ministers and church leaders at Calvary, which cannot also be found in Reformed and Presbyterian churches.  I've heard of (or witnessed first-hand) Reformed ministers commit all kinds of public sins.  I've seen them arrested and tried.  I've seen them fall into adultery.  I've seen them do most everything mentioned in the CT article. 

But I've also witnessed how their churches disciplined them.  Therefore, this is not a post about how bad "they" are (Calvary), and how much "better" we are (the Reformed/Presbyterian churches). Rather, this is a post about the importance of biblical church government. 

There is a reason why the Belgic Confession (the confession of faith of the Reformed Churches) devotes six entire articles (27-32) to the subject of church government (Click here: Christ Reformed Church: The Belgic Confession).  There is a vast amount of biblical teaching on church government which needs to be summarized and confessed, teaching which once affirmed and confessed, will spare God's people from the very thing going on at Calvary as described by CT. 

The New Testament devotes a great deal of attention to the subject of what constitutes a true church as well as who is a true Christian (summarized in article 29).  The New Testament speaks of the catholicity (or universality) of the church (summarized in article 27), as well as the necessity of church membership and the responsibilities of church members (summarized in article 28).  The New Testament carefully describes how the church is to be governed, and lists both the duties and qualifications of the officers which govern the church (ministers, elders, deacons--as summarized in article 30).  The New Testament tell us how ministers are to be called, and supervised, and of what their duties consist (article 31).  Then, finally, the New Testament instructs us how our churches are to exercise church discipline over erring members and especially church officers (article 32).

I know that many people find ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church) boring.  I've seen people's eyes glaze over when the topic is even mentioned.  But this is an important aspect of biblical teaching and we neglect it to our peril.

So, for those of you still in Calvary, or similar churches, or for those of you struggling to understand how things like this can happen, please realize that the New Testament doesn't blush at the sins of Christians or of Christian leaders.  It speaks of such sinners being restored and reconciled after being disciplined.  There is clear instruction about how to govern our churches, and what to do when ministers fall into public sin or create scandal.  Sadly, that teaching is not found nor practiced at Calvary Chapel.  The "Moses Model" does not reflect the New Testament's teaching about ministers and their accountability to their fellow elders.

My advice:  please consider the Reformed confessions and the numerous verses they summarize.  There is a way out of this continuing problem--biblical (Presbyterian/Reformed) church government!

Reader Comments (22)

One professor at Biola personally dealt with Chuch Smith concerning the resurrection. According to this professor, Chuck does not deny that a physical body arose; what Chuck denies is that the same body in which our Lord died was the same body with which he arose. Chuck believes that it is a completely different body, on a mostly philosophical basis, according to this professor.
February 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterA.S.
Chuck Smith has been teaching for years the resurrected Christ rose in a body different from the one he lived in for 33 years? And Chuck hasn't been disciplined for this heresy? I mean Paul said, if it is not the same Christ, in the same body, the joke is on us and we are to be pitied above all people.
Someone please tell me I am misunderstanding something here...

What did Chuck do with...
1 Corinthians 15 makes it clear there will be a continuity between our present earthly, physical bodies and our resurrected bodies.

And yet, we are not to believe the same is true for Christ?
Not true for the one who himself said He IS the resurrection and the life?
Not true for the one who said, because I Live you will live also?
Not true for the One whose resurrection guarantees our resurrection to eternal life? His is the firstfruits of the future resurrection.

Thomas sure was led by Jesus to believe that he was seeing and touching the same body that was crucified, beaten, tortured [see John 20].

Somebody help me here, please?
February 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterIvan

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