Ecclesiastical Hierarchy

by Arnold Gordon

Ecclesiastical: 1. of the Church, the organization of the church, or the clergy.

Hierarchy: 1. a system of Church government by priests or other clergy in graded ranks. 3. a group of persons or things arranged in order of rank, grade, class etc.

As is often done in this column, I must begin with dictionary definitions to make clear the meanings of the words being used and the context in which they are used. This will allow the reader to better understand the points to be made.

Ecclesiastical Hierarchy is by definition a church organizational structure which is established by any denomination, organization, sect, group, or cult. These church organizational structures are established to govern or control the members of a particular church group.

The majority of churches which claim to be Christianity have patterned their governmental structure after the government structure of the Catholic Church. The government structure of the Catholic Church is plainly and clearly patterned after the ecclesiastical structure of the ancient pagan church government and not at all patterned after the Bible or the teachings of Jesus Christ or his apostles.

There is no support in the Bible scriptures for one man or group to exercise authority or control over any other person; or to be an intermediary between any man and God. "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity." I Timothy 2:5-7

In all of his teachings, Jesus Christ was opposed to any one man exalting himself above another in any way. He said, "For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." Luke 14:11 His second commandment to us meant merely, "by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Galatians 5:13-14

When James and John asked Jesus if they could "sit, one on his right hand and one on his left hand in thy glory", Mark 10:37 Jesus rebuked them. When the other apostles heard of the request, they were much displeased with James and John. Jesus saw the spirit of jealously among the twelve apostles over who would be greatest.

"But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles (heathen), exercise lordship over them and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister (servant). And whosoever of you will be chiefest, shall be

servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister (serve) and to give his life a ransom for many." Mark 10:42-45 Jesus thus condemned "ecclesiastical hierarchy" from being practiced among his followers.

This plainly shows that any church government or organization which exalts one person or office above that of another to exercise lordship or authority is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ, and is not based on New Testament teaching.

Many of the church denominations representing Christianity today, are greatly divided over what they view as an acceptable method of instituting church government within their organizational hierarchies, without any consideration whatsoever for the teaching of Jesus Christ. Most institute a body of officials disposed organically in ranks and orders, each subordinate to the one above it. This is done in direct contradiction to the instructions of Christ himself, who stated, "so shall it not be among you:" (meaning his followers).

The functional office of "Pastor," as an exalted leader in a church congregation, as is practiced in Christianity today is found no place in the Bible scriptures. This functional position is directly representative of the "Parrish Priest" of the Catholic Church; which originated in ancient pagan worship, and in no way is found representative of any such position as presented in the "New Testament Church". Anyone can check this out for themselves. Where in the New Testament is found even one indirect representation of this functional position of Pastor as practiced in Christianity today.

Apostle Peter made the Bible position clear when he wrote, "The elders (plural) which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

"Likewise, ye younger submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:" I Peter 5:1-6

The word "Pastor" is found only once in the New Testament and is explained to be one of the gifts given to the ministry, and not an office as is exercised in churches of Christianity today. Why do would-be followers of Jesus Christ prefer to follow the pagan teachings of the Catholic church in preference to the teachings of Jesus Christ and his apostles?

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