How Heirarchy Influenced our Church Government

by Dr. Kluane Spake

It's hard to comprehend how the ideas about church government styles became distorted for centuries. This crisis has been studiously ignored until this now. We find that the ecclesiastical leaders caused many doctrinal problems concerning authority that are most commonly perpetuated today.

Heirachial government (from the Greek, "hieros" = sacred, and "archos" = ruler) is the most typical type of government for the church at this hour. This was patterned after the churches under Papal and Episcopal forms of government where the Pope, Cardinal, or the Bishop represented the "one person ruler" OVER the group. Authority is invested in that one person.

The Remnant Theory is the usual one we use. You know... the first Church started out wonderfully until the wicked self-centered Church Fathers deliberately led everyone astray. Everything they did was evil and wrong.

The problem with that thinking is that initially, the hierarchical government of the church was set up to maintain unity and order. For the love and cohesiveness of the Gospel, these dedicated men tried to establish a government that would prevent people from spreading alternative ideas which could cause disruption and mayhem. They didn't know a better way.

The encyclicals of St. Ignatius (about 110) tell how he believed that there was a Divine origin for hierarchy and priesthood -- in order to "protect the precious." The first instatement of formal clergy was intended to maintain the unity of faith and to protect the preciousness of the Gospel. Of course, we know that this idea turned into unjust heirachy.

As we know, these purposes were disrupted and the principles of true apostleship were lost. History tells us, man-made ideas began to interweave into the church. One of our biggest resistances to any authority is the past misuse of authority... especially during the Medieval era where fanfare and vestments became increasingly important. Human energy and efforts could not produce the glorious Kingdom. UNTIL WE CORRECT THESE long held ERRORS, WE LABOR IN VAIN.

1. In about 300 A.D., strict governmental structure was established to maintain the status quo of the church - so that things wouldn't change.

Scriptures were only interpreted to confirm what the Church Fathers established. If contradictions emerged, then the interpretive writings of the Apostolic Fathers was chosen above the Scriptures. Everyone was expected to accept what the Church (the custodian and absolute official interpreter) said about Scripture -- as that interpretation was official.

2. The Catholic Church established itself as the holder of all truth and insisted upon rigid conformity to excessive church order and rule. The installation of the succession of "Apostolic Authority" upon those elitist Church Fathers placed them on the highest of pecking orders. Their spoken words became equivalent (equal to) that of Divine Scripture. Priests insisted that this formation of "Apostolic Authority" was intrinsically patriarchal, (meaning that it was limited to only certain men). The Church statements concerning the AUTHORITY of the pope is where "heirachy" really began to cause a problem:

"As to papal authority, the Pope is as it were God on earth, Sole sovereign of all the faithful of Christ, chief king of kings, having a plenitude of unbroken power, entrusted by the omnipotent God to govern the earthly and heavenly kingdoms."

"The Pope is of so great authority and power, that he is able to modify, declare, or interpret even divine laws."

"The Pope is of so great dignity and so exalted that he is not mere man, but as it were God, and the vicar of God."

The Roman Church claimed that Peter had the authority and position as the first Pope. However, Paul's last letter (Second Timothy) is dated around 68 AD. Most Scholars agree that Peter died in Rome by at least 66 AD. That means Peter had already died two years before Paul's last letter from Rome. The writings of Paul do not state that Peter was the Bishop of Rome.

These priests declared that the Spiritual Gifts once distributed to everyone, were for the previous era and were no longer for the use of the general assembly. Now, only the elect priesthood could interpret or mediate. Only those designated "priests" could receive revelation and hear the voice of God. All other men and all women were silenced.

3. Only a few select scholars of the Church were qualified to confer with the mystical meanings of this magical oracle. Medical and scientific research were considered ungodly. Superstition prevailed, and neither laity, nor the religious really understood the Scriptures that remained hidden away in monasteries.

4. In the Middle Ages, the Church Fathers ruled with tenacious control. Prohibitions increased and taxes were levied. Indulgences were sold and MANDATORY GIVING was demanded. This church amassed fortunes. The established priesthood ruled with absolute dictatorial authority. The select and elite "clergy" vehemently suppressed all "laity" (common people).

5. For centuries, Church TRADITION was exalted as the only truth which placed the words of the Church Fathers above Scriptures (called Apostolic Doctrine).

6. The Apostolic Fathers' viewpoint defined and contained ALL acceptable human knowledge, both sacred and secular. Their unbending views began to be severely questioned during the 17th century when the new astronomy findings of people like Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543) and of Galileo Galilei (1564- 1642) challenged the known system of thinking.

7. The Reformation brought a renewed appeal for the Scriptures to be the final authority. They decided that the church should be built upon Scripture and not the other way around. (Mt. 15:6, Mk. 7:8-9). Biblical scholars began to contradict some ancient religious traditions.

The development of the printing press during the Reformation also brought a renewal of learning that sparked greater inquiry. Information spread into an intellectually starving civilization that had been steeped in centuries of ignorance and superstition.

8. The emerging Protestant Reformation sought to teach the priesthood of the believer. Following that we find a series of revivals and movements that gradually began to change the dynamics of church government.

9. The Protestant Revolution brought new emphasis on having a personal experience with God. Finally, some new theologians pressed beyond blind prejudices. Faithless lack of reasoning slowly gave way to a more accurate approach to the Bible.

The early Protestant concepts of the "Priesthood of all believers" was for men only. Especially selected male authority figures still maintained absolute control and spectator-performance type meetings.

The heirachial pattern continued into the Protestant renewal - and is still the only structure commonly taught.

The danger in these past types of government style is that this one person usually has no "checks and balances." Safety measures are needed for the leader as well as those who are led.

The beginning of the 20th century opened many variations of Bible translations beyond the King James of 1611. Later, we see the wrong consequences of this hierarchal development. 1940-50's brought the restoration of the office of "Evangelist." The Gifts of the Spirit became more used by the general believer. The Latter Rain movement and the "manifest sons" teachings began to unfold.

1960's brought the restoration of the office of "Pastor."Renewals ignited and Spirit filled believers birthed many new ministries.

1970's was the time of the restoration of the "Teacher." It was the era of the Word of Faith groups, believer's authority, confession, and the cell church.

1980's showed us the restoration of the office of the "Prophet." The church began to hear more about the Tabernacle of David truths and hear the voice of the Lord as many waters. Teachings of dominion emerged and intercession increased. Greater signs and wonders occurred in the church. This also began greater understanding of the Third Day.

1990's began the restoration of the office of the "Apostle" with glimpses of new governmental order. Present Truth begins to emerge.

2000's bring forth the realization of the corporate Body ON EARTH, the consummated Bride, Manchild company coming forth, Apostolic Destiny, greater dimensions, unheard frequencies, etc.

The quest today is to re-discover God's original intention concerning governmental order.

This is an era of the Corporate Christ revealing Himself within the Body. All the believers must establish the awareness of their Royal priesthood and begin to possess the Kingdom (Dan. 7:22). This global priesthood is free from prejudice and is swallowed up into the revelation the blood of Christ has already made us one (Gen. 14:18-20; Heb. 5:10- 14, 7:1-18; 1 Pet. 2:5; Rev. 1:5-6, 5:10.