Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Church Polity

On June 3, 1908 at the Bicentennial I.D. Parker addressed the church on Church Polity.

... Church Polity embraces:
  1. The exercise of authority in the church.
  2. The control of the church over her members.
  3. The direction she gives in carrying on her work.
  4. The liberty to enjoy the good and restraint from evil.
  5. The administration of the laws and rules by which the church regulates....


To have a Church Polity that God will approve, four things must be carefully observed:

  1. The authority exercised must be divine.
  2. It must be exercised in a Christlike spirit.
  3. The work directed must be in harmony with all the principles of the Gospel.
  4. The restraint of the church must not be greater nor her liberties more extended, than the teachings of Jesus allow.

... If we have had some success above some others in perpetuating primitive Christianity (and I believe we have), it is chiefly due to two things:

  1. That our forefathers planted the church in America with the Holy Scriptures as their only written creed, and made their final appeal to this on all questions of difference.
  2. That these pioneers organized their work in harmony with the New Testament Church Polity.

Parker goes on to distinguish "New Testament Church Polity" from four other forms of church polity: Monarchial, Episcopal, Presbyterial, and Congregational. He goes on to describe "New Testament Church Polity" as that which binds all congregations and individual members of Christ's body in one government. "It may be called an Ecclesiastical Democracy, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Source: Two Centuries of the Church of the Brethren, Chapter 6