Sunday, January 15, 2012

Where Does Authority Reside in God's Kingdom?

I am reading "What's With Paul and Women?" by Jon Zens. He is advocating for women to be free from male domination and free to perform all tasks in church that they are gifted for.

In the midst of reading that and following his argument, I ran across a short section on who really has authority in God's Kingdom. As is true with the rest of his book concerning women's roles in the church, his view of authority flies in the face of what we think of when we think about how churches are set up and who assumes authority. Running across this section is somewhat ironic in light of a facebook post I authored earlier today that read:

"If any religious leader ever tries to claim any kind of spiritual authority over you, put that person out of your life. You have but one Person to give account to and that is God Himself."

The reason I say it's ironice is listen to what Mr. Zens says on page 69 of his book:

"We must remember that our Lord taught us that in his kingdom "authority"—who's in charge—is to be a non-issue (cf. Matt. 20:24-28; 23:11; Mark 9:34; Luke 9:46; 22:24). The idea of one person having dominion over another or others is the essence of all that is antichrist; it is clearly how the world operates and, as a pattern of behavior, is one which we are encouraged to diligently avoid, based on the life and teachings of Jesus, the Christ. No one is to be the top-dog, and there are no positions of authority. I don't know how many times I've heard, "women shouldn't be in positions of authority." The truth is, neither males nor females are to be in positions of authority! There is no human chain-of-command in Christ's domain. The greatest position is at the bottom of the ladder. Those with the most spiritual influence will live as those with no authority. They will live as slaves and children—who had no status in first century culture. The greatest in Christ's kingdom lays down his life for others—which is precisely what Jesus did as the servant par excellence."

Now I doubt he will deal with my obvious questions about the repetition of elders (leaders, teachers, those tasked with leading the affairs of the church) in scripture in the context of this book. I'd love to read what he has to say about how the early church was set up with leaders (elders, deacons). But this is still a good reminder for those God has gifted with leadership abilities in the church to exercise caution and true servanthood.

BTW: Click here. for more info on the author and book...