Improper Evangelical Submission
January 23, 2016
To Submit or Not to Submit
In the last blog post, I discussed the mandatory submission required of adherents of Roman Catholicism and Islam. I discussed the false papal teaching of mindless submission to the Pope and the teaching authority known as the “Magisterium.” We discussed the similarity of the “five precepts” of Catholicism and the “five pillars” of Islam. Today I begin a study on Evangelical submission to elder and church authority. When should we submit and when should we be wary of submission?
Sometimes in reading the Bible we come to passages that seem to be opposites. For example, in the span of two verses in the book of Proverbs we are given the following advice:
Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.
Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.
So, which is it? Should we answer or not? Is this a contradiction? Or could it be that we are to show discernment in answering fools? Some fools you can approach with godly wisdom. Others, not so much!
Here are two verses in the Bible that address submission:
1) Heb. 13:17 – Obey your leaders and submit to them
2) Gal. 5:1 – For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
So, which is it? Should we submit or not? Is this a contradiction? Or could it be that we are to show discernment concerning to whom we are to submit, and when? For the “Hebrews Christian” submission to authority was advised. For the Galatian Christian, not so much! In other words, you better check your authority.
If you have been to a rodeo, you may have seen the bronco busting competition. This is where a cowboy tries to ride a powerful horse that does not want the dude on its back! The longer the competitor can stay on the broncin’ buck, the higher the score. There is another event that has become very popular at rodeos. It is “Sheepbusting.” The competitor climbs on the back of a sheep and holds on for dear life! The longer the “sheep-poke” can stay on the sheep, the higher the score.
Here is a link to see firsthand the exciting sport of “Sheepbusting!”
Most evangelical churches stress the importance of submitting to godly leadership. Most require that a Christian enter into a binding agreement in order to become a member of the church. One church in Charlotte, Elevation Church, even requires its volunteers to sign a legal document in order to participate in certain church activities.
Here is a link to Elevation Church’s covenant. Would you sign this agreement, and submit to this church’s authority? They probably won’t really sue you for gossiping, will they?
Over the next several weeks, we will explore the dangers of evangelical submission. We will investigate the potential for spiritual abuse that can occur when a sheep foolishly submits to unbiblical traditions and unaccountable leadership. I have personally been a part of abusive fellowships where the pastor and elders “ride on the backs” of the very sheep that they are called to love.
Here is a list of subjects that we will discuss:
1) Should a Christian be required to sign a statement of faith to join a church? Should they sign?
2) Should a Christian be required to sign a church covenant in order to join a church? Should they sign?
3) What constitutes an improper oath?
4) Who should be allowed to participate in the Lord’s Supper? “Only members in good standing”? What if you are “between churches”?
5) Do mandatory church oaths and affirmations lead to unity or disunity within the body of Christ?
6) What are the Scriptural warning signs that are present when attending a spiritually abusive church?
7) What excommunication and church discipline issues are related to submission to church leadership?
8) Do Church Covenants and mandatory Statements of Faith lead to “church-hopping”?
9) Can legalistic church covenants and mandatory Statements of Faith quench the Holy Spirit?
10) Do Church Covenants and mandatory Statements of Faith violate the evangelical doctrine of Sola Scriptura?
11) Can Church Covenants and mandatory Statements of Faith improperly bind consciences and do they lack integrity?
12) Can Church Covenants and mandatory Statements of Faith lead to the loss of valuable “members” of the body, especially those who have discernment gifting?
My dear beloved fellow Christians, I urge you to beware of submission! Ultimately, you should take responsibility for safeguarding your soul. Just as Roman Catholics and Muslims should come out from under ungodly submission structures, so should discerning evangelicals! Beware the Sheepbusters!