this is a continuation of a comment I started on Tophers blog. I started to address this point, and found that it really needed the space of a separate post to do it justice. Please read the original subject first.
The leadership and decision making modes of the church have, to an extent, always mirrored some secular leadership and decision making formulas. And to look at any particular form of government for a body of believers and point to it as the reason that God stopped working through them is faulty logic.
The early church modeled the Jewish Synagogue tradition of a council of learned elders(Gal 2:7-10, Paul came before the people who were looked upon as pillars of the new Christan community, and most knowledgeable of the work and life of Jesus).
Later, the Roman church modeled the Roman state, and that has lasted to this day. With a top-down, authoritarian mode of decision-making and accountability, the Roman Catholic church gives us an idea of how the Roman government would have functioned, in ideals, at least. The college of Cardinals could easily be the Roman Senate. And the Pope and Emperor are clearly distinguishable as analogous, up to the point where the ancient Roman Emperor was considered either God himself, or the earthly voice of god.
The Reformation provided a place where emerging leadership styles could again bear on the church. The Presbyterians mimic the Scottish Clan or Town Meeting government styles, with a smaller group of people electing their representatives, who then go on to gather as a group and elect a next level, etc.
The Congregationalist form of government/leadership came about as democratic principles were being established throughout Europe. The Anabaptists(one of the first to practice congregationalism) were famous and reviled for their disdain for any formal structure other than the votes of the congregation. And even here we see a relic of past secular government. Only Members, and until recently only male Members(but not the males member) could have a say in Congregationalist government. Like the way that only Citizens of the town, members of the union, or landholding free men could have a say in their secular government. It is not a coincidence that the method of handling church government is about 5-50 years behind popular and emerging leadership styles.
My point is that throughout history, God moves in spite of our leadership style. There have been many great things accomplished for the Kingdom by churches governed a variety of ways. And the thing is, the style of government is only there to help those who don't have true Eternal vision. And before you get haughty about how you have eternal vision, I capitalized that on purpose. You(whoever you are) cannot see eternally, as in actually view history as if it were a road winding through the countryside, and you were on a hill. Because we can’t do that, and have to rely on the Holy Spirit to communicate to use that there is a turn ahead, we need government to keep things from falling apart between turns. Because I don’t know about you, but the time when people usually steer with their knees, while they put on makeup or eat a sammich, is not when driving through a series of turns. It’s when they are on a straight highway, and think that they don’t need to actually work at steering.
And by having a form of government, any form, we give ourselves the form to make sure that things don’t fall apart on us while we’re busy turning a corner. And there really is no problem at all with the varied form of government mentioned if everyone involved was daily walking in the Word and accountable to others. If the pope were accountable to the college of cardinals in a personal sense, if the form of Pope to cardinal to bishop to priest to individual was infused with Spirit Filled Christ followers top to bottom, THERE WOULD BE NO NEED FOR PROTESTANT AND CATHOLIC. It’s not the forms of government that are faulty; it’s the people in them.
Please note that this is not a specific attack on specific people. This is a continuation of discussion about a the idea/ideals of leadership started by Topher's post.