Christians should be leading the battle against the power of the state. Faith in God and providence should have made them impervious to the state's promises of cradle to grave security. The Bible repeatedly warns of the dangers of political powers (beasts) that will arise and oppose the purposes of God. The early Christians heeded these warnings and struggled against the "powers that be," whenever they exceeded their authority. In contrast, modern Christians are strangely acquiescent in the face of massive state power. They are often the best Cheerleaders for this Emerging Beast.

Whereas Jesus and the early disciples followed the example of the OT prophets and were willing to challenge illegitimate state power, the modern church is producing Christians who are trained in compliance. Most new Christians have handed authority over much of their lives to church leaders who tell them what to believe and what to do. They have been taught to blindly submit to that hierarchical authority that controls much of the modern church. Compliant "Yes men" are not well placed to lead the battle against state power.

Happy in the Hierarchy

Hierarchical structures have been the norm in the church for most of its history, but it did not start that way. Jesus did not set up a hierarchy for the church before he left. In fact, he objected strenuously to any form of hierarchy (Mark 10:35-38). Following his example, the early church was structured like a family. The elders led their people in the same way as fathers care for their children. Only when the church became successful and respectable did it move away from this family model towards hierarchical government.

Hierarchy was useful in traditional societies for providing order and control, even if it tended to stifle creativity and spontaneity. However, this level of control is no longer acceptable in the modern world and the people everywhere are shaking off the bonds of hierarchy. Networks are replacing hierarchies throughout society.

The business world is rapidly transitioning from hierarchy to networks, as modern information technologies reduce the costs of communication. Decision-making is being decentralised and the development of business networks has increased the efficiency of many business processes.

Despite this trend, the church has continued its dependence on hierarchy and control. It has clung to hierarchy, even as it is being rejected by the rest of society (except for civil government and the army).

God Does Not Need Hierarchy

Hierarchy has now been around for so long that Christians just take it for granted, but it has no basis in the scriptures. The Bible is the legislation of the church, so there is no need for a legislative body. The Holy Spirit is the administrator, so there is no need for administrative bodies. Where the Holy Spirit is free to work, a church hierarchy should be unnecessary.

Large human organisations need a hierarchy of authority to transmit information and to direct actions. Messages and instructions pass down through the hierarchy to the people on the bottom. Reports go back up in the same way. Hierarchy also allows decisions to be made at the appropriate level. The person at the top sets the general policies and rules, but delegates simple decisions down the hierarchy to an appropriate level of responsibility. Difficult or important decisions are delegated back up to the top.

God is not constrained in this way. He is omniscient, so he knows everything that is happening, everywhere in the universe, all the time. He is not dependent on reports up a hierarchy. God is also omnipotent, so he has the ability to decide what should be happening in every situation in the universe at the moment it occurs. He can speak to any person in the universe, whenever he chooses, so he does not need to work through intermediaries. Therefore God has no need for hierarchy.

God knows what is happening to every Christian all the time, so he does not need anyone to report to him. The Holy Spirit lives in every Christian, so God can communicate his will directly to anyone as he chooses. An infinite God can communicate his will directly to his people, so he does not need hierarchy to accomplish his purposes (Being Church Where We Live, pp 46,47).

Before the church can lead the battle against Leviathan, it will have to escape from the clutches of hierarchy. We need a networked church that gives God's people true liberty to serve him. We need a new leadership model that will liberate God's people for battle, while watching over them to protect them from evil attack.

A Church that treasures liberty under God and encourages faith will be the best antidote against rampant state power. Christians will only be ready to lead the battle against tyranny when they stop being at home in hierarchy.

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