church government

Several Benefits of Presbyterianism

The abuse of a thing does not necessarily negate its validity.  If I gorge myself on food, or sleep too much, it doesn't follow that food and sleep are evil.  (See Ecclesiastes 3:13 and Psalm 127:2). So it is with all God given forms of authority, including church government.  

In a recent post I briefly laid out why we believe that the Presbyterian form of church government is biblical.  Now I would like to list several practical benefits of Presbyterianism.

Safety.  "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety" (Proverbs 11:14), "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you" (Hebrews 13:17). We who are the sheep of the Lord's pasture need protection from wolves in sheep's clothing.  We need guides and teachers of the flock who not only feed us, but warn us of destructive doctrines of demons.  It is part of the elder's job to provide this protection (Acts 20:28-30).  

Wisdom.  This is related to the first benefit.  Elders are to be godly, mature Christian men (I Timothy 3:1-7).  Do you need counsel concerning your calling in life? Your marriage? Living the Christian life? Then why not go to a trusted elder?  The Lord has put these men in our lives for such things.  Of course, 'test the spirits,' and be discerning, comparing their counsel with the word of God.  (See the Bereans in Acts 17:11).  

Accountability.  Christians are called to exhort one another daily (Hebrews 3:13).  We all need accountability.  Sometimes we sheep start to leave the fold.  If we wander from the straight and narrow, part of their job is to come after us, and call us back to the fold (Matthew 18:1-20).  Moreover, within a Presbyterian form of government, all of the elders are accountable not only to the Lord, but to one another in the Lord.  This is true locally at the church they serve, as well as regionally at the Presbytery level, and nationally at the General Assembly level.  If elders fail (and they sometimes do), then it is up to the broader church to correct them.  

Balance.  Related to accountability is balance.  The elders of the local church are to see to it that the pastor is sound in doctrine and life.  Moreover, because the elders of the local church are accountable to each other regionally and nationally, this should, and often does provide balance.  What do I mean?  Not all churches in each Presbyterian denomination look the same, but they all have the boundaries of Scripture, and hold to a doctrinal standard as well as a form of government.  Wisdom and accountability should keep the churches balanced, in that there should be no 'off kilter' doctrines or practices within the body.  In our own denomination, for instance, you will find that our ministers and elders hold to differing views of eschatology (last things), which views must be in harmony with our doctrinal standards (The Bible! and the Westminster Confession and Catechisms).  In other words, while there will be strong leaders in the Presbyterian system, the concepts of parity (equal authority) and accountability should prevent authoritarian, or even cultic personalities and the practices associated with them.  

Perhaps these are more talking points than a complete list.  Can you name a few more blessing of biblical, elder rule in the Church of Jesus Christ?