I’m a Presbyterian minister, so I believe that Presbyterianism as a form of church government is most biblical. One of the things we have to say at the get go is that the differences over church government, whether a congregational form, a Presbyterian form, or even Episcopal form of church government, does not belong to the essence of the church. It belongs to the good order of the church.This is a family conversation not something that makes one a Christian or not a Christian.
There’s a difference there.
Simply because someone’s a congregationalist or an Episcopalian doesn’t unchurch them simply because we disagree on polity. This is a family conversation not something that makes one a Christian or not a Christian. That being said, I do believe that the bible presents Presbyterianism in a local church setting where the church being overseen by elders; in a regional setting where the churches work together through their elders to oversee the churches; and in a national way where there is the gradiation of church courts.
I believe that is biblical.
Of course, some of our Baptist friends have come to discover the importance of elders. It’s hard to deny that. It’s all through Acts. When Paul addressed his letters, he often mentioned the elders as well as deacons as he does in Philippians. Where we disagree, and part ways is over that sense of gradiated church courts — that regional and national groupings have responsibility for oversight.A powerful example of Presbyterian polity: this sense that each part is in the whole.
When you go to Acts 15 you find there a key text that speaks not of Paul, Barnabus, and the Christians at Antioch bowing to the authority of Jerusalem as would be in an Episcopal setting, nor of Antioch simply saying, “We have all the authority we need to decide on our own,” as you would in a Congregationalist form. But what you see is, if you will, First Presbyterian Church Antioch getting together with First Presbyterian Church Jerusalem and having the first Presbytery meeting.
Together, they determine the issues that deal with the gospel. They declare doctrine and then they let others know through a pastoral letter what the decision of this larger court was. That’s a powerful example of Presbyterian polity: this sense that each part is in the whole, the authority of each part is found in the whole church, and the whole church’s authority is distributed to the parts. So, that’s why I believe Presbyterian polities is the most biblical.