Sovereign Grace Church of Daytona Beach ends partnership with Sovereign Grace Ministries
In my opinion, one of the great needs among Bible-believing Churches today is to come to grips with this question of pastoral authority. What is it? How far does it go? We are seeing a number influential ministries claiming and modeling levels of pastoral authority that seem to go far beyond Scripture and directly assault the reformation principle of the priesthood of all believers. SGM is just one example, and thankfully, some of their largest churches are now beginning to discuss it… sadly, these discussions are happening apart from the overall leadership.
It is our understanding from God’s Word that God does not give authority to men as we have seen it practiced, but rather that Jesus exercises his own authority through the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit in the hearts of His followers and pastors are called to administer God’s Word for and to God’s people. Any additional authority or influence we have comes from our congregation’s affirmation, their trust and their willingness to follow our leadership, and it is not binding. The level of authority exercised by SGM leaders (including our own pastors until recently) is unbiblical to us, and the current accountability of checks and balances is not only insufficient, but in our opinion incapable of providing the required balance.
One’s understanding of the nature and limitations of spiritual authority will necessarily shape one’s approach to developing and applying polity. As a result, it is our opinion that polity changes, however drastic, will be ineffective in bringing real change to this dilemma unless there is first a fundamental change in the understanding of spiritual authority. This is a main factor in our decision to end our partnership before the polity committee makes their final recommendation/decision.