1. Godly Church Authority. In 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus we have the picture painted for us by the apostle Paul on what a godly pastor and a godly ministry should look like. I don’t intend to explain these epistles at length. But the gist of them is that the pastor should be holy, a godly husband and father, above reproach, and a saint to imitated by others in the church. He has to be exceptionally holy and righteous, loving, and full of good works in Christ. He is a spiritual man, Spirit-filled and Spirit-led, and evangelistically driven to preach repentance, faith in the cross, and obedience to the Bible, lest souls burn in Hell. He is Christian spirituality minded and seeks to cultivate the moral and mystical aspects of Christian experience. He generally tends to practical theology, moral theology, and Pietist, Puritan, or Wesleyan ways of thinking. Thomas Oden’s Pastoral Theology makes sense to him; he agrees with the traditional way of spiritual formation, and he does not create a new idea of ministry based on his private interpretations of the Bible; he allows godly revival history and church tradition theology to guide his hermeneutics. And although he is an authority in his church, he barely ever feels like he has to assert or prove himself to anyone, unless it’s like that one time when Paul “foolishly” defended himself for being an apostle (1 Cor. 9), but that was only because people were accusing him of being a false prophet.
2. Ungodly Church Authority. Queen Jezebel in 1 and 2 Kings and then all the false prophets and false teachers referred to in the Bible, although it is brief:–these are ungodly examples of church authority. The gist of ungodly church authority is selfishness, vanity, and controlling behavior. There is nothing supernatural really going on. There were no supernatural manifestations of Baal that occurred on Mount Carmel when Elijah challenged the false prophets. Jeremiah repeatedly accused the false prophets of his times, not for conveying demonic revelations, but for prophesying human ideas and lies that were made up. So, ungodly church authority has this element: falsehood, lies, and vanity. It’s all about name-promotion and not about the content of the message. Selfishness also ties into this. In fact, self-centered attention and friendships so people will like you—seems to be the underlying motive for vanity or seeking to be a public religious figure for worthless reasons. And lastly, because an ungodly church leader does not have spiritual gifts, he naturally sees that he loses his influence or popularity, and has to keep the flock together through controlling-sounding sermons, so that people won’t “rebel” against his “authority” he received from God. So, he stoops down to this level where he guilts people into staying committed to him as their church leader, when God may be leading them elsewhere, for legitimate reasons of good conscience!