BISHOP ABIYE M. S. CARRIE: BISHOP AND CHURCH GOVERNMENT
The Church exists on two levels. On one level it is an eternal, invisible, biblical organism that is welded into one body by the Holy Spirit. On the other it is the temporal historical, visible, human, institutional organization. The first is the end, the second the means. The organization was left to the apostles to work out under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Any large corporate body must of necessity have leadership; and as it grows, the division of functions and consequent specialization of leadership must come if it is to function effectively. A liturgy to guide the worship of the church in an orderly logical outcome of the growth of the church as an organization.
The eventual aim of the church as worship organism is the achievement of quality of life. Thus, the Christian is part of an organism and of an organization. The origin of church polity is to be credited to Christ because He chose the twelve apostles who were to be the leaders of the infant church. The apostle took the initiative in the development of other offices in the church when they were so directed by the Holy Spirit. This does not by any means imply a pyramidal hierarchy, such as the Roman Catholic Church had developed. Because the new officials were to be chosen by the people, ordained by the apostles, and have special spiritual qualification that involved leadership by the Holy Spirit. Thus there was an inward call the Holy Spirit to the office, an external call by the democratic vote of the church, and the ordaining to office by the apostles. There was to be no special class of priests set apart to minister a sacerdotal system of salvation because both the officials and the members of the church were spiritual priests with the right of direct access to God through Christ (Eph. 2:18)
These officials may be divided into two classes. The Charismatic officials (Greek Charismatic means gift) were chosen by Christ and endowed with specials gifts. They are the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (1 Cor. 12-14, Eph. 4:11-12). Their function was principally inspirational. The administrative officials constituted the second class namely elders, bishops, deacons and deaconesses (Act 14:23, 1 Tim 3:1-9, Titus 1:5-9). Their functions were mainly administrative, although after the death of the apostles, the elders took over many spiritual responsibilities. These officials were chosen by the congregation after prayer for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and appointed by the apostles. The abuses of ordination of Priests and consecration of Bishops today stem from failure on the part of some to do a proper study of the etymology and the usage of the words “Priest” and “Bishop” in its different dispensations. On the other hand, it is a carryover of political and pagan influence of the dark ages of the church that left substance of Christianity to buying into feudal monarchical system in church polity and worship when people set aside the leadership of the Holy Spirit, they opt for whatever ceremonies and rites that suit and fill their void - emptiness in the name of religion. “The growth of the office of the monarchial bishop did not come until after the end of apostolic age in the second century”, says Earle E. Cairns in his book, “Christianity through the centuries”
What does the Bible say about the form of church government (polity)? The Lord was very clear in His Word about how He wishes His church on earth to be organized and managed. First, Christ is the head of the church and its supreme authority (Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; Colossians 1:18). Second, the local church is to be autonomous, free from any external authority or control, with the right of self-government and freedom from the interference of any hierarchy of individuals or organizations (Titus 1:5). Third, the church is to be governed by spiritual leadership consisting of two main offices—elders and deacons. “Elders” were a leading body among the Israelites since the time of Moses. We find them making political decisions (2 Samuel 5:3; 2 Samuel 17:4, 15), advising the king in later history (1 Kings 20:7), and representing the people concerning spiritual matters (Exodus 7:17; 24:1, 9; Numbers 11:16, 24-25). The early Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, used the Greek word presbuteros for “elder.” This is the same Greek word used in the New Testament that is also translated “elder.” The New Testament refers a number of times to elders who served in the role of church leadership (Acts 14:23, 15:2, 20:17; Titus 1:5; James 5:14) and apparently each church had more than one, as the word is usually found in the plural. The only exceptions refer to cases in which one elder is being singled out for some reason (1 Timothy 5:1, 19). In the Jerusalem church, elders were part of the leadership along with the apostles (Acts 15:2-16:4).
It seems that the position of elder was equal to the position of episkopos, translated “overseer” or “bishop” (Acts 11:30; 1 Timothy 5:17). The term “elder” may refer to the dignity of the office, while the term “bishop/overseer” describes its authority and duties (1 Peter 2:25, 5:1-4). In Philippians 1:1, Paul greets the bishops and deacons but does not mention the elders, presumably because the elders are the same as the bishops. Likewise, 1 Timothy 3:2, 8 gives the qualifications of bishops and deacons but not of elders. Titus 1:5-7 seems also to tie these two terms together.
The position of “deacon,” from diakonos, meaning “through the dirt,” was one of servant leadership to the church. Deacons are separate from elders, while having qualifications that are in many ways similar to those of elders (1 Timothy 3:8-13). Deacons assist the church in whatever is needed, as recorded in Acts chapter 6.
Concerning the word poimen, translated “pastor” in reference to a human leader of a church, it is found only once in the New Testament, in Ephesians 4:11: “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers.” Most associate the two terms “pastors” and “teachers” as referring to a single position, a pastor-teacher. It is likely that a pastor-teacher was the spiritual shepherd of a particular local church.
It would seem from the above passages that there was always a plurality of elders, but this does not negate God’s gifting particular elders with the teaching gifts while gifting others with the gift of administration, prayer, etc. (Romans 12:3-8; Ephesians 4:11). Nor does it negate God’s calling them into a ministry in which they will use those gifts (Acts 13:1). Thus, one elder may emerge as the “pastor,” another may do the majority of visiting members because he has the gift of compassion, while another may “rule” in the sense of handling the organizational details. Many churches that are organized with a pastor and deacon board perform the functions of a plurality of elders in that they share the ministry load and work together in some decision making. In Scripture there was also much congregational input into decisions. Thus, a “dictator” leader who makes the decisions (whether called elder, or bishop, or pastor) is unscriptural (Acts 1:23, 26; 6:3, 5; 15:22, 30; 2 Corinthians 8:19). So, too, is a congregation-ruled church that does not give weight to the elders’ or church leaders’ input.
In summary, the Bible teaches a leadership consisting of a plurality of elders (bishops/overseers) along with a group of deacons who serve the church. But it is not contrary to this plurality of elders to have one of the elders serving in the major “pastoral” role. God calls some as “pastor/teachers” (even as He called some to be missionaries in Acts 13) and gives them as gifts to the church (Ephesians 4:11). Thus, a church may have many elders, but not all elders are called to serve in the pastoral role. But, as one of the elders, the pastor or “teaching elder” has no more authority in decision making than does any other elder.
The abuse and misunderstanding of the place of Bishop in Church Government is the unscriptural practice of a formed College of Bishops headed by unscriptural Archbishop or Primate or Pope consecrating Bishop to head Pastors, Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists and Teachers who are ordained and given by God or placed in the universal church as gifts to mature and perfect the saints in the Church through their gifting and ministering the word and prayer (Eph. 4:11-16, Acts 6:1-4). To subject God’s ordained leaders of the Church to some administrative offices (Bishops, Elders, Deacon/Deaconess) arranged by the local churches is in error. These offices came about in the Church at a time when the early Church was undergoing restructuring occasioned by the delaying in Christ’s coming and the disorderliness of some Churches who were imitating the monarchical leadership of the political system during the Roman empire to seek recognition of earthly government (1 Tim. 3:1-5, Tit. 1:5). In the New Testament Churches Bishop were just having administrative oversight in each local Church not spiritual oversight nor controlling the Church or pastors. There was no ecclesiastical or Episcopal order to this practice. Today we see a situation in attempt to lord it over others some Christian leaders even without one local church become Bishop or Archbishop formed college of bishops with cult like orders and requirements to pay certain fees, dress, cassock, staff, ring, neck chain with cross to be consecrated and demand to be so recognized by other pastors and churches. This position they acquired to gain government recognition and patronages. This is not scriptural hence when l witnessed the consecration of Bishop Abiye Minini Samuel Carrie by Apostle David Zilly Aggrey of the Royal House of Grace International Church among other ordination of Pastors and Deacons as way or restructuring and empowering the Church for effective service to experience exceeding glory in 2013 l affirmed this to be scriptural and in order. In some Churches Bishop are portrayed above the Church Pastor and General Overseer.
The consecration of Bishop Abiye Minini Samuel Carrie and other pastoral leaders for the Church at Royal House of Grace International Church is in order hence this feature. Citation of Bishop Abiye Minini Samuel Carrie – Born on May 27th 1961 to the family of late Venerable Samuel Opuene Carrie and late Mrs. Wariboko Carrie of Bille Town in Bille Kingdom of Degema Local Government of Rivers State. Abiye Carrie is the third child among 14 children of his parents. He started primary education in Bille Town School and finished in 1972. In 1973 he gained admission into one of the best secondary schools in the State at that time, County Grammar School, Ikwerre/Etche and finished in 1977. Abiye did not have so9mebody to further his education oversees as planned so he got employed with International Bank for West Africa (IBWA) which metamorphosed to AfribankPlc and today the Mainstreet Bank Plc. While in the bank he enrolled to study Banking and Finance with Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Nkpolu-Oroworukwu, Port Harcourt and graduated in 1985. In 1982 Abiye joined the Bank of Credit and Commerce International Ltd (BCCI) and rose to the position of Manager.
In 1991 his childhood friend, Henry Mac-Pepple invited him to Adamac Group of Companies to serve as Group General Manager. It is to Abiye’s credit that the organization has risen to its present corporate status. Bishop Carrie formally gave his life to Christ in June 1996 after the Lord sent him a messenger on 19th May 1996 while watching the Prophetic Watch TV programme of Royal House of Grace International Church. On that day the Lord expressly spoke to his heart saying, “Zilly is your teacher, go and learn of me from Him”. Quickly he made plans and joined the Church and was baptized. Bishop Abiye loves the Lord passionately and was one of those who became deacon barely seven months of his stay in the Church. By January 1998 he became one of the pastors ordained to harness the growth of the Church. Bishop Abiye Minini Samuel Carrie has had several encounters with the Lord, notably the healing of his sight in 1996 amongst others. He has attended several courses and seminar locally and overseas including the notable Joseph Business School, Chicago, IIIinois, USA. Bishop Abiye Carrie is happily married to beautiful Deaconess Chituru Carrie and they are blessed with three girls and one boy, namely Blossom, Flourish, Queen-Esther and Prince Samuel.
What does Scripture say about church government? Disagreements over this issue once split denominations---but few 21st-century Christians have a solid understanding of the principles that determine their own church leadership. This illuminating collection presents and critiques four approaches: Episcopalianism, Presbyterianism, Single-Elder Congregationalism, and Plural-Elder Congregationalism. A fair and balanced overview. (Resource Recommended: Who Runs the Church? 4 Views on Church Government Edited By: Steven B. Cowan, Paul E. Engle. By: Paul E. Engle & Steven B. Cowan, eds.)
Written By Dr. Lewis Akpogena