I might consider being Catholic if I could be the Pope.
Pope Ayers, that sounds good.
I might consider being Methodist, Evangelical Lutheran or Episcopalian if I could be a bishop. No, just being one bishop among many bishops wouldn’t work.
Actually, Pope Ayers or Bishop Ayers will never sound good to me. While I might personally enjoy being Pope or Bishop I just don’t believe Popes and Bishops are worth the risk. Bad Popes and bad Bishops can be very bad for the kingdom of God. Just ask GLBT Christians who have a bad Pope or a bad Bishop.
Luther called the bad Pope of his day the Antichrist, and went so far as to question not only some decrees of the church councils but their authority itself. Luther, however, did not set out to eliminate ordained priests and bishops. “He recognized their offices and assignments; they simply were not to remain a superior class that held unique power and sanctions.”
“The evangelicals had to establish some form of church order, but [Luther] insisted that they dare not claim that any of their choices was a unique divine creation prescribed in the Bible. Looking left, Luther saw Thomas Muntzer and the Zwickau prophets creating disorder, while on the right the papacy governed through overly ordered policies. He complained: ‘Formerly the devil made us too papistic, and now he wants to make us too evangelical.’” (Martin E. Marty, Martin Luther: A Life) Luther wanted balance between order and chaos, with clergy and bishops of the churches performing functions rather than misusing power.
Luther was right; there is no perfect formula for the right balance to order and chaos.
Communities can get chaotic on a dime, in a New York second. It is best if there are clergy and members of a congregation who through the power of their lived out faith in the community can keep a congregation from becoming too crazy or allowing individual members of a congregation to spoil the church’s soup. However, sometimes congregational churches just have to see temporary chaos as the high cost of being congregational.
In chaotic times in congregational churches we are tempted to be Catholic, Methodist or Episcopalian, but the temptation quickly fades. Aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each polity, we remain forever humble. And we pray that God’s kingdom will come in spite of the church.