That is a hefty title for a book that weighs in significantly on understanding New Testament leadership. “Authority, Accountability, and the Apostolic Movement,” by Dr. Stephen Crosby, provides a thorough, Scriptural look at spiritual authority that is not about hierarchy, domination, and control.
Crosby is particularly concerned about the positional leadership that is being espoused through the new “apostolic movement,” but his teaching challenges every aspect of modern church leadership and is important if we are going to see a leadership emerge that truly comes under, serves, gives away, empowers, and releases the church to be fully surrendered to God without human intermediaries.
Here are some quotes to give you a taste:
The themes of honor and submission to authority are, of course, legitimate. They are in God’s Word. However, they are subordinate themes. When presented in a priority and hierarchical way of obligation, rather than the mutuality found in the “one-anothers” of Scripture, and if void of a death and resurrection spirit, empty of love and service, they become hopelessly contaminated and betray the Spirit of Christ…
When these subthemes are emphasized, a church environment can become like a spiritual plantation where the apostle is the master and production overseer of the plantation and subordinates are the slaves, not sons.
Crosby is particularly concerned about using Old Covenant leadership as a model for the New Covenant church in which every believer is filled by the Spirit and called to the priesthood:
The Old Covenant leadership practices belong in the same category as Levitical practices: interesting insights, but in application, not appropriate for the present age.
Crosby does an in-depth study of terms, in the New Testament, that are often used to suggest that one believer is to exercise authority over another. Interestingly, the one term that distinctly means to “exercise authority over another” (exousia) is never used in the context of human leadership as in one person exercising authority over another. In fact, Jesus clearly taught that this type of hierarchical leadership, which is normally seen in the world, should not be emulated by the church.
So then, what are the roles of those leadership gifts that are in Scripture:
The role of the Ephesians 4 minister is as equipper and releaser of others into their visions, not getting his/her own vision and making others submit to it.
Crosby provides a scholarly discussion on the subject of the so-called “spiritual covering.” He also offers an important chapter on the danger of taking the spiritual father-son metaphor farther than it is meant to be taken.
In short, this book is a huge step in the direction of elevating the church to be the church, under God’s leadership, served and supported by leaders without rank, position, or domination. This is precisely what is needed to see God’s church, again, as a movement—multiplying, spreading, and empowering every believer.