This was mentioned in another thread, but to me, this points out a difference between Protestant mainline denominations and Baptists. The Catholic church is a universal, visible church. The Protestant church is a universal, invisible church. The Baptist church is a local, visible church. The first two have hierarchies. The first one resulted in the second one. The third one is uniquely distinct. The concept of a universal church in the Baptist faith really only has meaning in relation to the unity of all believes in Jesus Christ, which will really have no function until we get to glory. The universal church never spread the Gospel, never administered ordinances, never took up an offering, never helped the poor, never conducted a worship service, and never comforted fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. The fact that the first two churches have hierarchies is striking. Local Baptist churches do fine calling their own pastors, forming their own church covenant, and adminsitering their own property. Why does a church need layers of government? Is this what the Lord intended? Do we really need higher input to choosing a pastor or setting a budget? The fact is that humans are humans. There is nothing spiritually special about an elected bishop, presbyter, cardinal, or super elder. There are as many spiritually mature men in a local congregation as these high level organizations. It boils down to a lot of wasted layers of church management that does very little to nothing for carrying out the work of the Lord. Why do the Protestants find it necessary to mimic the Catholic model of government after the Reformation? What spiritual qualities does it bring to the church? Here on earth, the here and now, the focus of ministry is the local church. There is nothing wrong with local churches working together for the Lord. That is why we have associations, state organizations, and other alliances. However, that is where it should stop. The last thing a local church needs is to be infected by higher level theological politics. Within the context of the local church, each church has the right to set its own form of government. In fact, some Baptist churches have actually voted in elder government around the local area. I have no problem with elder government as long as the elders are elected because of spiritual qualities and not social standing. Elder rule can become elder worship. The same is true of a congregational government, when deacons are elected and they form a board to act as elders instead of the servants they are suppose to be. Looking at the three models, which one do you think preserved the true New Testement Church before the Reformation? Don't get me wrong, the Reformation was a great thing. Protestants are a giant leap forward, even with the hierarchies.