A Pilgrim's Progress: The Safeguard of Multiple Voices
Eric Carpenter wrote a great post today. The traditional understanding is that the way you avoid heresy and false teaching is to have one guy appointed as the doctrinal watchdog. As long as he approves of a teaching, it must be OK and conversely if he declares something heretical, it also must be. We have created a de facto Protestant imprimatur. There is a real problem with this idea, an idea sadly demonstrated over and over throughout history: men are prone to wander into false teachings and pastors/elders are not any less likely (and in some ways perhaps more so) to succumb to this. When one guy is the gateway to what is or is not doctrinally sound, that local church is only as sound as the present stance of the pastor. That is why, as Eric wrote, the best safeguard in the church is a church with multiple voices. That is not to discount the value of mature men who help provide a sober, sound voice. As I have discovered there is a place for that sort of maturity in simple churches. It is to say that if the majority of the church is mute and passively observing, they are far less likely to speak up when something questionable is said.
A body of mute Christians taking all of their cues from one man is a body ripe for false teaching.