It’s one of the most intriguing concepts, if not contradictions, central to the Community of Christ. It’s referenced in the very front of the “Church Administrator’s Handbook.” It is the reason the church upholds the rule of common consent. It is why church leaders emphasize the importance of consensus. The tension in this idea is why the church feels like a hierarchy, even though it tries to say its not. The idea is central to our polity and how the church functions as a body. The idea is theocratic democracy.
Theocratic democracy makes more sense in the way its lived out. In the church, the “theocratic” portion of the church’s body is its priesthood. Denominationally, the theocratic structure is comprised of the church’s leading quorums: the First Presidency, the Presiding Bishopric, and Quorum of Twelve Apostles. Next is the Seven Quorums of Seventy, the Order of Bishops, Quorum of High Priests, and so on. In congregations, the theocratic structure of the church-body is the local priesthood: the presiding Elder, Elders, and Aaronic Priesthood. The democratic structure of the church is its voting conferences. Conferences operate at the congregational, judicatory (mission center), and International church levels. Every Priesthood call must be supported by these conferences. Church policies, legislative functions, theological issues, all are handled by church conferences. Conferences have tremendous power, if that power is organized and executed well. But, like every democracy, it takes time, effort, and grass roots work. Continue reading