Is The Ministry God’s Government?, by Fred Coulter, with The Nicoliatans of Revelation 2 by J.H. Allen
Although I have in the past been rather critical of the author  and found his works difficult to read and enjoy, this booklet was a nice change of pace and was much easier to appreciate. There are at least a few reasons why this was the case. For one, the author and I both are highly critical of authoritarian regimes that seek to imprison people within a rigid structure. Reading this booklet, moreover, reminds me of the many years of argument I had with my father, whose beliefs were quite in accordance with mine except for the matter of government and authority. While this book does not go into a great deal of detail about the psychology of authoritarian rule, it certainly has a harsh view of it, viewing the imposition of an unbiblical hierarchy as a slight of hand by which agreement to be under the authority of God is taken as consent to rule by corrupt and unaccountable people who desire to lord it over others.
This attitude is continued not only in the main booklet, which contains a great deal of discussion comparing corporate structure with that of our “former association” and many who mimicked its structure and organization, but in the short treatise alongside it which looks at the implications of the Nicolaitans of Revelation 2 from the point of view of the meaning of the words. Here we have an issue of considerable textual importance. Many people connect the obscure Nicolaitans with the early deacon Nicholas, and argue that the group was a Gnostic group that despised the moral authority of God’s laws when it came to restraining themselves from immorality, but here the author seeks to tie this group to the growing authoritarian culture that one can see already in the Apostolic Fathers with regards to the letters of Ignatius and 1st Clement. The harsh divide between these two worldviews suggests the contentious nature of authority and its legitimacy within the Church of God. For it is clear that the author does not believe that the orderliness of God, something clearly seen in scripture, implies the sort of orders that we are used to in our contemporary fallen world, including its religious institutions.
Yet although I find myself in general agreement with the authors’ points, there are some cautionary words I must give about them. For one, even the most authoritarian of leaders tend to view themselves as servants. In the eyes of hostile outsiders and rivals, they may be the worst of tyrants, but they will consider themselves to be the servants of their people whose power is reluctantly held for their good and not for the ruler’s own good. Who can be a fair judge in such matters? Where is one to draw the line between loving service for the well-being of others that seeks to spur them on to development and the cultivation of people whose obvious talents at administration and research make it easy to groom them as authorities? A great many people simply do not want the responsibility of understanding God’s word and its application for themselves and would gladly outsource the burden to others, and that desire on the part of people to escape responsibility gives all the opening that is necessary for authorities who give people what they want. It is truly unfair to place all of the burden and all of the blame on those authorities for doing what is asked of them, unless we examine ourselves as well to reflect upon whether we are growing as God expects of us.
 See, for example: