#2: Protestant Church of Christ teachers assert, by quoting 1 Peter 5:1-2, So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder . . . Tend the flock of God that is in your charge . . . , that St. Peter lays a limitation on the oversight of elders.
Wharton and the Protestant Church of Christ prefer to focus on the words Tend the flock of God that is in your charge, and suggests that St. Peter was teaching that all local churches (local elders) should refrain from mingling with other assemblies. However, the words, So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder, are dismissed. In other words, your group’s proof for local church autonomy uses a passage that illustrates how a fellow [external] elder is instructing a local church on how to behave! How, then, are the local churches “autonomous” when they are dependent on an external elder for instruction? And how, of course, are your modern congregations “autonomous” when they too rely on external elders for their instructions—their letters that the hierarchy stamped as Scripture and provide the material for your group to argue against the hierarchy? Again, the Catholic model is reflected in the passage:
Christ Jesus > Apostles, Bishops > Elders
Wharton notes that the passage does in fact teach local church assemblies are entrusted to the local elders, but he fails to connect the course of how, specifically, elders are entrusted with their flocks; possibly because every example of an elder taking charge of his flock in the New Testament was orchestrated by the hierarchy, as the next proof illustrates.