1. The Roman Catholic Church centers authority and rule first in Councils, then in the Pope. They made the Pope infallible and "the voice of God" in delivering decisions and teaching for the RC church. All members are to accept this rule and obey. The members have neither voice nor vote in what is the official doctrine and practice.
2. The various denominations center authority in their conferences, conventions, and councils. In their theologians, scholars, and clergy. The members are expected to accept the teaching set forth by their respective Pastor or priest and obey the official teachings of their church. They are to accept and follow the Creed or doctrinal positions of their Church.
3. In the last fifty years or so, the Church of Christ churches, based upon pressure and teaching from the preached clergy, have more and more centered authority and control, in these churches, in the Eldership. The claim is that the Eldership has the "divine authority" to make all the decisions for the local church in all matters of judgment. They are not required by God or man to consult with the members in making whatever decisions they believe to be best for the local church. Many of the C of C preachers claim that the Elders have the "divine right" (something like the Pope has!) to make all the final decisions for the local church and their word is final. Such teaching and practice is wholly contrary to God's word.
Some preachers have even argued that in matters of judgment "the voice of the Eldership" is "the voice of God;" hence, the members must accept the decisions and obey. Some preachers have proclaimed that Elders exercise "the authority of Christ" in these decisions. Also, it is preached/taught that "to rebel against the Eldership is to rebel against God". In many congregations / churches the Eldership is the Pope of the church. Their decisions are final. They rule and control by an assumed "divine decree" from God.
But someone says: "Scripture demands that we are to obey the elders". It is true, that the King James translation especially, as well as two or three other translations, have tried to make the translation demand that saints are to "obey them that have the rule over you" (Heb. 13:17 in the KJ Version), meaning that elders do have "authority" to "rule" over the people. This is not true. Elders may do us a service and teach and lead us in the ways of the Lord Jesus; but the Lord Jesus has not given to elders or the Pope the right to "rule" over any one of us. They may serve us as teachers and shepherds, but we have only ONE RULER or LORD, and that is Jesus Christ. Jesus clearly said: "ALL authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth" (Matt. 28:18); and that does not leave any authority over His people for anyone else anywhere, neither the Pope or the Elders. An elder may teach and lead me, but he cannot "rule over" me! I have only ONE LORD and HE rules my life as fully as I can surrender to HIM to do His will! cah