by Matt Slick
No, CARM is not a church. A church is where believers gather, worship God, hear the preaching of God's word and practice baptism and take communion under the headship of a pastor or pastors and elders. This doesn't happen at CARM (specifically, the discussion boards). It is true that Christians gather at CARM's discussion boards, that the gospel is preached there and praises are often offered to God by Christians, but there is no practice of baptism and communion; there is no pastor, and there is no eldership. Therefore, CARM is not a church.
Furthermore, a church has a pastor or pastors and elders. CARM does not have a pastor and elders. Some have tried to say that I am the pastor of CARM. In one sense I am in that I shepherd people. But I don't preach sermons on Sunday to anyone on CARM. We have no elders and we have no occasion to administer baptism and communion. Again, CARM is not a church.
What is the church?
The church is the entire body of believers. A church is a place of meeting of Christians who gather for the purpose of worship, hearing the word, and partaking of baptism and communion. The true church is comprised of those who are regenerated. The earthly church is comprised of both believers and non-believers. But, in the earthly church, again, the practice of baptism and communion occur and there is oversight from the pastor and elders. Again, CARM does not fit these criteria and is, therefore, not a church.
Some say I am the pastor of CARM
Some people have tried to say that I am the Pastor of CARM. As I have already said, in one sense I am in that I shepherd and give direction to CARM as a ministry. But again, I do not preach the word on a regular basis on Sundays, nor do I administer baptism, or communion to those who gather at the discussion boards. Furthermore, if I were a pastor in the church sense, as some are trying to promote, then are they accountable to me? Do they need to come to me for counseling, wisdom, preaching, and for receiving communion? Would they receive my pastoral discipline if necessary? I know none who would do that on the discussion boards. Again, CARM is not a church.
Women leadership on CARM
Unfortunately, there are some Christians who have a problem with a woman, Diane, being in charge of the discussion boards. Apparently, some male Christians do not like it that she is in charge there. Many of these people have tried to state that the CARM discussion boards are somehow a church; and that since I denounce women eldership and women in authority in the church (and properly so according to the pastoral epistles), they have tried to manufacture an inconsistency on my part. They say that the discussion boards function as a church and that Diane is functioning as an elder; therefore, she should step down. But there is no problem biblically because CARM, again, is not a church and Diane does not function as an elder in a church. She is a woman of God whom the Lord has raised up to work with CARM and administer the boards. She does a great job at it.
So, I say to those who do not like being under the direction of a woman on the discussion boards, you're always free to go somewhere else.