Project Title: Swimming Against the Tide: A History of the Leadership System of the Apostolic Church of Queensland

Principal Advisor: Associate Professor Rick Strelan

Project Abstract: The thesis is situated in the literature of the history and sociology of sects. It examines the history of the unorthodox leadership system of a small Australian sect, the Apostolic Church of Queensland (ACQ), which has sustained its sectarian character for over a century in an increasingly pluralist society. The principal markers of sectarian character for the sect are exclusivity and elite in sole possession of the truth. The thesis argues that the endurance of the ACQ’s sectarian character is due to the preservation of a leader-centric worldview. A core element of this worldview is that the gift of the Holy Ghost (the ACQ continues to use this terminology for the Paraclete even though many denominations now use the term ‘Holy Spirit’), is only available through the laying on of hands of the restored apostolate of the early Church. The ACQ calls this endowment of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands the sacrament of ‘sealing’. The sectarian marker of exclusivity arises from the sect’s claim that the restored apostolate is the only ordinance approved by Christ to lead His Church. The sect’s claim that only those sealed with the Holy Ghost by living apostles can become members of the Bride of Christ gives rise to the sectarian marker of elite in sole possession of the truth. The history of the sect’s apostle office-centric worldview is analysed using sociological tools, specifically, a neo-Hutchian leadership typology. The neo-Hutchian leadership typology is a synthesis of Richard Hutch’s leadership typology and Edward Shils’ neo-Weberian conception of charisma. This analysis has revealed that the sect’s leader-centric worldview is best preserved by ideal type leaders. An ideal type leader is one who is able to successfully execute all three neo-Hutchian leadership styles of Self-Encountering, Group-Containing, and Tradition-Managing at high levels of charisma. Throughout the history of the sect, ideal type leaders have emerged in response to external and internal threats to the apostle office-centric worldview and thereby ensured the sustenance of sectarian character. This is particularly so for the traditionalist faction of the sect. However, sectarian character in the liberal faction of the sect has not fared so well because this faction has relinquished its traditional claim to a mortgage on the Holy Ghost.

On this site