Various Christian bodies have defined the extent of civil authority and ecclesiastical authority in different ways. For example, in Reformed churches, the authority of the church is viewed as ministerial and declarative rather than ultimate and intrinsic. God, and God alone, has the absolute right to bind the consciences of men. Our consciences are justly bound to lesser authorities only when they are in conformity to the Word of God.
From: Can I Trust the Bible by R. C. Sproul; The Crucial Questions Series, No. 2 (Orlando: Reformation Trust, 2009) p. 8. Previously published in 1980 and 1996 with different titles.