Baptist distinctives/doctrines vs. Baptist polity

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Michael Wrenn, Sep 2, 2012.

  1. Michael Wrenn

    Michael Wrenn
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    I've pondered this for quite a long time, even before my participation on this forum. We have also had some discussion about it in other places here.

    Which is more important and should take precedence if Baptist distinctives/doctrines conflict with Baptist polity? A Baptist distinctive is local church autonomy, where a majority in the local congregation makes the decisions; also, the local congregation owns its property. Imagine a couple of scenarios: (1) A majority of the congregation has a "Charismatic" experience and starts to accept and teach that interpretation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit; the minority does not go along with it, and a church split happens. Regardless of whether or not the association kicks this local church out, who should get the property -- the "Charismatic-believing majority, or the traditional Baptist-believing minority? And suppose the majority does not wish to stop being known as a Baptist church? I don't want to be insensitive to the minority, whose ancestors may have founded the church based on a non-charismatic, traditional Baptist teaching. So, in principle, which group should leave, and which group should be able to keep the property? If you side with the majority, you uphold Baptist polity; if you side with the minority, you uphold traditional Baptist doctrine.

    (2) Say that the denomination approves homosexual marriage and ordination; say also that a majority of a local congregation agrees with that and wants to maintain their denominational affiliation and identity. But the minority does not agree, and the church is split. Who should keep the property -- the majority, based on Baptist church autonomy, or the minority, based on adherence to traditional Baptist doctrine? Of course, the opposite could be true: the majority disagrees and want to leave the denomination and keep the property. With a reversion clause in place, the minority agreeing with the apostate denomination would get to keep the property.

    I am very interested to read people's comments about this. In other threads, I came down on the side of autonomy, but I admit this is tough and a sticky situation, and I don't want to be insensitive to any position, as I can see arguments on both sides.

    So, what takes precedence -- Baptist distinctives/doctrine or Baptist polity, when they conflict, as for example in the scenarios I have given?
     
  2. Bronconagurski

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    Whew! Those scenarios are too complicated. We usually just split because of the color of the carpet, and whoever won the color contest gets the church.
     
  3. Michael Wrenn

    Michael Wrenn
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    LOL That's funny. :)
     
  4. awaken

    awaken
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    There was a southern baptist church here that went through that. The older members (traditional baptist) left. THe other members (Charismatic) stayed.
     
  5. saturneptune

    saturneptune
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    On a similar situation, who gets the church assets if a church merely closes?
     
  6. Salty

    Salty
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    When our church closed - First, we paid all bill - then we gave the vast majority to the local association and State convention - and then the rest to the the church we (as as group decided) to attend (was not an official merger)


    Otherwise - a lot of the "split" could end up being decided by the courts.

    Thing to keep in mind - the church is the people - not the building. Yes, maybe the last 5 generations were all baptized, married and buried - but its just a building.
    I may be a bit insensitive - but its because, I have been a member of some 20 churches over the years with all my moving.
     
  7. Oldtimer

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    If a church simply closes there may not be any assets after all accounts have been settled. While I don't know for sure, I suspect that if the by-laws of the church don't stipulate disposition, there'll be state laws of some type to goven the actions of the trustees.

    Re: OP

    Personal opinion coming up.

    Where does property/assets enter the picture when obeying our Lord comes first? If a church moves in a direction that is contary to an individual's belief, then walk away. Period. Leave all of it behind, as you brush the dust off your feet.
     
  8. HeirofSalvation

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    As much as one is more "traditional" than the other...it is not strictly covered in our distinctives. Something very similar occured in the Church in which I was raised except that the majority merely booted out the minority folks who then started their own church. Both churches....30 years later...are as traditionally Baptist as the old one was before, are thriving and in great fellowship with one another!!!! Although, in my old church, they felt they had mistreated those whom they split with and formally sent delegates to them to apologize for what they later felt was their mis-treatment of them. Stricltly speaking, whether one is or isn't "charismatic" is not really covered by our Distinctives, so one cannot, I think, be refused the mantle "Baptist" because of a charismatic flair. No one up North of the Mason Dixon eats grits...but that doesn't mean that it would be illegal to. Nor does it mean that if one did, they would no longer be a northerner. Similarly, few Baptists are traditionally "charismatic"...but it isn't a distinctive for Baptists, I suppose the most it could be is the policy of a certain association, and well, our distinctives permit us to fellowship and join, or ditch any association we wish! We are an undisciplined lot aren't we ;)
     
  9. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    I think the natural inclination is to fight for the property, but part of me identifies with your opinion.

    For those so inclined, I know of one situation where a by-law provision mandates that if the institution ever begins to teach contrary to inerrancy of scripture, then it will shut down and the assets sold off. I know that's a poison pill and sounds drastic. But to walk away allows error to flourish.

    That's the dilemma. Walk away or fight. Or do you say, if we can't control it, the bad guys can't either.
     
  10. go2church

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    In a congregational setting, the "side" with the most votes wins.
     
  11. Michael Wrenn

    Michael Wrenn
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    Unless there is a reversion clause with regard to the property.
     
  12. go2church

    go2church
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    Even then a congregational church can change their bylaws.
     
  13. Tom Butler

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    This type of scenario happens so rarely, I suspect most churches do not have a mechanism in place to deal with it.

    In cases I'm familiar with, the losers generally leave.
     
  14. Revmitchell

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    If they put the reversion clause in the land title then the organization that it is to revert to would have to agree to changing the reversion clause as well.
     
  15. Michael Wrenn

    Michael Wrenn
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    I guess I didn't realize how attached I was to the principle of church autonomy until a good many years ago when I started preparing for the United Methodist ministry. Other than their new baptism statement which taught baptismal regeneration, the thing that I found impossible to accept was their church government where bishops appointed ministers and the minister had to do what the bishop said even if the congregation and minister wanted otherwise; the denomination owned the property; and the local churches were assessed by the denomination rather than their deciding how much to give beyond the local church. I found that as I went through the process toward ordained ministry, I would have to affirm acceptance of and agreement with the UMC church government; the only way I could have done that was to lie. And since I could not lie to become an ordained minister, any chance of ministry in the UMC fell by the wayside.
     
  16. Gregory Perry Sr.

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    God Bless You ....

    It is always refreshing in this day of compromise we live in to hear a story of allegiance to the Word of God and the God of that Word rather than compromising that truth to follow the dictates of a denomination. I am a baptist today simply due to the fact that I believe them to be, in general, more faithful to the truths and principles taught in God's Word on the whole. I am reminded that the only class of people that will spend an eternity in heaven will be God's people and there won't be any "denominations" there...Amen?! As much as I love life,this fallen world we live in is so full of disappointments. There will be NONE THERE!:applause:

    Bro.Greg:praying:
     
  17. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1
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    Would say that its NOT baptist doctrine/practices, but Christian ones!
    And that charasmatic operations would be view ina different fashion than Homosexual issues, at least in my baptist church, as the Gifts are debateable, but Homosexuality as a sin if lifestyle is not!
     

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