Baptists and Authority

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Crabtownboy, Aug 6, 2008.

  1. Crabtownboy

    Crabtownboy
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    I started this thread because Pastor Larry and I have been discussing the issue of women teaching and have begun discussing authority. Rather than derail that thread, which I find an interesting one, I though I would start a new thread.

    I believe, what I think is the traditional Baptist belief, that no one has authority over another Christian. Others can state this position better than I.

    I also believe the following:

     
  2. swaimj

    swaimj
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    How can a church discipline a member who is in sin if that church does not have authority over that individual?
     
  3. Crabtownboy

    Crabtownboy
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    That is a good question. In the past Baptist did discipline members. I bet it was done in the way Baptist have traditionally done things, an agreed upon discipline for an agreed upon trangrassion. I am not an expert by any means of the imagination on church discipline. If there is authority over church members in a Baptist church it is because those members have agreed upon giving that authority to the church body. I believe it would be very un-Baptist for a congregation to blindly follow the wishes of a single person, be he/her the pastor or a person of influence when it come to discipling a fellow member. It would take a vote of the entire church.

    The congregation could withdraw membrership from the person being disciplined, but they could not revoke that person's salvation any more than they could grant a person salvation.

    Very interesting question.
     
  4. ReformedBaptist

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  5. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    The only power a church has over its members is whether that member will be a ble to fellowship with it. When a member commits flagrant sin, the ulitmate power is to "withdraw fellowship." A repentant ex-member may request to be "restored to fellowship."

    Generally, a church's by-laws will set the terms of membership (public confession of faith, scriptural baptism, attendance, financial support).

    If a church votes to go in a certain direction, and a member opposes it, the member may must decide to either go along, or to publicly and continually oppose it. Continue opposition would be divisiveness, and cause for exclusion.

    Submission to authority in a church is voluntary, and the only remedy for refusal to submit is exclusion.
     
  6. Aaron

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    Soul compentency (what a horrid term) and priesthood-of-the-believer doctrines were stated in response to doctrines teaching that believers needed official priests to intercede on their behalf, and that only those priests could rightly interpret the Scriptures, or even had the right to read or possess a copy of the Scriptures.

    It seems that some here are taking these Baptist distinctives to mean that a man can do what is right in his own eyes and still be in good standing with Christ and His church.

    The fact of the matter is that we are all responsible to and for one another.
     
  7. JustChristian

    JustChristian
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    This seems to only deal with Reformed practices. The first Baptists were general Baptists.
     
  8. Timsings

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    The real issue here is balance of discipline and mercy. Most of the issues of divisiveness of members within their churches should be dealt with informally outside of formal business sessions. Only on extremely rare occasions should they be allowed to progress to church action. I am familiar with a few instances. First, my church expelled some members in the 1920's or 1930's, but I have not refreshed my memory on the reasons. Second, my in-laws were kicked out of their church along with five other tithers for "non-support of the pastor". They refused to be rubber-stamps for his programs. Finally, we have followed the course of the problems at Two Rivers BC here in Nashville. Seventy-one members voted out because of their involvlement in a lawsuit against the pastor, and the pastor agreed to leave with a generous severance package.

    Authority cuts both ways. As some have said here, it only has teeth when the members recognize and submit to it. But its legitimacy is called into question when those exercising authority misuse it for their own ends. I'm firmly convinced that my in-laws' situation was an abuse of the church's authority by the pastor. And, I suspect that the Two Rivers' expulsion of the seventy-one dissenters represented an abuse. These situations call the church's authority over its members into question. It shows why being baptist is so hard. We can't pass our problems on to a denominational board or committee set up for dealing with them. We have to deal with them ourselves. We know the people involved. We know the issues. We have to decide. We can't pass the buck. Our only choice is to act responsibly or to act irresponsibly.

    Another thing that I have not seen mentioned in this thread is "the leading of the Holy Spirit". When I have seen these four freedoms defined when I was in Training Union (remember that?), especially the freedom to interpret the Bible for myself, it was always under the leading of the Holy Spirit that this freedom was to be exercised. Without the Holy Spirit, this freedom was being abused.

    Tim Reynolds
     

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