Church membership

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by Salty, Mar 7, 2016.

  1. Salty

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    From another thread
    So how important is church membership?
    Do churches make to big of a deal of it?
    Do members disregard the need for membership?
     
  2. JonC

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    It is vitally important. Basically, church membership is being responsible for and account to others within the body of Christ. IMHO, one can be a Christian and not a member of a local assembly, but under normal circumstances I think this would be a mark of disobedience.

    People want to maintain independence, but Christians are not independent form one another.

    Sent from my TARDIS
     
  3. Jerome

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    'Biblical church membership' is one of the tenets of 9Marksism.
     
  4. Salty

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    Membership is a commitment -
    We need to be committed to Christ.
    and its best done thur our local churches.
     
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  5. 360watt

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    Talk about church and most people will say 'we are the church'

    So membership to them isn't important.. because they belong to a universal, mystical organisation that never meets, has no services and doesn't teach anything.

    The church-- (I know not everyone on this site believes this) is a local New Testament assembly, its members being the saved baptised believers who have committed to the church under Jesus, to follow the great commandment and commission.

    It is either of one church in particular in scripture like .. at Ephesus.. at Phillipi.. at Antioch..

    Or is put in the generic sense.. still about local churches.. but not one in particular.. for example.. 'the church is the pillar and ground of the truth' and 'on this rock I will be my church'

    I know.. I know..

    Every believer is referred to as it's own entity in the bible. YES. That is true.

    But every believer is referred to as part of the Kingdom and Family of God. That isn't 'the church'.

    Anyway .. repeating myself.

    Point being church membership is really important.. because the church is 'the pillar and ground of the truth'

    One thing I want to know is .. whose responsibility is it to baptise someone in a congregation?

    Does the pastor have to give the all clear before a member baptises someone?
     
  6. JonC

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    I agree. Too often our faith is taken solely as an individual matter. We are saved individually, but we also belong to the “body” being saved. We are saved to function with in a greater body of believers, and I’d add that no one is saved simply for the sake of salvation itself (we are saved to God’s glory and to a purpose).

    To answer your question, as Baptists it is dependent on the congregation to determine whose responsibility it is to baptize someone. If it is the pastor, then I would expect that he gives the “all clear,” and either does the baptism or another who has the approval of the church does the baptism. I’d imagine that churches differ here. I believe it is the congregation's (to include the pastor) responsibility to examine the candidate for baptism, with the ultimate responsibility residing on the pastor.
     
  7. rsr

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    The more noncomformist Baptists rejected that special authority was required to baptize.

    First London Baptist Confession: "The person designed by Christ to dispense baptism, the Scripture holds forth to be a disciple; it being no where tied to a particular church officer, or person extraordinarily sent the commission enjoining the administration, being given to them as considered disciples, being men able to preach the gospel."

    The Second London Confession obfuscated the point.
     
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  8. 360watt

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    I think this would stem off the belief that every believer is 'the church'. If membership to the body of Christ is getting saved and being part of every believer.. then there is no local church authority to baptise.

    If the body of Christ.. is actually a local body of believers.. then obviously the local body has then the authority.

    This is where the distinction between 'the church' being every believer.. or being only a local body..starts becoming quite important.

    Can it both local and universal? I don't believe scripture defines the church that way.

    I believe the body of Christ is joined when someone is accepted into membership of one of God's churches.. with part of the requirements for membership being full immersion baptism.

    I believe that person is saved and joins the Family and Kingdom of God.. BEFORE joining a body of Christ.
     
  9. rsr

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    I think you would be wrong that those Baptists believed "every believer is the church." They had a very high view of the church, often undergoing persecution for illegally assembling. They defended autonomy of the local church to the hilt, maintaining that God had endowed each congregation with all the gifts it needed to fulfill its mission. ("To each of these churches therefore gathered, according to his mind declared in his word, he has given all that power and authority, which is in any way needful for their carrying on that order in worship and discipline, which he has instituted for them to observe; with commands and rules for the due and right exerting, and executing of that power." Second London Confession)

    Their beliefs sprang more from a belief in the priesthood of the believer and a distrust of sacerdotalism.

    Those early Baptists also did not come down quite clearly on whether baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of the church or of the New Testament. (The Second London Confesses edges toward the former on baptism, I admit.)

    While you seem to draw very fine distinctions in the terminology used for the church, the early Baptists often were not quite that specific. And yes, the signers of the Second London Confession explicitly upheld the concept of the universal church. The First London Confession does not explicitly endorse the concept, but it holds that "And although the particular congregations be distinct, and several bodies, every one as a compact and knit city within itself; yet are they all to walk by one rule of truth; so also they (by all means convenient) are to have the counsel and help one of another, if necessity require it, as members of one body, in the common faith, under Christ their head."

    You are certainly welcome to air your opinions, but this is, after all, a history forum, and I approach questions from that angle.
     
  10. 360watt

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    No worries :)

    I know the distinction between whether 'the church' is every believer or not is not as big a deal when assembling as a church is upheld to the hilt like you say.

    It becomes an issue when entry to the body of Christ is taught as receiving Christ. I think once that is taught.. then you end up getting tied up in all sorts of binds with scripture.

    But anyway.. it is really interesting to know the history of baptist churches. I would like to see though more recognition of baptistic churches around before the reformation and before catholicism. The evidence of these may be broken up. but it is real.
     
  11. JonC

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    I think the issue many have is the idea of Landmarkism and the fact that "baptistic" doesn't mean Baptist. It's obvious we share a spiritual kinship with those pre-Reformation baptistic churches in terms of those doctrines we share. I've always been amazed that, given the influence of the more "radical" reformers, some seem to believe Reformed churches discovered biblical baptism and baptistic church government in a vacuum. I also find it amazing that others fail to recognize doctrinal distinctions between Baptists and those baptistic churches (that our distinctiveness is baptistic, but our doctrine as a whole is not).

    But I wholeheartedly agree that our history (including both baptistic and Reformed influences and influencers) is very interesting. It is sad that we have people who minimize or ignore one part in favor of another. History is, itself, objective. Unfortunately often times (much too often) it becomes subjective in the telling. I think churches would benefit by studying and teaching not only Church history as a whole but also the histories associated with their paticular denomination.

    Sent from my TARDIS
     
    #11 JonC, Mar 16, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
  12. 360watt

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    Yes it's a strange idea that belief in believers baptism only.. local church governance alone.. tithing.. Lords Supper.. Jesus as God alone with no idolatry worship.. would begin with the reformation.

    The earliest NT churches taught these key doctrines that some baptist churches hold to now. It makes no sense whatsoever to say there was some kind of 1000 + year gap between the earliest churches teachings and the reformation ....of clear biblical teaching.

    May be a big part of this.. is what church history has actually been written down has mostly (until probably the last 50-100 years) come from the Reformers and Catholics. So they have a vested interest in keeping their own idea of church preserved.


    Those churches that were recognised often got written up as if they are heretical.. but that is coming from Roman Catholic, Reformers or even just secular sources.

    These churches also got lumped together with people's names.. rather than recognising them as linking to the earliest christian churches. Eg.. calling them Waldenses.. after the man with the last name 'Waldo'.. but those churches didn't start with Waldo.

    Waldo was a prominent figure in those churches.. but the churches themselves had existed for a long time in the valleys around Piedmont.. who had gone there to seek refuge from persecution.

    Catholics would either say 'they were still part of the universal, catholic church' ..or would say 'they were not believers at all and heretics'

    But these churches never adhered to anything Catholic.

    Reformers would probably say they are also the kin of their churches. But the key doctrines of the likes of these churches is very different to Anglicans.. Methodists.. Lutherans.. Presbyterians etc.. when you really get down to it.
     
  13. JonC

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    The good thing is the fact that the RCC believed those doctrines to be heresy. We can look through history at men who stood for many of our beliefs in the face of persecution because of the accuracy of the persecutors. They needed nothing more than a free Church or a believers baptism to justify to themselves their actions. Men like Jan Hus belong to our spiritual heritage.

    Yet men like Luther also belong to our heritage. We have to remember that those baptistic churches also gave their voice to the Protestant movement. Luther actually referenced 1 Jn 2:19 towards this fact.

    It would be interesting to list those doctrines we gained from those baptistic churches along with those we gained from the Reformation. I think most, if not all, of those doctrines that separate us from other churches of the Reformation can be traced back to these baptistic churches. Probably most, if not all, of our doctrines that separate us from those baptistic churches originated with the Reformation (or were carried forward by the Reformers).



    Sent from my TARDIS
     

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