Congregational Rule

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Revmitchell, Jan 10, 2008.

  1. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    Congregational Rule is seen by many as a Baptist distinctive. Can you defend it biblically? Is the Pastor or Pastors/Elders to be accountable to the congregation according to scripture? This is not about the dangers of not doing so. this is purely to be based on a scriptual foundation.
     
  2. canadyjd

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    Matt: 18:15-20 Our Lord's teaching concerning church discipline puts the final judgment in the hands of the whole church.

    Acts 15:22 Concerning the instructions to be given to Gentile converts, it seems that apostles, elders and "the whole church" were involved in the decision.

    Perhaps that's a start.

    peace to you:praying:
     
  3. TCGreek

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    According to Scripture, elders where the ones who had the oversight and shepherding duties over the local church (Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Tim 5:17; 1 Pet 5:1-4).
     
  4. canadyjd

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    But even elders were subject to church discipline, weren't they? They aren't a special class of Christians that are not accountable to the Body of Christ, are they?

    peace to you:praying:
     
  5. TCGreek

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    1. But that doesn't take away from the fact that the Scripture has enjoined on the elders the oversight over the local church.

    2. Yes, elders are accountable to the chief Shepherd of their souls--Jesus Christ:

    "So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; [2] not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory."

    3. Elders have a delegated oversight over the flock of Christ.
     
  6. webdog

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    I don't recall sheep having any authority over shepherds...
     
  7. TCGreek

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    Good one, webdog. :thumbs:
     
  8. DHK

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    In 1Cor.5:1ff, Paul rebuked the entire congregation for not having disciplined already that one that had committed immorality. The "congregation" had that responsibility, and they hadn't done it.
     
  9. TCGreek

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    Of course, the local church has a responsibility to care for itself, but this in no way nullifies eldership oversight (Acts 20:17, 28).
     
  10. John of Japan

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    Don't carry the symbolism too far. We shepherds are to be the servants of the sheep, unlike a keeper of animals (John 13:1-15). The shepherd leads the congregation ("bishop" can be translated "manager"), but can be fired by the congregation for immorality or false doctrine (1 Tim. 5:19-20).

    Having said that, woe be it to the congregation who touches God's man without good reason (Ps. 105:15). My father once pastored a church seeing great results in the South during the '60's. Disputes arose, including over a black sailor brought into the services who my father allowed to come. A movement rose against Dad in the church and they fired him in a bitter, nasty business meeting with lapsed members called in to vote. Shortly after, God judged the ringleaders one by one: a car accident, cancer, etc. (My sister can give the details of each judgment.) But Dad was never the same. The trial hurt him deeply, and he was never again so blessed in his ministry.

    Beware to the sheep and beware to the shepherds.
     
  11. TCGreek

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    Thank you, John, for this balance and the personal touch, as well. :thumbs:
     
    #11 TCGreek, Jan 10, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 10, 2008
  12. John of Japan

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    The implications of this thread are far deeper than most would think. It strikes deep in my heart. My sisters could vote, but I was not allowed in the business meeting. My brother sneaked in anyway, but was deeply hurt by something said by a ringleader. I won't go into details, but that man's careless remark did great spiritual damage for decades not only to my brother but to all influenced by him--and he is a man with great secular influence--was a leader in the Alabama civil rights movement in the 1970's, for example.

    We do well to consider deeply and soberly our responsibilities as church members and leaders before God.
     
  13. John of Japan

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    I'm not sure I understand you here. Is it not always dangerous to not obey Scripture? Is it not a valid debate technique to point out the ramifications of a position?
     
  14. TCGreek

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    John,

    Here's the grind: We allow our thinking to be shaped by personal interests, which were shaped by our ungodly society, and so we cannot think biblically, the way God would have us to think.

    Sometimes, I wonder if our people really are willing to think biblically, or do they revert to worldly agendas when it suits them?

    ***Edited.
     
    #14 TCGreek, Jan 10, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 10, 2008
  15. John of Japan

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    Well said, TC. Hopefully, though, Revmitchell will get on the thread he started and clarify for us. :flower:
     
  16. Tom Butler

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    I understand the arguments for elder-led churches. If, however, congregation-ruled churches are a Baptist distinctive, there must be a good reason. I'm a little hesitant to throw out at least 150 years of such practice.

    My reading of scripture suggests that the elders who ruled over and were to be shepherds were to exercise authority and leadership, not monolithic dictatorship. I can't imagine their deciding on building a building or making a purchase unilaterially without taking it to the congregation.

    John of Japan related a sad experience of a congregation acting in an un-Godly way. I am also aware of elder-led congregations in which the elders took the congregation in directions it clearly did not want to go.

    I guess my point is that when ungodly leaven is in the church, the style of government is irrelevant.
     
  17. TCGreek

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    Tom Butler,

    Scripture should always trump tradition and say, You're Fired!
     
  18. Revmitchell

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    What I have found in such discussions that folks will describe why the like or dislike something or why they "think' it is dangerous with no consideration of scripture. The dangers should never be separated from scripture.
     
  19. Tom Butler

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    Oh, I agree completely. I doubt, however, that early Baptists snatched the congregational government idea out of thin air. In fact, there are instances in the NT where the congregation made decisions.

    Acts 6: 1-7 The congregation chose the seven. V. 5, "It pleased the whole multitude and they chose Stephen......"

    Acts 11:22 (Upon hearing of a large number of conversions at Antioch) "...The tidings of these things came to the ears of the church which was at Jerusalem, and they sent forth Barnabas that he should go as far as Antioch."

    Acts 15:22 "...then it pleased the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to send chosen of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas..."

    Paul, writing to the church at Rome, wrote to "all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints. (1:7)

    In chapter 14:1, he wrote to those same saints "Him that is weak in the faith, receive ye...."

    The congregation is given the power to discipline members.

    Matthew 18:17 "If he shall neglect to hear them [2 or 3 witnesses], tell it to the church, but if he neglect to hear the church let him be to you as an heathen man and a publican.

    There is no question that elders have oversight responsibility in a congregation. There is also no question that the congregation was not a potted plant here. It also had great responsibility and the authority to carry it out.
     
  20. TCGreek

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    1. I quite agree with this--elders having the oversight over the local church does mean the whole church has decision making ability.

    2. But the Holy Spirit has made certain men as overseers to shepherd the local church (Acts 20:28).

    3. Paul speaks of elders who rule well (1 Tim 5:17).

    4. The Hebrew writer says, "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you" (Heb 13:17).

    5. Paul writing to the Philippians speak of overseers and deacons, singling out these functions (1:1).

    6. But the congregation can say to the elders, "We will like for you to step down because you're bringing reproach on God's people."

    7. Neither should the elders be dictators, making decisions apart from the knowledge of the local church.

    8. You're right is seeing both having a distinct responsibility to execute.
     

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