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Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JesusFan, Dec 29, 2011.
Is there an "official" position on this issue within baptist circles?
There is no "official" position about anything among Baptists.
As to this issue...most believe the local church is the visible expression of the eschatological invisible church which will meet, in total, after the eschaton.
preachinjesus summed it up pretty nicely - but there is a bit more "meat" on that bone to discuss - as some Baptists are far more "strict" in defining "The Church" - so much so that one might be led to think that the ONLY church was that local, independent body (not saying that is their actual doctrine, but that it is practically implied).
Other Baptists view both a "Universal Church" and the "Local Church", with the Local Church being as previously posted - the visible manifestation of "The Church". The trouble (and I suspect the reason for the initial question) is what do Baptists generally view in regards to "Universal Church". This really deserves some attention, as despite the historical debates and fuss, the issue really has never been settled (and I suspect it won't be until Christ's return).
Several views I have witnessed in "Baptist" Churches regarding a universal Church (in no particular order):
1. That the ONLY church is the local church - and that while local, legitimate (there's you a topic of discussion itself!), New Testament churches all are "the Church", they basically say that there is no "Universal Church".
2. That all Authentic Local New Testament Churches, by nature, make up the larger "Church" - and this is their reasoning for having specific articles of agreement/doctrinal statements to compare to other churches for co-operative ventures, acceptance of baptism/letters, etc.
3. And some point to a "Universal Church" made up of all born-again Christians, regardless of the "local church" they may or may not attend/be members of. They do not connect local church membership with membership in a Universal Church.
The problem that then is opened up - Who is the Bride of Christ? The Bible specifically says "The Church" - you know, the one He gave His life for. Didn't Jesus give His life for all sinners - but particularly those who would accept salvation? This might lead one to ponder that all Saved folks are "The Church"...
But then how does that align with the whole "Marriage Supper of The Lamb", where Christ's marriage to His Bride ("The Church", right?) is celebrated - who is there? IF all believers are "guests", then who is the Bride? If all believers make up "The Church", then who are those invited guests?
Maybe this should be another thread - but one way I have heard it put (not saying I do or don't buy this theory) - The Bride at this supper is "The Church", which is constituted of those who are born-again, members of True New Testament churches. The invited guests are those who were saved, but either never joined a church, or who were born-again, but chose to be part of false churches/denominations/etc.
I won't go any farther - as it really probably would justify a different thread.
i would say that the Body of Christ includes those died in the Lord, and all those living right now in Christ...
Universal Church just being total number of those in heaven on earth who were saved by God...
Local churches are seperate parts of that, as if local assemblies to the universal assembly..
ALL christians part of the Church, while Baptists are part of their local churches also!