Independent baptists and the doctrine of a universal body of Christ

Discussion in 'Fundamental Baptist Forum' started by 360watt, Oct 10, 2015.

  1. 360watt

    360watt
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    I have discovered something, that I thought wasn't that common, but actually is a lot more accepted than what I thought.

    So, my church is independent missionary baptist, and one of the things that makes it 'independent' is the denial that a universal body of Christ exists on earth.

    We believe the bible teaches that the body of Christ is of local bodies..either speaking of one in particular eg. at Ephesus... at Antioch.. at Corinth, or is figurative for all local bodies--

    Like saying.. 'the body of Christ is the ultimate source for christian fellowship and teaching'-- this is of the local unit.. but not referring to one in particular. Same can be said for saying 'the dog'.. or 'the cat'.. or 'the horse'.

    We believe there will be one body of all believers united in heaven one day.. but on earth now, it does not exist.

    We would call every believer living and dead, members of the Family of God and Kingdom, not all part of a body of Christ.. a New Testament congregation/assembly of saved, baptised believers.

    So.. I thought this is what would make a church call themselves 'independent baptist'.. but I have learned now.. it AINT!

    Churches from the reformed tradition believe in a universal, invisible body of Christ.. methodist, anglican, lutheran, mennonites, presbyterian etc..

    It is along the lines of 'the body of Christ is every believer living and dead' or maybe 'ever believer living'

    So I have learned.. there are a whole lot of independent baptist who also believe this.

    They would believe in the body of Christ to be both local and universal. Churches and a wider body of all believers.

    But then.. what would make them 'independent'?
     
  2. TCassidy

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    I believe the church is local and visible. And I believe all the redeemed are "in Christ" "one with Christ" and "seated with Him in the heavenlies." In my understanding that is the "universal body of Christ" we are all united with.

    I believe each local congregation is a local body of believers belonging to Christ and thus a "body of Christ." Just like there is more than one student body and more than one body politic.

    However, I also believe the issue is mostly semantics. When somebody talks about "The Church" meaning "all the redeemed" My mind translates that into "The Family of God." Or if it is referring to the departed souls in heaven the "The Kingdom of God."

    I don't think the issue, being mere semantics, is worth fighting over or separating over. "Let each man be fully persuaded in his own mind." :D
     
  3. heisrisen

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    The bible says we are all members of one body. So how is there any way to dispute that? ((1 Corinthians 12:12-27-
    For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

    13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

    14 For the body is not one member, but many.

    15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

    16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

    17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

    18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

    19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?

    20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

    21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

    22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

    23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

    24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked.

    25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

    26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

    27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.))
     
  4. TCassidy

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    Who has tried to dispute it? We are all one with Christ. We are all "in Him." We are all "seated with Him in the heavenlies."
     
  5. TCassidy

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    I agree. That is why I consider it more a matter of semantics than of doctrine. I believe the Universal Church is a yet future assembly in heaven.

    Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
    23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
    24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

    :)
     
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  6. 360watt

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    This is also what I believe. I guess the reformed tradition idea.. is this universal church is here, now. It is universal and INVISIBLE.

    I would draw the line and say that it there is no 'one universal body' yet. All believers will be.. but would say like you do.. it is a YET FUTURE assembly.

    Even then-- it is still local and visible.. not 'invisible'

    I suppose it is arguing semantics.. but then if entering the body of Christ is actually through being saved.. then the likes of being 'baptised into the body of Christ' and 'baptism of the Holy Spirit' become about being saved.. and that is why I draw the distinction between the Family of God and Body of Christ.

    The Family-- no baptism involved for membership.. no requirements

    The body of Christ-- baptism is a pre-requisite for joining a local body.

    I think that is a big difference.
     
  7. rsr

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    The concept of a universal church among Baptists has not been confined to the Reformed tradition. It is explicitly stated in the Second London Confession, of course, but you will also find it spelled out in the General Baptists' Orthodox Creed of 1679 and the Helwys (General Baptist) confession of 1611 And, if you look closely, you can find it in the Generals' Midland Confession (1655).

    None of these considered the existence of the Church as impinging upon the independence of the churches.

    Helwys: That though in respect of Christ, the Church be one, yet it consists of diverse particular congregations, even so many as there shall be in the World, every of which congregation, though they be but two or three, have Christ given them, with all the means of their salvation, are the body of Christ and a whole Church.

    Second London: That being thus joined, every Church has power given them from Christ for their better well-being, to choose to themselves fitting persons into the office of Pastors, Teachers, Elders, Deacons, being qualified according to the Word, as those which Christ has appointed in His Testament, for the feeding, governing, serving, and building up of His Church, and that none other have to power to impose them, either these or any other.
     
  8. TCassidy

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    I agree with the Second London Confession. They even use the same proof text. :)

     
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  9. 360watt

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    As it is with my church.. we would have Lord's Supper only for the members of the local body and not for anyone outside of it.
     
  10. Salty

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    Independent Baptist simply means we have no ruling authority over the local church.
    I am pastor of a church that is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
    As such we are an independent Baptist church!
     
  11. TCassidy

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    In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul talks about a man who was living in such sin that it became necessary to expel him from the local church at Corinth.

    Paul then tells the church to "keep the feast" in verse 5 speaking of the Lord's Supper.

    He then says, in verse 11, "with such an one no not to eat" in the context of the Lord's Supper. In other words he is to be barred from partaking of the Lord's Supper.

    How can the church know who should not be allowed to participate if they don't know the person?

    The whole point of the Lord's Supper is the unity of the local congregation. But when an unknown person comes in the unity is placed in jeopardy and the congregation may be forced into unity with a wicked person. :)

    Of course our church does not practice closed communion, but close communion, sometimes called "denominational communion." We allow born again members of other churches of like faith and practice to participate.

    But, as I believe in "charity in all things" I won't make an issue of it. :)
     
    #11 TCassidy, Oct 11, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2015
  12. 360watt

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    Actually, I am not completely certain if it is only for my own church that we would have lords supper.. maybe 'of like faith and order' also..

    Need to check
     
  13. 360watt

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    Guess this is what I figured out now. Independent baptist doesn't mean local body of Christ only..

    Guess I WISH it would :)

    It is only semantics if entry to the Family of God is the same way.. eg saved by grace through faith in Christ.. gives you membership to the Family of God.

    I think it becomes an issue if you believe the body of Christ is every believer.. then membership to the body of Christ.. becomes being 'baptised into the body of Christ' or 'baptism of the Holy Spirit'.. which are not biblical concepts.

    Unless baptism of the Holy Spirit is using figurative language to speak of what happens when you are saved by grace through faith in Christ.

    Otherwise, baptism has something to do with your entrance to heaven...

    Anyway-- maybe starting to thrash a dead horse ? :)
     
  14. Zenas

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    I don't see how you can contemplate Hebrews 12:22-24 and deny that the universal church exists in the here and now. Look at the tense in V. 22:

    "But you have come to Mount Zion . . . ." (NASB)
    "But ye are come unto mount Sion . . . ." (KVV)
    "But you have come to Mount Zion . . . ." (NKJV)
    "But you have come to Mount Zion . . . ." (ESV)

    There are all present tense, not some future state of affairs as some say here. Yes, there is a universal church consisting of all the redeemed of all the ages.
     
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  15. Squire Robertsson

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    The question of can ekklesia include a universal "church" as well as a local one or canit only mean a local "church" has been debated since the 1850s. The most notable sector holding to a "local" only interpertaion is the Landmark movement. The "local only" interpertation also took root among Northern Baptists. James M. Pendleton one of the antebellum "Great Triumvirate" of the Lnad mark movement opposed secession and moved north in 1862. He helped found Crozer Seminary.
     
  16. 360watt

    360watt
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    Yes, so my church is pretty much missionary landmark baptist. Called landmark to do with not wanting to change from the 'landmarks' established by the distinctive nature of the first New Testament churches.
     
  17. 360watt

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    What is Mount Zion referring to?

    The Israel people?

    The Family of God?

    One particular place?

    Is it figurative?

    These things need to be considered.
     
  18. TCassidy

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    Yes, it is called the "Prophetic Perfect" tense. It reads like the present but is, in fact, a prophecy of a yet future event. We see it all the time in the Old Testament.

    Isaiah 5:13 "Therefore My people are gone into captivity, for want of knowledge; and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude are parched with thirst".

    Isaiah 10:28-32 "He is come to Aiath, he is passed through Migron; at Michmas he layeth up his baggage; They are gone over the pass; they have taken up their lodging at Geba; Ramah trembleth; Gibeath-shaul is fled. Cry thou with a shrill voice, O daughter of Gallim! Hearken, O Laish! O thou poor Anathoth! Madmenah is in mad flight; the inhabitants of Gebim flee to cover. This very day shall he halt at Nob, shaking his hand at the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem."

    Jeremiah 23:2 "Therefore thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, against the shepherds that feed My people: Ye have scattered My flock, and driven them away, and have not taken care of them; behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord."

    Amos 5:2 "The virgin of Israel is fallen, she shall no more rise; she is cast down upon her land, there is none to raise her up."

    :)
     
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  19. HankD

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    Another Christian enigma/paradox (notice I didn't say problem):

    In Matthew 16:18 ...I will build my church ... (singular).

    In Revelation 22:16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches (plural). I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

    BTW and FWIW, I have a category of enigmatic or paradoxical dogma named after a hymn: "Farther Along We'll Know All About It".

    Or "Not Worthy of a Fight".

    HankD
     
  20. TCassidy

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    Yep. At that time there was only one church, the one at Jerusalem.
    And at that time there were many churches.

    Pretty telling. :D
     
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