Another thread I started this morning, regarding how the clergy in the local Baptist churches in different areas are addressed has morphed into a discussion of pastoral authority. So I thought I would ask a pretty basic one and get your ideas: For those that believe the scriptures teach the pastor is somehow or to some extent in spiritual authority over the church members, how did that happen? Baptist churches do not baptize babies or those not seeking baptism on their own. So, if a person voluntarily joins a church, would they be seen as giving up authority to the pastor? I'm having a hard time getting my head around how a voluntary association with like minded believers becomes somehow a matter of the clergy of that association being in spiritual authority over the individual. Would seem the member is just as free to leave as he or she was to join. (And of course would seem the church is just as free to boot'em out.) But voluntarily associating, or not, is very different from being under authority. Can someone explain the counter viewpoint to me?