The Local Church - Baptist theology's weakest link?

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Matt Black, Oct 14, 2004.

  1. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    Is Baptist ecclesiology - particularly the stress on the local church but I'm happy for us to talk about congregational government too if that's what people want - merited from Scripture or is it part of our (unwritten and unspoken of) Tradition (which we would like to believe is based on scripture)?

    Discuss!

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  2. Artimaeus

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    I have no problem with local shurch organization being "different" then scripture as long as it isn't contradictory. It seems that the Bible gives us the skeleton of how things are and we have some latidtude as to fleshing out the body, but some seem to think that gives us the freedom to set things up just any which way we want.
     
  3. Pastor Larry

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    I think Baptist ecclesiology is one of its strengths. There are a great many gospel preaching groups that fall way short on what the Bible describes the local body should be like. The stress on the local church is a distinctively NT ideal. The lack of stress on the local church is what has led to a weak church and maverick Christians that the NT knows nothing about.
     
  4. Matt Black

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    So, to which 'local church' were Jesus' remarks in Matt 16:18 and Matt 18:17 referring and similarly Paul in Eph 1:22-23 and Col 1:18?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  5. gb93433

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    I think too many get a chance to vote on issues in the church. If you think about the idea that the average person sitting in the church never leads one person to Christ in an entire life time and can vote on issues to do God's work then they are not personally then how can God be glorifiesd through practical atheism. How can someone profess to be a believer and never share their faith?

    Several years ago I heard a preacher in the area where I was living talk about how someone became a member in their church. To become a member they must have led someone to Christ.

    God's business is not a democracy including the disobedient but rather a theocracy including the obedient.

    In a democracy there are always winners and losers. This kind of climate creates opportunitites for division and polarization. That is the reputation Baptists have.
     
  6. pastorjeff

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    I am a firm believer in the autonomy of the local church, but I ahve to question a person having to lead someone to Christ beforwe becoming a member. A person should share the story and be willing at all times to give a reason for the hope that is inm them, but they can't control who recieves Christ. It is God that gives the increase. That is going alittle too far.
     
  7. Pastor Larry

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    Perhaps someone who believes that can answer. I sure can't, since I don't believe he was referring to a local church. He was referring to the invisible church, which is his body.

    However, the vast majority of "church" references in the Bible are to local churches.

    Perhaps in some cases.

    True, but outside the realm of Baptist polity. The discussion is about what the NT teaches about church polity, not how many modern Christians don't share their faith.

    I think, as a whole, there is no one precedent. Some churches vote on practially nothing. Some vote on everything. Someone asked me one time what we vote on here. I said we vote on things I can win. If I can't win, I am not bringing it to a vote. That would cause dissension and hinder leadership. You must bring people along to a place where they vote to support things. There are too often too many things brought up for a vote that should not be brought up for a vote. You don't have to vote on everything. In fact, you should not vote on things. I think you vote on things that affect the whole body and are vital to the carrying out of the ministry.
     
  8. pastorjeff

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    I think many forms of gov. are valid and work. I don't believe the scripture teaches congregation rule, but it doesn't prohibit it either. It works in many churches and I think the scripture leaves room for that to work.
     
  9. DeaconLew

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    The church that the Lord was referencing in Matthew 18 was the church where the infraction occured. Baptists are not papists. If we have a problem in the body, we do not go the to pope.

    In Mattew 16, however, he is not speaking of any particular church, but rather any church that does was Peter did. "Upon this rock will I build my church." The rock afore mentioned was the rock of confession. I know this is true, because when Peter denied the Lord he was on the path to backsliding. And went so far that the Holy Ghost in Mark suggested that Peter was no more a disciple. We see the result of his lack of confession in the book of John where he left the ministry and went fishing taking others with him.
    Confessing Jesus is not just saying that you know he died for your sins, it is actually living like he died for your sins.

    Now then, the church is a called out assembly, right. Where and when does the universal church assemble? I know where Kingdom Baptist Church assembles, and I am sure you know when yours does.

    The body of Christ, is in question in Ephesians. The question may arrise out of the Local Church doctrine, how many bodies does the Lord have? He has one. The passage says "...and gave him to be the head over all things to the church..." He is over all things where the church is concerned. The phrase "...which is his body..." denotes relativity. Jesus is as relative the church as your hand is relative to your arm.

    WHICH, pron. relative or substitute. [I have not found this word in any other language. I think it may be from the root of quick. See What and Wight.]
    1. A word called a relative or pronoun relative, because it relates to another word or thing, usually to some word that precedes it in the sentence. I call it also a substitute, as it supplies the place of a noun, or of an adjective, or of a sentence or clause. 1. The garden which I cultivate, that is , the garden, which garden I cultivate. 2. We are bound to obey all the divine commands, which we cannot do without divine aid. Here which represents the words, obey the divine commands. 3. You declared him to be innocent, which he is not. Here which stands for innocent. In the foregoing uses, which is not used in the masculine gender, that is, it does not in modern usage represent a person.

    My two bits
    -DeaconLew
     
  10. DeaconLew

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    For clarity, I hold to the local church doctrine. I do not believe in the doctrine of the universal church. The universal church has never held a service, it has never fed the poor, it has never prayed for the sick, nor has it lead anyone to Christ.

    -DeaconLew
     
  11. Lacy Evans

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    I believe that we have operated for too long with the assumption that there is no Biblical precedent for church polity, when actually there is an absolutely crystal clear Biblical precedent. The church is to be (was always in the Bible) governed by a group (plurality) of elders. (Also called pastors, bishops, shepherds, or overseerers)

    There is no biblical precedent for deacons running a church. There is no biblical precedent for a single pastor runing the church. There is very little evidence that the congregation ever voted. I believe in the case of church discipline that complete unanimity of the chosen (and called) elders would be required for disfellowship.

    For a more complete study see http://www.nccn.net/~brennanp/BEphamphStrauch/PAMPHBEDOC.html

    lacy
     
  12. Pastor Larry

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    Yes and no. This is a very inadequate definition of the ekklesia. The church is called ou and does ahve the idea of asssembly. But the church still exists even when not assembled. Your Kingdom Baptist Church exists on Monday-Saturday when they are not assembled. So the church does not only mean assembled.

    It will assemble at the great marriage supper of the Lamb. Until then, it still exists just like your church does today (Thursday) and is made up of its members just like your church is today.

    Your attempt to explain Ephesians 1 is lacking. Even the headship of Christ over his body does not mean he has more than one body. Here, we are a part of the body. We are a local visible body. You are a part of the body, a local visible body. But you and I are both part of the same body, the body of Christ, the church. (I am assuming you are truly saved. I have no reason to doubt that.) Christ only has one body. Defining "which" doesn't change that.
     
  13. Pastor Larry

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    I believe that we have operated for too long
    I agree with the first. The second is woefully lacking in biblical evidence. There is clear evidence in Scripture that the churches had a head, or an overseer ... a senior elder if you will. There is no biblical mandate for plural eldership.
     
  14. DeaconLew

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    PastorLarry,
    Please explain the above. These are commands given to the church.
     
  15. DeaconLew

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    I agree that there is no biblical mandate for the plurality of bishops (pastors). Not that there cannot be an associate Pastor, but God has allowed for one to preside over the church. We must not allow the word elder to mean the same thing in every place in scripture (unless it does). Elder can mean, simply, an older person. Elihu said of Job and his three friend they were "elder" than he.
    Sometimes elder can mean pastor but it is not limited to such. And certainly respect is due to persons in the body more elder than yourself. Against an elder receive not an accusation... Rebuke not an elder... These were given to Pastor Timothy who, as far as we know, was the only one presiding over the First Baptist Church there. [​IMG]

    -DeaconLew
     
  16. Pastor Larry

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    PastorLarry,
    Please explain the above. These are commands given to the church.
    </font>[/QUOTE]And they are carried out by the local churches, or at least should be. That does not in anyway mean that the body of Christ does not exist as a unity all across church history. The fact remains that if you are a true believer, you are a member of the same body of Christ I am. Christ only has one body, the church. The local visible manifestation of the church carries out these commands.
     
  17. DeaconLew

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    PastorLarry,
    Please help me to understand why Paul addresses the church "at Ephesus?" They know where they are, why not just "the church?" Paul told Timothy that "the church" was the ground and pillar of the truth. Which one? The one at Ephesus or the one at Corinth or etc? While the phrase "the church" is used, and it is THE church, Paul no where suggests or asserts that he is talking about all believers. JUST the believers to whom the letters were addressed.

    BTW, you still did not tell me where the universal church meets, or when their set aside times for soul-winning are. I'd like to join them. [​IMG]

    -DeaconLew
     
  18. Lacy Evans

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    The primary role in shepherding the New Testament churches was exercised, not by a solitary Pastor, but by a plurality of men, described as "elders" or overseers

    And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. (Acts 14:23)

    From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders [plural] of the church[singular] .... He said unto them...Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (Acts 20:17-28)

    Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: (Phil. 1:1)

    For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: (Titus 1:5)

    Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: (James 5:14)

    The quotation above from Acts 20 makes it clear that the "elders" and "overseers" are the same persons, and that it is they who are given responsibility to shepherd, or pastor the church of God.

    The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; (1 Peter 5:1-2)

    Here is the ONE time the word "pastor" is in the New Testament.

    Ephesians 4:11
    And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

    Again it is plural.

    The terms "Bishop, Elder, Pastor, Overseer, and Shepherd" generally refer to the same office.

    There is not one instance of a New Testament assembly being presided over by a single pastor. (other than 1 Pet 5:4 :D ) Timothy and Titus were never refered to as "pastor". They were functioning in the role of apostle (church planters). When they accomplished their goal (Setting up elders to rule the church - see Titus 1:5 above), they moved on to other business just like Paul.


    Note the following texts (where either elder or bishop is used):

    Acts 11:30--elders at the church of Antioch
    Acts 14:23--Paul and Barnabas appoint "elders in every church"
    Acts 15:2, 4, 6, 22, 23; 16:4--elders at the church in Jerusalem
    Acts 20:17, 28--elders/bishops at the church of Ephesus (v. 17--"elders of the church")
    Acts 21:18--elders at the church in Jerusalem
    Phil 1:1--the church at Philippi has bishops and deacons
    1 Tim 5:17--elders at the church of Ephesus
    Titus 1:5--Titus is to appoint elders in every town
    Jas 5:14--"the elders of the church"
    1 Pet 5:1-2--"the elders among you"8

    In every one of these texts the plain implication is that each church had several elders.


    lacy
     
  19. MTA

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    I agree that elder leadership is the scriptural model of church governance in the early church, yet there also seems to be an indication of preeminence among elders or at least an informal hierarchy.

    If we look in Acts 15:19, James appears to speak for all those present in that council, although it was attended by both apostles and elders.
     
  20. gb93433

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    Show me where Paul leading the pastors and the pastors leading the churches is a democratic congregational rule.
     

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