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May 13, 2011

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Tim Rogers

Brother Peter,

This is an insightful and balanced piece. You have expressed exactly what the tension is when trying to handle the tough position of expressing Acts 29 and their doctrine. One other thing that has not been touched on and that is the Priesthood of Believers doctrine that is completely void in an elder-led/ruled ecclesiology.

Blessings,
Tim

peter lumpkins

Tim,

Thanks brother. SBC churches really need to understand what ministries and church planting networks receive their generous CP monies. I hope this post assists in some way. In addition, I hope it encourages brothers like Dr. Whitt who make even the slightest suggestion that some of our leaders may be too cozy with our Presbyterian brothers' ecclesiology to know there exists ample evidence the suggestion has at least some merit, and many of us see what he sees.

With that, I am...
Peter

Max

Peter,

Thank you for this perspective on the influence of church governance by Acts 29, other non-SBC entities, and SBC leadership who encourage it. It has been my unfortunate experience to observe that the young, restless and reformed (YRR) in my area have two models to effect “elder-rule” in their churches: (1) new church plants where a plurality of elders is quickly established, and (2) gaining leadership of an established traditional work and convincing the congregation to adopt such church polity (often with much weeping and gnashing of teeth). I would add another adjective to the descriptors you provide (elder-led, elder-ruled, elder-governed) … “elder-controlled”. Moving a church under the control of like-minded elders is often a first step toward changing belief and practice to a more reformed leaning via a gradual release of teachings in this direction. Again, this has been my direct observation of YRR churches in my vicinity – hopefully, this is not happening where you live.

Your readers might be interested in taking a look at an article by Robert Wring entitled “Elder Rule and Southern Baptist Church Polity” published in the Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry, http://baptistcenter.com/11%20Wring%20Revision.pdf. In that document, Brother Wring concludes that there are three main reasons for not having an elder-rule type of church polity: (1) Scripture does not separate the office of elder from that of pastor … elder/bishop/pastor were titles used when referring to the same pastoral leader of the church, (2) elder rule is constantly in tension with congregational church polity which is the normative form of church government specified in the New Testament, and (3) elder rule is a violation of the priesthood of every believer. The latter point was noted by Tim Rogers in his comment to this blog. Russell Dilday has also expressed a concern about the diminishing of the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer in the Baptist Faith & Message (2000), along with a list of other troubling factors in the BFM 2000 revision, http://www.baptiststandard.com/2001/5_14/pages/dilday.html.

As a side note, most of the YRR “elders” in my area are in their 20s-30s. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that age equals wisdom, but it helps. I have known young, but mature, believers who have been Spirit-led in their ministries. Lord knows that many SBC works need the fresh energy of youth coupled with the wisdom of the aged … young folks to speed things up a bit, but the more “seasoned” to slow things down. I was both amused and burdened in another blog comment from a reformed young man that the revival and spiritual awakening Southern Baptists have long been praying for can only happen once the “right” theology is in place! I am still praying.

Max

Smuschany

I'm sorry...But I did not know that "elder led" or even "elder ruled" churches equaled a "Presbyterian" form of church government. I thought the "Presbyterian" form of government had to do with "presbyteries" of multiple levels including local, state and national, which dictated the rules and policies of all churches apart of those presbyteries. You know how nearly all "Presbyterian" churches dont own their own land or buildings, they are owned by their presbytery. That depending on the individual denomination (national presbytery) local churches can not choose their own pastors (even their lay elders dont get to choose), or if they do get a choice, most often they are given a "short list" of names to choose from and do not have free reign to choose their own pastors. Silly me, I thought those were the things that made the Presbyterian form of church government different than Congregationalism. I didn't think it had ANY thing to do with how many elders a church had or even how much "power" they have. Then again I was only raised in a Presbyterian church, and am about to finish my second degree from a Baptist school/seminary. I guess I dont know anything about the differences in church polity.

Max

Peter,

I just noted that the links I provided you in my earlier comment were out-dated. Please note the following links to the cited articles.

“Elder Rule and Southern Baptist Church Polity” by Robert Wring
http://www.baptistcenter.com/Journal/2005_spring/11%20Wring%20Revision.pdf


“An Analysis of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000” by Russell Dilday
http://www.centerforbaptiststudies.org/hotissues/dildayfm2000.htm

Max

peter lumpkins

Smuschany

Unfortunately, you did not read carefully what I wrote. You suggest you "did not know that "elder led" or even "elder ruled" churches equaled a "Presbyterian" form of church government." Nor do I necessarily. Please note carefully what I actually wrote. I used some form of "Presbyterian" four times in the little piece:

--"presbyterian-like governing polity"

--"ecclesial polity more similar to Presbyterian tradition than Baptist tradition"

--"polity very much resembling classical Presbyterianism"

--"possible 'presbyterian' presence"

As one can see, in every instance I carefully qualified my use of the term, Smuschany. I simply do not know how I could have been more clear. Nonetheless, you state contrary to what I clearly wrote I somehow am simplistically equating Presbyterianism exclusively with being elder-governed. I most certainly am not. There are surely other ecclesial political notions (some of which you mentioned) which also are distinctive of full Presbyterianism.

However, the real definitive notion is, historic Baptist ecclesiology is decidedly at odds with elder-ruled polity. Baptists are undeniably and incurably congregationalists, which, by the way, voids out the other concern you raised: "I didn't think it had ANY thing to do with how many elders a church had or even how much "power" they have."

First, again, I clearly asserted in no uncertain language, "a church could be elder-led and retain its congregational polity whether the church is single elder-led or plural elder-led." Hence, your implication I somehow focused on "how many elders a church had" is bogus. On the other hand, how much "power" elders possess certainly does play into the mix, Smuschany.

As for not knowing anything about the differences in church polity, I have to say your obvious misreading of my little piece coupled with the implication that how much "power" elders apparently possess is irrelevant to whether congregationalism remains the political template for the local body do not favor one who has paid much attention in class. Sorry.

With that, I am...
Peter



Job

So what happened in 1925? New, special prophetic revelation adding to the canon of scripture?

peter lumpkins

Job,

No. Southern Baptists adopted their first, official convention-wide statement of faith. There were a few others but hardly as "official" as the 1925 adoption. And, it expressly revealed what SBCers were thinking so far as ecclessiology is concerned.

With that, I am...
Peter

peter lumpkins

All,

Be away for a while.

With that, I am...
Peter

Malcolm Yarnell

Elder-ruled polity is indeed closer to Presbyterianism, or its fissiparous cousin, Independency, than it is to New Testament Congregationalism, the latter of which Southern Baptists clearly affirm in Article VI of the Baptist Faith & Message. Note two matters in our confession with regard to Baptist ecclesiology in particular:

First, Baptist ecclesiology is based on a covenant between all members, not merely a covenant between a few elders: "A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel."

Second, Baptist ecclesiology is not primarily aristocratic (i.e. classically defined as "the rule of the few," exemplified in elder-rule) but democratic (i.e. "the rule of the many," exemplified in traditional Baptist ecclesiology). Again, Article VI states: "Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord."

In other words, from a congregational perspective, elder rule disrupts the direct relationship--described as "responsible and accountable"--between the Lord and the individual church member, a relationship established in the church's covenant. It should be rejected as sinful usurpation when any individual person, such as the bishop of Rome, or when any group, such as a board of elders (aka presbyters), attempts to disrupt the personal Lordship of Jesus Christ over His church.

These two portions of the Baptist Faith & Message strike directly against ministerial elitism, simply because they describe New Testament congregationalism.

Casey

All one has to do is look at the "ACTS 29 crowd in MISSOURI" over the last 6-7 years. They are a 'leach' on what they view as a 'cash rich' Denomination.
Let's be honest...they're not on the 'same page' as most Southern Baptists. Yet, our NAMB, LIFEWAY, SOUTHERN, SOUTHEASTERN leaders insist on cramming this down Southern Baptists throat. Make no mistake about it...these 'leaders' are trying to make us more evangelical and less Southern Baptist. For that they should APOLOGIZE.................

John

I've always been in SBC churches that we congregational in theory, but rarely in practice. I've seen pastors 'run the show', I've seen deacons 'run the show', and I've seen committees 'run the show'. The only things I've seen the congregation vote on were the budget (which was prepared by one of the groups above) or for a new pastor. As an aside, the vote for a new pastor is a great way to get most of the members on the roll together at one time. We've had more people for that than for Easter or Christmas!

I for one would rather have an elder led congregation, where the elders were chosen by the congregation and were responsible for oversight of the church. We would still vote on budgets, pastors, and even elders. But it would keep one person or even a special interest group from running the church. Anyway, my two cents worth.

One question I do have is what scriptural references to both sides have that support there respective positions? I would have an easier time understanding their thinking if I saw it in the Word rather than in a BFM or a creed.

Tim Rogers

Brother John,

I would have an easier time understanding their thinking if I saw it in the Word...
Acts 6:3-6 Expresses that the congregation chose the people to serve as Deacons. It was not the Apostle's who chose the people they merely affirmed the people's decision and ordained the men for their task. Oh, you may call this a argument from silence, but you will also notice that the Apostles did not tell the Deacons what they needed to do in order to fix the problem.

1 Corinthians 1:2--We see Paul writing the church. It is to the church Paul is writing his letter, not to the Elders of the church.

1 Corinthians 5:4-5--Remember Paul's initial address was to the church, thus it was to the church that Paul is expressing the need for them to take action against the sin that is prevalent.

1 Corinthians 9:13-14--Paul told the church to compensate their leaders he certainly was not directing the leaders to teach the church this.

These are just a few references. Hope that helps. Of course I am certain someone will use other references to affirm "elder-rule", but one must remember to look at the article of the BF&M. It isn't that one places more credibility on a man-made document. It is that looking at the BF&M concerning these scriptures express how SB interpret these certain Scripture.

Blessings,
Tim

Smuschany

Casey, as a Baptist in Missouri, all I will say is the way that leaders in the convention including Dr. Toliver (be careful who you follow), or Rodger Moran, handled the Acts29 "leaching" as you put it, was most defiantly not godly.

Peter and others, I understood exactly what you were saying, perhaps it was you who A) did not understand my point, or B) maybe don't understand Presbyterian polity at all. THe simple fact is the number, or power, of elders has nothing to do with Presbyterian polity at all! Did you know in some small Presbyterian churches have a single pastor (elder)? Or what would you say to a congregation who CHOOSES of their own volition to have a plurality of elders? How is that even remotely "Presbyterian like"? Presbyterian polity has NOTHING to do with elders, and rather has everything to do with the structure of their denominational control. Individual churches have no autonomy in any way. Where as a church, deciding its own form of individual government, is congregational polity in its purist!

Within congregational polity who is anyone speak out against another congregation as to how it wishes to structure its own individual government? Are you trying to tell them, that they can't decide for themselves? Is plurality of elders such a threat that individual churches that choose to be governed as such are a danger to all other SBC churches? How is it not congregational polity if the congregation chooses the elders, votes on them, and can remove them if needed? As John pointed out, most SBC churches that I know of are either "run" by a single pastor, or are "run" by Deacon boards. Votes of the congregation only come about for "major" issues and they do not have a say in everything. This is no different than elder-led churches. What is different is that under elder-led churches, the deacons are freed up from governing to do what they are scripturally mandated to do, and that is to serve the church and community. Again, I fail to see how this is such a threat to other churches in the SBC.

Job

Peter:

1. Has any Southern Baptist statement of faith precluded the presbytery concerning congregational polity? If not, what is your basis for declaring that the SBC should disfavor congregations who use this polity?

2. The presbytery has been used in a significant number of Baptist congregations in the 450+ year history of the movement, and the SBC is no exception. Based on what authority do you declare these tens (hundreds?) of millions of Baptists throughout history to have been wrong?

3. Based on my reading of books concerning foreign missions, I have a scenario for you. Suppose you are attempting to begin a church in Kashmir, an area dominated by a long-standing tradition-heavy tribal culture where elders are very respected, and outside ideas such as democracy are alien and mistrusted, viewed as an attack on the tribal cultural system that is viewed as necessary for the survival of the people living in very harsh circumstances. Now missionary literature strongly the idea of contextualization, incorporating the local culture in areas where the Bible does not forbid it. So, should this church rely on the presbytery, which would incorporate the local culture and traditions, and make use of wise, respected older men to serve as pastors, teachers, deacons etc. of both the church and the tribe? Or should it swim against the tide of (and basically undermine) the local culture by insisting on congregationalism?

Now according to your position, one could not and should not plant a Southern Baptist church, one that would emphasize the importance of making a public statement of faith by way of believer's baptism in a culture where such a statement might result in martyrdom at the hands of the local Muslims. According to you, such a plant should not receive funds from the SBC not because they are in violation of the Bible, or 400+ years of Baptist tradition (including the SBC) but of your own interpretation of a practice that became dominant - but not universal - in the SBC in 1925. Instead, such a plant should be Presbyterian and rely on the scripturally aberrant practice of infant baptism.

Is that your position sir? If so, on what authority is your position based?

Job

In addition to my polemical prior comment, allow me to make an observation that is based less on modern Southern Baptist practice and more on the New Testament. Israel, the Jewish nation, was historically tribal in nature, and as such leadership in government, society and religion was vested in males of a certain status and age, or elders. Of course, Israel's cultural and religious structures went through great changes after they were conquered by Babylon and governed by the Babylonians, Medo-Persians, Greeks and Romans, but by the time of Jesus Christ and the early church, Jewish religious observance was centered around the synagogue. Synagogue polity, if you will, was leadership by local religious elders, or a presbytery, and most definitely not congregational.

The earliest church, entirely Jewish, utilized the synagogue structure. So, the Jerusalem church in the initial part of Acts most definitely was not congregational, but a synagogue with the apostles acting as its leaders, or elders. History verifies that primarily Jewish Christian congregations continued to rely on the synagogue structure, with archaeologists recently discovering a Jewish Christian synagogue that was in use well into the 2nd century. The abandonment of the Jewish Christian synagogue polity did not occur until and because A) Gentiles began to greatly outnumber Jews in the church, B) there was a schism between Gentile and Jewish Christians which (if "A History of Christianity Volume 1" is a reliable source) resulted from the Gentile Christians' wanting to better conform the religion to Hellenistic culture, and C) Jewish Christianity died out due to Jewish believers being excluded from both Jewish synagogues and Gentile-dominated Christian churches.

Thus, a Southern Baptist congregation - or any Christian congregation for that matter - can justify presbyterian (in the original sense of the word) polity based on the New Testament example of the Jewish Christian synagogues, including but not limited to the Jerusalem church led by the apostles in the capacity of its elders. So, the burden is on those who object to the presbytery to explain why a Southern Baptist church should be refrained from using a congregational polity modeled after the first local congregation, that being the Jerusalem synagogue whose presiding elders were the apostles. Those making said objection would have to provide the authority by which these objections are made.

Now I should point out that I am not speaking against congregational polity. I will state, however, that it has long been observed that the presbytery is best suited for some circumstances (i.e. in tribal societies, and in areas of low educational attainment) and congregationalism works better in others (i.e. in more modern, better educated, more affluent environs). It appears that the New Testament provides liberty for both in order to allow for a church that can adapt to a variety of cultures, and as such the SBC, being an organization based on the New Testament, should respect said liberty within it.

By the way, please do not construe any of my comments as being in support of Mark Driscoll and Acts 29. Suffice to say that W.B. Johnson, the first president of the SBC and who stated that most Baptist churches in the south in his day were elder-led, would be no more approving of Driscoll than I am.

Steve Evans

Smuschany, Just consider for one minute the local SBC churches monies going to acts 29 network churches without their knowledge. That those same monies were given under the banner of the Annie Armstrong Easter offering for home missions. I, for one, do not intend to send money to support acts 29 ministries. If they want money, find another avenue of support instead of cooperative program dollars! That is the cruk of the matter in my opinion. Our local church has opted to withhold Annie until this matter is corrected and we have contacted NAMB to voice our displeasure.
I believe this will ultimately create a lack of support for the CP overall and, sadly, wreak havoc in our convention. God forgive us for forgetting to put evangelism first.

Tim Rogers

Smuchany,

While congregations do have the right as an autonomous body to CHOOSE how they are governed, when they "CHOOSE" to be elder-run/led/governed they have ceased from being Baptist in their polity.

Also, after 20 years in ministry I have seen that congregations don't get together one Sunday morning and say; "I think we should be elder-rule from now on." Congregations must be led to do something like that they don't just release those types of decisions to a small group of people to make. Thus, for a congregation to CHOOSE to allow elder-rule/led/governed polity to begin, they were led in that direction, not by the congregation, but by the pastor.

Blessings,
Tim

Jared Moore

Tim, come on man. elder-led is not the same thing as elder-run or elder-governed. Your church surely is elder-lead, is it not? My church is... although it's a single elder/pastor; it's still elder-led.

Tom Shelton

I would suggest that many, maybe most, "traditional" SBC churches actually have an elder ruled or elder led form of polity without calling it that. By this I mean that all decisions must filter through the deacons before they come to the congregation for a vote. In this situation the decisions to me made usually come to the congregation with a "recommendation" from the deacons and the vote is just a formality. Also, if the deacons reject something there is often no recourse...the matter is decided. The deacons are actually functioning as elders not deacons. Ultimately the congregation has the final say but in practice the church is ruled/led by the pastor and deacon board. In effect, this is a plurality of elders.

Tim Rogers

Brother Jared,

Your church surely is elder-led, is it not? My church is... although it's a single elder/pastor; it's still elder-led.

No, it is not. Not according to the definition that Acts 29 purports is elder-led.

Jared, we are not speaking about definitions of elder-led concerning SBC we are speaking about elder-led according to the definition given by Acts 29. It is the Acts 29 document that defines elder-ruled but uses the word "elder-led".

Blessings,
Tim

peter lumpkins

Smuschany,

First, if you understood “exactly what I was saying” then you would not have wrongly assumed in your response I suggested “’elder led’ or even "elder ruled" churches equaled a "Presbyterian" form of church government." I most certainly didn’t, smuschany, but you proceeded to respond to me as if I did. Hence, whatever you were attempting to suggest or correct was lost.

Second, if I “did not understand your point”, I suggest you point out where I misunderstood your point. You know, sorta like I did to your misconception above. I’ll be glad to note well where I misunderstand anyone. But please don’t throw that possibility out if you’re not going to follow-up

Third, you suggest further I perhaps “don't understand Presbyterian polity at all.”  Now you’re cookin’!  You may very well be correct. On the other hand, I may know enough to make legitimate the claims I’ve made in this piece and on this thread which, of course, is all that is required.  As Clint Eastwood used to say in Magnum Force, “A man’s just got to know his limitations.”

Fourth, you make several assertions to which I’d like to respond:

  • “THe simple fact is the number, or power, of elders has nothing to do with Presbyterian polity at all!” I’m afraid it’s you, smuschany, who’s a bit confused here.  First, Presbyterian polity most certainly does have to do with numbers since presbyterianism is de facto governance by elders/overseers (plural). And, while there may be only one teaching elder even in the largest congregations, there is at least one ruling elder in the smallest of congregations. 1 +1=2. And, the last I heard, two fits the category of plurality  So, yes, numbers are necessary in presbyteriansim or else they could not have a local congregational session. Second, “power” is intrinsic to presbyterianism. Now, “power” is your term, smuschany. A better term is perhaps “authority” or spiritual “rule.” Presbyterianism insists on graduated rule within the local congregation. By graduated rule, I mean Christians A have spiritual rule over Christians B. Christians A represent Christians B. Christians A make decisions which Christians B do not have a part, etc. Teased out denominationally, it becomes what they call “connectionalism.” That is, one Presbyterian church has less authority than 10 Presbyterian churches (in the same presbytery). But I’m not presently concerned about connectionalism nor is this germane to my point in this piece
  • Did you know in some small Presbyterian churches have a single pastor (elder)? I would be surprised if in large Presbyterian churches they would have more than a single pastor (teaching elder). Even so, my money is on even the smallest Presbyterian bodies having at least one teaching elder and one ruling elder who is a lay-leader. And, if they don’t, a) they are either a rogue or “independent” congregation; or, b) they are in extenuating circumstances which prohibit them from having plural elders (at least 1 teaching elder + at least 1 ruling elder); if this is the case, they would also be committed to “fixing” it as soon as the problem can be solved
  • “Or what would you say to a congregation who CHOOSES of their own volition to have a plurality of elders? How is that even remotely "Presbyterian like"?” Excuse me?  I’m unsure you referring to a Presbyterian church or a Baptist church. You were writing about Presbyterian churches. Nevertheless, since a Presbyterian church would be an unlikely candidate which “CHOOSES of their own volition to have a plurality of elders” I’ll assume you mean a Baptist church.  So,what would I say to a  Baptist congregation “who CHOOSES of their own volition to have a plurality of elders?” I wouldn’t say much of anything, Smuschany. Recall my clear assertion in the OP:  “a church could be elder-led and retain its congregational polity whether the church is single elder-led or plural elder-led.” Our Baptist heritage acknowledges elder-role; it is a much harder case to make, however, our Baptist heritage acknowledges or supports elder-rule—at least “rule” in the sense Presbyterianism defines it. Even more significant, if you’re implying in your question my reaction to a Baptist church choosing of their own volition to be ruled by a plurality of elders in the “session” sense of the local Presbyterian church, then I’d say they are a free congregation and may do as they please. A free country has the possible option to vote democratic rule out and another political form in. So do churches. However, in essence, what you’re asking is, does a Baptist church have a right to become non-Baptist?  I’d say, sure!
  • “Presbyterian polity has NOTHING to do with elders, and rather has everything to do with the structure of their denominational control.” I’d be interested to know your professor’s name of the class you’re taking on church government presently, Smuschany. I’d also be interested to know the textbook you’re using.  To suggest Presbyterian polity for a local congregation—which is precisely the question we’re addressing here—to be completely severed from eldership is, plain and simple, absurd. Without elders, the church could not have session. And, without session, a church could not make decisions.  What in the world are you thinking? One cannot reduce Presbyteriansim to connectionalism apart from local Presbyterian session.  No local session, no global connection!
  • “Individual churches have no autonomy in any way. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. Presbyterian churches do have some autonomy. For example, no structural hierarchy may tell the local session how to spend their offerings. In addition, Presbyterianism flatly asserts local church autonomy (of course, as Baptists, we surely have a different understanding of what local autonomy means)
  • Where as a church, deciding its own form of individual government, is congregational polity in its purist!” Yes, I suppose your are correct.  However, is it not possible that your assertion reduces to suggesting a Baptist church may vote to becoming non-Baptist?  Indeed I think that’s all you’re suggesting which obviously makes little sense to point of this thread.      
  • Within congregational polity who is anyone speak out against another congregation as to how it wishes to structure its own individual government? Are you trying to tell them, that they can't decide for themselves? No. Acts 29 Network may do as they please. I applaud them. So what?  Must I support them with Baptist monies as well?  As for NAMB and others, I’m saying I do not want my CP dollars going to presbyterian-like church starts.
  • Is plurality of elders such a threat that individual churches that choose to be governed as such are a danger to all other SBC churches? Oh my. Once again, Smuschany, you’re blowing pure smoke.  Plurality of elders has jack squat to do with the point of this piece. This is now the third time I’ve corrected this. Please. Either address what questions I do raise or refrain from responding at all.
  • As John pointed out, most SBC churches that I know of are either "run" by a single pastor, or are "run" by Deacon boards. Votes of the congregation only come about for "major" issues and they do not have a say in everything. This is no different than elder-led churches. What is different is that under elder-led churches, the deacons are freed up from governing to do what they are scripturally mandated to do, and that is to serve the church and community. Again, I fail to see how this is such a threat to other churches in the SBC. A) whatever weaknesses are suggested by any number of churches “you know of” does not negate what congregationalism actually means any more than one could point to extenuating circumstances in a Presbyterian church which has but a single elder define what Presbyterianism means. What is is not the same as what ought to be. B) One reason you fail to see the threat stems from your contorting elder-led with elder-rule. My post showed a) Baptists have little to no concern about elder-led on the one hand but on the other have every reason to see elder-rule as a threat to our congregationalism.  Hence, since from every indication of the documents we find concerning Acts 29 Network leads one to reasonably conclude Acts 29 Network promotes elder-rule, Southern Baptists should back away from supporting a church planting network which threatens our cherished congregationalism. Pretty simple.

With that, I am…

Peter 

peter lumpkins

Tom,

You write, "Ultimately the congregation has the final say but in practice the church is ruled/led by the pastor and deacon board. In effect, this is a plurality of elders." I think we've got a paradox here. If the buck stops with the congregation in session, then it's definitively not, in effect, "a plurality of elders" congregation.

More fundamental is a clear distinction between "led" on the one hand and "ruled" on the other. You seem to contort the two. Baptists have embraced the former and progressively and definitively shunned the latter. If this is not kept in mind, no real progress in dialog can take place.

With that, I am...
Peter

peter lumpkins

Dr. Yarnell,

Thank you for your contribution concerning our BF&M. Clearly we are congregational in polity. I may get a knock or two for suggesting this, but I'm afraid there are many who've joined our ranks from Presbyterian backgrounds because of the visible tilt toward Calvinism. Hence, many of our young seminarians were bred Presbyterians. Is there any wonder, then, that so many young pastors have little to no reservations concerning congregational Presbyterianism? They do not see the harm in "mixing" so to speak, classic understanding of Presbyterian eldership with free church congregationalism.

Even more, some of the leading influences in SBC life are either Presbyterian or Presbyterian-like--R.C. Sproul, Ligon Duncan, John MacArthur, John Piper, Mark Driscoll. Not to mention the rally-groups like The Gospel Coalition, Together for the Gospel, Passion, etc. stacked a mile high with Presbyterian/Presbyterian-like influencers. It's a hard truth to accept, but I unfortunately think I am correct: Baptist congregationalism is in for a long, dry season. I pray historic Southern Baptist polity survives the drought.

With that, I am...
Peter

peter lumpkins

Job,

Unfortunately, your reading of history I find entirely lacking. Hence, I’m just not interested in attempting a dialog with one who will not carefully examine the historical documents themselves before they make absurd conclusions

Sorry. But have a nice day anyway!

With that, I am…

Peter

Max

Obviously, not all agree on what the New Testament leadership pattern is or how closely it can be followed across the Southern Baptist landscape. This debate has been going on for centuries, has fueled the division of Christian ranks in times past into different denominational fronts, and clearly won’t be settled in our lifetimes. Thus, we should focus back on Peter’s premise in his blog that the Acts 29 Network, other non-SBC reformed entities, and certain SBC leadership are having an influence on the current attention given to elder-rule governance. It is no coincidence that a reformed theological direction within the SBC is running parallel with a desired change to an elder-rule model in SBC churches, particularly those led by young pastors with such leaning. This runs contrary to the majority of SBC churches with pastor/deacon/congregational polity. The overriding concern by many of us is that this is more about an ecclesiological drift coupled with a theological shift in churches under the control of a small group of like-minded elders, rather than a debate about church structure. As Peter notes “for those who continue to question those who've expressed concerns that some are attempting to steer us toward a more ‘Reformed’ ecclesiological path, the evidence is there to examine”.

Max

peter lumpkins

Max,

I agree. There surely seems to be a twin focus in SBC subculture: those who lean toward a stronger Calvinistic focus tend to be the ones who also lean toward a plurality of elders focus, with eldership focusing more on "ruling" than "leading."

Note also, that as many challenging comments logged on this post as there are, not a single one has disputed my main contention that Acts 29 Network promotes elder-rule polity, not elder-led polity.

Grace, brother.

With that, I am...
Peter

Timotheos Patterson

Friend Peter,

In light of this post, and the many others woven of the same or similar fabric, I would sincerely like to propose that the SBC, with her many and increasingly vexed institutional curators (of which I cautiously imagine you to be a fair representation, Peter), give rather more attention to understanding the present implications of the near catastrophe of "Acts 15" than to the fabricated (and exaggerated!) dangers of "Acts 29." The good ship SBC will fare (is faring?) far worse in the under appreciated but much more dangerous shoal-waters of the former than she could ever dream to suffer in some association with this or that "non-SBC entity." Gasp.

Now there - in Acts 15 - is some "elder rule" worth embracing and emulating. Here's to the apostle Peter, an elder who knew both loyalty to tradition and loyalty to Truth...together with the wisdom to know the difference between them. Perhaps the SBC might yet find her salvation in submission to the admonitions of those first century elders, rather than by demeaning the ministry of fellow 21st century elders.

Timotheos

peter lumpkins

Timotheos,

Great to hear from you. I trust you and your church are doing well. You seem to think I (and those whom "I" represent) am (are) more abraded with maintaining the dead institutions known and owned by Southern Baptists than focusing on the real and present dangers spawned by an "Acts 15" overlook. And just what, Timotheos, would that overlook (i.e. ignoring the 'present implications of the near catastrophe of "Acts 15"') entail? Nor is the "elder rule" in Acts 15 as clear as you suggest. Congregational participation (and consequently "authority") was the backdrop of the gatherings (vv.3-4; 22-30).

Besides that, you appear to suggest I (and those "I" represent) fabricate (and exaggerate!)SBC involvement with Acts 29 Network. I'm afraid, Timotheos, you'll need to be more specific. I gave you the links to the documents I attempted to interpret and from which I drew my conclusions. You are surely welcome to construct your own interpretive theory concerning their documents. I know. We'll compare notes! Then we can legitimately determine from your perfectly unbiased, reasonable, biblical view that my wicked save-the-SBC institutions-at-all-costs-even-if-I-have-to-lie-and-exaggerate-the-facts view has no merit whatsoever. What do you think?

Finally, Timotheos, you seem to think my few posts about Acts 29 Network I've placed on my little bitty blog involves "demeaning" the ministry of my fellow elders. Well, pinch my cat's tail, brother! Whatever do you mean? Please rehearse my crime! I need to know for conscience's sake. I'll not sleep tonight nor ever again because my accuser leaves me with an empty bowl! My own language deceives me. While I thought I was but offering a valid interpretation of A29 verbiage they themselves employ, and comparing it with what I believe Baptist history to employ, and showing the difference, I was not. Tricked by old satan again, I was demeaning them. And, that my fellow elders.

Shame...
shame to me, I say...

What is it I hear? Death knocks.

She speaks. With her voice, judgment awakes.

"Guilty! You have no right to breath!"

I'm done. My existence in Georgia risks our Sovereign's cosmic plan.

Alas, Good night, world. I pass to the sure hell awaiting my miserable corpse. My fate is only mercy for my high crime of demeaning my fellow elders with unintended, unstated but nonetheless treacherous pronouncements.

With that, I was...
Peter

Timotheos Patterson

Peter, did you answer my comment on a little too little sleep? Heh heh, that was some piece 'o melodrama...unless, of course, you actually heard death's knock, in which case, I am glad to see you did not answer. Good for you.

I will have to ponder the possible/negligible benefits of having to parse and parlay all the frenetic directions your answer to me flew off. Your mastery of parse/parlay far exceeds my own, and having made (in my judgment) what to most who frequent your blog would recognize as at least a reasonably obvious observation of a recurring theme (and a simple exhortation with respect to that theme), I halt at the prospect of having to chase down all the rabbits you have unleashed. I have a pretty good idea how that exercise finishes up. If my comment does not resonate at all with the state of things, leave it aside and press on. I promise I'll keep reading SBC Tomorrow, maybe even as long as the SBC has a tomorrow - or at least until May 21, at which time, if Harold Camping is correct, I won't be reading your blog any longer. And I hope you won't be writing it any longer either.

Timotheos

peter lumpkins

All,

What remains painfully obvious from the challenging comments on this thread is the striking absence of any allusions to Acts 29 Network requirements demanded from participating churches/church plants. In other words, to qualify as an A29 church/church plant, prospective applicants must:

--be led by elders
--possess a plural elder-body (no single-elder led churches need apply)
--must adhere to a "Reformed" gospel

These represent just three requirements. More can easily be listed. So, Acts 29 Network requires certain criteria from prospective participants which meet their vision for partnering together to reach the nations.

Consider, however: when some of us insist that Acts 29 Network must match our ecclesial notions we think both biblical and embedded within our own confessional statement (BF&M) before we support their causes with CP monies, we are somehow guilty of wrong-doing whether it's "demeaning" them, attempting to impose upon them our "traditions," or some other convenient slur flung against us, when we are only, in essence, attempting to do the very thing Acts 29 Network rightly does--seek out partners which are a match for their faith community and gospel cause.

With that, I am...
Peter

peter lumpkins

Well, you know me, Timotheos. I have problems reading--perhaps to a 2nd grade level I'll one day attain. So, do not fret.

The fact is, I'm afraid, I've been charged by critics the number of which no man can number on fabricating my little contributions to Southern Baptist cyber-sub-culture. However, few cows ever quite get beyond the mooing stage. Rather they remain content to graze on their own side of the fence while perpetually mooing at mine.

Have a great afternoon.

With that, I am...
Peter

Timotheos Patterson

From one mooing cow to another, Peter, what is (in my opinion) most problematic in this post and stream is decidedly not the "absence of any allusions to Acts 29 Network requirements..." etc., nor the irritation you experience over certain cows mooing over your fence. The problem is the fence, and the why and how of fence-builders. The song remains the same, whether we speak of the epic struggle in Acts 15 or present implications of such within certain sectors of Christendom, which, believe it or not, find certain expression even within the venerable SBC.

And just to be clear, I am not necessarily mooing in favor of other cows being able to graze in the fine pasture of the CP, but neither am I mooing against it for the reasons you moo.

Timotheos

peter lumpkins

Timotheos,

I had a dog once which stood and barked at my bicycle. Nothing special about the bike. He just barked at it--hours on end, barking, barking, barking at my bike.

So I understand your position perfectly, Timotheos.

Like my dog just barked at my bike for no reason, you moo at my fence for no reason.

Got it!

With that, I am...
Peter

Timotheos Patterson

"Like my dog just barked at my bike for no reason, you moo at my fence for no reason."

Or perhaps just as likely, Peter, the dog's reasons for barking just didn't find a place in your understanding or concern. After all, you are no dog.

But in the words of another famous analogy, I'm probably just barking up the wrong tree here. Until the next time, peace.

Timotheos

Job

Peter:

Typical response for one who does not wish to avoid a discussion of ideas.

Job

That should have been "typical response for one who wishes to avoid an exchange of ideas."

Michael

I don't understand what's wrong with funding church plants that agree with both Acts 29 and the BFM 2000.

In 2008 (well before Ezel became president of NAMB) I worked as a Nehemiah Project Church Planter with a SBC/ACTS 29 church plant in Ohio. It started with a small group of college students and young professionals and has since exploded to a self-supported church. Was this improper use of Annie funds?

In a denomination experiencing overall decline, churches connected with A29 and the SBC in my limited experience (I personally know 5) are growing and baptizing a lot of people.

peter lumpkins

Job,

I'm perfectly willing to allow others to judge whether or not I "avoid" a legitimate exchange of ideas.  Though I can assure you I have no time for the nonsensical, historical summations you offer without a slither of evidence. Go back and clean up your mess, and I may—m-a-y—respond to you in the future. Otherwise, I suggest you read and stay in the background.

With that, I am…

Peter  

peter lumpkins

Michael,

Thanks for logging on. Know I appreciate and respect your candidness. My response will be just as candid: if you cannot appreciate how affirming, supporting with CP dollars, and establishing churches which are elder-ruled and exclusively "Reformed" I cannot see how we can get much further in dialog. The former is definitively anti-congregationalism, and therefore, anti-Baptist, and the latter goes against the theology of 90%+ of the SBC.

And, as I mentioned above, Acts29 Network itself has parameters over which it will not step. That is, it will not partner with just anybody who wants to partner with it to plant churches. A church/church plant must meet Acts 29 criteria to be a part of its network, and that no matter how much potential the church/church plant possesses (i.e. how much it is growing).

Why must it be surprising, then, if we insist the SBC also have criteria? And, is it too much to suggest that the criteria upon which we insist include supporting church planting projects which exclusively are of "like faith and order"? For me, this is hardly unreasonable.

Thanks again, Michael.
With that, I am...
Peter

Smuschany

Peter,

I apologize for the long delay in responding I was focused on the sermons I delivered Sunday, as well as being out of town to deliver them thus I did not have the time to continue our wonderful banter.

Now consider this. Did you know that Baptists were not the first to use the "congregational" polity model for their form of government? Did you know the first "Congregational" polity group actually were a bunch of baby-baptizing Calvinists? I am sure you have heard of the the early Congregational churches right. You do know they were Calvinist right. Fully autonomous churches, engaging in the congregational model of polity, who were fully calvinist, what a strange idea. Now they were wrong on baptism I will fully affirm and give you that. However, just to throw it out there, in the mid 1700's, the Congregational churches had a major split. One one side you had the solid Calvinists such as Jonathan Edwards, and on the other you had the side that started the path towards Unitarianism. Just food for thought.

Now I am sure you now want to say "I never said you can not be reformed and baptist, just not elder-led (ruled) and baptist".

Now again, I wish to tell you about TRUE Presbyterian polity. First in the local church you have what is called a session. The session is composed of an equal amount of professional (pastors) and lay elders. This is except in such cases (very small church, plants, ect) where there may only be a single pastor. The lay elders are selected from the church by its members and the professionals (pastors) are depending on the individual denomination appointed by the denom, selected from a small list by the "session", or in some denoms like PCA freely chosen by the "session". From here, the local church sends representatives, usually from the session, to their denominations "state" level or the presbytery. The Presbytery makes decisions for the all the churches in its control. It also, in most denominations OWNS all the lands and buildings of each local church and can, remove the existing session, as well as the congregation if it desires. Each Presbytery then also sends members to represent it before the General Assembly, which is the national level. The General Assembly can make decisions that effect and govern both the presbyteries and the sessions. Case in point, the PCUSA through the will of the General Assembly and a majority of Presbyeries, now made it rule that homosexuals can be ordained ministers. This now means that this now effects the local sessions in that they cannot NOT hire someone because they are homosexual. They have lost that ability.

Now, THAT is Presbyterian polity in a nutshell. As you can see, the plurality of elders in the local church has little to do with the overall structure of the Presbyterian model. Especially when a congregational church has a church body that can of its own autonomy elect their own elders with out any denominational control what-so-ever.

Again I point out that in MOST if not ALL SBC churches the congregation does not vote on every single issue that arises in the church. They appoint Deacons and have deacon boards and have constitutions that empower the pastor and certain members to make all the minor decisions. What you have in SBC churches are deacons talking with themselves, making decisions and then appearing before the congregation to say "This is what we would like to do" and you vote. So then tell me what is wrong with changing those deacon boards into a elder-led (or even "ruled" if that's the word you want to use) model? You make it seem like a congregational polity model means the congregation votes on everything, but if that is the case, than no SBC church is congregational. They all are deaconal or what ever you want to call it. SBC churches that hold to plurality of elders, to elder-led models, actually have the congregation having a say and voice in how the church is run. If the church does not like what an elder is doing, they vote to remove him!

May I make a suggestion? Perhaps you should spend some time, and ask a Acts29/SBC church how they are governed and how they balance "elder-led" with "congregational polity". Dont take my word for it, listen to them! Surely you have 5 minutes to compose a email to send and then another 5-10 minutes to read a response. May I suggest that you do this rather than make assumptions on what you think Acts29 is saying based off of your own bias' when it comes to this issue.

Smuschany

Another comment if you please.

This is directed at Peter's response to Dr. Yarnell on 2011.05.14 at 09:52 AM. I am writing this under the assumption that Peter was referring to me and others like me when he stated "many who've joined our ranks from Presbyterian backgrounds because of the visible tilt toward Calvinism". If Peter did not intend to, nor believed that I fell into this group when he wrote that comment then I apoligize.

HOWEVER

It should be noted that from the point of my conversion (which was after my father and I stopped attending Presbyterian churches), through my education at Hannibal-LaGrange (which is a SBC school), I fully believed in and participated in the Word of Faith movement. The church I frequently attended while at HLG was fully into the "Benny Hinn" like escapades, and even had John Kilpatrick of the Toronto and Brownsville Revivals appear to try and "start" a new revival. While at HLG, I frequently argued with most people there, including but not limited to both general and particular baptists alike. I thought the "general" baptists (and all baptists in general) were wrong for rejecting women ministers, for rejecting tongues, for saying believers could not lose their salvation. I thought the "particular" baptists were wrong for saying things like "limited" atonement, and "election". Oh I fought long and hard. But you know what? It was because of "particular" baptists who sat down with me and honestly debated me, showing me scripture that eventually led me to realize what I was believing was wrong. For the most part the "general" baptists simply laughed at me and called me names. Again it was the "particulars" that led me not only to come and consider myself a calvinist, but a baptist as well. Then just over a year after joining a SBC church after graduating college, I received the call to seminary and chose not to go to SBTS, but to MBTS instead (some Calvinist I am huh).

This might be off topic but I just wanted to let you know a bit about me, and my journey. And maybe make you realize that I am not some "Presbyterian" infiltrator trying to take over the SBC.

peter lumpkins

Smuschany

No need to apologize. I hope your sermons went well.

As before, your words are embolden:

“Did you know that Baptists were not the first to use the "congregational" polity model for their form of government? Did you know the first "Congregational" polity group actually were a bunch of baby-baptizing Calvinists? I am sure you have heard of the the early Congregational churches right. You do know they were Calvinist right. Fully autonomous churches, engaging in the congregational model of polity, who were fully calvinist, what a strange idea” O.K. What’s the point?  We’re not referencing terms, smuschany; rather our concern here is types of church government. So who used the term “congregational” may be an interesting factoid to know but it makes absolutely no difference whatsoever to whether congregational church polity is either biblically proper or the exclusive ecclesial culture of Southern Baptists which is the issue here. Nor, for the record, were the first “congregationalsits” a “bunch of baby-baptizing Calvinists.” To the contrary, the Radical Reformers insisted on independent congregational polity contra the Magisterial Reformers long before the Separatists did in England.

“in the mid 1700's, the Congregational churches had a major split. One one side you had the solid Calvinists such as Jonathan Edwards, and on the other you had the side that started the path towards Unitarianism. Just food for thought.” I like historical food but this is irrelevant to any point we have on this issue, smuschany.

“Now I am sure you now want to say "I never said you can not be reformed and baptist, just not elder-led (ruled) and baptist". Well, I didn’t say that, did I? So why bring it up?  But since you have, the truth is, one cannot be Reformed and Baptist any more than one can be Presbyterian and Baptist. On the other hand, one can be Calvinistic and Baptist. There is a difference

“Now again, I wish to tell you about TRUE Presbyterian polity… as you can see, the plurality of elders in the local church has little to do with the overall structure of the Presbyterian model.”  Look.  a) I’ve already dealt at length with why plurality of elders in a Presbyterian polity is not only a fair presumption to make, but also why the plurality is necessary to presbyterianism. Hence, your long explanation on the process was unnecessary. It added nothing to the exchange, and it certainly didn’t challenge any of my assertions. And, I want to know the name of the textbook you’re using to explain to you plurality of elders “has little to do with the overall structure of the Presbyterian model.” 

Again I point out that in MOST if not ALL SBC churches the congregation does not vote on every single issue that arises in the church.” Irrelevant. Who suggests congregationalism insists that “every single issue that arises” must be voted on in congregational session? You’re making this up as we go along I’m afraid

“You make it seem like a congregational polity model means the congregation votes on everything, but if that is the case, than no SBC church is congregational” Quote to me one single proposition where I’ve implied this nonsense.

“SBC churches that hold to plurality of elders, to elder-led models, actually have the congregation having a say and voice in how the church is run.” Look, smuschany: last time I’m going to address this single issue. This is the fourth time I’ve reminded you. Here are my exact words from the OP:

“If by "elder-led" the Acts 29 Network means to convey the well-worn distinction between "elder-led" churches and "elder-ruled" or "elder-governed" churches, then the confusion lessens or perhaps even ceases, and so should the concern raised by dedicated Baptists who rightly want to preserve our rich ecclesiological heritage of biblical congregationalism. In short, a church could be elder-led and retain its congregational polity whether the church is single elder-led or plural elder-led.”

Now please don’t bring this issue up again unless you can show how the distinction between “led” and “ruled” is moot, a distinction not only I’ve been careful to make between “led” and “ruled,” but a well-known distinction in ecclesial literature. 

May I make a suggestion? Perhaps you should spend some time, and ask a Acts29/SBC church how they are governed and how they balance "elder-led" with "congregational polity" Why do you think they have answers to FAQ listed on their site?  Most of the info I posted here is found in the FAQ section.  Now, you apparently want to charge me with skewing their words based upon my “bias.” Be my guest.  But deal with their words all of us must do. I’ve done my homework. Nor does it appear I’ve skewed their words.

With that, I am…

Peter
peter lumpkins

Smuschany

I was referencing no one in particular, but your circumstances undoubtedly spurred my thinking on it.  However, I assure you this is more than anecdotal referencing.  Our seminaries are piling high with non-SBC students as the stats easily bear this out, and a substantial number of them are from Calvinist fellowships.

As a sidenote, to use the terms “particular” and “general” in referencing Southern Baptists only makes for confusion.  Indeed while those terms fit 18th and 19th century Baptists (largely in Europe; "regular" and "separate" came to be major distinction to the main tributaries to the SBC formation ), neither fits Southern Baptists since 1845. And to employ them toward contemporary Southern Baptists makes little, if any, historical-theological sense.

With that, I am…

Peter

 

Smuschany

If you do not have an issue with "elder-led" and "plurality of elders" in baptist life, I am struggling to figure out what your problem is. You have latched on to ONE word stated by Acts29 and have carried in your own assumptions regarding what that one word means. Again, there are many SBC/Acts29 churches that are "Elder-ruled" yet have full autonomy, have full congregational polity. If a congregation, chooses to elect elders, both professional and layity, to rule and run the church in day to day operations, to guide and advice the congregation on major issues, how is that wrong? Because that is exactly what every single SBC/Acts29 church I have heard of actually does. And that is exactly what every single SBC church does with deacon boards.

Again, I ask you to consider actually talking TO a SBC/Acts29 church to see how they implement those great and famouse Acts29 FAQ's statements you highlight so much. Find out what "elder-rule" actually means to the churches. Then, after you have talked to those churches, you can make an informed decision on whether the "elder-rule" that those churches employ is such a danger to the SBC. Are you unable to do that little work? In another topic you demand that a SBC Seminary President bend over to answer your questions about things you saw he may have said. And that his non-answer is somehow evidence of his guilt. Thus I ask you why dont YOU dig and ask questions regarding assumptions you make...Email a SBC/Acts29 church and see what they have to say. Dont they deserve the right to answer your questions about their potentially dangerous statements on their webpage?

Finally as to "particular" and "General" baptists, I fail to see how that is confusing. Seeing as I have just taken and finished Baptist History here at the school, and my BH text book is not 4 feet from me, it seems quite clear to me. Would you prefer I use Charleston Baptist and Sandy Creek Baptist?

Oh and where are all these non-SBC students piling high into our seminaries? I sure dont see them where I am at! In fact at my school the only "non-sbc" students I know of are either A) internationals who quickly join SBC churches or B) my neighbor who is a counseling student, and she dislikes my "Calvinism". Then again I will assume you are only really talking about one or two schools in particular. Since I doubt you have any real evidence, you are just making blind accusations hoping that if you say them enough and yell them loud enough, someone might start believing you.

peter lumpkins

Smuschany

Same procedure. Your words are embolden:

“If you do not have an issue with "elder-led" and "plurality of elders" in baptist life, I am struggling to figure out what your problem is. You have latched on to ONE word stated by Acts29 and have carried in your own assumptions regarding what that one word means.” First, I’ve been clear from the beginning what my reservations are.  And for you to ignore them repeatedly and attempt to frame the issues I’ve raised as being other than they are is entirely frustrating. Four times I had to insist my reservations were not specifically concerning elder-led or elder plurality per se, and doing so contra your continuing to bring it up.  Second, I made clear in the OP my specific reservation pertaining elder plurality was the necessity Acts29 Network placed upon participants--that is, participants must possess a plurality of elders polity template. Their documents make this clear. Consequently, Southern Baptists--the overwhelming majority of which are single-elder led congregations--are supporting a church planting network which demands a polity template from its participants contra the majority of SBC churches. For me this is a major problem. Now, if you disagree, be my guest.

Third, you suggest I’ve “latched on to ONE word stated by Acts29 and have carried in your own assumptions regarding what that one word means.” Well, no I haven’t. A) I used several words and phrases in the OP quoting from Acts 29 documents:  “determined,” “discretion,” governed,” “self-governed,” and “ultimate decision” among others. These words and phrases all make it crystal clear Acts 29 Network is specifically concerned with elder-boards, not congregations. In fact the covenant between Acts 29 Network is made with elders not churches/church plants. B) there are so many distinctions between “led” on the one hand and “rule” or “govern” on the other that anyone can easily see the difference between the two. Indeed I challenge anyone to look the terms up in the dictionary, and they’ll get a sense why the distinction is so significant. The fact is, two entirely different polities are being described when elder-led and elder-ruled are used.

“Again, there are many SBC/Acts29 churches that are "Elder-ruled" yet have full autonomy, have full congregational polity. If a congregation, chooses to elect elders, both professional and layity, to rule and run the church in day to day operations, to guide and advice the congregation on major issues, how is that wrong?”  Look, you’re welcome to use “elder-led” and elder-ruled” interchangeably elsewhere but you’re not going to get by with it here. To suggest a church is congregational in polity when it is Presbyterian-like in elder-rule is patently absurd. It only confuses people.  And, I’d like to see your text-book evidence for doing so.

“Finally as to "particular" and "General" baptists, I fail to see how that is confusing. Seeing as I have just taken and finished Baptist History here at the school, and my BH text book is not 4 feet from me, it seems quite clear to me. Would you prefer I use Charleston Baptist and Sandy Creek Baptist?” So, look in your textbook and see if “particular” and “general” are used of Southern Baptists.  I’ll give you a shiny new nickel for every reference the historian uses “particular” and/or “general” for southern Baptists after the formation of the SBC in 1845. To hear your side of it, you could be a rich graduate! 

“Since I doubt you have any real evidence, you are just making blind accusations hoping that if you say them enough and yell them loud enough, someone might start believing you.” I was wondering when it was going to get around to impugning integrity or getting personal instead of dealing with the ideas.  I am through now.

I would like you to make good on the assertion you made in your opening comment. There you wrote: “…[I] am about to finish my second degree from a Baptist school/seminary.” Upon this, I queried, “I’d be interested to know your professor’s name of the class you’re taking on church government presently, Smuschany. I’d also be interested to know the textbook you’re using” (//link). Even if you’re not necessarily taking a class dealing with church polity now, I’d be interested to know the sources you’ve cited for your view of various church polities.

Thanks.

With that, I am…

Peter

pam knight

Peter, so thankful that we have someone like you out there representing alot of us who feel the same way about things as you do, but who, maybe like me, don't have all the details and inside information on groups and leaders within and without the SBC life or alot of SBC history that so many of us have just not really kept up with for one reason or another. I am sure that I am not the only one out here thankful for you and lifting you up in prayer as God uses you on our behaf and for His Glory.Keeping you in our prayers.
In Christ
pam

peter lumpkins

Pam,

You are so kind. Thank you. I think there is sure reason to believe the way you and I understand our roots, our faith, and our theology, represents the mass of grassroots Southern Baptists, Pam.

One of these days when the info we produce here gets into the non-internet-active Southern Baptist masses, a new sheriff will show up in town. His six-gun will be the tens of thousands of SBC churches which will stand up and say to those re-imaging our convention from the top-down , "Not anymore you're not!" The SBC masses will take their convention back from elitist outlaws.

Grace, my sister.
With that, I am...
Peter

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