The SBC on a NT Church

From the SBC website -

"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, observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. 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. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture. "

How does this jive with what we read in the NT - the letters written to these supposedly autonomous churches in which they are reminded of correct belief, action, etc? These Churches seem to have accepted non-democratic authority from outside (and above) their local congregation.

I’m wondering if “of baptized believers” means that children aren’t considered Baptists and part of the congregation.

That every person is “responsible and accountable” to Christ seems obvious (And wordy. Doesn’t “responsibility” imply accountability? :slight_smile: ) . I wonder why it’s included in this statement.

In fact it doesn’t jive with what we read in the N.T. Ask a Baptist about this and the reply will be that these were new Christians who were still in need of instruction by the apostles.

I’m wondering if “of baptized believers” means that children aren’t considered Baptists and part of the congregation.

Well, yes and no. They are technically not Baptists because they have not yet reached the age of accountability, capable of deciding what they are. But in a more general way they are Baptists, just as the children of Republicans would be regarded as Republicans. They are considered part of the congregaton, but are not permitted to vote on matters that members vote on and of course not permitted to partake in the Lord’s Supper. In many ways it is analogous to what Baptists call “watchcare” in which adult believers are associated with the church but not admitted to full membership, usually because they have not been baptized by immersion. Watchcare is a practice used generously in a few Baptist churches but only rarely in most of them.

That every person is “responsible and accountable” to Christ seems obvious (And wordy. Doesn’t “responsibility” imply accountability? I wonder why it’s included in this statement.

Good question. It does carry a measure of redundancy.

How do they decide when the church (or is it churches) were mature enough to go it alone? Do they give a year? How do they explain the ongoing (in the CC records) shepherding by the pope of the church throughout the world? How do they decide, then, what churches were the true church (the one not shepherded by the pope)? What records do they look at? Where is the lineage?

Do the Baptist churches associated with the SBC teach that Catholics are Christian? Do they teach that non-Christians will definitely go to Hell when they die?

Thanks for answering.:thumbsup:

After the apostles died, no one had any authority over other churches. Of course each church had its own elders (pastors) who were lead by the Holy Spirit to provide guidance to their flock. These elders (pastors) were of course appointed by the membership of that church.

Do they give a year?

No. When dealing with Baptists you need to remember that most of them have no idea anything happened between the apostle Paul and their grandparents. This is a paraphrase of a statement contained in a chapel address by Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

How do they explain the ongoing (in the CC records) shepherding by the pope of the church throughout the world?

They don’t believe it was “ongoing.” Most Baptists have no idea of the concept of apostolic succession. The ones who do, mostly academics, will point to various dates for the beginning of the papacy. Some will say Leo I, who consolidated a great deal of power in Rome. Others will point to Leo IX, who presided over the schism between East and West. Absolutely none of them will point to Peter as the first pope and some will even deny that Peter ever went to Rome. Whatever the origin of the papacy, Baptists regard it as unbiblical and therefore apostate.

How do they decide, then, what churches were the true church (the one not shepherded by the pope)?

Hardly any Baptists believe there is one true church. In fact, any claim to being the true church is met with skepticism that you may be dealing with a cult. I was present during a sermon of Richard Land, executive director of the Christian Life Commission of the SBC as he said: “Baptists don’t have a monopoly on the truth; they just own more of it than anyone else.” I think that is a good summary of Baptist belief on this matter.

What records do they look at?

The Bible.

Where is the lineage?

Baptists aren’t interested in lineages because they are not taught in the Bible.

Do the Baptist churches associated with the SBC teach that Catholics are Christian?

The SBC is not monolithic. Most SBC churches would teach that Catholics are Christian, although those with Calvinist and/or fundamentalist beliefs would likely say they are not. The Baptist church where I serve enjoys a very good relationship with the local Catholic church. I remember one instance where a wedding was held in our church and the priest of the local parish officiated along with our pastor. I’m sure they had to get a dispensation to do this but from the perspective of my church it wasn’t a problem.

Do they teach that non-Christians will definitely go to Hell when they die?

Yes. See John 14:6.

If you don’t mind another question or two.

Lineage is all-important in the Bible. Being a Levite meant something. The messiah had to come from a ceratin line. Likewise, apostolic succession in linear.
Do the Baptists have any interest in finding their roots? Are they curious about, ultimately, from which church their particular branch sprouted?

Why do they think that no one has authority over the churches, when the apostles themselves commissioned men to go out to the churches? And replacing Judas is proof, I think anyway, that the apostles would be replaced when they were gone–that someone else would take on their role.

Many deny that Peter was ever in Rome, but does it really matter if Peter was ever in Rome? What difference does his address make, anyway? There were valid popes who didn’t live in Rome. It’s not the address, it’s the role that counts.

Would proving to their satisfaction that Peter lived in Rome make a difference? If not, why do they bring up a question about his address?

You do know how to ask the hard questions but you have to realize that Baptists don’t think like Catholics. Those things you regard as significant aren’t even on the Baptist radar, and that is why it is difficult to answer these questions

Apostolic succession is linear only if you believe in apostolic succession. You are correct about the Levites, the priestly tribe of the O.T., and also that the messiah had to be of the tribe and lineage of Judah. But that was the Old Testament. We are under the New Testament where “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28.

Do the Baptists have any interest in finding their roots? Are they curious about, ultimately, from which church their particular branch sprouted?

Baptists have very little interest in finding their roots. Moreover, they don’t all agree on where these roots are to be found. There are three main theories that cannot possibly be reconciled.

  1. They came from the Separatist movement in England led by John Smyth and Thomas Helwys. This came about in the early 1600’s, about the same time as the publication of the King James Bible. The Separatists wanted to (and did) cut all ties with the Church of England. They were influenced by the Anabaptists but were not a part of them. This is probably the most accurate portrayal, although it is very hard to trace these Separatists through the 17th Century into the Baptist churches we have today.

  2. They are descendants of the Anabaptists, a/k/a Dutch Mennonites.

  3. They go all the way back to the apostles. This is commonly known among Baptists as the “trail of blood” theory, after a book by that name. The author maintains there has always been an underground Christian church with beliefs similar to Baptists that has very little written documentation, mainly because they were constantly persecuted by the Catholic Church. This theory has been discredited by most Baptist scholars.

Why do they think that no one has authority over the churches, when the apostles themselves commissioned men to go out to the churches? And replacing Judas is proof, I think anyway, that the apostles would be replaced when they were gone–that someone else would take on their role.

The only place you see this commissioning in no uncertain terms is the book of Titus. In other places it is implied but not expressly stated. Ask a Baptist about Titus being sent to appoint elders in the Cretan churches and you will get the same answer I gave a couple of posts ago—that these were immature Christians who were not yet capable of self governance.

Many deny that Peter was ever in Rome, but does it really matter if Peter was ever in Rome? What difference does his address make, anyway? There were valid popes who didn’t live in Rome. It’s not the address, it’s the role that counts.

It really doesn’t matter that Peter was in Rome except it would be difficult to carry the title of “Bishop of Rome” unless you lived there. It would also make papal succession difficult, because we know from the Bible that Linus (second pope) was in Rome. Of course I may be the only Baptist alive who realizes that Linus in 2 Timothy was also was the second Bishop of Rome.

Would proving to their satisfaction that Peter lived in Rome make a difference? If not, why do they bring up a question about his address?

It wouldn’t make a difference. They just don’t buy into apostolic succession. It’s not even on their radar. They bring up Peter’s address because (1) the Bible never says Peter was in Rome; (2) Paul never mentions Peter in any of his letters written from Rome; and (3) Peter says in 1 Peter 5:13 that he is writing from Babylon. Biblical literalists understand this to be the ancient city on the Euphrates River.

The apostles had special authority because they were commissioned by Jesus to start His Church.

I’m wondering if “of baptized believers” means that children aren’t considered Baptists and part of the congregation.

One can not be considered a Christian in the proper sense until one receives God’s gifts of faith and repentance, which are inseparable experiences of grace. Likewise, one can not be considered a Baptist in the proper sense until that person joins a Baptist church, which can only occur after a valid baptism. Of course, the children can be considered Christian and Baptist in a demographic sense.

That every person is “responsible and accountable” to Christ seems obvious (And wordy. Doesn’t “responsibility” imply accountability? :slight_smile: ) . I wonder why it’s included in this statement.

Of course it’s wordy. Theologians wrote it. :stuck_out_tongue:

But Judas’ replacement wasn’t commissioned by Jesus, I think. Do Baptists believe that he didn’t have the authority that the others did?

Peter said it was necessary that Judas’ replacement be someone who had been with them from the beginning. They put forth Joseph and Matthias, prayed over them and drew lots. The lot fell to Matthias and he was numbered with the eleven.

I have never heard the name of Matthias mentioned in church unless someone was reading from the first chapter of Acts, which is the only place he is mentioned. Therefore, I don’t know what Baptists believe about him. Ask 10 Baptists and you will likely get 10 different opinions. There is certainly no Southern Baptist dogma concerning Matthias.

One interesting thing about Matthias is that a significant number of Baptists believe his selection was somehow tainted because (1) he was selected by the will of the apostles and not by Christ and (2) his selection was by lot, which is akin to gambling. I have even heard a few opine that he was never heard from again because of the method of his selection. This, of course, has been in private conversations. Like I said, I have never heard a sermon or a Sunday School lesson about Matthias.

Kalt, I’m sure you find this frustrating because you want to demonstrate the fact of apostolic succession. I don’t entirely disagree that it exists, even down to this day, but Baptists just don’t think about this sort of thing. Maybe you should go to a Baptist forum and see if you can find a thread that discusses apostolic succession. I doubt if you can find one.

If the SBC was really concerned about the New Testament Church, they would follow the example of former Southern Baptist Abp. Dmitri (Royster) and others and join the church that wrote the New Testament to start with.

Thank you, again, for your response. What I really get frustrated over is trying to understand how Baptists think. Some things just don’t square, and the reasons they give to reconcile the gaps seem ill informed and sometimes even silly or fanciful.

I appreciate your taking the time to answer my questions. :bowdown:

Kalt, for some reason I got to thinking today about what was said (and unsaid) on this thread. I made it clear that Baptists don’t think much about their own lineage and they aren’t the least bit interested or concerned about apostolic succession. I did not do a very good job of explaining why.

Remember, Baptists reject the concept of sacraments. They don’t believe sacraments exit. Baptists do observe two ordinances–baptism and the Lord’s Supper. You will rarely hear it called communion and never, never will you hear the word “Eucharist” in a Baptist church. Baptists simply regard this ordinance as a memorial meal, done because Christ said, “As often as you do this, do it in memory of me.” They do not regard it as an offering or a sacrifice and they do not believe in transubstaniation or consubstantiation. Similarly, they believe baptism is only symbolic of identifying with Christ in His death, burial and ressurection. Baptism is also the rite of initiation into full membership in a Baptist church. There is nothing spiritual about it. No grace is imparted through baptism.

Now, consider why Catholics need priests–to administer the sacraments. I understand five of the seven sacraments must be administered by priests (or bishops), while baptism and holy matrimony are also most often administered by priests. In order to have valid sacraments, you must have valid priests. In order to valid priests, you must have a tightly controlled system of apostolic succession. You must be aware of your history.

On the other hand, if you have no sacraments, you don’t need priests to administer them. With no need of priests, there is no need for being aware of our roots and little interest in how we got here. That is why apostolic succession isn’t even on the radar of Baptist thinking. I would suggest you go to the Baptist forum whose masthead says, “The Truth Shall Make You Free,” and look for threads on this topic. You won’t find a single one. The nearest you will get is a few that discuss the merits of the so called “Trail of Blood” theory.

I hope this clears things up for you a little more.

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