Tag Archives: polity

Thoughts on Baptists and Independence

Thoughts on Baptists and Independence

Sometimes things that look alike are actually quite different. One mushroom cooks up into a delectable repast, while another that appears almost identical can kill. A gold nugget will buy a new car, but a pyrite crystal is a mere curiosity. Careful minds learn to distinguish things that look alike when they are not the… Continue Reading

Pastors, Deacons, and Whatsits

Pastors, Deacons, and Whatsits

The New Testament specifies two offices for the local church. The apostle Paul, in 1 Timothy 3, told his young protégé that he was writing so that Timothy would know how “thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God” (as the old King James puts it). The behavior that Paul had in mind… Continue Reading

Subtractions and Additions

Subtractions and Additions

The Gospel of Matthew 20:29-34 records an event that happened as Jesus was leaving Jericho. Two blind men began to call upon Him, begging for mercy. When the crowd tried to silence them, they simply cried louder. Jesus was moved with compassion and touched their eyes, healing them so that they could see. The same… Continue Reading

Tilting to the Other

Tilting to the Other

Under Christ, the local church of the New Testament operates with dual authority. The congregation selects its own servants and calls them into account. It defines its own doctrines in accordance with what it perceives to be apostolic teaching. It admits members, disciplines them when they err, and restores them to fellowship when they repent.… Continue Reading

Tilting to One Side

Tilting to One Side

According to the New Testament, Christian churches ought to operate with dual authority. Ultimate authority for making decisions rests with the congregation. The church itself has the final word in matters of selecting leaders, defining doctrine, and both admitting and excluding members. Authority for spiritual leadership rests with the office of pastor (however many pastors… Continue Reading

What’s a Pastor to Do?

What’s a Pastor to Do?

Through His authoritative apostles, Christ revealed how He wished His churches to operate. They were to be led by pastors (the name is interchangeable with bishops and elders) who would exercise their leadership primarily through their example and their teaching. Under the leadership of these pastor-bishop-elders, the congregations or assemblies (i.e., the churches themselves) would… Continue Reading

Changing Doctrine

Changing Doctrine

When I was a sophomore in high school my father was a student in Bible college. One Sunday he was sent to preach at a small Reformed Presbyterian church. The church was without a minister, its small denomination was unable to help, and it was appealing to a Baptist college for pulpit supply. The people… Continue Reading

The Teaching Office

The Teaching Office

The clear prescription of the New Testament is that pastors are teachers of churches. To put it more precisely, pastors are the teachers of their churches. Granted, in some sense all believers are supposed to teach, edify, and admonish one another. Nevertheless, the actual burden for the instruction of the flock rests upon pastors. The… Continue Reading

Reprove, Rebuke, Exhort

Reprove, Rebuke, Exhort

Pastors who want to lead biblically find themselves caught in a bit of a paradox. One side of the paradox is that biblical pastors must be gentle. As servants of the Lord, they must not strive: they must not be verbal pugilists or quarrelsome individuals (2 Tim. 2:24). They can be disqualified from office if… Continue Reading

Pastors As Teachers

Pastors As Teachers

Pastors (that is to say, bishops or elders) are supposed to rule. That proposition is hardly controversial, for the New Testament repeatedly depicts the office of pastor-bishop-elder as one of spiritual leadership (1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:7, 17). The question is not whether pastors are supposed to rule. The question is how.… Continue Reading

Pastoral Example As Pastoral Authority

Pastoral Example As Pastoral Authority

Pastors have authority—real authority, given to them by the Lord Jesus Christ. They have a duty to exert their authority and to employ it as Scripture requires. Congregations are responsible before God to submit to the legitimate authority of pastors. Any rejection of rightful pastoral authority will be unprofitable for the believer when he stands… Continue Reading

The Crisis of Pastoral Authority

The Crisis of Pastoral Authority

Over the past few weeks I have spent a good bit of time writing about congregational authority. I have tried to show how the New Testament grants authority to the congregation for decisions about selecting leaders and servants, seeking and giving counsel to other churches, defining doctrine, and disciplining members. At the same time, I… Continue Reading

Bishops and Fathers

Bishops and Fathers

Debates over congregationalism and elder rule usually end up, sooner or later, at 1 Timothy 3:4-5. In these verses, Paul states that a bishop must manage his household well, because a man who does not know how to manage a household will not be able to take care of the church of God. Among other… Continue Reading

Acts 6 and Church Decisions

Acts 6 and Church Decisions

Some people believe that church government, and particularly church decisions, ought to be in the hands of one or more elders rather than the congregation. One of the principal arguments that they use to justify their theory is that the Lord’s people are compared to sheep, and sheep (they claim) are rather stupid. Sheep cannot… Continue Reading

Elders Rule! But Congregations Decide

Elders Rule! But Congregations Decide

Those who think that churches should be governed by a self-perpetuating boards of elders have two main arguments. The first is that the sheep (i.e., ordinary believers under the care of shepherds or elders) are not competent to make church-wide decisions. This argument is easily refuted by even a cursory reading of the New Testament.… Continue Reading

Belly Laugh: A Brief Digression

Belly Laugh: A Brief Digression

Every now and then comes an unexpected gift. Not a gift like a check in the mail with lots of numbers before the decimal point, nor yet a gift like the fluorescent tie that Great Aunt Tildie sent last Christmas, but a Providential gift: a situation that emerges out of thin air, unexpectedly brimming with… Continue Reading

Did They Vote?

Did They Vote?

The name Baptist stands for a set of principles and practices. Those who use the name are attempting to copy the order of the New Testament churches. The principles and practices are known collectively as the Baptist distinctives. Together, they distinguish Baptists from other varieties of Christians. What are these distinctives? They include the following:… Continue Reading