"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Theology, Baptist History, and the Privilege of Dissent

I hope that you realize by now that the purpose of this blog is all about protecting the freedom of Southern Baptists to disagree on areas of doctrine that are not considered the essentials of the faith. Further, even though many of the posts are doctrinal in nature, they are not intended to criticize any Southern Baptist who believes differently than I, but rather, to show those who believe differently that there is a Biblical basis for my view.

For instance, the idea that each and every disciple of Jesus Christ (man or woman) has the authority to baptize converts to the Christian faith is both Biblical and consistent with Baptist history and ecclesiology. There are some who believe the only ones with the proper "authority" to baptize are properly "ordained" ministers of a true gospel church (i.e. a Baptist church). I am not attempting to convince those of you who hold to the need for proper qualifications of the administrator of baptism to see it my way; I am simply asking that those of us in Southern Baptist circles who believe differently than you not be considered heretics, liberals, or unworthy of brotherly cooperation in our mission.

In other words, let's keep the main thing the main thing. However, for those of you who need evidence for the basis of the belief that every Christian has the authority to baptize a convert, you have to look no further than the 1644 London Baptist Confession of Faith, the wonderful statement of faith issued by the early English Baptists. In it there is a very clear article that describes the proper administrator of baptism, and the authors of the confession to declare that person to be any disciple of Christ.

The pertinent section of the 1644 London Confession follows with Scriptural texts that serve as the basis for the article follows:

Section XLI On Baptism.

The persons designed by Christ, to dispense this Ordinance (of baptism), the Scriptures hold forth to be a preaching Disciple, it being no where tied to a particular Church, Officer, or person extraordinarily sent, the Commission enjoining the administration, being given to them under no other consideration, but as considered Disciples. (Isa. 8:16; Matt. 28:16-19; John 4:1, 2; Acts 20:7; Matt. 26:26)


The adjective "preaching" that modifies the word "disciple" simply refers to the Christian who is proclaiming the gospel. In other words, as you witness about Christ, in fulfillment of the Great Commission, and someone to whom you "preach" (witness) comes to faith in Christ, it is your privilege to baptize that convert.


In His Grace,


Wade

31 comments:

Baptist Theologue said...

As stated in the blog, Article XLI of the 1644 London Confession (signed by 16 representatives of seven churches in London) states:

“The persons designed by Christ, to dispense this ordinance, the Scriptures hold forth to a preaching Disciple, it being no where tied to a particular church, officer, or person extraordinarily sent, the commission enjoining the administration, being given to them under no other consideration, but as considered Disciples.
Isa. 8:16; Mat. 28:16-19; John 4:1-2; Acts 20:7; Mat. 26:26”

http://www.reformedreader.org/ccc/h.htm

Chapter 28 of the 1689 Second London Confession (signed by 37 representatives of over 100 churches in England and Wales) states:

“These holy appointments are to be administered by those only who are qualified and thereunto called, according to the commission of Christ.
(Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 4:1 )”

http://www.reformedreader.org/ccc/1689lbc/english/Chapter28.htm

This description of administrators in the Second London Confession is identical to that in the Philadelphia Confession. As I mentioned in a comment on a previous blog on this site, Tull said that the Philadelphia Association interpreted this as meaning that only ordained ministers could administer baptism.

I haven’t thoroughly researched the difference between the two confessions in regard to the administrator of baptism, but apparently a stricter view on the administrator became dominant as Particular Baptists grew in number. According to Tull, the first Particular Baptist church was formed in 1638, six years before their first London confession of faith (1644) was written. (Some people argue that the first Particular Baptist church was started in 1633.) This church was eventually composed of a mixture of immersed and non-immersed people. The issue of immersion arose in 1641, as Tull described:

“About 1641, however, another issue emerged, when Richard Blunt, a member of the church, became persuaded that baptism ‘ought to be by dipping the body into the water, resembling burial and rising again.’ . . . The record relates that ‘Mr. Blunt Baptized Mr. Blacklock ye was a Teacher amongst them & Mr. Blunt being Baptized, he & Mr Blacklock Baptized ye rest of their friends that were so minded.’ . . . According to Crosby, the church affirmed that ‘baptizedness is not essential to the administrator.’ ‘They affirmed and practiced accordingly, that after a general corruption of baptism, an unbaptized person might warrantably baptize, and so begin a reformation.’ [Thomas Crosby, The History of the English Baptists, I, 1738-1746, p. 103] . . . From the first, several of the most prominent of the Particular Baptist leaders proceeded to organize Baptist churches with mixed membership, in order to prevent an acute break with fellow believers in Independent congregations who differed from them concerning baptism. . . . From the first, a few Particular Baptist churches adopted a stricter view, limiting both membership and communion to persons who had been baptized as believers. During the eighteenth century, the strict view gained in currency.” (Tull, "A History of Southern Baptist Landmarkism in the Light of Historical Baptist Ecclesiology," pp. 5-8)

In general, Kiffin had a stricter view on immersion than did Spilsbury. Both men signed the 1644 confession, but only Kiffin signed the 1689 confession. A disagreement between Particular Baptists in England was discussed by John Christian in chapter 17 of his “History of the Baptists”:

“It is now time to consider the history of another body of Baptists, who if not so numerous were at least highly influential. They were called Particular Baptists, since they held to Calvinistic views. Two views of the administrator of baptism prevailed among them. The first and oldest was that every Christian man could, without himself having been baptized, immerse a candidate upon a profession of faith. Later there were those who held that an administrator should have a succession from a previously baptized administrator. At times these views came into conflict and caused much troublesome discussion.”

http://www.pbministries.org/History/John%20T.%20Christian/vol1/history_17.htm

I don’t agree with either the 1644 or the 1689 confession in regard to the administrator of baptism. I do agree with the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message that baptism is a church ordinance. Thus, I believe that the local church is the administrator of baptism.

GeneMBridges said...

A bit of background to that statement is in order.

Particular Baptists of that era came to believers baptism by two roads. One sought succession from another church. The other reasoned, "Somebody has to go first."

The minutes of the Jacob church in 1640 showed that they determined to send Richard Blunt (who understood Dutch) to the Anabaptists to learn dipping from a Mr. Batte, a Waterlander Mennonite. Blunt performed the first immersion upon his return.

Not all particular Baptists approved of this. Thomas Crosby in The History of English Baptists wrote:

"But the greatest number of English Baptist, and the more judicious, looked upon all this (Blunt's mission) as needless trouble, and what proceded from the old Popish Doctrine of right to administer sacraments by an uninterupted succession, which neither the Church of Rome, nor the church of England, much less the modern Dissenters, could prove to be with them. They affirmed therefore, and practiced accordingly, that after a general corruption of baptism, an unbaptized person might warrantably baptize and so begin a reformation.

John Spilsbury did just that, reasoning in just such a manner, saying"Where thiere is a beginning some one must be first." He thus began baptizing believing succession neither possible nor necessary. Spilsbury has a hand in this confession's writing.
I'd add that the 1646 revision is the confession my own church uses.

In his Baptist catechism, the answer to the question of administration focuses on the mode of baptism and that the recipient is a believer. Nothing is said of the administrator.

The 1689 confession understands the officers of the church are to administer the ordinances. However, Baptist documents of the day argue for a plurality of elders, not a single-pastor model used in most churches day, contrary to the model followed by most of our churches.

Note A.H. Strong:

"And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel’ (1 Cor. 1:16, 17). Here it is evident that, although the pastor administers the ordinances, this is not his main work, nor is the church absolutely dependent upon him in the matter. He is not set, like an OT. priest, to minister at the altar, but to preach the gospel. In an emergency any other member appointed by the church may administer them with equal propriety, the church always determining who are fit subjects of the ordinances, constituting him their organ in administering them. Any other view is based on sacramental notions, and on ideas of apostolic succession" (SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY—By: Augustus H. Strong, Pg. 917

It would seem the consensus position is that the *preferred* administrator is a pastor/elder or church officer. However, this is the *uniform* practice. It would fit local churches in a *normative* state. One could proceed to argue v. the adminstration of baptism by "authorized" persons on the mission field from the position that such churches are not established, ergo not in their normative state, just as the Baptist churches in 1641 were not in their normative state.

Wade Burleson said...

Mr. Baptist Theologue,

We agree!

Baptism is a church ordinance as stated in the 2000 BF&M.

Now define a church. Is it an institution with officers? Or is it a group of people called out by Christ? In other words, can you define church as "they" or "it"?

This is the issue.

I personally believe the church is "they" (the called out ones), and "they" will look different on the mission field than in the USofA.

Anonymous said...

"I can cooperate with others who disagree, but can those who disagree cooperate with us?" and "the Privilege of Dissent"

Those sound all too familiar, just like the cry of many alienated by the "conservative resurgence". It's just that now the net is drawing tighter so that those who were the included are becoming the excluded.

At one extreme is the ideal of seeking stablity through tolerance and cooperation. At the other extreme is the ideal of seeking stability through adherence to held beliefs. The first focuses on inclusive relationships, "me" and "we". The second focuses on exclusive relationships, "us" and "them".

Just as many Southern Baptists cried "Enough is enough!" years ago, Wade and others are crying "Enough is enough!" today.

And tomorrow, well, that's the rest of the story.

Baptist Theologue said...

The New Testament qualifications for local churches are the same for churches in all cultures, whether those churches are under persecution or not. The description of a local church that is found in the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message applies to churches in all cultures. As the introduction to the confession states,

"Baptist churches, associations, and general bodies have adopted confessions of faith as a witness to the world, and as instruments of doctrinal accountability. We are not embarrassed to state before the world that these are doctrines we hold precious and as essential to the Baptist tradition of faith and practice."

The IMB, in asking its missionaries not to teach or practice things opposed to the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, clearly is using the confession as an instrument of doctrinal accountability and expects its missionaries to apply the confession around the world. The biblical truths described by the confession are universally applicable and are not limited to America.

The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message describes the local church as having two officers, pastors and deacons. It also says that the office of pastor is limited to men. The two offices may be temporarily vacant, but the two offices still exist in a local church. A group without the two offices is not a local church.

James Hunt said...

Jesus said the following:
"Go therefore and make disciples...
..."baptizing them...
..."teaching them..."

Question: The question that was at the beginning of the modern missionary movement...is the Great Commission for all Christians?

SBC Answer: Yes.

SBC Tradition: But only the ordained can baptize and administer the Lord's Supper.

Maybe we should revisit Scripture instead of focusing primarily on Baptist tradition?

Just a thought.

Former M said...

When Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, there was no church identification. It was his rite of conversion. When Paul baptized the Philippian jailer's household, they essentially became the local church through this rite of conversion. It was through baptism that they professed their faith in Christ, not as a secondary ritual looking back upon conversion.

We make too much of a distinction over sacramentalist concepts pertaining to ecclesiastical organization that have little to do with our understanding of faith.

Baptism today has two functions within our churches. 1-secondary profession of faith (we use the "sinner's prayer as the primary rite of conversion"); 2-rite of identification with/membership into the institution of the local church. We have already separated it from membership into the body of Christ, although we ignore having done so.

On the mission field, baptism is more closely associated with the primary rite of conversion. Since we are no longer speaking of baptism as conversion, our discussion loses its value. It becomes a discussion of polity rather than doctrine.

Early Baptists and Anabaptists did not use baptism as a secondary rite, but as the primary means of expressing the acceptance of Christ Jesus as Lord in opposition to ecclesiastical authority. As Catholic theology determined that it was the Church that conveyed salvific grace through the sacraments, this was a most unwelcomed stance against the papal structure. We demanded that the individual stand before God with no intermediary body. It is under the authority of Christ Jesus that salvation takes place. Discussions of the proper officiant go back to papal issues, placing a human mediator between one and God.

If baptism saves, there is something to argue about (sacrament). If baptism is a mode of entry into a local institution, there is something to argue about (polity). If baptism is a secondary rite of confirming one's acceptance of faith, it is not about the officiant, but the candidate. If baptism is the act of conversion, it is about the candidate's stance before God, not the officiant.

We need to learn to separate the aspects of our use of baptism and what it means.

Wes Kenney said...

Wade,

It strikes me that you may be somewhat inconsistent here with some of your previous comments. In commenting on a previous post, someone gave you a hypothetical about a student baptizing a friend, and you answered with a scenario in which that baptism could be seen as legitimate.

But you have expressed your agreement with the BF&M that baptism is an ordinance of the church, then issuing the challenge to define 'church.' If we agree with the BF&M, should we not accept its definition? It says in part:

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.


I agree that a church may look different 'over there', but the hypothetical you answered was about what your church would accept. I would agree that there could be a situation in which that teen's baptism of his friend could be valid, but wouldn't that necessarily include the approval of a church as defined above, since baptism is a church ordinance? Accepting it after the fact seems to me to be assigning the ordinance to individuals and not to the church.

I am not saying only a pastor can baptize. I believe the church can authorize whomever it is pleased to authorize to baptize. But in some statments you have said baptism belongs to "preaching disciples" and in some that it is a church ordinance.

Probably I'm missing something, and I'm hoping you can clear up my confusion.

Wade Burleson said...

Wes,

Great question.

Here is my answer.

The ekklesia (those people called out by Christ) can be called "the elect," "the Bride of Christ," "believers," or any other synonym of "the ekklesia" found in Scripture. "The ekklesia" are found within many "local, visible churches" and they are people that cross denominational boundaries.

The privilege to baptize converts is the privilege of the world wide ekklesia because the Great Commission was given to "EVERY DISCIPLE OF CHRIST."

The definition of "the church" in the BF&M is the definition of a "local, visible ekklesia." I do not disagree with the BF&M definition of "the church." However, it is not a definition of the universal ekklesia, but only the local, visible ekklesia. I am the pastor of one such local church. We take the ordinances of Christ seriously, and practice them in our church.

However, there are more "ekklesia" than within the walls of our local, visible church. When someone applies to our local church for membership, we examine that persons faith and baptism. We take seriously the ordinances of Christ.

If that called out person has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and gives us testimony of baptism by immersion at the hands of a disciple of Jesus Christ, then after examination of that prospective member's faith and baptism, finding it Biblical, we will receive that person into membership. This does not, in any form or fashion, violate the BF&M.

Anonymous said...

Baptist Theologue writes: The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message describes the local church as having two officers, pastors and deacons. It also says that the office of pastor is limited to men. The two offices may be temporarily vacant, but the two offices still exist in a local church. A group without the two offices is not a local church.

Yes, the BF&M says what you say above, but does Scripture? Does Scripture imply anywhere that without the two offices you don't have a local church?

Who were the pastor/deacons when Paul wrote the Corinithian church? the Thessalonian church? the Galatian churches, etc. Why didn't Paul address his letters to these officers if they are so important to a church being a church?

In all of Paul's letters he never mentions the pastor/deacons (exception Phil.1:1, and I believe he greets them as an afterthought in the last chapter of Hebrews) In churches with such complex problems like the Corinithian church, why didn't Paul instruct the pastor and deacons to deal with the situations?

No one is denying the importance of church leadership, nor the fact that Paul and his companions appointed elders to shepherd the newly established churches. But the N.T. emphasis is clearly on the fact that EVERY BELIEVER was responsible for Kingdom work. ALL BELIEVERS are to be about the Great Commission. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers and deacons have their functions (Eph.4:11-12) but it is stretching what Scripture has to say, to state you don't have a church without having the offices of pastors and deacons. I can't find that verse in my Bible.

Interesting and helpful discussion. I, for one, am learning much from these dialogues!

--Anon. M

Anonymous said...

Wade,

After today's blog was published, it appears you edited out the last line AFTER it was specifically commented on. That line read "I can cooperate with others who disagree, but can those who disagree cooperate with us?"

Please consider this a gentle exhortation to "play fair" in this regard.

This is a personal note and I will leave it to your discretion whether or not to add it to the comments.

Thanks.

Wade Burleson said...

Mr. Anonymous,

That line was deleted before you commented on it.

However, thanks for your admonishment. I promise I desire to play fair.

I deleted the line because I didn't think it even went with the general nature of the post, but will probably put it back up later this afternoon since you saw fit to comment on it.

GuyMuse said...

I'd like to comment on the following words by Wade...

"...the idea that each and every disciple of Jesus Christ (man or woman) has the authority to baptize converts to the Christian faith is both Biblical and consistent with Baptist history and ecclesiology. There are some who believe the only ones with the proper "authority" to baptize are properly "ordained" ministers of a true gospel church (i.e. a Baptist church)..."

I often wish the New Testament were clearer on this particular issue. It would save a lot of controversy! Since there are no speicific commands/teachings about this issue, we have to look to the narrative portions of the book of Acts to see the patterns practiced by the early church.

It is here that we clearly see what Wade is talking about. The emphasis is not on who is doing the baptizing, but in whose name they were baptized. I can only find a couple of passages where the name of the baptizer is mentioned (Ananias, Philip). The rest of the narrative passages only state that they were baptized without making an issue of the administrator.

Since there were no ordained ministers, as such, back then, we can deduce that when Christ authorized the twelve to go, make disciples, baptize, and teach, He was referring to all the disciples that were to follow in their steps after they had long passed on.

The London Confession of 1644 is a most interesting document. Even the 1689 version does not contradict in my opinion the position spelled out in the first version.

I would invite all to read the Scriptures they use to back up the baptism statement. A couple of them are a little hard to understand where they are coming from, but if you add to these the narrative passages on baptism found in ACTS, it becomes a lot easier to understand the truth that all believers have been given this authority through Christ Himself.

Baptist Theologue said...

Anonymous M., you asked,

“Does Scripture imply anywhere that without the two offices you don't have a local church?”

Scripture implies that all local churches have the two offices. Paul gave instructions for Timothy in regard to the qualifications of pastors and deacons in 1 Timothy 3:1-12. Paul told Timothy, “Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily” (1 Timothy 5:22). Paul also explained the qualifications of pastors to Titus (1:6-9) so that Titus would “set in order what remains, and appoint elders in every city as I directed you” (Titus 1:5). Paul was thus very concerned about having proper officers in all the churches. On his first missionary journey, Paul “appointed elders for them in every church” (Acts 14:23).

John Gill commented on Acts 14:23:

“As soon as ever any number of disciples were made, or souls were converted to Christ in any place, they were at once formed, by the apostles, into a church state; and as the gifts, as well as the grace of the Holy Ghost, attended the ministry of the word, so among those that were converted, there were some that were honoured with ministerial gifts, qualifying them to preach the Gospel, and take upon them the care of the churches: these the apostles directed the churches to look out from among themselves, as in the case of deacons, an inferior office, who by joint suffrages declared their choice of them by the stretching out, or lifting up of their hands, as the word here used signifies, and not the imposition of them; and the apostles presiding in this affair, they were installed into the office of bishops, elders, or pastors over them; which expresses the great regard the apostles had to the order, as well as to the doctrine of the Gospel, and the concern they had for the welfare of souls converted under their ministry, by making a provision for them when they were gone.”

http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/GillsExpositionoftheBible/gil.cgi?book=ac&chapter=14&verse=23

docadams said...

baptist theologue, you said “The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message describes the local church as having two officers, pastors and deacons…. The two offices may be temporarily vacant, but the two offices still exist in a local church. A group without the two offices is not a local church.” I would like to ask you to quote scripture that says deacons are officers of the church and a group without a deacon is not a church.

Oh, I know the 1 Tim. passage in KJV that refers to one who serves well in the office of deacon. However, they just added the bit about the office. It is not in the Greek. The Greek New Testament simply refers to “those having served well.”

I also know that many of us have taken this passage to be the qualifications for the office of deacon. However the passage explicitly rules out this interpretation. It is one of the very few passage where the writer gives the reason he is writing. A literal translation reads, “These things I write to you,… that you may know how to behave in the house of God, which is the church….”

The passage we have interpreted as qualifications for the office of deacon are instead instructions on how servants are to behave in the church. In fact the whole chapter deals with instructions on how church members are to behave whether they are overseers (church leaders), servants (regular members) or women.

The word translated as “wives” is about equally translated as “wives” or “women” in the NT. The deciding factor is the context. There is nothing grammatical that causes the Greek word to be translated “wives” in this passage. However, if you are trying to include every class of persons (in their societal understand) within the church you would want to include overseers, servants and women.

Therefore the 1 Tim. 3 passage is about how to behave in the church whether you are a leader, regular member of a woman. It does not relate to an “office of deacon”, but to the role of a servant. The NT does not demand the office of a deacon no matter what the BF&M says. I prefer to take my stand on the Word and not a man made document about the Word.

Kevin said...

Wade
Could it be the reason we don’t know who did the baptisms in the first church is because maybe it was that local churches business and not up to outside forces to make that decision for them as long as it was per what Christ had told them. (which in scripture says is by emersion and done by another believer) The thought comes to me that the ekklesia (those people called out by Christ) make the decision on who they want to be the person or persons to perform this joyful duty. I can’t find any where in scripture that the duty of the Elder/Bishop/Pastor is to be the only one who performs this duty. If I am off base on this could some one please let me know?

P.S.
Paul shouldn’t have baptized anyone if we say only the pastor could perform baptism because wasn’t he the evangelist and or the missionary?

Just a thought.
Kevin

Anonymous said...

For you who agree to abide by the 2000 BF&M, yet believe it is OK for women to baptize, serve as deacons, ministers, etc., how can you reconcile all of this? I am one who cannot accept these restrictions of the 2000 man-made document (creed). Just sign me as a "free and faithful" Baptist.

steve w said...

Baptist Theologue,
I want to make sure I understand you. Are you saying (based on the Bible, John Gill, and the Confessions) that every church started in the book of Acts immediately had elders and deacons? That Paul never departed one of his church plants without leaving behind pastors and deacons? If so, are you saying that these elders and deacons were from among the new converts? If Paul did depart one or more of his church plants without appointing elders and deacons, are you saying these church plants were not churches? How does what you are saying square with Titus 1:5 where Paul instructs Titus to appoint elders in every city (obviously more than one or two cities) for the church plants that were already established there?

Baptist Theologue said...

Docadams, the Greek scholar Marvin Vincent convincingly argued that because a Greek article did not appear before the word “women” and because the word “women” appears incidentally in the discussion about deacons, the word “women” should be interpreted as wives of deacons rather than as deaconesses:

“Probably correct, although some find a reference to an official class of women - deaconesses (so Ellicott, Holtzmann, Alford). But the injunction is thrown incidentally into the admonition concerning Deacons, which is resumed at 1 Ti 3:12; and if an official class were intended we should expect something more specific than [gunaikas] women or wives without the article. A Deacon whose wife is wanting in the qualities required in him, is not to be chosen. She would sustain an active relation to his office, and by her ministries would increase his efficiency, and by frivolity, slander, or intemperance, would bring him and his office into disrepute.”

Marvin Vincent, The Pastoral Epistles, vol. IV in Word Studies in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), 236.

Docadams, you said,

“I also know that many of us have taken this passage to be the qualifications for the office of deacon. However the passage explicitly rules out this interpretation. It is one of the very few passage where the writer gives the reason he is writing. A literal translation reads, ‘These things I write to you,… that you may know how to behave in the house of God, which is the church….’”

Remember that Paul is writing to Timothy. The “you” in “write to you” (3:14) is “soi,” a personal pronoun that is second person, dative, singular. The “you” in “you may know” (3:15) is second person singular, according to the ending of the verb “eides,” the second perfect active subjunctive of “oida.”

Steve W., you asked,

“I want to make sure I understand you. Are you saying (based on the Bible, John Gill, and the Confessions) that every church started in the book of Acts immediately had elders and deacons?”

The word “church” is used at the beginning of Paul’s first journey when he left the church at Antioch in Syria (Acts 13:1), and it is not used again until the end of the journey when he appointed pastors (Acts 14:23). Apparently he started outreach groups at Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch, and then he constituted churches when he returned to those cities (14:21-23).

You also asked,

“How does what you are saying square with Titus 1:5 where Paul instructs Titus to appoint elders in every city (obviously more than one or two cities) for the church plants that were already established there?”

Titus 1:5 states the following:

“For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you.”

You mentioned “church plants that were already established there.” These are not mentioned in the verse.

GuyMuse said...

baptist theologue (in response to Anonymous M) writes:

"Scripture implies that all local churches have the two offices. Paul gave instructions for Timothy in regard to the qualifications of pastors and deacons in 1 Timothy 3:1-12."

I would agree that having shepherds and servants in a local church is a good thing, but it is not essential in order to be a church.

There are many churches that we relate to as a missionaries that do not have these offices, but they ARE churches. They function as a church in every respect, but many do not have named pastors or deacons. All of them do have servant leaders who have taken on the role/function of caring for the flock in their locale.

The I Timothy 3 passage gives qualifications for those desiring to be bishops/pastors/overseers, but having this person named to an office is again, not essential to having a N.T. church.

If your pastor were to go to be with the Lord tomorrow, would you still be a church? Yes, of course. The ekklesia is not dependent upon the filling of a human office in order to be the church of Jesus Christ.

Someone above points out the fact that there were churches on the island of Crete before they had elders. Paul sent Titus to name elders to churches already in existence.

Most likely these elders were mature, responsible new believers and had earned the trust of the church to be named elders when Titus arrived back on the scene.

Mary Ann said...

I am not a theologian, but the mom of a Baylor student. The most moving baptism I've ever witnessed took place in Waco, a year or two ago, while visiting a church there. Even though the pastor was present, he did not perform the baptism. Instead, about 4-5 people gathered around the portable baptisry, including a woman. This was way outside of my little Baptist box, and my first impression was, "Just what kind of church is this? What in the world is going on?" It turned out those they were members of a cell group in the church. One-by-one, each told part of the story of how the baptizee came to know Christ through the ministry of the cell group. Then they asked him for a testimony of his faith, and from where I was sitting, it looked like they jointly baptized him. My heart melted, as well as the walls of my little Baptist box. I sat there wondering, "That was beautiful, but was it Scriptural?" As a visitor, I have no idea if any of the cell group members were ordained ministers, but it didn't seem so. The woman was a missionary who had been imprisoned in Afghanistan several years ago and released. I have since searched the Word to find out what it really says about baptism, and I can find nothing that these people, the ones who led him to Christ, violated in baptizing that joyful young man in front of their whole congregation. I wish I could see that every Sunday!

Anonymous said...

mary ann,

forgive this off topic remark ... but I would be remiss if I did not make it (I assume it passes muster with the moderator).

As your Christian brother, I would urge you to please carefully watch your child. Antioch Community Church - IMHO - can be a very dangerous place. Not only does the church practice a spiritual hierarchy, which fits perfect topically into Mr. Burleson's plight with the IMB, but also there have been numerous reports of physical and psychological abuse.

The church relies on the cult of personality of its pastor and its charismatic leaders, which are untrained college students. The church decries anything outside its walls including Christian community and formal education.

I do not want to sound as if I convict every member of Antioch ... I have several close friends who attend and are leaders there. However, they walk a fine line between charisma and psychological torture. I would just admonish you to be a good parent (not that you are not) - talk to your child, find out what is going on, monitor the chruch.

This is just a word of warning from a fellow Christian ... you may test this spirit or disregard it as your prayers see fit.

Baptist Theologue said...

James, you said,

“Someone above points out the fact that there were churches on the island of Crete before they had elders. Paul sent Titus to name elders to churches already in existence.”

I see no evidence that the churches were already in existence. There is no evidence that Paul was there long enough to establish churches; rather, it appears that he assigned Titus to the task of appointing pastors in every city. It was a huge task because the island was reputed to have 100 cities.

Albert Barnes commented on Titus 1:5:

“In every city - Crete was anciently celebrated for the number of its cities. In one passage Homer ascribes to the island 100 cities (Iliad ii. 649), in another, 90 cities (Odyssey xix. 174). It may be presumed that many of these cities were towns of not very considerable size, and yet it would seem probable that each one was large enough to have a church, and to maintain the gospel. Paul, doubtless, expected that Titus would travel over the whole island, and endeavor to introduce the gospel in every important place.”

John Gill commented on Titus 1:5:

“Here Paul preached the Gospel to the conversion of many; but not having time to finish what he begun, left Titus here for that purpose: that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting; that is, form the young converts into Gospel order, into a regular Gospel church state.”

Some other quotes about Titus and Crete from secular sites:

“The presence of Romans did not influence the daily life and habits of Cretans who retained their language and worshipping customs. This is the time when Crete first heard about Christianity and the first church was founded by Agios Titus, the islands’ protector saint and apostle Paul’s student.”

http://www.ancientworlds.net/aw/Article/687421

“Other highlights at Gortyna (which was capital of Roman Crete and Cyrene) include the Church of St Titus, where Christianity was first introduced to the island and the Temple of Apollo Pythios, dating from 700 BC.”

http://www.wordtravels.com/Travelguide/Countries/Greece/Regions/Crete

Docadams said...

Baptist Theologue, I am very impressed with your ability to quickly search out scholarly quotes and with your intimate knowledge of Greek. It is a gift of God and I appreciate your development of that gift and your use of it in His kingdom.

Yet I fear you missed my main point. I wanted to know if there is any scripture that says that deacons are officers of the church. I have not been able to find the instructions to appoint deacons or the appointing of deacons in the NT. Where am I missing the “office of deacon?”

Five times out of more than 90 occurrences in the NT, the word “diakonos” it is transliterated “deacon.” The rest of the occurrences it is translated in a form of the word “minister” or “serve.” I think the translators did us a disservice by transliterating it as “deacon.” I can find no grammatical, contextual or historical reason for the use of the word “deacon” in the NT.

I wonder why Marvin Vincent complicated things by indicating “gunaikas” should be “interpreted as wives of deacons rather than deaconesses.” It is simply “women”. It needs no further amplification. That is the simple, literal reading of the word. I believe Paul wrote what he meant to say. I do not need to change it around to fit my traditional theology about deacons and deacon wives.

Of course Paul is writing to Timothy. He is writing to Timothy about how people ought to behave in the church. He wanted Timothy to know so Timothy could instruct others, no matter who they may be.

Now, back to my question. Can you show me in scripture where Deacons are officers of the church? I would rather not carry on vain arguments where neither of us is going to convince the other to change their mind. I believe there is a biblical role for the people we call deacons, but I do not believe there can be shown to be a biblical office of deacon. Prove me wrong and I will change my opinion about this.

Baptist Theologue said...

Docadams, in 1 Timothy 3:1 the phrase "office of overseer" is found in the New American Standard Bible, but "office" is not there in the Greek text. Nevertheless, biblical scholars view 1 Timothy 3:1-7 as describing an office. Verse 6 says the person described must not be a new convert. So, the passage is clearly not describing all Christians, because new converts are Christians. A high moral standard is being described in the passage. The word "likewise" is used to introduce the next type of person described in verse 8. Again, some high moral standards are mentioned which excluded some church members.

You earlier said,

"In fact the whole chapter deals with instructions on how church members are to behave whether they are overseers (church leaders), servants (regular members) or women."

I disagree with you when you say that the passage (verses 1-12) describes how every church member should behave. The passage gives qualifications. It describes two groups of people who are held to higher moral standards than are the other church members. For instance, both groups include only men who are husbands of one wife. Not all church members meet that standard, and such members are disqualified from being in the two groups.

If you are looking for the word "office" to put with the word "deacon," you will not find it in the Greek. Neither will you find the word "office" with pastor/elder/overseer.

Another passage affecting Southern Baptist opinion on deacons is Acts 6:1-6. These seven men were not called deacons, but they did minister to widows, and this service relates well to the root meaning of the Greek word for deacon. They were chosen because of their good reputations by the church at Jerusalem, and the apostles "laid their hands on them."

I think you will agree that most Southern Baptists believe that there are two offices: pastor and deacon. That consensus of opinion is reflected in the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.

T. D. Webb said...

Reading the dialogue of comments on this post reminds this observer that these different perspectives on nonessential doctrines of the Christian faith (such as who is authorized to baptize) can be debated freely without making it a test of fellowship or cooperation to fellow Baptists who hold a different view of said doctrines. Otherwise, we risk doing irreparable damage to the mission to which Christ called us, and the SBC as a whole. . .which proves what Wade was asserting from the beginning is right-on- target.

docadams said...

Baptist Theologue, I agree that most Southern Baptist believe that there are two officers of the local church: pastor and deacon. I also believe we must give great weight to orthodox interpretations. However, orthodoxy must never be our final authority. Otherwise we would still be Roman Catholics because Martin Luther could never have won out over the orthodox view held by the majority.

Yes, 1 Tim. 3:6 does insist on the person not being a new convert. But that verse is referring to “Overseer” and not “servant”. And yes, a high moral standard is laid down for all members. In fact, none of us are qualified for office or membership in the church outside the grace of God. Paul is laying down a high moral standard for all church members that exceeds their past performance. They are being challenged to do better than they have ever done before.

I respectfully disagree with you that Paul is describing “two groups of people who are held to higher moral standards than are the other church members.” I believe all church members should strive for the ideal of marital fidelity and monogamy.

Paul clearly states that he is writing “that you may know how to behave in the house of God,…” I find it hard to get around this direct reference to what he has just written and say it is instead a set of standards to be used to judge if someone is qualified to hold an office in the church.

I agree with you that the word “office” in the Greek is also not used in conjunction with pastor/elder/overseer. However, Paul does instruct Titus to “appoint” elders. The act of appointing indicates they are being appointed to an office or official position. No such instructions are given in relation to deacons.

I also agree that Acts 6:1-6 affects the Southern Baptist opinion on deacon. I think we can all agree that these “servants” or “ministers” were the precursors of our modern office of deacon. They were put in charge of the business of ministry. That is still a good and biblical role for those folks we now call deacons. I think we should “lay hands on” or set apart every Christian who is answering God’s call to ministry.

Baptist Theologue, I appreciate you making me think deeply about my theological opinions. I try to always reserve the right to be wrong. Only in this way can I grow in my understanding of God and his will for my life. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Wade,

On what scripture(s) do you base your belief that "While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture."?

Baptist Theologue said...

Docadams, you're welcome. I think we were both edified by the discussion. Best wishes to you.

Baptist Theology said...

Dear Rev. Burleson,

You conclude from article XLI of the 1644 Confession that "preaching Disciple" means any Christian.

If I may quote you: 'The adjective "preaching" that modifies the word "disciple" simply refers to the Christian who is proclaiming the gospel. In other words, as you witness about Christ, in fulfillment of the Great Commission, and someone to whom you "preach" (witness) comes to faith in Christ, it is your privilege to baptize that convert.'

Actually, if you will look at article XLV of the same confession, you will discover that those who have "the appointment of the congregation [may] prophesie," and this was only after they had been examined and proved. Reformation theologians understood "prophesying" as "preaching," a function traditionally reserved for ordained ministers. As William Kiffin, one of the authors of the 1644 Confession, shared with the anti-Baptist Daniel Featley, who accused Baptists of not maintaining an ordained ministry, "None amongst us teach teach, but they have ordination; for they are elected, examined and proved."

In other words, the authors of the 1644 Confession would not agree with your construal of their position. The early English Particular Baptists did not understand Baptism as a Christian ordinance but as a Church Ordinance, just like Southern Baptists.

Historians recognize that it is best to read entire documents and in their historical context. If it is any help to you, I have discussed some of these issues in detail in "Changing Baptist Concepts of Royal Priesthood: John Smyth and Edgar Young Mullins," in The Rise of the Laity in Evangelical Protestantism, ed. by Deryck Lovegrove, Routledge, 2002, 236-52.

In Christ,
Malcolm Yarnell

Baptist Theology said...

Dear Rev. Burleson,

Your construal of the 1644 Confession which you cite in your blog, "Theology, Baptist History, and the Privilege of Dissent," and conclude is applicable to every Christian is actually a misunderstanding of the authors' meaning. Please compare the 45th article of the same confession which confines preaching (or 'prophesying' as these children of the Reformation commonly said) to those who had been 'appointed' by the congregation.

The anti-Baptist writer, Daniel Featley, in agreement with your conclusion, tried to argue at about the same time that Baptists did not maintain the ministry in preaching and administering the ordinances. Featley was writing against the Baptists and spread many untruths about them. However, William Kiffin publicly disagreed with Featley's misconstrual of the Baptists. Kiffin was one of the major signatories to the 1644 Confession (and to the later 1677/89 Confession, which holds a similar position). The Baptist Kiffin responded directly to this accusation with these words, 'None amongst us teach, but they have ordination; for they are elected, examined and proved.' In other words, only those who are ordained teach and only those who teach administer the church ordinances.

The 1644 Confession, a wonderful historic Baptist document, when read in context and in its entirety, affirms that only ordained ministers may baptize. I pray that this helps you arrive at an historically accurate reading of the 1644 Confession according to the original intent of the early Baptists.

I have discussed these issues more in depth in, "Changing Baptist Concepts of Royal Priesthood: John Smyth and Edgar Young Mullins," in The Rise of the Laity in Evangelical Protestantism, ed. by Deryck Lovegrove, Routledge, 2002, 236-52.

In Christ,
Malcolm Yarnell