5 reasons you are congregational in government and not a Presbyterian

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Christopher88

Puritan Board Sophomore
Reformed Baptist;
List five reasons with scripture as to why you are congregational in government and not Presbyterian..

Doing some research....

If Presbyterians want to add there five reasons as to why they are Presbyterian I would like to hear it as well..

Blessings,
 

Loopie

Puritan Board Freshman
I apologize that I cannot give you any reasons, because we are not congregational in government. We are elder ruled and elder led, with a plurality of elders. I am sure that perhaps there are other Reformed Baptists who are the same, although I recognize that there are many who are indeed congregational.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Piper’s Reasons for Elder-led, Congregationalism Polity in the local church | Jesus Christ is Better than All

Under Christ and his Word, the decisive court of appeal in the local church in deciding matters of disagreement is the gathered church assembly.

Principle Six

Under Christ and his Word, the decisive court of appeal in the local church in deciding matters of disagreement is the gathered church assembly. (This is implied, first, in the fact that the leaders are not to lead by coercion, but by persuasion and free consent [1 Peter 5:3], second, in the fact that elders may be censured [1 Timothy 5:19], and third, in the fact that Matthew 18:15-20 and 1 Corinthians 5:4 depict the gathered church assembly as the decisive court of appeal in matters of discipline).

1 Peter 5:1-3

Therefore, I exhort the elders among you. . . shepherd the flock of God among you. . . not as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.

1 Timothy 5:19-20

Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.

Matthew 18:15-17

If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

1 Corinthians 5:4-5

In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, [you are to] deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.


Principle Seven


The local congregation therefore should call and dismiss its own leaders (implied in the preceding principle).

Second London Confession, 1677 and 1688

Article 26, paragraph 8

A particular Church gathered, and completely Organized, according to the mind of Christ, consists of Officers, and Members; And the Officers appointed by Christ to be chosen and set apart by the Church (so called and gathered) for the peculiar Administration of Ordinances, and Execution of power, or Duty which he entrusts them with, or calls them to, to be continued to the end of the World, are Bishops or Elders and Deacons.
My bold-facing
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Reason for Presbyterianism according to the Westminster Assembly of Divines

More than five reasons perhaps for Presbyterianism. I am currently working on a new edition of the debate papers between the Congregationalists (aka the Independents) and Presbyterians at the Westminster Assembly (known as the Grand Debate). Below are the Presbyterian majority's propositions which were at the heart of the debates. The attached PDF has some source material in the margins. I hope to publish early at least sometime next year, D.V.View attachment GrandDebateProps.pdf
The Third Proposition Concerning Presbyterial Government, as it was voted in the Assembly and sent up to both the Honourable Houses of Parliament

The Scripture does hold forth that many particular congregations may be under one Presbyterial government.
This Proposition is proved by instances.


  1. Instance, of the church of Jerusalem, which consisted of more congregations than one, and all those congregations were under one Presbyterial government.
This appears, thus,

i. The church of Jerusalem consisted of more congregations than one, as is manifest.

1. By the multitude of believers, mentioned in divers texts collated:

Both before the dispersion of the believers there, by means of the persecution (mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 8, in the beginning thereof). Witness Acts 1:11, and Acts 2:41, 46, 47, and Acts 4:4, and Acts 5:14 and Acts 6:1, 7. And also after the dispersion, Acts 9:31 and Acts 12:24, and Acts 21:20.

2. By the many apostles and other preachers in the church of Jerusalem. If there were but one congregation there, then each apostle preached but seldom, which will not consist with Acts 6:2.

3. The diversity of languages among the believers, mentioned both in the second and sixth chapters of the Acts, does argue more congregations than one in the church.

ii. All those congregations were under one presbyterial government, because,

1. They were one church, Acts 8:1 and Acts 2:47, compared with Acts 5:11, Acts 12:5 and Acts 15:4.

2. The elders of that church are mentioned Acts 11:30 and Acts 15:4, 6, 22 and Acts 21:17, 18.

3. The apostles did the ordinary acts of presbyters as presbyters in that church; which proves a presbyterial church before the dispersion, Acts 6.

4. The several congregations in Jerusalem being one church, the elders of the church are mentioned, as meeting together for acts of government (Acts 11:30 and Acts 15:4, 6, 22 and Acts 21:17, 18, and so forwards); which proves that these several congregations were under one presbyterial government.

And whether these congregations were fixed or not fixed, in regard of officers or members, it is all one as to the truth of the proposition.

Nor does there appear any material difference between the several congregations in Jerusalem, and the many congregations now in the ordinary condition of the church, as to the point of fixedness in regard of officers or members.

Therefore the Scripture does hold forth, that many congregations may be under on presbyterial government.

II. Instance of the church of Ephesus; for,

i. That there were more congregations than one in the church of Ephesus, appears by Acts 20:31, where is mention of Paul’s continuance at Ephesus, in preaching for the space of three years; and Acts 19:18, 19, 20 where the special effect of the Word is mentioned, and verses 10 and 17 of the same chapter, where is a distinction of Jews and Greeks, and 1 Corinthians. 16:8, 9 where is a reason of Paul’s stay at Ephesus until Pentecost, and verse 19 where is mention of a particular church, in the house of Aquila and Pricilla then at Ephesus, as appears, chapter 18, verses 19, 24, 26, all which laid together do prove that the multitudes of believers did make more congregations than one in the church of Ephesus.

ii. That there were many elders over these many congregations as one flock, appears, Acts 20: 17, 25, 28, 30, 36.

iii. That those many congregations were one church, and that they were under one presbyterial government, appears, Revelation 2:1–6 joined with Acts 20: 17, 28.

Concordat Cum originali.
Adoniram Byfield, Scriba
The Propositions concerning the Subordination of Assemblies as they were voted in the Assembly of Divines.

1. Synodical assemblies may lawfully be of several sorts, as provincial, national, and ecumenical.

2. It is lawful and agreeable to the Word of God that there be a subordination of congregational, classical, provincial and national assemblies for the government of the Church.

{Proof of it,

Matthew chapter 18 holding forth the subordination of an offending brother to a particular church, it does also by a parity of reason hold forth the subordination of a congregation to superior assemblies.

3. In the several sorts of assemblies of the government of the Church, it is lawful and agreeable to the Word of God that appeals may be from the inferior to the superior respectively.

The proof brought for the subordination of Assemblies, proves the lawfulness of appeals from the inferior to the superior.

It is agreeable to the light of nature, that he who is wronged and deprived of his right by one power, should have recourse to another power, which may restore unto him his right again, and rescind the sentence whereby he was wronged; else there would be no powerful remedy provided to remove wrong and to preserve right.}

*The text in braces does not appear in the draft Directory of December 11, 1644, and the three points without proofs are condensed to one with an additional paragraph added, in the final version of the Directory (see Minutes, 5.212).

The Proposition concerning Ordination, as it was voted in the Assembly of Divines.

It is very requisite that no single congregation that can conveniently associate, do assume to itself all and sole power in ordination.

1. Because there is no example in Scripture that any single congregation which might conveniently associate, did assume to itself all and sole power in ordination; neither is there any rule which may warrant such a practice.

2. Because there is in Scripture, example of an ordination in a presbytery over divers congregations; as in the Church of Jerusalem, where were many congregations; these many congregations were under one presbytery, and this presbytery did ordain.
Concordat Cum originali.
Adoniram Byfield, Scriba
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
http://www.opc.org/OS/html/V5/2f.html
The Biblical Origins of the Presbytery
Ross Graham

Extracted from Ordained Servant vol. 5, no. 2 (April 1996).

....

The nineteenth century produced a number of fine Presbyterian politists, among them Charles Hodge, Samuel Miller and James Thornwell. But it was Thomas Witherow (1824- 1890) of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland who mastered the art of simplifying Presbyterian polity into its basic parts. From his biblical study of the apostolic church he derived six basic principles of biblical church government. These six also describe many of the most salient elements of our Presbyterian form of government. They may be summarized briefly as follows:

A. The office bearers were chosen by the people. (Acts 1:21-26; Acts 6:1-6) Acts 1:21-26 is the study of the choosing of Matthias. Someone was to replace the traitor Judas who had gone in and out with Jesus the whole time; and the larger group of one hundred and twenty did the choosing. Acts 6:1-6 records the story of the choosing of the first deacons. In each case, standards of experience and character were listed for who the candidates should be, then men were put forward and the choice was made, not by the leaders but by the people themselves. By deduction, the conclusion may also be drawn that the qualifications listed in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1 were given near the completion of the canon with the intention that the people would continue to choose their officers in perpetuity.

B. The office of bishop and the office of elder were identical. (Acts 20:17,28; Titus 1:5-7) In Acts 20:17 Paul calls the elders of the church in Ephesus to the seacoast at Miletus, and then in the same context and to those same men he says in verse 28, “Be shepherds...serving as overseers.” The term elder, presbuterouV, refers to the Jewish “grayhead,” probably a euphemism for “older man.” It was this system of elders which Moses had set in place in consultation with Jethro in Exodus 18. The term bishop or overseer, episkopouV, was the word used to describe the man in charge of the servants. He was the overseer of the slaves. Parallel to this but much later in the first century in Titus 1:5 Paul instructs Titus to set in order the things lacking and appoint elders. But in verse 7 Paul describes those same men as bishops or overseers. It appears that with the Gentilization of the church a new terminology was appropriated to describe men of a younger age than grayheads but who assured a corresponding responsibility as overseers of God’s servants. Thus the two words are used interchangeably in the Scriptures.

C. There was a plurality of elders in each church (Acts 14:23; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:5). In Acts 14:23 Paul had gone back through the churches which he and Barnabas had helped to establish in the Galatian region and it is recorded that they appointed elders in every church. Note the plural, implying more than one. In Titus, Paul speaks of appointing elders in every city. It could be argued that these were house churches and that the elders were actually pastors. But Philippians 1:1 is addressed to the episkopoiV kaiV diakonoiV, the elders and the deacons of that church. So comparing Scripture with Scripture, the evidence seems to indicate that a plurality existed in each ecclesiastical unit. While some argue that the plurality implied here is that of an elder or pastor in every house church of a city, it is difficult to see how the infant works of a church planter like Titus could be large enough to have “pastors” in local congregations scattered throughout a single city. The evidence seems rather to indicate that the plurality existed within the same local church.

D. Ordination was the act of the presbytery—of the plurality of elders (Acts 6:6; I Timothy 4:14). In the narrative concerning the ordination of the first deacons in Acts 6:6, the apostles laid their hands on them. The I Timothy 4:14 ordination of Timothy was by the laying on of hands of the group of men comprising the presbytery. In 2 Timothy 1, Paul speaks to Timothy about “the laying on of my hands.” It is appropriate to understand that he was saying that he participated with the other elders in the laying on of hands. I have personally used such language when speaking hard words to men who were close to me. “I was one of those who laid hands on you now shape up.” Witherow’s point here was not necessarily to demonstrate the existence of a presbytery as we know of it with a moderator and a clerk. It was rather to dispel any notion of apostolic succession, or of a developing ecclesiastical hierarchy. What is here demonstrated is that ordination is an act of a group of elders, and that a fraternity or a college of elders was being created which collectively had and conferred that authority, as contrasted with any notion of an apostolic conference of authority.

E. There was the privilege of appeal to the assembly of elders and the right of the church to speak (Acts 15:1-29). Acts 15 is a benchmark in the development of ecclesiastical polity and provides an enormous amount of principle information. What is being taught here may be summarized in two words—appeal and connection. As the problem with the Judaizers unfolded, these two concepts ran as themes throughout. The church in Antioch knew instinctively that it had recourse to other elders and that disputes could be resolved. They knew also that they were not alone. They shared intimate connection with people of widely differing cultural background but like precious faith. What follows below will be a further development of this concept.

F. The only head of the Church was the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18). It’s never unwise to state the obvious. The Church is a mystical body which only manifests part of its true nature here on earth. The Church is ruled by Christ himself, and those who have positions of authority always take second place to him. It may be important to note that Calvin and the original form of our standards express unnecessary harshness concerning the church at Rome, calling the Pope the Antichrist. Two centuries later Witherow restated this principle by removing the caustic rhetoric but reaffirming that the Church cannot have another head but the Lord Jesus Christ. But it must also be acknowledged that if this concept was distorted and abused once in the history of the church, it could be so again. The Lord Jesus Christ and he alone rules his Church for his own glory.
2. Axioms Derived from the Presbyterian Principle of Connectionalism

Presbyterian polity is not a subject widely discussed by the ancient church. It took the Protestant Reformers to look afresh at the issues of government and structure. But the Presbyterian form of government has developed, like the rest of Reformed theology, by applying logical reasoning to compared and contrasted biblical information (e.g. the doctrines of the trinity, the person of Christ, the covenant, etc.) It would be naive for us to believe that our present form of Presbyterian polity flows directly from the pages of the Bible. It does, however, flow from the above stated biblical principles. Having reviewed those principles, two axioms may now be derived from Witherow’s fifth principle which are applicable to the biblical study of the development of the presbytery.

A. The decisions of some bodies of elders extended beyond the local flock to the surrounding region (Acts 11:19-26, Acts 15:1- 29, 16:1-5). Within the story of the founding of the church at Antioch in Acts 11 it is important to observe the reaction of the church in Jerusalem in verse 22. The news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. Here the elders in Jerusalem may be observed exercising good oversight in response to what was happening in their newly enlarged district as a result of the diaspora. They sent their man to investigate, and he indicated his approval. In Acts 15, in addressing the problem with the Judaizers, the regional church made decisions that applied beyond Jerusalem, all the way to Antioch. But in Acts 16:4 it is recorded that Paul and Silas went through the cities of the Galatian region and delivered to them the decrees to keep which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. How did they have the right to do that? They knew instinctively that the decisions of some bodies of elders extended beyond the local flock to the surrounding region.

B. Office bearers were subject to the body of elders of the region in which bounds they ministered (Acts 21:17-27; Galatians 1:18-2:14). If it is postulated that Paul’s letter to the Galatians was written before the Jerusalem council occurred and that the letter served as Paul’s brief to the council itself, then the story of Peter’s visit to Antioch takes on an interesting significance. Chronologically, Acts 11 and 13 provide the information that there is a fully functioning session in Antioch. In Galatians 2:11-14 Paul is therefore speaking with the authority of the teachers when he rebukes Peter. “I withstood him to his face” he says, “because he was to be blamed.” Peter was under the authority of another jurisdiction when he visited Antioch. Acts 21 is a passage which needs to be studied more carefully for its insights into church polity. Here Paul finally arrived back to Jerusalem despite repeated warnings that he would be arrested. In verse 18, he met with the elders of the regional church there and gave them details of all that God was doing among the Gentiles. But since they had been informed that Paul was teaching concepts which were contrary to Judaism, they gave him instructions in verse 23 concerning how he should conduct himself in their region. Paul had come into their district, was subject to their authority and he did what they told him. Though Paul could say in Colossians 2:16, “Let no one be your judge in food or drink or in regard to festival or new moon or Sabbath,” and in Galatians 2:3, that “not even Titus, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised,” Paul took a vow, because he was subject to the elders of the region in which bounds he was ministering.
3. Implications Which Flow from the Biblical Origin of the Presbytery

A. There is a body understood as a regional church. The book of Galatians was written to a regional church. There is no town of Galatia. The book was addressed to a group of churches which shared in common a single geographic region. Colossians 4:16 may indicate the development of yet another regional church. When Paul said, “You likewise read the epistle of the Laodicians,” we are given the impression that they were passing this vital information around among the local congregations of a distinct regional body. Peter may be providing still further information in I Peter 1:1. Could he be addressing the regional churches of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia? A map of the geography listed would seem to indicate that something of this nature was being communicated. In Galatians 1:22 Paul spoke of “the churches of Judea which are in Christ” as a distinct grouping.

There is enough biblical evidence to indicate the existence of distinct regional churches in the New Testament, each with its separate geography, a set of local issues and a group of elders to serve as the nurturing agent for a whole collection of local churches.

B. The presbytery is the overseeing body of the regional church. If there was such a regional church of Judea, then the body of elders gathered in Jerusalem was charged with overseeing that region. But when something unique happened in Antioch, two concerns arose. First, is it biblical? Second, is this in our district? According to Luke’s outline for the Book of Acts, which follows Jesus’ words in Acts 1:8—Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, end of the earth—they were now in end-of-the-earth region. They understood that the gospel had now moved into the furthest region and they assumed responsibility for the new converts in Antioch. But the presbytery’s representative, Barnabas, immediately set about the task of building a new plurality of elders.

An appropriate Presbyterian principle which may be developed here takes the form of a logical syllogism as follows:

If the local church has its session, and
If the whole church has its general assembly, then
The regional church has its presbytery.

By analogy, therefore, we can understand that the presbytery is the session of the church regional and must perform all the functions on a regional level that the local session performs on the local level. Perhaps consideration should even be given for the possible conduct of worship on a regional level from time to time.

C. The presbytery is responsible to care for the spiritual health and protection of its local congregations. Having discussed the care of the church in Antioch by the presbytery of the regional church of Judea in Acts 11, attention may be directed to the other passages which provide similar evidence for a regional care for spiritual oversight. Both Acts 15 and Acts 21 provide instances in which the regional church functioned to care for the health and protection of local congregations. The presbytery was reactive, responsive, and trusted its representatives. This guarding aspect with respect to the health and care of local congregations is probably the most important lesson learned from these passages.

D. The presbytery provides a place of appeal for the resolution of grievances and theological disputes. Acts 15:1-29; 21:17-27 and Galatians 1:18-2:14 substantiate the responsibility of the handling of grievances by a regional body. A companion issue in each of these cases is the principle of connectionalism. If there is no connection, there is no ability to appeal, and there is no right to speak. The principle of connectionalism must be understood to undergird the whole character of Presbyterianism. The churches in the New Testament were clearly connected together. A biblical presbytery must therefore be prepared to act responsively and effectively in matters of church discipline or it is not discharging its responsibilities according to the Scriptures. As goes the health of the presbytery, so go the health and the strength of each of its local congregations.

E. The presbytery is responsible for the care and training of those called to preach the gospel. In Acts 11:1-18, when Peter himself was called to give account to the presbytery in Jerusalem for his controversial ministry and preaching among the Gentiles, he was examined skeptically, with expressions of concern about the report that he had eaten with uncircumcised men. But after his full and complete explanation, the presbytery concluded, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance unto life” (v.18). This was credentialing work.

Again in Acts 21:17-27, Paul and the church in Jerusalem demonstrated their mutual responsibility to each other. Paul gave a clear indication of his subjection to his brothers in the matter of preaching in their district. They say in effect, “If you minister in our district, we must know what you are teaching and you must submit to what we believe is best for the shepherding of God’s flock in this region with its unique circumstances and problems.”

The ordination of Timothy (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6) is another possible indication of the regional responsibility of elders in the training and preparation of ministers for the gospel. Could Paul’s appeal to “faithful men” in II Timothy 2:2 be of a regional nature? The seminary structure which is now ingrained into Presbyterian polity must never be allowed to replace the responsibility of the presbytery of the regional church as having the prime obligation for the training of ministers of the gospel.

F. The presbytery is responsible to establish new local congregations and to spread and defend the gospel in its region. The elders of the regional body in Judea demonstrated concern for and approval of the spread of the gospel to Antioch in Acts 11:19-26. Similarly the elders of the new regional body in Antioch appear to have been chosen to be responsible for the spread of the gospel in the Galatian region in Acts 13:1-3. The history of missions in the ancient church could appropriately be described as one generation’s foreign missions becoming the next generation’s home missions. The gospel was spread extensively by the regional church and intensively by the local church.
Conclusion

Research for this study on the biblical origin of the regional church and the modern-day Presbyterian presbytery was made more difficult because not much has been written on the subject. In fact, much of what has been presented here was adapted or developed directly from the Scriptures for this occasion. It is offered for study and further reflective research. It is disheartening to observe that these principles appear not to have been followed by the ancient and medieval church. But the Protestant Reformation infused new life into them and gave rise to a host of systems of polity based on this most biblical of ecclesiastical structures. November 1995
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
I apologize that I cannot give you any reasons, because we are not congregational in government. We are elder ruled and elder led, with a plurality of elders. I am sure that perhaps there are other Reformed Baptists who are the same, although I recognize that there are many who are indeed congregational.
a

Congregationalism has nothing to do with whether or not you are elder led, it has to do with whether or not there is any ecclesiastical authority that exists beyond the church level. If you are Baptist as you indicate, I can assure you that your church is congregationally governed.
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
I never heard of a Baptist session. I haven't heard of a Baptist presbytery. A Baptist G.A.? Never heard of that either. That would be Baptyterianism.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Presbyterians believe (1) Jesus Christ is the only head of the church (against Popery); (2) He has appointed a church government distinct from the civil magistrate (against Erastianism); (3) the power of governing flows from Jesus Christ equally and in parity to the whole ecclesiastical order of government called bishops/elders (against episcopacy); (4.) this power vests the presbyterate with a subordinate authority for governing and ordering the church of Jesus Christ according to His will (against congregationalism); and (5) this radical power is distributed and exercised in such a way so as not to divide the one body of Christ (against Independency). Obviously there are divisions among Presbyterians, but these are the result of different views of faith and life which make it either impractical or impossible to be wholly united, not the result of a radical theory of separation which seeks independence for its own sake.
 

Loopie

Puritan Board Freshman
Congregationalism has nothing to do with whether or not you are elder led, it has to do with whether or not there is any ecclesiastical authority that exists beyond the church level. If you are Baptist as you indicate, I can assure you that your church is congregationally governed.
I apologize, I was thinking of something else other than the correct definition of congregationalism. I was rather thinking about how each individual church manages its affairs (some churches have it that all members vote on everything, and the elders are only there as a guide or moderator). You are right then, that based on a proper definition of congregationalism, my church is indeed that.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Obviously there are divisions among Presbyterians, but these are the result of different views of faith and life which make it either impractical or impossible to be wholly united, not the result of a radical theory of separation which seeks independence for its own sake.
Do you mean because of theological liberalism, apostasy?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Presbyterians believe (1) Jesus Christ is the only head of the church (against Popery); (2) He has appointed a church government distinct from the civil magistrate (against Erastianism); (3) the power of governing flows from Jesus Christ equally and in parity to the whole ecclesiastical order of government called bishops/elders (against episcopacy); (4.) this power vests the presbyterate with a subordinate authority for governing and ordering the church of Jesus Christ according to His will (against congregationalism); and (5) this radical power is distributed and exercised in such a way so as not to divide the one body of Christ (against Independency). Obviously there are divisions among Presbyterians, but these are the result of different views of faith and life which make it either impractical or impossible to be wholly united, not the result of a radical theory of separation which seeks independence for its own sake.
I just added this to my Great Quotes file.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
Congregationalism has nothing to do with whether or not you are elder led, it has to do with whether or not there is any ecclesiastical authority that exists beyond the church level. If you are Baptist as you indicate, I can assure you that your church is congregationally governed.
I apologize, I was thinking of something else other than the correct definition of congregationalism. I was rather thinking about how each individual church manages its affairs (some churches have it that all members vote on everything, and the elders are only there as a guide or moderator). You are right then, that based on a proper definition of congregationalism, my church is indeed that.
I just wanted to make sure there wasn't a new form of Baptist church government that I was unaware of. Even though your church is still technically congregationally governed, it does make a huge difference that you have a plurality of elders as opposed to just a pastor. Many Baptist churches employ the "CEO" model, where the pastor is completely in charge and the only authority the deacons have would be to remove the pastor from his position, but that would only happen in the event of a serious offense. Even worse is the committee led model, where the church has 15 different committees. each with a chairman, running every minute detail of the church and no one is really in charge. The Elder led model is by far the best in that the pastor is not alone in leading the church and is not free to make wacky decisions completely free of challenge, but at the same time authority is kept within a small, distinct group so that there is no question who makes the decisions.
 

R Harris

Puritan Board Sophomore
In Scott's long post above, sections 1(E) and 2(A) provide what I believe to be the strongest evidences for presbyterian government.

No where in the NT is schism or division approved of, especially with regard to doctrine. So, what happens when a church body, not just an individual believer, starts teaching strange and false doctrine?

Now apply this to the straightforward teaching of Acts 16:4, where Silas and Paul delivered the decrees of the Jerusalem Council (i.e., a Synod) to ALL the churches for THEM TO OBSERVE.

What if one of the churches rejected the decree? What if Corinth had said, "well, that's fine what the Council decreed, but we are going to still have circumcision be a requirement for belief and inclusion into the church, because we are independent and will do what we want to do."

How do you think Paul and Silas would have responded to such a statement? The answer is obvious.

I believe at least a regional synod is required, a national general synod could be debatable, but again, if the regional presbytery cannot settle the dispute, the larger national body would be needed.

If the party ruled against by the regional or national body left or split off because they did not like the decision and could not clearly prove scripturally their position, the NT would regard this as sinful schism and division.
 

JML

Puritan Board Junior
In Scott's long post above, sections 1(E) and 2(A) provide what I believe to be the strongest evidences for presbyterian government.

No where in the NT is schism or division approved of, especially with regard to doctrine. So, what happens when a church body, not just an individual believer, starts teaching strange and false doctrine?

Now apply this to the straightforward teaching of Acts 16:4, where Silas and Paul delivered the decrees of the Jerusalem Council (i.e., a Synod) to ALL the churches for THEM TO OBSERVE.

What if one of the churches rejected the decree? What if Corinth had said, "well, that's fine what the Council decreed, but we are going to still have circumcision be a requirement for belief and inclusion into the church, because we are independent and will do what we want to do."

How do you think Paul and Silas would have responded to such a statement? The answer is obvious.

I believe at least a regional synod is required, a national general synod could be debatable, but again, if the regional presbytery cannot settle the dispute, the larger national body would be needed.

If the party ruled against by the regional or national body left or split off because they did not like the decision and could not clearly prove scripturally their position, the NT would regard this as sinful schism and division.
Just a question on this topic. How is it that Paul began traveling and teaching without approval from what is considered by Presbyterians to be the Presbytery or Synod? (See Galatians 1-2)
 

reformedminister

Puritan Board Sophomore
I apologize that I cannot give you any reasons, because we are not congregational in government. We are elder ruled and elder led, with a plurality of elders. I am sure that perhaps there are other Reformed Baptists who are the same, although I recognize that there are many who are indeed congregational.
Actually, in true historic congregationalism, the local church was lead by a plurality of elders.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
Just a question on this topic. How is it that Paul began traveling and teaching without approval from what is considered by Presbyterians to be the Presbytery or Synod? (See Galatians 1-2)
An extraordinary call and initial commission by the Lord Jesus Christ directly (Acts 9). Of course, we see subsequent submission by Paul in other instances. His initial calling and ministry were by order of Christ, and serve as an example of extraordinary circumstances.
I would agree with Joshua that there is absolutely nothing about the experience of Paul that can be taken as normative. I also agree that it can be clearly shown in Scripture that there is some level of authority beyond the local church. The question that I would have as a Baptist is whether or not it can be shown that the decisions and recommendations of the apostles and others, i.e. the Jerusalem Council, were binding as they would typically be in a Presbyterian system, or were they simply non-binding recommendations, similar to the ones passed yearly by the SBC.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
It is not five, but seven; and it has nothing to do with me. But here are seven points that seem to have a reasonable claim to be rather basic principles in the Congregational theory of church government. From "The Institution of Churches, and the Order Appointed in Them by Jesus Christ" attached to the Savoy Declaration:

By the appointment of the Father all power for the calling, institution, order, or government of the Church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner in the Lord Jesus Christ, as King and Head thereof.

In the execution of this power wherewith he is so entrusted, the Lord Jesus calleth out of the world unto communion with himself, those that are given unto him by his Father, that they may walk before him in all the ways of obedience, which he prescribeth to them in his Word.

Those thus called (through the ministry of the Word by his Spirit) he commandeth to walk together in particular societies or churches, for their mutual edification, and the due performance of that public worship, which he requireth of them in this world.

To each of these churches thus gathered, according to his mind declared in his Word, he hath given all that power and authority, which is any way needful for their carrying on that order in worship and discipline, which he hath instituted for them to observe, with commands and rules for the due and right exerting and executing of that power.

These particular churches thus appointed by the authority of Christ, and entrusted with power from him for the ends before expressed, are each of them as unto those ends, the seat of that power which he is pleased to communicate to his saints or subjects in this world, so that as such they receive it immediately from himself.

Besides these particular churches, there is not instituted by Christ any church more extensive or catholic entrusted with power for the administration of his ordinances, or the execution of any authority in his name.

A particular church gathered and completed according to the mind of Christ, consists of officers and members. The Lord Christ having given to his called ones (united according to his appointment in church-order) liberty and power to choose persons fitted by the Holy Ghost for that purpose, to be over them, and to minister to them in the Lord.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Obviously there are divisions among Presbyterians, but these are the result of different views of faith and life which make it either impractical or impossible to be wholly united, not the result of a radical theory of separation which seeks independence for its own sake.
Would, for example the two v. three office view difference between OPC and PCA be an example of what you are thinking of here, or would that really be an inconsequential one that ought not be?
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
In Scott's long post above, sections 1(E) and 2(A) provide what I believe to be the strongest evidences for presbyterian government.

No where in the NT is schism or division approved of, especially with regard to doctrine. So, what happens when a church body, not just an individual believer, starts teaching strange and false doctrine?

Now apply this to the straightforward teaching of Acts 16:4, where Silas and Paul delivered the decrees of the Jerusalem Council (i.e., a Synod) to ALL the churches for THEM TO OBSERVE.

What if one of the churches rejected the decree? What if Corinth had said, "well, that's fine what the Council decreed, but we are going to still have circumcision be a requirement for belief and inclusion into the church, because we are independent and will do what we want to do."

How do you think Paul and Silas would have responded to such a statement? The answer is obvious.

I believe at least a regional synod is required, a national general synod could be debatable, but again, if the regional presbytery cannot settle the dispute, the larger national body would be needed.

If the party ruled against by the regional or national body left or split off because they did not like the decision and could not clearly prove scripturally their position, the NT would regard this as sinful schism and division.
Just a question on this topic. How is it that Paul began traveling and teaching without approval from what is considered by Presbyterians to be the Presbytery or Synod? (See Galatians 1-2)
Good point. And while there is a credible basis for ordering some different forms of church government, Acts 17 is strong support for a Presbyterian form, both explicitly and implicitly the way the spiritual court were shown to operate in the apostolic era.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
How is it that Paul began traveling and teaching without approval from what is considered by Presbyterians to be the Presbytery or Synod? (See Galatians 1-2)
That was extraordinary and immediate (being apostolic and out of time); but even in this peculiar case there was due submission to the regular order, as Galatians 2 indicates. Verse 2, "And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain." Verse 9, "And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision."
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Would, for example the two v. three office view difference between OPC and PCA be an example of what you are thinking of here, or would that really be an inconsequential one that ought not be?
That should probably be inconsequential, but I suppose it has the capacity to become consequential in the case of ruling elders overstepping their limits or hindering ministers from fulfilling what is their distinctive calling. It is probably worth pointing out that the way people choose to handle such differences are the cause of division. Other differences are genuine causes of division, i.e., adherence to the Confession of Faith or to the purity of worship practised by the church or to some disciplinary case.
 

Rev. Todd Ruddell

Puritan Board Junior
In the case of the Apostle Paul, there was an extraordinary call, a recognition and also the sending (or mission) by a Presbytery. See Acts 13.1ff, and then at the end of that first missionary journey, when he returns to Antioch to report on what he had accomplish by the grace of God. I would call his sending by the Presbytery of Antioch normative. The multiplicity of teaching elders points to the existence of a Presbytery. These prophets and teachers went to Antioch upon the persecution of Acts 7. Note also that after the Jerusalem Synod the Apostle is again "recommended to the grace of God by the brethren". (Acts 15.40-41) It was during this tour that they carried the authoritative decree from the Jerusalem Synod, comforting the brethren in the Asian churches. And, at the end of this tour, like the first, Paul was careful to return to Antioch. (Acts 18.22-23) These actions point to an extraordinary, Apostolic set of actions, and an ordinary set of actions. Paul was called in an extraordinary manner by Christ, but he was sent and recommended to the grace of God by the Presbytery in an ordinary, or normative manner.
 

JML

Puritan Board Junior
An extraordinary call and initial commission by the Lord Jesus Christ directly (Acts 9). Of course, we see subsequent submission by Paul in other instances. His initial calling and ministry were by order of Christ, and serve as an example of extraordinary circumstances.
I would agree with Joshua that there is absolutely nothing about the experience of Paul that can be taken as normative. I also agree that it can be clearly shown in Scripture that there is some level of authority beyond the local church. The question that I would have as a Baptist is whether or not it can be shown that the decisions and recommendations of the apostles and others, i.e. the Jerusalem Council, were binding as they would typically be in a Presbyterian system, or were they simply non-binding recommendations, similar to the ones passed yearly by the SBC.
That was extraordinary and immediate (being apostolic and out of time); but even in this peculiar case there was due submission to the regular order, as Galatians 2 indicates. Verse 2, "And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain." Verse 9, "And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision."
In the case of the Apostle Paul, there was an extraordinary call, a recognition and also the sending (or mission) by a Presbytery. See Acts 13.1ff, and then at the end of that first missionary journey, when he returns to Antioch to report on what he had accomplish by the grace of God. I would call his sending by the Presbytery of Antioch normative. The multiplicity of teaching elders points to the existence of a Presbytery. These prophets and teachers went to Antioch upon the persecution of Acts 7. Note also that after the Jerusalem Synod the Apostle is again "recommended to the grace of God by the brethren". (Acts 15.40-41) It was during this tour that they carried the authoritative decree from the Jerusalem Synod, comforting the brethren in the Asian churches. And, at the end of this tour, like the first, Paul was careful to return to Antioch. (Acts 18.22-23) These actions point to an extraordinary, Apostolic set of actions, and an ordinary set of actions. Paul was called in an extraordinary manner by Christ, but he was sent and recommended to the grace of God by the Presbytery in an ordinary, or normative manner.
I kind of figured that was the case. Thank you all.
 
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