I don't understand Baptist etc

Discussion in 'Faith, Devotion & Formation' started by bwallac2335, Sep 17, 2020.

  1. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    527
    Likes Received:
    266
    Religion:
    ACNA
    I don't understand Baptist, most Methodists these days, Assemblies of God, and non denominational churches.

    I don't understand how they function without bishops,church history, and how they determine doctrine.
     
    Cooper likes this.
  2. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,223
    Likes Received:
    1,981
    They stick to the good book....and the charismatic personalities of their ministers. Which is why they are so terribly unstable. Christianity didn't start when they had their conversionary experience, much as they seem to forget that. By rejecting the Catholic Tradition of the Church, they risk becoming unmoored from the eons old truth taught in Christianity. Staley wrote:

    "Holy Scripture and Catholic tradition are joint and mutually corrective sources of the faith. The faith was delivered to the Saints, and given to the Church, before the New Testament was written; yet the whole faith so given was, by God's providence, afterwards contained in Scripture. The Church received her faith before she received her Scriptures, yet the whole of the faith so received can be proved by Scripture. When the Christian revelation was written down and accepted by the Church, the Church became its interpreter, being constituted by God for this purpose, and being aided by the Holy Spirit in fulfilling it."

    But Baptists and others have rejected that traditional teaching office of the Church. To them, the Bible means what it means to them personally. The inherent problem with that is that scriptural truth is thus made subject to the whims and weaknesses of any and every person who happens to read it. When studying scripture, the question should always be "What does it mean?" Never "What does it mean to me?" The former brings you to truth, the latter to the confusion and rebuke of private judgment.

    As Pusey put it: "What is matter of faith must be capable of being proved out of Holy Scripture; yet that, not according to the private sense of individuals, but according to the uniform teaching of the Church." That is the deficiency at the heart of the Baptist sect and others.
     
    Cooper and bwallac2335 like this.
  3. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,210
    Likes Received:
    605
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Christian
    I have highlighted part of the reply, as I think this is faulty reasoning. Every single one of us evaluates the information we have and decides what it means to him. He may decide to accept the reasonings put forth by the early fathers concerning the Bible's meaning and interpretation (as to many Anglicans), he may decide to accept the reasonings of both the early and the later church (as do many RCs), or he may decide to reject whichever of those reasonings do not align with his own understanding of things (as do the vast majority of people). In other words, most of us (if we will be honest) actually sift and 'pick and choose' among various sets of data because that is how human minds function. (But we give lip service to the ideal, don't we? :p )

    I really doubt, btw, that Baptists or A/G or members of the significant denoms put much stock in 'charismatic personalities.' The non-denoms, yes, that happens a lot. But in the denominations, they tend to have as uniform a way of understanding scripture as the Anglicans do; they simply may not have given such great weight to the early fathers' writings (or they might only give weight to writings, unofficially of course, from the first 100 or 200 years instead of the first 500) in their derivation of a fairly uniform understanding.
     
  4. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,223
    Likes Received:
    1,981
    There's nothing wrong with thinking for yourself where scripture and tradition are silent, but supplanting the truth revealed through tradition with one's own private judgment strikes me as just the kind of hubris that has led to the 41,000 different fractured and fracturing Christian denominations where once was only the Undevided Church of Christ.
     
    Cooper likes this.
  5. Shane R

    Shane R Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    575
    Likes Received:
    625
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican
    I don't know if I've ever mentioned this on this forum before but I was brought up in the Churches of Christ, non-instrumental (sometimes pejoratively called Campbellites). My father and grandfather both ministered for them. They are one of the most dysfunctional "non-denom" denominations you can find. They don't just ignore church history, they make up a false history for their group. In truth, it is extremely tenuous to give them a history before the 1790s and the 1830s was really when they hit their stride. Naturally, they claim a history going back to the time of the apostles with little pockets of true believers hiding away for all those long centuries of Catholic corruption. Sometimes you can even here the 1,260 years line of thought.

    It was the study of church history that lead me to reject their approach and become who I am today. But it is a hard thing to find out you've been misled for many years. Of course, it has cost me dearly. My grandfather refused me lodging in his home just days before my younger daughter was born because I had left the "one true church."
     
    Dave Kemp, Lowly Layman and Cooper like this.
  6. Cooper

    Cooper Member Anglican

    Posts:
    84
    Likes Received:
    36
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Episcopal
    There are good comments in the posts above by Lowly Layman and Shane R.

    Bwallac2335, thank you for posting this thread.

    Cooper

    :violin:
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
    Lowly Layman likes this.
  7. Cooper

    Cooper Member Anglican

    Posts:
    84
    Likes Received:
    36
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Episcopal
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
    Lowly Layman likes this.
  8. Visita

    Visita New Member

    Posts:
    3
    Likes Received:
    5
    Religion:
    Episcopalian
    You would probably get better answers by asking Baptists, Methods, AOGs, and nondenoms on their forums. Or perhaps review the dialogues published by here by the Anglican Communion. The book they made with the Baptist World Alliance is particularly good. I'll take a stab at Baptists myself:

    Without Bishops:
    The primitive church did not possess the three-fold orders utilized by what can generally be called the catholic church. Elders were inherited from the Judaic system of worship. The creation of deacons is described in the New Testament. Thenceforward, Paul taught a two-fold system of bishops-elders as the leaders and deacons as ministers or servants (1 Timothy). This is also found in the Didache. The apostles themselves had authority to settle disputes, which they did individually or in council.

    Michael W. Holmes (The Apostolic Fathers 3rd ed., 2007) speculates the deaths of the apostles created a power, or perhaps an authority, vacuum. Into this vacuum, certain bishops were elevated above others, splitting the collegial bishop-elder class in twain. Holmes calls this the Ignatian model, as Ignatius was adamant that the bishop had authority over the church under him, including the elders and deacons. Others suggest the two systems coexisted for a while and were associated with different schools (Pauline and Johannine?), and of course tradition says the apostles themselves chose their successors. In any case, the monarchical episcopate prevailed, and it evolved into a geographic system of patriarchs, metropolitans, archbishops, bishops, chorbishops, and perhaps some others I'm forgetting.

    Baptists go the other direction. "Baptist" is a self-identification, not an organization. Their churches are autonomous and not subject to a hierarchy. So there is no role for a geographic overseer. They prefer the Biblical two-fold system (even if they don't really replicate it) over the traditional three-fold system. So they have a bishop-elder whom they call the pastor and a board of deacons. The pastor's junior partners may be called associate pastor or something similar. Some churches with many satellites, or very large megachurches, may call their most senior pastor "bishop," but this is uncommon.

    Without church history:
    Everything is a product of history, even Baptists, so it is misleading to say they function "without church history." I think you might have meant "without studying church history." I'm not sure that's accurate, either. I just now looked at a few Baptist seminaries, and their MDiv programs each require a couple classes of church history, plus New Testament and theology, which will inevitably pull in some history. On the Episcopal side, Sewanee also has two classes of church history, though I give them the edge for requiring a class on the history of Christian worship.

    For the laity, it is not necessary to study the history of a thing to make use of it. And the truth is, most of us ignore wide swathes of church history anyway because there's simply too much of it for the average person to assimilate.

    Both sides have a lot of mythology that is accepted as history because it sounds good, it would be hard to get rid of, or it seems to score points in debates.

    How they determine doctrine:
    Broadly speaking, Baptists believe a set of things called the Baptist distinctives. There is a backronym (shamefully stolen from Wikipedia):
    Because Baptists start out from the same beliefs, and because they discuss issues in their churches and communities, churches usually come to similar conclusions when thinking about specific issues. (But not always!) Each church, being autonomous, draws up a more or less detailed statement of beliefs to which members subscribe. Conventions, which are voluntary associations of Baptist churches, sometimes publish larger doctrinal works that address more specific contemporary issues. One example is the Southern Baptist Convention Baptist Faith and Message.

    It's confusing if you're used to top-down authority keeping everyone in line. If a church strays from the Baptist distinctives, there's no bishop to fix things. Do they just continue on as fake Baptists? Not really. There's no benefit for the church to keep using the name Baptist if they don't wish to have Baptists in their ranks or cooperate with other Baptist churches. So they simply stop being Baptist, take the name off their building and their web page, and go about their business.

    I'm sure I oversimplified a lot and missed how it is actually lived out, so like I said, you should ask them.
     
  9. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    527
    Likes Received:
    266
    Religion:
    ACNA
    It is been a while but I have had some run ins with Chuch of Christ people. Straight up said I was going to hell because of my incorrect Baptism. I hate to hear that about your grandad
     
  10. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,223
    Likes Received:
    1,981
    Excellent resource Cooper! What I think is very telling, and which reinforces my point, is that prior to the Reformation, where the authority of tradition and the visible unity of the Episcopate was either diminished or rejected entirely, there appear to have only been 4 schisms branching off to form other denominations. Think of that! Only 4 in the first 1500 years! Now we have more than 40,000 formed since 1517, an average of 81 schisms a year (and rising) since Luther sought to clean up all the things Tradition and the Popes had messed up. But for all the lip service given by Bible-only protestants, they conveniently forget the Christ fervently prayed in the Gospel for followers to all be one.
     
    Cooper likes this.
  11. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,543
    Likes Received:
    1,512
    Country:
    America
    Religion:
    Anglican
    Here you go Lowly. I doubt that it will change your mind, but just in case that it's possible:
    https://forums.anglican.net/threads...ere-are-33-000-protestant-denominations.4039/


    You sound like you're all about how great the Papacy and 'Tradition' were/are, but weren't you the guy ferociously advocating for women's ordination, a while back?
     
  12. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,223
    Likes Received:
    1,981
    For the record, I thoroughly reject the claims of the Pope and can't think of a single time I said otherwise.

    Also, I've written a LOT of posts here over the last 8 years, the bulk of which are, I concede, pretty much the garbage ramblings of a lowly layman who is just struggling to overcome the poor catechesis he received in the Episcopal Church. So I freely admit that my positions on a number of topics have evolved over time, and probably will continue to do so, but I honestly cannot remember ever ferociously advocating for women's ordination. I did a search and the most recent post I could find where I discussed women's ordination was back in 2017:
    https://forums.anglican.net/threads...amental-assurance-maintained.2082/#post-25275

    I would point to this portion of my post:

    That was my position in 2017 and remains my stance today. I apologize if something I posted a while back confused you, Stalwart.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
  13. mediaque

    mediaque Active Member

    Posts:
    117
    Likes Received:
    86
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Anglo-Catholic (TEC)
    Not that this will probably add much much to the convo .... but having been Raised raised Free Will Baptist with a side splash of Pentecostal .... it's a wonder but by the Grace of God I was able to get straightened out Spiritually. And yes, our Baptist Church had it's bylaws, but for the most part, interpretation of the Scriptures was dictated by the pastor. So every Sunday you'd sit there and listen to him scream at you his interpretation of what we should do. Oh, and of coarse we'd have singings at set times of the year along with 'old fashioned' dinner on the grounds where everyone dressed up old timey along with foot washings. I won't even get into the Pentecostal side of it other than to say they would highlight the working of the 7 gifts in physical action. But this was back in the 70's. My Dad is still Baptist, but he's a Southern Baptist now. Oyvey.
     
    Lowly Layman likes this.
  14. Shane R

    Shane R Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    575
    Likes Received:
    625
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican
    I like some of R.C. Sproul's books but I have one on the Gospel of John that he had developed from a year long sermon series and sort of expanded to a commentary. He got to chapter 6 of the Gospel and just skipped the bread of Life discourse! I was disappointed by that.

    I've got some friends that go to a local Baptist church because they like to participate in the praise band. They are not particularly interested in the doctrine of the church and I think that mentality is typical of a lot of church goers. The doctrine of the church is usually somewhere pretty far down the list of things that people will tell you about their church. Anyhow I went to my friend's house for a cookout and the Baptist pastor was there scarfing down some chili dogs and beer with us. He got to talking to me and another priest and he told us he is not interested in the history of the church, it is not important, the Cath0lics messed everything up so early it's not a reliable guide to orthopraxy, we have to reconstruct the primitive church based on the Bible, and all that sort of thing. Nice guy but I totally disagree with him. And he's actually seminary trained. When I was kid most of the local Baptist preachers were hillbillies with 6th grade educations who would actively chew tobacco as they preached. I remember going to a funeral once and the preacher went on and on for around 45 minutes, taking a break about every 20 seconds to spit. That is probably the most distracting public speaking habit I have ever observed!

    I don't actually know any of the local Methodist preachers but they are kind enough to refer people to my parish from time to time since we're the only church in town having a 'traditional' Communion service these days.
     
    Lowly Layman likes this.
  15. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,210
    Likes Received:
    605
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Christian
    What I'm saying is that folks in Anglicanism, just like folks in any denomination, have preconceived ideas about what those 'other' denoms believe and teach.... but those ideas aren't always correct. We all tend to somewhat 'demonize' those who are different from us. You write of "supplanting the truth revealed through tradition," yet people can look at tradition and come to differing conclusions (just like people look at the scriptures and, where there is some ambiguity or various possible interpretations, come to differing conclusions about that). And let's not lose sight of the fact that tradition can only shed light on scripture, it cannot dominate or supplant what the Bible says; we must take care that we do not give tradition too much force and effect (the RCC went very far down this road).

    I appreciate what Visita wrote about the Baptists. I'm pretty sure that the Baptists would agree with nearly all of the 39 Articles, did you know that? Oh, they will differ on original sin (Art. 9), they might have a quibble with Article 17, they'll disagree with 20 & 21 (authority of the church & councils), and so on. But the vast bulk of the doctrine you'd hear in most any Baptist church will, I warrant, be quite in line with what Anglicans call 'orthodoxy.' Methodists will probably be closer in line still with Anglicanism. This is why I would not want to view other protestant denoms as hubristic or deviant. This claim that they're messed up because they supposedly 'interpret the Bible for themselves' in some freewheeling fashion just isn't accurate. I think we should save that claim for the groups who don't teach salvation by grace through faith or the Trinity, things that really make a difference in eternal outcomes. Disagreeing on whether the early church had two-fold or three-fold leadership, for example, does not rise to the level of sending people to hell for not having the allegedly 'correct' viewpoint.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2020
  16. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,223
    Likes Received:
    1,981
    You misunderstand me @Rexlion. I didn't say and certainly didn't mean that Baptists or any groups mentioned were bad people or bad Christians. My grandmother lived and died a devout Southern Baptist and she was the finest person and Christian I ever knew. She introduced me to CS Lewis whose writings would bring me back to the faith some years later in my early 20s. My issue is that in these circles private judgment is often lauded as a virtue and Apostolic Traditions are sneered at as "traditions of men". Decisions, even decisions about doctrine, are subject to a democratic vote or the personal whims of a charismatic preacher, who may often lack seminary training as @Shane R pointed out. My brother who is a pentecostal preacher of a small church, is a good example. Here are some of the more outlandish things he's told me over the years:
    • Interracial couples should not marry. God isn't in it. (Note: He considers my marriage to be interracial)
    • You can't go to heaven unless you speak in tongues at least once in your lifetime no matter how "faithful" you are.
    • God personally told him that our mother and sister will go to hell when they die and there's nothing we can do to change it and we shouldn't even try. But that our father, who is very openly non-christian and even rather anti-christian, will most assuredly go to heaven and there's really no need to share the Gospel with him because God has already taken care of it.
    • You can operate in the power of any person in the Bible, you just have to tell God who you want to be. (He says he's Moses)
    • If you're poor or have bad luck, that's proof you are not right with God and He is punishing you.
    • No woman can discipline or have any authority over men not even a mother over her son. A mother taking her young child to task has a jezebel spirit.
    • Women who do not give sex to their husbands whenever they want it have a jezebel spirit.
    • Women having strong opinions is the jezebel spirit.
    • Liturgies are used by the devil and unbelievers to stop the Holy Ghost from moving in worship.
    • You don't have to forgive anyone, just tell God to forgive them.
    • Divorce is not a sin if God doesn't want the couple married. And adultery may be acceptable if the person you are cheating with is the one God has for you and it leads to you marrying them.
    • Sicknesses and death are proof you lack the Holy Spirit.
    • The holy spirit and your personal faith can keep you from dying....ever.
    • If you sin, immediately ask God for forgiveness and you are forgiven. You don't even have to stop sinning just ask God for forgiveness each time and continue doing what your doing until God makes you stop. Even if you hurt others in your sin, you don't have ask for their forgiveness,, only ask God's.
    • Abortion is OK if the child was going to gave a bad life and not be loved; since they will go to heaven and become the air God breathes (That one he said he got from Jesse Duplantis)
    • The Holy Spirit can override scripture. In the Bible, the devil used scripture verses to tempt folks but he could never use the holy spirit to do it. Therefore, if the holy spirit tells you to do something that seems to go against scripture, follow the spirit. The Holy Spirit is God; the Bible is just his book.
    These are just the ones that come to my mind right away. And I'd like to say he is an isolated case, but living where I do in the South, preachers of his ilk are far too common. What is particularly insidious is that he has a Bible verse that he has interpreted to go along with every one of these beliefs. Now in churches that do not recognize the correcting authority of Church Tradition, there's no way to challenge the interpretation that led to stinky beliefs other than to try to appeal to logic or perhaps to other scriptures that may or may not cast doubt on that interpretation. But in both cases, the rebuke is easily rebuffed by saying, you aren't spiritual or you don't have the holy spirit so you can't understand what scripture really neans.

    With Tradition you can say, your interpretation of that scripture verse is novel or conflicts with the teaching of the fathers or the undevided church, and since nothing new is Catholic and since no private interpretation of scripture can deviate from the Church's teaching on it, your interpretation is dubious if not heretical and must be rejected.

    My point is that the great deficiency in the Baptist religion and others is that, is that for every pious and thoroughly orthodox grandmother there's an equal chance chance of having an off the rails preacher like, sad to say, my brother or a Westboro type because they have thrown out the gift of Church tradition.

    QUOTE="Rexlion, post: 40445, member: 3075"]And let's not lose sight of the fact that tradition can only shed light on scripture, it cannot dominate or supplant what the Bible says; we must take care that we do not give tradition too much force and effect (the RCC went very far down this road).
    I would generally agree with you b on that. But there are either hundreds or possibly thousands of churches that have schismed on just those grounds which is why I reiterate original point that churches without the indispensible correcting influence of Church Tradition are highly unstable.
     
  17. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,210
    Likes Received:
    605
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Christian
    Okay, I can understand where you're coming from. I think you and I have had greatly different experiences, and those are bound to color our viewpoints as to what we emphasize. We're different on some things, but together on the big stuff. :yes:

    It's interesting, I look at that bulleted list you gave and, other than two of them ('liturgies stop the Holy Spirit from moving' and 'if you sin, immediately (repent and) ask God for forgiveness and you are forgiven') I hadn't heard any of those from the pulpit despite 15 years in 'word of faith' non-denoms and another 8 years in A/G. That's why I tend to have a perception that there are merely a scant few churches preaching such nonsense... it's because I haven't encountered them. But my church attendance experience is pretty much limited to 2 states, Michigan and Oklahoma; maybe I don't get out enough. :laugh:

    I have to say, the folks who think their non-liturgical services are so much better than liturgical ones do have a tendency to look down their noses at liturgical churches just because of the liturgy. And that's an overreaction. For one thing, it lumps them all together in a group, as if they all (RC, Ortho, Anglican, etc) were the same, and they're not. Yet by the same token, folks in the liturgical churches may tend to look down their noses at the non-liturgical ones just because of their lack of liturgy, and I think that's also an overreaction and a lumping-together of very different churches.

    Even though I'm not much of an ecumenist (I would not favor combining disparate churches and compromising beliefs to do so), I sometimes think that we all would be better off if we spent some time in the 'other' types of churches because then we'd be more understanding. Yet even that is not foolproof, as you and I are living examples; maybe there are too many of 'em out there to sample them all!

    LL, is that brother of yours in a particular denomination, or is he just 'off by himself in la-la land'? :rolleyes: I'm really curious. I would not want to set foot in any church which teaches that crud!

    If your brother believes that his body will never die, he's got a big surprise coming. Really, there is no way one can justify that idea, since every Christian who ever lived has died (except for those who are young enough to have not yet succumbed).

    Most trinitarian, non-liturgical denoms say that the Bible is our authoritative source for knowing God's word and will. So if someone comes up with an out-of-context verse to support a wild idea, others are there to say, "Wait, what about these other scriptures which point out the fallacy in your idea?" Therefore, it isn't just a 'free-for-all' of 'believe whatever you think the Bible says,' but instead (in my experience) it's an attitude of 'be like the Berean Jews who searched the scriptures daily :news: to see if these things are true' (Acts 17:11).

    I'm cautious about tradition. I see issues with it. Let me give one example. Anglicans observe the tradition from the first 500 years of the church... or do they always? Most Anglicans will say that the "gifts of the Spirit" died out with the passing of the Apostles. Yet tradition teaches that the gifts did not die out until around 200 or 250 AD.... but do Anglicans question why they died out so much later than they prefer to believe? Could it have been due to unbelief and disuse? Over a span of 500 years, traditions changed. That's the problem with tradition. The Bible supports the existence of Spiritual gifts and even tells us to earnestly covet the greater gifts, but do we? No, because it doesn't match what most Anglicans want to believe, based on the portion of tradition they prefer. And this is just one example. That's why I think the dependability of tradition steadily declined with the passage of years, rather than an arbitrary cutoff such as: "all's equally good for 500 years, but not 501 years."
     
    Ananias and Lowly Layman like this.
  18. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,223
    Likes Received:
    1,981
    I haven't spoken with a brother in a few years. But I believe his church is independent, I believe. He characterized it once as a holiness/pentecostal style church.

    I've never subscribed to the idea that the gifts died out, just became less prominent. I recently read this article on the subject and thought it was worthwhile to add here:

    https://anglicancompass.com/the-church-and-the-holy-spirit-a-very-brief-history/
     
    Rexlion likes this.
  19. Ananias

    Ananias Member Anglican

    Posts:
    89
    Likes Received:
    50
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    ACNA
    There are weaknesses in the congregational church structure, to be sure -- a distressing tendency to schism being primary among them.

    But the episcopal structure has severe defects as well. All you have to do is put a bad bishop in charge of a diocese and you'll find out pretty quick why having a single point of failure in this kind of system is a recipe for disaster. One of the reasons TEC went off the rails so fast was that the clergy was far to the left of their actual congregations (and I may say the same is true of the Roman Catholic church these days) and the bishops just rammed their preferred candidates into the priesthood. Bishops have an outsized influence on the conduct and theology of the churches they oversee, and unless the superstructure (council of bishops, archbishops) is rigorous about applying discipline to errant Bishops, things can go downhill with terrifying speed. The converse, of course, is that a good Bishop can have an outsized impact for good in a problematic diocese.

    Congregational churches have their faults, but the damage of one bad church tends to be localized and doesn't metastasize to others. They are decentralized, and hence a bit more resistant to systematic problems.

    Presbyterian councils would seem to be the optimal solution, but their weakness is that of all committees: responsibility (and blame for errors) is diffused among the various members, so it tends to promote a keep-your-head-down kind of mediocrity. It's hard for vigorous and active reformers to have any impact in a given presbytery unless other members are of a like mind. This is very much by design, but it does mean that problems tend to fester while the presbytery figures things out.

    There is no perfect form of church government. I favor the episcopal form because the benefits of having a good bishop outweigh the dangers of having a bad one.