Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Rise and Fall of a Church

In the August issue of The Baptist Monitor the editor writes of the Rise and Fall of a Church, telling how "the Highland Park Baptist Church, has voted to withdraw from the American Baptist Association" and that pastor Samuel Ramsey "lured her into departing the faith." Nothing is said of any particular doctrinal vagary -- just voting to withdraw from the American Baptist Association. The editor enters supporting argumentation with Vernon Barr's Free and Independent Baptists on page 11. Bro. Barr warns the associational Baptist and excoriates the "Independent Baptist" who needs to "quit stealing our churches."

Pu--leez. Let's get a grip. And a sound view of church autonomy. Pastor Samuel Ramsey may be the arch-heretic of all heretics, but nothing in the editor's article charges him with any departure from the faith other than leading his church to vote to withdraw from the American Baptist Association. If withdrawing from the ABA constitutes "departing from the faith" then we're all in a heap of trouble. Such a statement defies credibility. And what about "stealing our churches"? Our is a possessive pronoun used to denote oneself and others. I would like to know just how the American Baptist Association possesses the churches that affiliate with it? I remember once being in a bookstore which gave discounts to "their" churches (which is fine with me), and was asked as I was making a purchase if it was for one of our churches. I wanted to shout "No! it is for one of GOD'S churches!" Away with talk of our churches. A church is autonomous and belongs to God alone. Such talk of withdrawing from an association equaling departing from the faith, and "stealing our churches" indicates being at least a pound shy of a full load of understanding of church autonomy.

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