The rule of Scripture
Something has been on my mind lately. ( I know that's hard to believe!) I've been wondering just what is the place of scripture in the life of the 21st century church. Most of us would respond that the Bible is the authority of the Church, the life of the Church, the one true source of doctrine for the church; for most of us, we would say all the right things. But do our actions live up to our words? If Scripture is inspired and inerrent should it not rule how the church conducts itself? The whole issue of Church polity comes to mind. Where in scripture do we find the concept of a 'business meeting?' Especially one where the most carnal and unfaithful members of the church have the same voting power as the most godly and Spirit-filled. It seems evident to me that New Testament churches were governed not by the whims of the congregation, but by a group of faithful elders. Granted, there were issues that were decided by the congregation, the election of the first deacons in Acts 6 is a good example. Issues such as an annual budget, called staff, debt, or buildings probably should be handled in a large forum, with congregational input. Yet, the daily business of the church would best be handled by a godly group of elders. The elders would be charged with keeping the church doctrinally faithful, spiritually revived, and morally pure through the careful and biblical administration of church discipline.
However, mentioning elder governance in a Baptist church is almost grounds for dismissal! I go back to my original question. What happened to the rule of Scripture? Elders and elder rule are clearly taught, but we don't practice it. My opinion is that we love tradition more than we do scriptural clarity. As a Baptist pastor, the most frustrating aspect of ministry is our tendency to treat the Bible like an all you can eat buffet at Ryan's. We'll take a little of this, and some of that please, but no, not that - I don't care for any of that! I think it's high time for us to get back to the Bible!
Okay, I'll get off my soap-box now!