Baptists & Polity (Pt 2)

Pastor John Piper argues that a reading of the historic Baptist Confessions suggests that elders were assumed in most of the early Baptist churches. He provides evidence to support his thesis from a variety of historical Baptist sources: A Short Confession of Faith in Twenty Articles (1609), Propositions and Conclusions Concerning True Christian Religion (1612-1614), The London Confession (1644), Second London Confession (1677 & 1688), Articles of the Baptist Bible Union of America (1923), and Statement of Faith of the Southern Baptist Convention (1925 & 1963) (Biblical Eldership: Shepherd the Flock of God Among You, pp. 47-49).

At the very least, church history proves that it is not oxymoronic to be both Baptist and governed by a plurality of elders. In the words of John Piper, “It is false to say that the eldership is unbaptistic [emphasis his]. On the contrary, the eldership is more baptistic than its absence, and its disappearance is a modern phenomenon that parallels other developmentss in doctrine that makes its disappearance questionable at best” (Biblical Eldership, p. 49).

The Word of God is, of course, the only infallible rule for faith and practice. The Scriptures provide ample evidence that clearly supports the plural-elder model of leadership. The early church appears to have functioned in this way (Acts 14:23, Acts 15:2, Acts 20:28, Titus 1:5, Hebrews 13:7, James 1:1, 1 Peter 5:1-3). Alexander Strauch’s book, Biblical Eldership, does a fine job of highlighting this point from the witness of the New Testament. Baptist churches that are elder-led reflect the polity of the New Testament church and are consistent with what many Baptists have practiced throughout their history.

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  1. […] at Expository Thoughts has five posts on Baptist History, Baptists and Church Polity (Part 1 & Part 2), Baptists and the ‘Doctrines of Grace‘, and Baptists and Calvinism. The reason this of […]

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