Sunday, May 03, 2009

The ridiculous arguments in Local Church centrism

For quite a long time, I have been hearing a clamour in the mainly Baptist dominated calvinist blogosphere of the primacy of being and serving in the Local Church, with Frank Turk even stating that the focal point and center of discernment ought to be in the local church. At the expense of probably being misunderstood, let me pose a few questions to these Baptists.

Given that

1) The Baptists at their inception during the time of the Reformation were never regarded as true churches by either the Roman Church or the Protestant churches. Anabaptist clergy appointed themselves, while the situation was not better for the Particular Baptists. I don't think it need to be reminded that the American Puritans weren't too kind to these itinerant unordained preachers either.

2) The Baptists, especially the Anabaptists, form Local churches by gathering a group of like-minded Christians of which they became the pastor for that group. Needless to say, there was no ordination involved at all.


1) If the emphasis is to be placed on importance of the Local Church, what is there to stop person X from gathering probably 10 like-minded friends, give themselves a church name, call himself the pastor and appoint two others as elders, practice the 'ordinances' and voila! You have a new church! What argument(s) can Baptists who over-emphasize on the importance of the Local Church muster to say that this is wrong? Or perhaps they have no problem with such a scenario?

2) Since Mr. Turk and his fellow Baptist ecclesia localis centrists says that if a person wants to practice discernment, then they should do so in the context of the local church, so therefore would he accept the scenario of "watchbloggers" follow the example of person X in forming new churches "ex nihilo" (as many churches as needed), and then Mr. Turk will then allow them to exercise discernment? Will Mr. Turk then keep quiet if such were to happen?

In other matters, ...

On a blog post attacking my [Baptist] friend Stephen Macasil, it is written:

Since the closing of FCCOC, the Biblical Thought blog has become local biblical church-less not that FCCOC was ever a true local biblical church in the first place due to its lack of a true biblical church government (lack of elders). Too many of the mad attack dog postings on Biblical Thought are done by individuals that are not accountable to any local church and that now includes Stephen Macasil.

So can I surmise that all FCCOC has to do is find some Christians who they think fit the criteria of eldership as stated in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1, appoint them elders, and then "rzhblog" will stop attacking Biblical Thought and Stephen Macasil? Somehow I doubt it.


Jonathan Hunt said...


I find the tone of your article unneccesarily offensive and bombastic. I really don't see where a little grace would go amiss.

Your 'big mouth baptist' brother in Christ


PuritanReformed said...


eh... sorry, I got carried away. I have altered parts of the article, hope it is better now.

PuritanReformed said...


I would be spending time off to reflect if I have over-reacted to Challies' provocation. Sorry for any offence I have caused. Do inform me if there are any other parts which may be objectionable.

Jonathan Hunt said...

No, you make a fair point, and you have graciously amended your remarks. God bless you.

If I had the time, I would take you to task over your charicature of baptist history, though! Unless you believe in successionism, the ordination of a baptist pastor by another baptist pastor is the same as a presbyterian by another presbyterian.

Some prominent baptists were not, as far as I know, ordained - Spurgeon is the biggest example. I don't think his present day successor was, either. Depends on your definition of 'ordination', I suppose.



PuritanReformed said...


I welcome a good critique, certainly. As for successionism, it is one of those ideas that are floating around somewhere, of which I have not given much thought to it yet. But certainly, I do know the Anglican communion claims apostolic succession, and with a bit of stretching, I think the Presbyterian/Reformed and Lutherans could claim the same (ie Luther was a monk while Calvin was a priest or rather functioned as a priest-in-absentia, and was at one time studying to be one).

Joel Tay said...

What is there to stop 10 people from coming together and forming a church with leaders appointed by the congregation? I don't see what's wrong with that actually. So I would defer with you on that topic.

But at the same time, I would agree completely against the idea that discernment is only to be done within the local church. I do not see a link between ordination by the local church with local-church centrism where discernment is concerned.

I think it is pretty clear that the early church did focus outside of their 4 walls. Paul rebuked Peter in his face, and Paul was not even in-charged of the Jewish believers - Peter was. When Paul condemned the Judaizers, was he not stepping outside of the boundaries of the local church where discernment is concerned? When John in Revelations rebuked the churches outside of his "zone of influence", was he not stepping outside the local church is discerning?

The argument that discernment is only to be practiced within the local church is not biblical, and one will not find much biblical support for it.

PuritanReformed said...


I agree with you on the "discernment within the local church" issue. With regards to the idea of a church however, I am not so sure, but your input is always appreciated.

I do think this issue is much more foundational than Mr. Turk's continual focus on the importance of the Local Church. If we cannot even define a church and how it practically comes into being, then there is nothing much to talk about. It has been said that the indicative comes before the imperative, and I think ecclesiology is not exempted.