Monday, November 14, 2011
"A Lot of Flavors Out There"
Recently a visitor from out of town stopped in to our church. That visitor was sharing his testimony with me how that he was saved many years ago, but was not a Baptist at that time. He shared how that through studying the Bible, he realized that it is the Baptists who traditionaly have stayed closest to the Word of God. As a result, he had recently been baptized and had become a Baptist. He shared with me that while searching for a church, he quickly learned that "there are a lot of flavors out there of churches called 'Baptist.'" My response was, "Sadly, yes."
I believe the Bible teaches the autonomy of the local church. There are no examples in Scripture of a board, convention, or fellowship ruling over a local church. Our Lord even gave us the highest level of authority here on earth in His teaching on discipline. The highest level of authority found in Matthew 18 is when we "tell it to the church."
While the Bible does teach that we are to warn others of false teachers and prophets, one must never over step his bounds in doing this. While we may not agree with the faith and/or practice of another church, it still is not our business what other churches have decided for themselves. The problem is: FUNDAMENTALISM. Let me explain:
You see, it was an idea of the old Fundamentalist to start colleges to train their young men in the fundamentals. These colleges gather our nation's young men and ladies training for the ministry. Most of these colleges have already slidden into error or at least what another 'Fundamental Baptist' has decided is error. That man must now warn all the churches and families sending their young people out to be trained about the errors of these pastors/churches that are doing the training. We are left with our modern day 'Fundamentalist' colleges that are training the majority of our future pastors across this nation. Each young person now has been taught to defend 'the mother'...I mean college they attended, and 'camps' are formed (ie. Hyles, Crown, West Coast, Fairhaven, PCC, BJU, and the list goes on and on).
Should someone warn about the errors that arise when these institutions 'influencing so many people' start practicing such? Well, the problem is that this all the fruit of the problem. The problem is that we swallowed the fundamentalist way of thinking and need to get back to a more Biblical stance...that of local churches and pastors training their own. Only in the local church will there ever be true Biblical unity!
If we would just go back to a Biblical methodology in training future pastors and missionaries, well, exposing error would be as it is exampled in the Bible...done within the local church.
So what about all those flavors? Can I fellowship with them? I believe in ecclesiastical separation. There are some churches that our church cannot fellowship with. I believe there ought to be no church that I am not willing to sit down with their pastor and share what I believe, but should these differences be judged as a possible detriment to my church, I cannot fellowship with that.
That doesn't mean that other church is not a 'church.' That is all God's business. That's why the Lord 'sets the members as it pleases Him' (1 Cor. 12). There will be differences from church to church, and many of these differences should be seen as just that-differences of opinion. Examples of such are whether you want to use mission boards, microphones, special singers, or a projector. You may want to have circus day at church, I choose not to. So what?!
True fellowship is the ability to sit down with someone from that other church and discuss these things without getting angry or having to ignore 'issues' to preserve unity. BLAH!
Now there are some things that are beyond opinion and there is no give and take there. Such things as salvation by grace through faith, modern perversions of Scripture, charismatic movement and 'gifts', polygamy, etc.
So we are left with the result of a lot of flavors out there. Some Baptist have super standards, some lack them all together. Some Baptist use canned music, others do not. Some Baptist use screens and projectors, others don't. Some have 45 minutes of special singing, some have none. Some have zoo Sundays, some don't run busses. Some pray for an hour at prayer meeting, some 10 minutes. Some have all men praying aloud during prayer time, others have one person lead in prayer, while others have quiet individual prayer time.
Point is, we are spending way too much time trying to figure out and appease our false premise of 'having to fellowship' with other churches. I don't believe in isololating ourselves, as in Scripture churches helped each other and fellowshipped. But these things were natural that like minded churches will always do. Just be sure you are where God wants you-and that will only be in a place that is Biblical. Have a walk with the Lord and an ear for the Lord. Be faithful and let God bless!
Who can you fellowship with? For most, it just depends on what flavor they like.