Bauder on "The Bile for Today" and more

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M. Osborne's picture reading a Harry Potter allusion by Kevin Bauder.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

James K's picture

This reminds me of an American who traveled to Germany without knowing any specific European language very well.  He only understood bits and parts.  After a few days, he wandered into a pub.  Some Germans were at another table looking his way and laughing.  He wasn't quite sure what to do, so he decided to turn his ear toward them and try to listen carefully and make out maybe a word he knew.  Sure enough, he heard something he thought he knew.  Based on this new knowledge, the American laughed to himself.  He guessed the circumstances of the laughing.  Sadly for him, he didn't actually understand what was being said about him.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

James K's picture

I went back and read the original post in Kevin's current series.  It is increasingly obvious that he simply doesn't understand what he is talking about with regards to this topic.  I am not saying he doesn't understand his view.  I am saying he doesn't understand the counter argument.  This was painfully obvious when I read this first post on the topic of church order.  In case you are reading this Kevin, I wish to thank you for providing a modern example of your view.  It is always helpful to have people try to boil down into a few articles what they believe.  Your time not for nothing.  When I have taught on baptism, I have encourage people to read what paedobaptists said.  When I teach on the biblical covenants, I have encourage people to read what the covenantalists said about the covenant of works/redemption/grace.  When I teach on this topic, I will highly recommend your posts.  The similarities are glaringly obvious.  My hope is that those who read your posts do their own research and don't farm it out a research professor.

Taken from your post entitled "Did they vote" found here: I will make a few observations.  Historical matters and ad hominem will not be addressed.

First, they suggest that only elders, and not ordinary believers (whom, as they note, Scripture compares to sheep), possess the spiritual competence to make decisions for the congregation.

Kevin, you are entitled to your own views, but not your own facts.  Those of the free church tradition have always held to the priesthood of the believer and soul liberty.  The believer not only has access to God apart from a mediator, but he also has the responsibility before God to fulfill the functions of a church member.  If you truly understood this matter from the brethren perspective, you would know that being an elder is not a rank above nonelders.  The brethren were at the forefront with the anabaptists fighting against the clergy/laity distinctions.  In fact, I would argue that the majority of brethren almost go too far in emphasizing that point into a reluctance to actually make decisions (a point not missed on others inside and outside the movement).

Second, they point out that the New Testament never depicts congregations voting, but rather portrays elders ruling—and on their view, elder leadership (“ruling”) consists in making decisions for the congregation.

Although it is true that the NT is silent on a church voting on anything, your actual point is not valid.  I don't know of anyone who denies that the nonelders in Jerusalem chose who they wanted to be the deacons.  It doesn't state how their decision was made just that it was.  What those from my perspective would say is that the choice by the nonapostles became valid when the apostles approved of it.  It is more likely that the church nominated the men.  The church did not dictate or have authority over the apostles in such a way that the apostles merely rubber stamped the decision.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

James K's picture


The Plymouth Brethren contempt (and it is contempt) for ordinary Christians is entirely at odds with the New Testament.

This is truly a sad statement.  The entire paragraph was so poorly done.  I will leave this silly notion alone.  On this, I am reminded about wrestling a pig in the mud.

Furthermore, the New Testament actually depicts congregations making their own decisions. To be sure, these decisions are often influenced by the judgment and teaching of apostles and others—but Baptists have never suggested that congregational polity obviates pastoral leadership. The point is that congregations participated seriously in the decisions that affected them.

Now we are getting somewhere.  If congregationalism was that congregations participated seriously in the decisions that affected them, then my brethren assembly would fall within the realm of congregationalism.  The full participation of all the members of a church is essential to a healthy church.  That this paragraph of Kevin's exists further reinforces he has thrown rocks at a hornet nest and is now flailing around.

Multiple examples were given to substantiate this point.

1. Acts 6 was already covered.

2. The text does not state who were the responsible parties who sent Paul and Barnabas.  It is an argument from silence to say that it was the congregation or the elders within the congregation.  In fact, in 13:3, the "they" might be thought of as the other men NOT chosen by the Spirit to go.  Those men were named in verse 1.  The context then would favor the other prophets and teachers.  That doesn't demand the elders, but it would favor that view.

3. Regarding the doctrinal controversy, see above.

4. Who actually settled the doctrinal problem? Acts 15:6 - Then the apostles and the elders assembled to consider this matter.  After that was done, the apostles, elders, and the entire church decided to send Barsabbas and Silas with Paul and Barnabas.  

5. 2 Cor 8:19 - appointed by the churches.  Is the appointment of a man to assist in carrying the money by the churches (plural) supposed to prove something?  It appears that 1 man was chosen by all the churches, not that each church chose 1 man.

6. 1 Cor 5 indicates a rebuke by Paul that church discipline had not been carried out.  Again, congregational participation is a must for a healthy church.  This does not go against brethren teaching.  This is Kevin's best, but still imperfect, example.  Paul didn't cast him out because he wasn't there.  Paul told them to turn him over to Satan.

How did New Testament congregations make their decisions? We get a glimpse of the process when Paul deals with the restoration of a repentant church member. This individual had sinned in the past and was disfellowshipped by the congregation. Paul states that this discipline was meted out “by the majority” (2 Cor. 2:6, NASB). In other words, New Testament churches had some mechanism by which the individual members could register their support or lack thereof for specific actions. That mechanism is precisely what is called a “vote,” in whatever manner it was conducted.

Faulty evidence will usually produce faulty conclusions.  In this case, that the majority followed the command of Paul to cast the man out and also discontinue fellowship.  There is nothing in this text that would reach your conclusion.

Clearly the New Testament recognizes the competence of congregations to make serious, spiritual decisions.

Complete agreement.

The churches of the New Testament made their own decisions. The New Testament contains no example of a decision being enforced upon a local congregation apart from its consent.

Complete agreement.

The issue ultimately is what the scripture says.  Kevin has shown a willingness to practice alchemy on some verses and turn them into something they are not.  I have not read Jeff Brown's book.  However, Kevin's endorsement of it as careful is a negative endorsement in my mind, since I have seen what 'careful' means.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.