"An ellipsis occurs when an author elects to mention certain facts but omits others"

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Ted Bigelow's picture

Hi Kevin,

The past many weeks I have taken your posts to task for claiming that Acts 15:22 teaches congregational polity, and that one verse, Acts 16:4, undoes your claim. I have made numerous exegetical observations that have gone unanswered from Acts 15:22, Acts 15:23, and Acts 16:4. This appears to be your response.

FWIW, I agree with much of what you write, even if it is for a very limited audience (IFB?). Ellipses (your own term?), or at least, authorial intent in selecting theological emphasis, are clearly evident in the healing accounts of the Lord and Bartimaeus. I would have loved it if you had brought out the theological emphasis of each of the synoptic writers, though. And yes, Christians who believe water baptism is connected to regeneration promote a confused and erroneous gospel. Still, using Mark 16:16 to support your ellipsis claim is weak as it is a highly disputed text, as I think you well know.

But the reason you wrote of those two errant theologies was to refute the claim that Acts 16:4 undoes your claim in of ultimate congregational authority in Acts 15:22. You now assert that Acts 16:4 is an example of ellipsis. Who knew? On whose authority do you claim this? You can’t just claim congregational authority in Acts 15:22 and hope its correct by claiming ellipsis in Acts 16:4. You have to prove it from the text itself, not an ‘overlay,’ on top of the text, such as ellipsis.​ What if Acts 16:4 isn't ellipsis?

To date you have still left unanswered the important exegetical issues in Acts 15:22, Acts 15:23, and Acts 16:4 that go contrary to your claim of congregational authority. Instead, in this article, you go with a theory - ellipsis, and then use the smallest and least significant argument, a textual discrepancy in Acts 15:23, which in the end, proves little. Nobody but schismatics assert dogma from textual discrepancies, right?

What is apparent from both Acts 15:22 and Acts 15:23 is that the church was not in any sense the ultimate authority, as you claim. All the verbs that reflect gender are masculine plurals, and since the Greek word “church” (ecclesia) is feminine, Luke shows that all the authority behind the Councils decisions as coming not from the church, but from the men – the apostles and elders. Besides, the phrase “the whole church” is simply a participial phrase attached underneath the apostles and elders (Acts 15:22). That’s just Greek syntax.

In order for you to claim the God-breathed text of Scripture teaches that the Jerusalem congregation had ultimate authority in the Jerusalem Council, you need to explain why they are not ever, once, presented that way in the letter (Acts 15:23-29). As well, you need to be able to show why, if Christ’s own doctrine is that each church is its own ultimate governing authority, that wasn’t presented to each church that received the letter. They would have had the responsibility to approve or reject it, right? Except they had to obey it: "As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey." (Act 16:4). 

These are but two points of several I asked you to deal with before.

Instead of answering me back in the comments on your prior posts, engaging the text, and being held accountable to it, you have used your posting privileges to link me with liberal critics who deny the inerrancy of Scripture and those who confuse the gospel of justification by faith alone with water baptism. All this because I think your understanding of Acts 15:22 is incorrect, and use Scripture to back it up?

Lastly, and as always, you need to explain why there is no precept in Scripture that teaches congregational authority, at all. Not one. And at the same time, why the many precepts that do teach full elder authority are not be obeyed.

Kevin Miller's picture

 

Ted,

I've always been taught congregationalism, but I'm open to the possibility that only apostles or elders should appoint other elders. What I am confused about is how that would work in certain situations. I asked this question in another thread, but the thread was closed before it could be answered, so I'll repeat it here.

"Suppose I had a job that took me to Mongolia for a few years, to a town with no churches whatsoever. Suppose I were to witness to those around me and people heard the gospel and the Lord saved them. What should be our next step as a group of Christians? Surely we would want to organize into a local church. How would we go about getting our elders? Some of the group of new believers would certainly learn the Scriptures faster than others and show the character traits necessary for being an elder, but if we as a congregation do not have the authority to install them as our elders, then what do we do?"

Ted Bigelow's picture

Hi Kevin,

The precepts and examples in Scripture would lead you to bring in an elder from the outside to test the candidates, with the full assistance of all the church.

No, this isn't church autonomy, but when in Scripture was autonomy ever a good thing? Wink

Kevin Miller's picture

Ted Bigelow wrote:

Hi Kevin,

The precepts and examples in Scripture would lead you to bring in an elder from the outside to test the candidates, with the full assistance of all the church.

No, this isn't church autonomy, but when in Scripture was autonomy ever a good thing? Wink

Would I have the authority to choose which elder from some other church to bring in? Would anyone else from our little group also have the authority to bring some elder in to test candidates? Also, what would "the full assistance of the church" look like? Would various people tell the outside elder "I think person x meets the requirements," while others would tell the outside elder "I think person y meets the requirements," and then that outside elder would just appoint someone? Would that be the only "assistance" the church would be able to provide? Would it be accurate to say that the outside elder would have "autonomy" if the congregation didn't have it?

Ted Bigelow's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

Ted Bigelow wrote:

 

Hi Kevin,

The precepts and examples in Scripture would lead you to bring in an elder from the outside to test the candidates, with the full assistance of all the church.

No, this isn't church autonomy, but when in Scripture was autonomy ever a good thing? Wink

 

Would I have the authority to choose which elder from some other church to bring in? Would anyone else from our little group also have the authority to bring some elder in to test candidates? Also, what would "the full assistance of the church" look like? Would various people tell the outside elder "I think person x meets the requirements," while others would tell the outside elder "I think person y meets the requirements," and then that outside elder would just appoint someone? Would that be the only "assistance" the church would be able to provide? Would it be accurate to say that the outside elder would have "autonomy" if the congregation didn't have it?

Kevin, what biblical passages do you see at work here?

Mark_Smith's picture

Ted, 

I think you are reading too much into Acts 16:4. You seem to suggest that since Paul was now preaching what the apostles and elders of Jerusalem approved, that God blessed that and was demonstrating a hierarchical structure for the church. I disagree. What happened before was that Judaizers were following Paul who preached a gospel of liberty from the Mosaic law and telling the churches Paul had founded that Paul was illegitimate and the Gentiles needed to become Jewish converts as well! These Judaizers were from the Jerusalem church, or were at least associated with it. To solve this controversy of how to preach to the Gentiles Paul went to Jerusalem and consulted with the leaders and the overall body of Christ there. At no time was Paul subservient to this council. He was not trying to seek approval for himself or his own message. God had given him that message to the Gentiles and he did not need James or Peter to confirm that. Instead, he wanted the Jerusalem council to issue a decree to get the Judaizers off his back. He wanted Jerusalem to control their own missionaries in a sense! So, back to Acts 16:4. Now that Jerusalem had issued a decree of agreement with Paul there was more peace in the churches and the gospel was preached with the church increasing daily.

Kevin Miller's picture

Ted Bigelow wrote:

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

 

Ted Bigelow wrote:

 

Hi Kevin,

The precepts and examples in Scripture would lead you to bring in an elder from the outside to test the candidates, with the full assistance of all the church.

No, this isn't church autonomy, but when in Scripture was autonomy ever a good thing? Wink

 

Would I have the authority to choose which elder from some other church to bring in? Would anyone else from our little group also have the authority to bring some elder in to test candidates? Also, what would "the full assistance of the church" look like? Would various people tell the outside elder "I think person x meets the requirements," while others would tell the outside elder "I think person y meets the requirements," and then that outside elder would just appoint someone? Would that be the only "assistance" the church would be able to provide? Would it be accurate to say that the outside elder would have "autonomy" if the congregation didn't have it?

 

 

Kevin, what biblical passages do you see at work here?

Well, in my initial question, my motivation for witnessing would be from the great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. There are a number of verses regarding why we should organize into a local assembly. Do I need to list those for you for some reason? The main question I had for you was about getting an elder for our congregation. I Timothy 3 starts with "This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work." Perhaps if a person desired it hard enough, he could appoint himself as pastor, but the passage then goes on to list qualification that need to be considered, so it looks like there has to be an examination rather than just a self-appointment. Since everyone in our congregation would be able to look at I Timothy 3, then I'm not sure why we ourselves could not conduct this examination without bringing in someone from outside who doesn't really know us. Now, YOU were the one who told ME that someone needed to be brought in from the outside, but you didn't use any verses to tell me which congregation members had this authority to bring someone from outside to come examine our group, nor did you give me any verses to show what "the full assistance of the church" looks like. All you did, instead of answering my question, was ask me what Biblical passages I see at work. I'm confused.

Jay's picture

The real problem isn't Dr. Bauder.  The real problem here is the hermeneutic that Ted wants to use to interpret the scripture, a charge I've noted before.

Ted mention that there must be both a precept and an example in order to make a passage binding on the church today:

But Jesus wasn’t done convincing John. To seal John’s faith He gave a precept,

“and blessed is he who does not take offense at Me” (Mat. 11:6).

Jesus’ scriptural examples, coupled with His own precept, gave John what he needed most – the convincing power to hold to a justified faith in Christ at the hour of death. That’s the power only Precept and Example gives.

Anything less – even just example or precept – can easily form a presumptuous faith built on insufficient evidence.  Such faith crumbles in the day of distress, even as John’s was; other times it survives by will power. But in all cases it relies on less than God offers in His glorious Word – the cross-checking power of precept and example.

and

God provides all people equally with precept and example so that we can understand what He wants us to believe (doctrine), and do what He wants us to (duty). At the same time precept and example holds us back from adopting false beliefs and practices. Precept and example is the way Scripture teaches us as individuals and as churches what God’s revealed will is for life.

We are all so liable to misunderstand and misinterpret Scripture that we can grow frustrated and impatiently ask, “whose interpretation is right?”

But we also should know that no one stands above the Word of God. It is all from God and without error in the whole or in the parts. Our ability to understand is the problem. So God gave us all, equally, P&E to grant us a confirmatory method to know the right belief and practice, and to keep us from depending on men’s errant interpretations. If you can think, you can understand.

P&E is the public proof that the Bible is inspired and the domain of no man or church.

Ted is here to teach an aberrant and heretical hermeneutic to build up a system of church polity that exists only in his teachings.  That's why he can't defend it, that's why he doesn't answer the questions about the inconsistencies in his own life (especially since he appointed himself a pastor/elder), and that's why he makes appearances on SI only to talk about his hobby horse.

He should be banned from the site as a heretic and schismatic in line with I Timothy 6:3-5, and anyone that engages with him is wasting their time.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Ted Bigelow's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

Ted, 

I think you are reading too much into Acts 16:4. You seem to suggest that since Paul was now preaching what the apostles and elders of Jerusalem approved, that God blessed that and was demonstrating a hierarchical structure for the church. I disagree. What happened before was that Judaizers were following Paul who preached a gospel of liberty from the Mosaic law and telling the churches Paul had founded that Paul was illegitimate and the Gentiles needed to become Jewish converts as well! These Judaizers were from the Jerusalem church, or were at least associated with it. To solve this controversy of how to preach to the Gentiles Paul went to Jerusalem and consulted with the leaders and the overall body of Christ there. At no time was Paul subservient to this council. He was not trying to seek approval for himself or his own message. God had given him that message to the Gentiles and he did not need James or Peter to confirm that. Instead, he wanted the Jerusalem council to issue a decree to get the Judaizers off his back. He wanted Jerusalem to control their own missionaries in a sense! So, back to Acts 16:4. Now that Jerusalem had issued a decree of agreement with Paul there was more peace in the churches and the gospel was preached with the church increasing daily.

Mark,

After reading Acts 16:4, here's some questions to ask of the text:

1) Who decided upon the Jerusalem decrees?

2) What were the churches one allowable response to those decrees?

3) Based on Acts 16:4, what was the role of the congregation in Jerusalem, ultimate authority, shared authority, or no authority?

Ted Bigelow's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

Would I have the authority to choose which elder from some other church to bring in? Would anyone else from our little group also have the authority to bring some elder in to test candidates? Also, what would "the full assistance of the church" look like? Would various people tell the outside elder "I think person x meets the requirements," while others would tell the outside elder "I think person y meets the requirements," and then that outside elder would just appoint someone? Would that be the only "assistance" the church would be able to provide? Would it be accurate to say that the outside elder would have "autonomy" if the congregation didn't have it?

 

 

Kevin, what biblical passages do you see at work here?

 

Well, in my initial question, my motivation for witnessing would be from the great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. There are a number of verses regarding why we should organize into a local assembly. Do I need to list those for you for some reason? The main question I had for you was about getting an elder for our congregation. I Timothy 3 starts with "This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work." Perhaps if a person desired it hard enough, he could appoint himself as pastor, but the passage then goes on to list qualification that need to be considered, so it looks like there has to be an examination rather than just a self-appointment. Since everyone in our congregation would be able to look at I Timothy 3, then I'm not sure why we ourselves could not conduct this examination without bringing in someone from outside who doesn't really know us. Now, YOU were the one who told ME that someone needed to be brought in from the outside, but you didn't use any verses to tell me which congregation members had this authority to bring someone from outside to come examine our group, nor did you give me any verses to show what "the full assistance of the church" looks like. All you did, instead of answering my question, was ask me what Biblical passages I see at work. I'm confused.

Kevin, I meant biblical passages at work in your above questions. In the NT, elders are only examined and appointed by other qualified men (Acts 14:23, 1 Tim. 5:21, Titus 1:5), never the congregation. The congregation uses the 25 qualifications in Scripture to test each candidate insofar as they are to either confront the candidate for potential failings they know of, or make those know to the present eldership who follows up. This is discussed at length in many works such as Strauch's Biblical Eldership, MacArthur's "The Master's Plan for the Church," or my, "The Titus Mandate." Go get one and read.

Ted Bigelow's picture

Jay wrote:

The real problem isn't Dr. Bauder.  The real problem here is the hermeneutic that Ted wants to use to interpret the scripture, a charge I've noted before.

Ted mention that there must be both a precept and an example in order to make a passage binding on the church today:

But Jesus wasn’t done convincing John. To seal John’s faith He gave a precept,

“and blessed is he who does not take offense at Me” (Mat. 11:6).

Jesus’ scriptural examples, coupled with His own precept, gave John what he needed most – the convincing power to hold to a justified faith in Christ at the hour of death. That’s the power only Precept and Example gives.

Anything less – even just example or precept – can easily form a presumptuous faith built on insufficient evidence.  Such faith crumbles in the day of distress, even as John’s was; other times it survives by will power. But in all cases it relies on less than God offers in His glorious Word – the cross-checking power of precept and example.

and

God provides all people equally with precept and example so that we can understand what He wants us to believe (doctrine), and do what He wants us to (duty). At the same time precept and example holds us back from adopting false beliefs and practices. Precept and example is the way Scripture teaches us as individuals and as churches what God’s revealed will is for life.

We are all so liable to misunderstand and misinterpret Scripture that we can grow frustrated and impatiently ask, “whose interpretation is right?”

But we also should know that no one stands above the Word of God. It is all from God and without error in the whole or in the parts. Our ability to understand is the problem. So God gave us all, equally, P&E to grant us a confirmatory method to know the right belief and practice, and to keep us from depending on men’s errant interpretations. If you can think, you can understand.

P&E is the public proof that the Bible is inspired and the domain of no man or church.

Ted is here to teach an aberrant and heretical hermeneutic to build up a system of church polity that exists only in his teachings.  That's why he can't defend it, that's why he doesn't answer the questions about the inconsistencies in his own life (especially since he appointed himself a pastor/elder), and that's why he makes appearances on SI only to talk about his hobby horse.

He should be banned from the site as a heretic and schismatic in line with I Timothy 6:3-5, and anyone that engages with him is wasting their time.

Jay, you are still slandering. After being asked multiple times by me to specifically explain what about my doctrine is aberrant, you still have not, indeed, cannot, but persist in calling me bad names you don't even understand. Scripture explains how to handle a slanderer. In both precept, and example. I hope the elders in your church are reading. It will be for your sanctification.

Jim's picture

Please eschew the he's a heretic and should be banned language. It's not helpful. You are not a moderator and won't be making that decision. 

Thanks 

--- This does not mean I agree with Ted!

James K's picture

Kevin's latest ... defense of congregational authority is ... not worth the time it took to read.

If you didn't know he was trying to defend the emasculated ... pastor / rebellious ... church model, you might have thought he was defending infant baptism.

 

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.