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Independent churches
06-15-2010, 07:39 AM
Post: #1
Independent churches
The Baptist churches (and many Pentecostal churches) exist as independent congregations that answer to no earthly authority but their own. But how can this set-up be Biblical?

1. (Acts chapter 15) Local churches submitted to the authority of Paul, the Apostles and the elders in Jerusalem to determine Christian doctrine and the standards of behavior?

2. (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5) The Apostles, Paul and their designees had the authority to appoint leaders for local congregations?

3. (I Corinthians 16:1-3) Local congregations were obligated to raise money for use by the universal church as a whole under the direction of Paul and the Apostles (and likely the elders in Jerusalem)?

What book, chapter and verse will I find a Biblical declaration that local churches are to be independent of each other?
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06-15-2010, 09:05 AM
Post: #2
RE: Independent churches
(06-15-2010 07:39 AM)jfla Wrote:  The Baptist churches (and many Pentecostal churches) exist as independent congregations that answer to no earthly authority but their own. But how can this set-up be Biblical?

1. (Acts chapter 15) Local churches submitted to the authority of Paul, the Apostles and the elders in Jerusalem to determine Christian doctrine and the standards of behavior?

2. (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5) The Apostles, Paul and their designees had the authority to appoint leaders for local congregations?

3. (I Corinthians 16:1-3) Local congregations were obligated to raise money for use by the universal church as a whole under the direction of Paul and the Apostles (and likely the elders in Jerusalem)?

What book, chapter and verse will I find a Biblical declaration that local churches are to be independent of each other?

So, are you looking to undo the Reformation of the 1500's? Good luck with that...
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06-15-2010, 10:18 AM
Post: #3
RE: Independent churches
(06-15-2010 09:05 AM)digipixel Wrote:  
(06-15-2010 07:39 AM)jfla Wrote:  The Baptist churches (and many Pentecostal churches) exist as independent congregations that answer to no earthly authority but their own. But how can this set-up be Biblical?

1. (Acts chapter 15) Local churches submitted to the authority of Paul, the Apostles and the elders in Jerusalem to determine Christian doctrine and the standards of behavior?

2. (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5) The Apostles, Paul and their designees had the authority to appoint leaders for local congregations?

3. (I Corinthians 16:1-3) Local congregations were obligated to raise money for use by the universal church as a whole under the direction of Paul and the Apostles (and likely the elders in Jerusalem)?

What book, chapter and verse will I find a Biblical declaration that local churches are to be independent of each other?

So, are you looking to undo the Reformation of the 1500's? Good luck with that...

I am looking for the Church that existed before the time of Constantine.
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06-15-2010, 10:22 AM
Post: #4
RE: Independent churches
I think there's on in Ethiopia..............hope that helps.

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06-15-2010, 10:52 AM
Post: #5
RE: Independent churches
(06-15-2010 10:18 AM)jfla Wrote:  
(06-15-2010 09:05 AM)digipixel Wrote:  
(06-15-2010 07:39 AM)jfla Wrote:  The Baptist churches (and many Pentecostal churches) exist as independent congregations that answer to no earthly authority but their own. But how can this set-up be Biblical?

1. (Acts chapter 15) Local churches submitted to the authority of Paul, the Apostles and the elders in Jerusalem to determine Christian doctrine and the standards of behavior?

2. (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5) The Apostles, Paul and their designees had the authority to appoint leaders for local congregations?

3. (I Corinthians 16:1-3) Local congregations were obligated to raise money for use by the universal church as a whole under the direction of Paul and the Apostles (and likely the elders in Jerusalem)?

What book, chapter and verse will I find a Biblical declaration that local churches are to be independent of each other?

So, are you looking to undo the Reformation of the 1500's? Good luck with that...

I am looking for the Church that existed before the time of Constantine.

Ah. I am no historian, but it seems to me that prior to Constantine, (prior to about 312 CE) early churches were almost forced to be somewhat independent. Prior to Constantine legalizing Christianity, and all but outlawing pagan worship, Roman law declared an open season on all things Christian. Christians had few if any legal rights, and their property and homes were seized and destroyed.

Obviously the New Testament includes letters that were written by Christ's disciples to the early Christian churches to instruct them in doctrine and belief, but for the most part weren't early Christians forced to worship in private and in secret? Some churches got the message, some did not.

Did you know that even today, (in Iraq, I think) there is a small group of believers called the Mandeans(?) who believe it was John the Baptist who was the messiah, and not Jesus.
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06-15-2010, 04:59 PM
Post: #6
RE: Independent churches
(06-15-2010 10:52 AM)digipixel Wrote:  Ah. I am no historian, but it seems to me that prior to Constantine, (prior to about 312 CE) early churches were almost forced to be somewhat independent. Prior to Constantine legalizing Christianity, and all but outlawing pagan worship, Roman law declared an open season on all things Christian. Christians had few if any legal rights, and their property and homes were seized and destroyed.

The opposite is actually true. Christians were not always under persecution and there was only a time or two that persecution was Empire-wide. But the threat of persecution was always present. And in the Church’s first few centuries Christians had to confront one heresy after another. So between persecution from without and heresy from within congregations were forced to work together to preserve legitimate Christian doctrine.

Quote:Obviously the New Testament includes letters that were written by Christ's disciples to the early Christian churches to instruct them in doctrine and belief, but for the most part weren't early Christians forced to worship in private and in secret?

Not always and certainly not during the 1st century AD. The Book of Acts clearly presents the picture that Paul and the Apostles preached in public. They were often harassed by Jewish leaders, but this did not stop them. And the Romans pretty much left Christians alone up until the Jewish Revolt of 70 AD. Before then Christians were seen as a sect of the Jews, and the Jews were exempt from Rome’s religious laws because the Jews had been around for as long as the city of Rome had been. The Romans respected the traditions of their Empire’s subject people if these traditions were as old as Rome’s traditions were- as long as the subject people paid their taxes and didn’t revolt against Roman rule.

Quote:Did you know that even today, (in Iraq, I think) there is a small group of believers called the Mandeans(?) who believe it was John the Baptist who was the messiah, and not Jesus.

I am aware of the Mandeans. If I remember right they go back pretty much to ancient times.
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06-16-2010, 08:26 AM (This post was last modified: 06-16-2010 08:28 AM by digipixel.)
Post: #7
RE: Independent churches
(06-15-2010 04:59 PM)jfla Wrote:  
(06-15-2010 10:52 AM)digipixel Wrote:  Ah. I am no historian, but it seems to me that prior to Constantine, (prior to about 312 CE) early churches were almost forced to be somewhat independent. Prior to Constantine legalizing Christianity, and all but outlawing pagan worship, Roman law declared an open season on all things Christian. Christians had few if any legal rights, and their property and homes were seized and destroyed.

The opposite is actually true. Christians were not always under persecution and there was only a time or two that persecution was Empire-wide. But the threat of persecution was always present. And in the Church’s first few centuries Christians had to confront one heresy after another. So between persecution from without and heresy from within congregations were forced to work together to preserve legitimate Christian doctrine.

Quote:Obviously the New Testament includes letters that were written by Christ's disciples to the early Christian churches to instruct them in doctrine and belief, but for the most part weren't early Christians forced to worship in private and in secret?

Not always and certainly not during the 1st century AD. The Book of Acts clearly presents the picture that Paul and the Apostles preached in public. They were often harassed by Jewish leaders, but this did not stop them. And the Romans pretty much left Christians alone up until the Jewish Revolt of 70 AD. Before then Christians were seen as a sect of the Jews, and the Jews were exempt from Rome’s religious laws because the Jews had been around for as long as the city of Rome had been. The Romans respected the traditions of their Empire’s subject people if these traditions were as old as Rome’s traditions were- as long as the subject people paid their taxes and didn’t revolt against Roman rule.

Quote:Did you know that even today, (in Iraq, I think) there is a small group of believers called the Mandeans(?) who believe it was John the Baptist who was the messiah, and not Jesus.

I am aware of the Mandeans. If I remember right they go back pretty much to ancient times.

I am baffled by your self-contraditory response regarding persecution of the early Christian church.

When I suggest they were persecuted, you respond that the opposite is true. Then you go on to say that the threat of persecution was always present. Huh?

Following the death of Jesus, of the original 12 disciples, how many died of natural causes? Only one. Ten were martyred, and of course by Christian tradition, Judas is reported to have committed suicide after his betrayal of Christ. Even John the Baptist, a contemporary of Jesus was beheaded. This sure sounds like persecution to me.

Additionally, Nero blamed the Christians (falsely of course) for the fire that almost entirely destroyed Rome and, as one source puts it, the persecution of Christians was "imperially supervised." This all happened prior to the Jewish revolt of 70 CE.

And yes, the Mandeans were from an ancient culture, but it wasn't until later that they worshiped John the Baptist, who was a contemporary of Jesus.
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06-20-2010, 04:39 PM
Post: #8
RE: Independent churches
(06-16-2010 08:26 AM)digipixel Wrote:  I am baffled by your self-contraditory response regarding persecution of the early Christian church.

I didn’t say the early church was not persecuted. I said the early church was never persecuted to the extent that congregations had to work independently of each other. Bishops from different geographic areas were always able to meet together to decide doctrinal issues- often in response to a just-ended period of persecution as was the case with the Novationist and Donatist controversies. No persecution ever prevented a church-wide hierarchy from existing- in fact the opposite was true in that the church used its church-wide hierarchy in order to restore order anytime the church had been disrupted by persecution (or heresy).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novatianism

In 251 a council of bishops was held in Rome to deal with the schism caused by Novatus in the wake of the persecution under the Emperor Decius.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donatism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Arles

In 314 AD bishops, at the behest of Constantine, convened a council in Arles to deal with the schism caused by the followers of Donatus shortly after the persecution under the Emperor Diocletian.

Quote:Following the death of Jesus, of the original 12 disciples, how many died of natural causes?

The last one did not die until around 100 AD. And we have no Biblical record for Peter’s or Paul’s death. The Book of Acts ends with both of them alive. For all we know they both died of old age.

Quote:Even John the Baptist, a contemporary of Jesus was beheaded. This sure sounds like persecution to me.

It was not a universal persecution, which is what would have been required to have independent congregations under the scenario that you devised.

Quote:Additionally, Nero blamed the Christians (falsely of course) for the fire that almost entirely destroyed Rome and, as one source puts it, the persecution of Christians was "imperially supervised."

Again, this was not a universal persecution.
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06-21-2010, 08:24 AM (This post was last modified: 06-21-2010 09:13 AM by digipixel.)
Post: #9
RE: Independent churches
(06-20-2010 04:39 PM)jfla Wrote:  
(06-16-2010 08:26 AM)digipixel Wrote:  I am baffled by your self-contraditory response regarding persecution of the early Christian church.

I didn’t say the early church was not persecuted. I said the early church was never persecuted to the extent that congregations had to work independently of each other. Bishops from different geographic areas were always able to meet together to decide doctrinal issues- often in response to a just-ended period of persecution as was the case with the Novationist and Donatist controversies. No persecution ever prevented a church-wide hierarchy from existing- in fact the opposite was true in that the church used its church-wide hierarchy in order to restore order anytime the church had been disrupted by persecution (or heresy).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novatianism

In 251 a council of bishops was held in Rome to deal with the schism caused by Novatus in the wake of the persecution under the Emperor Decius.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donatism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Arles

In 314 AD bishops, at the behest of Constantine, convened a council in Arles to deal with the schism caused by the followers of Donatus shortly after the persecution under the Emperor Diocletian.

Quote:Following the death of Jesus, of the original 12 disciples, how many died of natural causes?

The last one did not die until around 100 AD. And we have no Biblical record for Peter’s or Paul’s death. The Book of Acts ends with both of them alive. For all we know they both died of old age.

Quote:Even John the Baptist, a contemporary of Jesus was beheaded. This sure sounds like persecution to me.

It was not a universal persecution, which is what would have been required to have independent congregations under the scenario that you devised.

Quote:Additionally, Nero blamed the Christians (falsely of course) for the fire that almost entirely destroyed Rome and, as one source puts it, the persecution of Christians was "imperially supervised."

Again, this was not a universal persecution.

Regarding my claim of persistent and organized persecution of the early Christian church, I'll leave you to stew in your own statemtent that, "just the opposite is true."

We can each find scholars and historians (and wiki articles) that will disagree regarding not only persecution, but also regarding various competing sects of Christianity that sprung up in the decades and centuries following Jesus' death.

I totally agree with you that though various councils and meetings of Jesus' followers, "church fathers", and later bishops, that early Christian letters and texts were sorted, filtered and "sanctioned" as canonical. Others were discarded and deemed either as heretical, or simply didn't teach the "party line" regarding the "true faith". It is here where things seem to unravel, or at least begin to unravel. Given the religious and political intrigues of the day, these early church leaders had agendas to push. While their original efforts to purify church doctrine may have been well-intended, it is clear that the early "Roman Church" became not only spiritually corrupt, but also a central source of corrupt political power. Rome held control over your life and your very soul, and wielded its power with little mercy when it came to heresy. We see the same thing happening today with Islam. Muslims claim that the Quran is the final and true scripture given to Muhammad by Allah, and that to follow any other scripture is corrupt and is punishable by death. Is this all sounding familiar?

As I have said repeatedly, the problem with religion is there are too many people involved. Scripture, any scripture, has already been "filtered", first by the person who wrote it (by listening to God speak to him or her), then by someone who translated it, and then by the "church fathers" who interpret it and "teach" it to us.

Thanks to the Reformation, Christianity removed the middlemen (priests, bishops, pope, etc.) and we are free to read the scripture on our own, and interpret it for ourselves based on how it touches our heart and soul. Has this helped? That's debatable. Many say yes, and that the scripture does not require "interpretation", that it can be understood just the way it is written. Okay. If that's the rationalisation you need to feel comfortable with your brand of religion, check your brain at the door and go for it.
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06-21-2010, 01:09 PM
Post: #10
RE: Independent churches
(06-21-2010 08:24 AM)digipixel Wrote:  Regarding my claim of persistent and organized persecution of the early Christian church, I'll leave you to stew in your own statemtent that, "just the opposite is true."

What is it about history that you don’t understand? Persecution of Christians in the first centuries AD was not persistent and was seldom ever organized. Christians did not face constant persecution and only seldom did they face persecution throughout the Roman Empire. Persecution was neither severe enough, nor widespread enough, nor constant enough to necessitate independent congregations as you have claimed.
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