This article is based largely upon an article written by the late L. S. Ballard exposing the unscripturalness of the Conventions and the Associations. Since the Baptist Bible Fellowship and the World Baptist Fellowship are very new, [neither was in existence when he wrote the article] they were not included, but the same Scriptures and logic that he used against the Associations and Conventions apply equally to the organized Fellowships. You see, the Baptist Bible Fellowship is no different from Conventions and Associations for the Baptist Bible Fellowship vehemently and vociferously contend that the commission to evangelize was given to New Testament churches and to none other, as do also the Conventions and Associations. If that is true then we should teach Baptist churches, including Baptist Bible Fellowship churches, to practice what they preach. If we preach one thing and practice another, our position is made precarious in the minds of thinking people.
First, let us look at the practice of the Baptist Bible Fellowship, International as compared with their preaching. People are judged by what they do and not by what they say. The Baptist Bible Fellowship, International is a body made up of un-elected pastors. The Directors of the Baptist Bible Fellowship, elected in their national meetings by these same un-elected pastors, hold within their grasp today the authority to send out missionaries. They approve and appoint the missionaries, designate the number that should go, set their salaries and lay out their fields, make Mission Policies, rules and regulations to which the missionaries must subscribe before being approved, and then appoint Bishops (called Mission Directors) to control them. The only way the churches are known in it is through their pastors who form these Fellowships, and these Fellowships transact all the business, without church approval, and then call upon the churches to pay for it.
By whose or what authority does the Baptist Bible Fellowship act? By what authority do the Mission Directors operate? Not by the authority of Jesus, because He gave the commission to act in this capacity to New Testament churches (Matthew 28:19-20). Not by the authority of the Holy Spirit, because His position is confined to New Testament churches to direct them in carrying out the commission of Jesus (John 14:15-17; Acts 13:1-4). We are told that these Mission Directors and the Baptist Bible Fellowship get their authority from the pastors that make up the Baptist Bible Fellowship. Even these pastors themselves deny that the churches have given them any authority, for they two years ago excluded all churches from membership in the Fellowship, and the pastors have not been authorized by the churches to form the Fellowship. They have simply assumed this right. But where in the Bible do the churches or the pastors have the right to commission the Baptist Bible Fellowship or the Mission Directors to act for the churches? There were no such bodies in Bible times and since God sees the ages through, if such a human set-up had been necessary for the churches to carry out the great commission, it stands to reason that He would have told us so. Therefore all such bodies act without the authority of God, without the commission of Jesus Christ, and without the direction of the Holy Spirit.
But it is argued that the pastors have a right by agreement to form the Baptist Bible Fellowship and meet in annual Fellowship meetings, to elect missionaries (they call it "approve" missionaries), establish Mission Policies to govern these missionaries, set up a Board of Missions called Mission Directors to enforce the rules contained in the Mission Policies, and to carry on the work for these pastors who have organized the Baptist Bible Fellowship. But where in the Bible do the pastors have the authority for such procedure? Is the Bible the rule and standard of our faith and practice, or do we have a right to make our own rules and set up our own standards? Until I am thoroughly convinced that men have the right to make laws to govern their practices, I am going to contend that the Word of God is the perfect rule by which all of our practice should be squared.
Again, if New Testament churches were commissioned by Jesus Christ to evangelize the world, by whom or what was the Baptist Bible Fellowship, its Fellowship Directors, and its Mission Directors clothed with such authority? There is but one answer and it is just as unscriptural as it is preposterous. Either the churches have the God-given right to re-commit their authority to other agencies, or the pastors have the right to take over and assume the responsibilities of the churches. Here then is the battle ground. Most Fellowship pastors deny this doctrine in word but in practice utter it in thunder tones.
Second, let us examine the unscripturalness of this doctrine for a moment, keeping in mind that there were no such organizations as Conventions, Associations, organized Fellowships, or Mission Directors in New Testament days; that as to creation, they are human in origin; as to authority, they are Episcopal in nature; and as to practice, they are without divine appointment. They do not claim divine origin, but they do claim divine authority re-committed to them by the churches through their pastors. They do not claim ecclesiastical powers, claiming each church is independent and sovereign, but they usurp authority over the churches by circumscribing their practices to certain rules and stipulations written in their Constitutions and By-laws.
I know that I am committing a sin next to the sin against the Holy Spirit when I charge those bodies with being Episcopal in nature. But let us look the facts square in the face. The Methodist Bishop lays out all the work for the Methodist Societies. In so doing he acts according to certain prescribed laws of the Methodist Conference or Church. The Baptist Bible Fellowship lays out and carries forward the evangelistic work of the churches, particularly in the area of education, foreign and home missions, according to certain prescribed laws of the Fellowship written in the Constitution and By-laws. The only difference is, the Methodist Conference elects a Board of Bishops to direct the work of the Societies and gives them full authority to act, whereas the pastors of Baptist Bible Fellowship elect a Board called Mission Directors and gives it full authority to act for the churches. There is just as much Scripture for a Methodist Bishop as there is for a Baptist Director. And there is just as much Scripture for a Methodist Conference to transact business for Methodist Societies as there is for the Baptist Bible Fellowship to transact business for Baptist churches. There is as much Scripture for a Methodist Conference to re-commit its authority to the Bishops as there is for Baptist Churches to re-commit their authority to the Baptist Bible Fellowship, the Directors of the Baptist Bible Fellowship and the Mission Directors, or for the pastors simply to assume the authority.
The Southern Baptist Convention and the Associations justify their boards and mission organizations on the ground that they are creatures of the churches. They are hard pressed to find Scriptures they can pervert to justify their organizations, but the Fellowship organizations are just as bad off when it comes to finding Scripture for their practices. There is as much Scripture for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Foreign Mission Board electing missionaries as there is for the Baptist Bible Fellowship electing them. Since neither is found in the Holy Bible, neither has a right to assume the Scriptural obligations of the churches. If the commission was given to the New Testament churches then none but New Testament churches have a Scriptural right to send and approve missionaries.
Mission Directors of the Baptist Bible Fellowship are not creatures of the churches; they are a part of the set up of the Baptist Bible Fellowship which is composed of pastors. But if it could be established that they are creatures of the churches, where in the Scriptures do the churches get the authority to promote such organizations? Church authority extends no further than New Testament sanction. And since the New Testament nowhere authorizes such organizations, for churches to create them would be to ignore the perfect system of evangelization set forth by the Word of God and establish a system all their own. This is what Israel did when they turned away from the worship of God to follow after Baal the Phoenician sun god.
But they tell us that these Boards and Mission Directors are justified by the law of expediency. It is too bad that Paul didn’t know the Law of expediency when he was on the mission field, for had he known it, he no doubt would have advised the churches to quit sending missionaries as Barnabas was sent from the church at Jerusalem (Acts 11:22), and as he and Barnabas were sent from the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1-4), and send them under the authority of Mission Directors or a body of pastors similar to the Baptist Bible Fellowship. Yes, sir, if Paul had known that precious law he never would have gone out directly from the church at Antioch, but would have organized a Fellowship of pastors, elected some Mission Directors arid turned the work of evangelization and sending out of missionaries over to them.
Then, too, it is strange that God did not reveal the law of expediency to Paul when he was writing his many letters and epistles to the churches. And again it is marvelously strange that Baptists did not discover this law for over sixteen hundred years after Paul was dead. My! My! Almost seventeen hundred years lost on the mission fields of the world because Baptists didn’t know the law of expediency. Yet they preached the gospel all over the known world before there was ever a Baptist Bible Fellowship with their Mission Directors, or a Convention, Association, Mission Society or Mission Board known among them. But just think what they could have done if they had known the law of expediency and had not followed the letter of God’s word so closely during those years. Well, you know the old saying, "We live and learn." According to the way some Baptists, as well as others preach, we would have been better off if we had known of the book of the Law of expediency instead of the Word of God.
We are told that we have Scripture for such bodies as Associations, Conventions, Organized Fellowships and such, and 2 Corinthians 8:23 is the Scripture. But the messengers of the churches in this verse were ministers sent out from the churches to preach the gospel and not to make boards, elect Mission Directors or other substitutes to take the place of the churches. We should like to know when and where this so-called messenger body met and what missionaries were elected or endorsed, and what other business they transacted in addition to what had already been done by the churches.
[From M. L. Moser, editor, The Case for Independent Baptist Churches, 1977. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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