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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15


Are Baptist Churches

Really Independent?

M. L. Moser, Sr.

From the Plains Baptist Challenger, February 2014

I came up in Convention Baptist churches. In fact, until I was a grown man, I did not know that there were any other kind of Baptist churches than Convention Baptist churches. I attended Convention schools and supported Convention programs. During all this time I did not question for one moment that the Convention program was God's program for this age. During most of that time, though I was a church member, I was unsaved. Having made a profession of faith when I was eight years of age, I considered myself a saved person. In my early teens the question would occasionally rise "Am I really saved," but I would push it aside.


After three years in the Army in World War I, I became deeply concerned over my salvation. I listened to men rather than God and was told that all of my troubles and doubts were to be attributed to my lack of surrender and obedience. Consequently, I went through a form of reconsecration and then a surrender to the ministry. It was while I was -a student in the New Orleans Baptist Seminary (Baptist Bible Institute), that I found Christ as my own personal Savior.


After my seminary training, I went into full time work. I knew no other plan of work than Convention work, so I entered heartily into the support of the program. Little by little I noticed some statements in the literature that I considered modernistic. I protested and found that it is rather an unpopular thing to do. I was advised by friends that nothing is perfect and that there was no need to create any problems by open protests concerning such modernism.


During all this time, I believed the Bible to teach the Cooperative Program. My protest was not over the Program or method of work, but to the modernism of the Convention.


Associations


Some time after that, I was in conversation with a man who was connected with what is commonly called "Landmarkism." He began at once to tell me what was wrong with the Convention, that its basis of work was wrong; that its program was wrong; that its teachings were wrong. I saw at once what he was talking about and found myself in agreement with him.


He then began to tell me about the work of the Association (American Baptist Association) brethren as contrasted with the Convention brethren. The more he talked, the more confused I became. He bitterly assailed the Convention brethren and then appealed to the very same Scriptures as the Convention brethren for the Associational basis of work. He said that Associational churches were free and independent and that Convention churches were not free and independent. I knew Convention Baptists boasted that they were free and independent. In fact, I never knew a Convention Baptist who did not say he was free and independent.

 

I attended several Associational meetings, both local and national, but could not see that their basis of work was any different than the Convention is. True they did not have the modernism of the Convention, but also, their mission spirit was almost non-existent. They seemed more concerned with trying to get Convention churches to become "Landmark" than in winning the lost to Christ or to enter new fields.


Fellowships


Later some of the so-called Fundamentalist [organized Fellowships] brethren talked with me at length about their work. They told me that both Convention and Landmark churches were not really free and independent, that the mission work of both was wrong. In order to prove that their work was scriptural, they appealed to the very same Scriptures that the Convention and Association churches appealed.


During all this time, I remained in the Convention. After much confusion in my own mind, I determined to do what I should have done in the first place. I went to the Word of God. Surely the Word of God would settle for me the question of how to do mission work and what the basis of work should be among churches. I never dreamed but that some such basis of work was the Bible plan.


Searching the Scriptures and examining the passages used by all organized groups as the basis for their work, I came to what was for me an astounding conclusion. The same passages were used by all three groups in spite of the fact that all three claimed scriptural justification for their method of work; in fact the Scriptures relied upon by all the groups taught the exact opposite. The Bible plan is of local church authority. I searched in vain for any cooperative Program similar to any of the organized work today.


There was not one scripture that taught either the Convention system of mission work, the Association system of work or the Fellowship system. They varied only in titles and names.


After months of study of the New Testament, I came to a definite conclusion. The Convention, the Association, the organized Fellowship method of work was basically wrong, that the New Testament taught that all work should be under the direct control and authority of a local Baptist church; that churches could and should cooperate with such work, but only on a cooperative basis; that the authority must be vested in a local church.


There are those who are under the impression that mission work would diminish under local church control, that fewer and fewer missionaries would be sent out and that as a result, the churches would be less mission minded. The exact opposite is true. Proportionately there are more independent Baptist missionaries on the foreign field today than Board missionaries. Independent Baptist churches, as a whole, give more proportionately than board churches.


If all Baptists would follow the Bible plan of missions instead of manmade plans, the number of missionaries sent out would increase many fold.