The Baptist Pillar © Brandon Bible Baptist Church 1992-Present www.baptistpillar.com
"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
Dr. Ron Tottingham
From The Baptist Challenge, January 2014
The issue of the church is not just how Christianity is practiced today. And that is what most “Fundamentalists” who are Baptistic believe the church is – a practice. The issue, however, is one of doctrine — what we believe the church is as to its origin.
You see, some hold that the church originated at Pentecost and only through a body of all who are born again during the period of Pentecost to the Rapture. Then they believe that because they hold, that it’s solely through a local church that God moves and works today, that that is being a true Baptist and in Biblical trueness.
Not so brethren. The issue is the origin of the church, not its practice in this age. Many, many believe similarity on the issue of the practice of God’s using only local churches to fulfill His purpose in this age. However, we greatly disagree on the origin. Like evolutionists and creationist, we agree that we are here and breathe air, etc. (They practice the life we all have), but differ greatly on the origin.
The Bible does not teach that the church began at Pentecost. And the issue then is when did it begin, who began it, and it’s purpose? There are two origin models set before us today. Which is correct? Did Christ establish His church, or did the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost?
There is much agreement once we get past this essential point. That God gave His authority solely to His local churches to fulfill His purpose in this age many agree, and practice their Christianity accordingly. But the issue, as I’ve said, is deeper. It’s which model of origin do we hold to, for upon our chosen model of origin we will build our Christianity and practice.
One model allows no parachurch ministries, or no denominationalism (organized institutionalism of churches or Christians outside of a particular local church) no boards, no agencies, etc. This is because Christ put His authority and commission in His local churches alone.
The other model allows all that because their model of origin is essentially one of “universal” church body of all believers during this age. And within that “body of all” who’ve been redeemed, there’s room for arms, legs, eyes, etc., or ministries as within the “church” universal. From the other model (Pentecost to Rapture), the church is universal and all ministries are within that which makes their “church.”
True historic Baptists have always believed that the church is local. Protestants have always believed that the church is inclusive — a universal body. True historic Baptists have always held that the bride — body — church’s purity is doctrinal correctness. Protestants have always held that the universal — body — church’s purity is blood washing alone and that doctrinal correctness was essentially non-essential. It does make a difference what you believe.