Consider this a followup to the last post (Calvinists think their elders should wear the triple crown tiara of the Pope and control Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, and any other realm that may exist if any more be found)
Now, I grew up in the church of Christ. And we used to hear sermons all the time saying that as soon as you are baptized for the remission of sins you are a member of the church universal, period. They would polemicize against the Baptist practice of “voting someone into the church.” No! You are a member of the church if you believe and were baptized scripturally, period, nobody has to vote you in–that’s what we always heard. Local membership was nothing but someone who was already a member of the church universal attending regularly, and that was basically automatic too. If you were a validly baptized person and you showed up every Sunday, you were considered a member of the local church. If you stopped attending, you were no longer considered a member of that local church. This obviously makes a lot more sense than the Baptist view and even more sense than the Calvinist intensification of that as expressed by 9marks.
I notice that someone in the one comment found at http://9marks.org/interview/church-membership-in-theory-and-practice-with-ligon-duncan/ is arguing something similar:
As far as I know, there is NO other “membership” concept/idea/message conveyed by the Scriptures pertaining to professing believers in Christ. In other words, church membership is NOT something to do or attain, but something that is ALREADY DONE when a person becomes a believer in Christ.
By the way, at that link, there is an audio file of the gurus at 9marks discussing their insane views on church membership. And they try to ground their views on the Great Commission. But how can they do this? The Great Commission says nothing about Christians having to “submit” to the “authority” of a “local church” in the way that they are arguing for. So how do they get around this? They argue that because the Great Commission is about baptism and baptism belongs to the local church (in their insane view) therefore this passage gives the local church authority to lord over an individual.
What Jesus actually said was that he himself has all authority, therefore go make disciples and baptize them. This is where the 9marks gurus come out against “spontaneous baptism.” Baptism must be banned outside the context of the “local church” and under the direct control of the elders, and some long “catechizing” process must be put in front of baptism, in order for them to then be able to say that the Great Commission has given the local church authority to control everyone because “look, the Great Commission is about baptism and baptism belongs to the local church!”
But baptism doesn’t belong to the local church. Baptism belongs to Christians. And biblically there was no long catechizing process preceding baptism. In fact the Great Commission places “teaching them all things that I have commanded” AFTER baptism. Acts 8 shows that Philip baptized the Ethiopian Eunuch on the spot after teaching him about Jesus from Isaiah 53! There was no period of Catechizing nor of making him fast for a week beforehand or anything like that. Philip didn’t go find a local church and beg the elders for permission to baptize the Eunuch. The Eunuch didn’t have to appear before any elders and subscribe to their creed. The Eunuch didn’t have to sign any “church membership covenant” with a local church. It was what these guys are calling “spontaneous baptism.”
Biblically a person who was baptized properly (i.e. as a believer and for the remission of sins)–it doesn’t matter whether it was in a church by a preacher or elder, or down by the riverside or in a swimming pool by a lawman–is a member of the church, and nobody can take that away. When the person attends any local church, he should be recognized as a member of the church universal, period. And if he attends for prolonged period of time at that congregation he can be viewed as essentially a member of that congregation specifically. There is no need for this overarching “authority” nonsene these guys are spouting, nor is there any real biblical warrant for it.
That same comment I referred to earlier from the link ends with:
The definition of church membership as a commitment to a local gathering of believers is not based on Scriptures. The passage that is used to support church membership as defined by Ligon Duncan, Acts 20:28, is taken out of context.
Well, obviously. Acts 20:28 is just talking about the disciples coming together to break bread and Paul preached to them. How can you possibly get the idea of a distinction between Christians who are members of the church universal who are attending this local church regularly and those who have signed some kind of nutty Calvinist contract? There’s nothing like that here.