Amarillo Primitive Baptist Church
E-Bible Study – Volume I – Issue III
A study on Doctrine
Starting with this issue and continuing for several issues after this we will be examining the majority of what might be deemed “essential practices of the Primitive Baptist Church”.  We introduced this subject in the last issue in a very general sense. As stated previously, the two key principles associated with essential practices are: 1) the practice is connected to a doctrine of the church; and 2) the absence of the practice raises questions about the spiritual health of the church.  These issues will not address the two ordinances of the church, baptism and communion, as those topics will be covered later in more depth.
It is my prayer that this series of issues of the E-Bible study will answer questions and increase your understanding of the Primitive Baptist Church.

What is Church Autonomy?

In a very practical sense the idea of church autonomy is that each individual church is responsible for making their own decisions without reporting to other churches or a hierachy of leadership.  This does not mean that the church should not be respectful of sister churches and the impact of their decisions.  Scripture teaches us that not everything that is lawful is prudent.  When it comes to the relationship between churches there must be a balance between church autonomy and fellowship.
Ultimately, the church practice of individual church autonomy is not a practice of despotic rule or a belief that the church is all powerful.  Rather, this essential practice is grounded in the belief that Christ is the head of the church and has all authority over it and all other creation.  As such, the practice of church autonomy is about an understanding that the church is responsible to Christ when making decisions not to other men.

What doctrine supports the practice of Church Autonomy?

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Luke 16:13)
This particular scripture provides us with the doctrinal view that supports the need for church autonomy to be an essential practice of the church.  To put in simple terms the doctrine that supports church autonomy is the sovereignty of God.  We believe that Christ is the authority that the church responds to because ultimately the scriptures tell us that there should be no source of authority in our lives that is greater than Christ.
If the church chooses to associate itself with a hierarchy or other leadership structure then it has inherently chosen to allow a man to have authority in the place of Christ.

Other Scriptural References:

  • Ephesians 5:23 – Church Autonomy
  • Colossians 1:18 – Church Autonomy
  • Exodus 20:3 – No Other God
  • Deuteronomy 5:7 – No Other God
  • Matthew 23:7-10 – Appropriate Titles

Talking Points:

  • Church autonomy is an essential practice of the church
  • Church autonomy is founded in Christ being the head of the church
  • Church autonomy must be balanced with fellowship with sister churches
  • Church autonomy ties to the doctrine of having no other God
In order to make this E-Bible study productive participation of many is important.  If you have thoughts and/or questions regarding this particular topic or other associated topics please leave a comment on this post and lets further the conversation.
May the Lord bless you in your studies,
Elder Jeremiah

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