Important Dividing Lines

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Blood-Bought Pilgrim

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hey All,

Since becoming Credo last Spring, my family and I have been settling in at a wonderful reformed(ish) Baptist church. There aren't really any 1689 options within easy range of us. Overall, even though our church is not truly confessional, we have found it to be a really good fit.

One new issue this has raised in my mind is what theological boundaries to set for churches in the future, in particular if down the road I serve a church as a pastor as I aspire to do someday. I hold to the 1689, but relatively few Baptist churches do, and many other Baptist churches are reformed(ish) without feeling the need to formally hold a confession of that depth.

As a Presbyterian, it was fairly clear cut in the sense that we all shared the same confession (though I know there are other issues that would need to be dealt with), but now as a Baptist, the lines are a little less clear. I could restrict it to only 1689 churches, but I don't know that that is necessary or always the most fruitful. I've also (as both a Presbyterian and a Baptist) had the pleasure of preaching regularly at an independent church (formerly Brethren) and have felt it to be a great fit, though they too are non-confessional.

So for my fellow Baptists with more experience, aside from the obvious primary issues, what kind of theological dividing lines would you draw in considering a church, particularly if you were considering a church to serve as a pastor? Once you are in the realm of conservative, complementarian, evangelical churches that are at least friendly to the doctrines of grace, are there other doctrinal issues you would want to ensure alignment on?

I'm realizing now I may have posted this in the wrong forum as well-- if that is the case please move it, moderators!
 
Moving to Church Order forum (that seems to be where we put polity questions; hard to believe we've gotten by with out a church polity forum for 20 years).
 
As a Presbyterian, it was fairly clear cut in the sense that we all shared the same confession (though I know there are other issues that would need to be dealt with), but now, as a Baptist, the lines are a little less clear.

I'll say the lines are less clear, for sure.

Many years ago, I attended a Baptist Church for a while and was curious about membership. When I inquired about it, I soon discovered that I would never be allowed to join the church unless I were immersed. I knew that couldn't be right. Think about it for a minute or two. Consider:

I and my family were committed to Confessional Reformed Christians
.
  1. An experienced adult and high school school Bible teacher for many years.
  2. An elder in the OPC for ten years.
  3. But I forever would be denied membership unless I had been immersed. That's a pretty big deal.
The Westminster Confession says simply, "Immersion is not necessary."

Hmmm...
 
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I'll say the lines are less clear, for sure.

Many years ago, I attended a Baptist Church for a while and was curious about membership. When I inquired about it, I soon discovered that I would never be allowed to join the church unless I were immersed. I knew that couldn't be right. Think about it for a minute or two. Consider:

I and my family were committed to Confessional Reformed Christianity.
  1. An experienced adult and high school school Bible teacher for many years.
  2. An elder in the OPC for ten years.
  3. But I forever would be denied membership unless I had been immersed. That's a pretty big deal.
The Westminster Confession says simply, "Immersion is not necessary."

Hmmm...

So you're saying as a non-Baptist you found Baptist stuff hard to swallow? Or am I misunderstanding you?
 
I would personally not serve as a pastor somewhere unless the church was OK with me teaching 1689 doctrine and eventually moving toward it down the road as a church (may take 5-10 years of hard work and struggle depending on the church). I think at the very least you need the freedom to teach openly and transparently.
 
So you're saying as a non-Baptist you found Baptist stuff hard to swallow? Or am I misunderstanding you?

Yes, I found it "hard to swallow." But I think I should stop here and say no more since the OP is not about the relative merits of the two systems. That's for another thread.

BTW – When attending the meetings, I had also been immersed as a believer but never told the church since I no longer looked to the adult "baptism." All I had to do was tell them the date and circumstances of my believer's baptism, and I would have been In like Flynn.
 
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When in the states a few years back, the only sound church in our area of NYC (no wheels, couldn't travel far due to my age – and the near-by PCA was unacceptably drifting from soundness), we joined a Reformedish Baptist church of about 100-120 souls, and, as the pastor (who'd become a good friend) was alone and having a hard time, I offered to help him, and co-pastored with him till another elder could be raised up and brought aboard.

It was a wonderful experience, both for my wife and myself, and for the church! (wife pitched in and helped with anything that needed to be done, cleaning, teaching the women, etc). During that period they moved to very near confessional 1689. I Learned a lot from the pastor – a godly man. And also how to care for the flock. A really Lord-blessed time.
 
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