Dexter, Congregationalism, 695 ? ?Barrowism gave all power into the hands of the elders, and it would have no Councils. Congregationalism is Brownism. It has two foci: independence and interdependence.? Charles S. Scott, on Baptist Polity and the Pastorate, in Bap. Quar. Rev., July, 1890:291-297 ? ?The difference between the polity of Baptist and of Congregational churches is in the relative authority of the Ecclesiastical Council. Congregationalism is Councilism. Not only the ordination and first settlement of the minister must be with the advice and consent of a Council, but every subsequent unsettlement and settlement.? Baptist churches have regarded this dependence upon Councils after the minister?s ordination as extreme and unwarranted.
The fact that the church has always the right, for just cause, of going behind the decision of the Council and of determining for itself whether it will ratify or reject that decision, shows conclusively that the church has parted with no particle of its original independence or authority. Yet, though the Council is simply a counselor, an organ and helper of the church, the neglect of its advice may involve such ecclesiastical or moral wrong as to justify the churches represented in it, as well as other churches, in withdrawing from the church that called it their denominational fellowship. The relation of churches to one another is analogous to the relation of private Christians to one another. No meddlesome spirit is to be allowed. In matters of grave moment, a church, as well as an individual, may be justified in giving advice unasked.
Lightfoot, in his new edition of Clemens Romanus, shows that the Epistle, instead of emanating from Clement as Bishop of Rome, is a letter of the church at Rome to the Corinthians, urging them to peace. No pope and no bishop existed, but the whole church congregation addressed its counsels to its sister body of believers at Corinth. Congregationalism, in A. D. 95, considered it a duty to labor with a sister church that had in its judgment gone astray or that was in danger of going astray. The only primacy was the primacy of the church, not of the bishop. This primacy was a primacy of goodness, backed up by metropolitan advantages. All this fraternal fellowship follows from the fundamental conception of the local church as the concrete embodiment of the universal church. Park: Congregationalism recognizes a voluntary cooperation and communion of the churches, which independence does not do. Independent churches ordain and depose pastors without asking advice from other churches.?
In accordance with this general principle, in a case of serious disagreement between different portions of the same church, the council called to advise should be, if possible, a mutual, not an ex parte, council.
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