Relation Of Local Churches To One Another

1. The general nature of this relation is that of fellowship between equals. Notice here:

(a) The absolute equality of the churches. No church or council of churches, no association or convention or society, can relieve any single church of its direct responsibility to Christ, or assume control of its action.

(b) The fraternal fellowship and cooperation of the churches. No church can properly ignore or disregard the existence or work of other churches around it. Every other church is presumptively possessed of the Spirit, in equal measure with itself. There must therefore be sympathy and mutual furtherance of each other?s welfare among churches, as among individual Christians. Upon this principle are based letters of dismissal, recognition of the pastors of other churches and all associated unions, or unions for common Christian work.

H. O. Rowlands, in Bap. Quar. Rev., Oct. 1891:669-677, urges the giving up of special Councils and the turning of the Association into a Permanent Council, not to take original cognizance of what cases it pleases but to consider and judge such questions as may be referred to it by the individual churches. It could then revise and rescind its action, whereas the present Council when once adjourned can never be called together again. This method would prevent the packing of a Council and the Council, when once constituted, would have greater influence. We feel slow to sanction such a plan, not only for the reason that it seems destitute of New Testament authority and example, but because it tends toward a Presbyterian form of church government. All permanent bodies of this sort gradually arrogate to themselves power. Indirectly, if not directly,

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