Kevin Wilkening Reviews Baptist Distinctives and New Testament Church Order

Posted: January 9, 2013 in books, ecclesiology, review

Kevin Wilkening, my good friend and former pastor, offers some penetrating analysis of Kevin T. Bauder’s Baptist Distinctives and New Testament Church Order in his book review for the most recent 9MarksJournal.  Despite highlighting many strengths, Wilkening points to a few notable weaknesses:

Bauder claims that this book will offer an answer to the question, “What is a Baptist?” for those unfamiliar with technical, theological language. Yet as a Baptist reading this book, at times I found myself thinking, “According to Bauder, am I really a Baptist?” …

In light of Baptist history, it would seem that Bauder is too narrow in regard to this specific Baptist distinctive [what baptism symbolizes]. …

Another place where I’d differ with Bauder’s take on church order is his contention in chapter 5 that a church can have a plurality of elders, but that this form of church government is not a binding norm. … I would argue that a plurality of elders is not merely permitted by the New Testament, but mandated, except for where providential circumstantial [sic] inhibit.

  1. If we are to look at all the examples throughout the Bible of church government, I cannot see that plurality of elders is legitimately scriptural, at least in terms of a lack of one elder who has governmental headship over the rest. There always is one man who God gives authority, and is generally acknowledged by most if not all. There are certain Biblical guidelines, and the elders share in the daily governance, but there is one shepherd that holds that position and is accountable to the congregation and ultimately to God.

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