The Emerging Missional Churches Of The West: Form Or Norm For Baptist Ecclesiology? -- By: Rodrick Durst

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 05:1 (Spring 2008)
Article: The Emerging Missional Churches Of The West: Form Or Norm For Baptist Ecclesiology?
Author: Rodrick Durst

The Emerging Missional Churches Of The West: Form Or Norm For Baptist Ecclesiology?1

Rodrick Durst

Professor of Historical Theology
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary

Two Assumptions

First, my presentation will focus more on the emerging churches of the mission as opposed to the mission of today’s churches. If missiology in any way begets ecclesiology, then it is valuable to look at the churches that our mission is begetting. My second assumption relates to the decision to state that mission in Baptistic terms. I am using the simple church covenant out of which immersion of believers was recovered as the normative practice amongst what has come to be called Particular Baptists in England in the seventeenth century. Returning to England in 1609, Henry Jacob held many meetings with people known for their “Godliness and Learning.” With these people, he weighed the consequences of following God’s call to form a community of faith committed to following closely the ways of Christ according to the Scriptures. Finally, Jacob determined that, “I am ‘willing to adventure’ myself for this Kingdom for Christ’s sake.”2 According to the Jessey Records, the group gathered by Jacob was equally convinced that they should covenant together as a church. They joined hands together and made a circle. Beginning with Jacob, they each made a profession of faith and repentance. Some people spoke longer and others were briefer. Then they covenanted together “to walk in all God’s ways as he had made known or should make known to them.”3 This believers covenant together to follow Jesus on adventures in obedience to the plain sense of the Scriptures no matter the trouble is the basic understanding of Baptist church used in this paper.

By emerging churches, I mean to develop a Typology of the forms of Baptist ecclesiology, which have emerged and are now emerging in the western US and are seeking to affiliate with local Baptist associations and conventions through the credentials committees of those entities. I assert that congregational maturity can to some degree be measured by the capacity of a local gathered group of believers to self-identify as a church and to take the additional step of presenting itself as such to a recognized body of Baptist churches. I also am very interested in the capacity of Baptist ecclesiology, and the local interpretation of that ecclesiology and polity, to receive or reject new forms of church as vital or viral representations of the Baptist movement.

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