You’re wrong, Adrian. Piper’s point is that Baptists have had elders in the past, and it’s not inherently unbaptistic. And he makes a case for his own particular church’s structure. It’s a particular example in a smaller Baptist denomination. Not at all typical.
What you were saying in your entry is different. You said you’ve come to know the Baptist way and the Presbyterian way. Because your church is “very Baptist”. In saying that, did you mean that it’s in line with historical Baptists? Or reconcilable with current Baptist doctrine? Because my impression is that you meant representative of Baptist churches today. If you didn’t, then that compare/contrast between Baptist/Presbyterian doesn’t really make sense.
And elders, and church structure involving elders, is in no way representative of Baptist churches today. Piper essentially says the same thing in the quote you give, qualifying it as being a recent phenomenon. It may not be inherently against Baptist doctrine, or “unbaptistic”. But that’s irrelevant. Because you were talking about what was representative of the Baptist church. And the elder structure is not.
This comes from the Southern Baptist Statement of Faith:
- VI. The Church
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.
The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.
Matthew 16:15-19; 18:15-20; Acts 2:41-42,47; 5:11-14; 6:3-6; 13:1-3; 14:23,27; 15:1-30; 16:5; 20:28; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:16; 5:4-5; 7:17; 9:13-14; 12; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11,21; 5:22-32; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 2:9-14; 3:1-15; 4:14; Hebrews 11:39-40; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Revelation 2-3; 21:2-3.
Note no mention of elders, and the emphasis on local autonomy and congregation centered structure.
Why did I comment? I dunno. I was raised a Southern Baptist, and my dad’s a Southern Baptist minister, and you’d be surprised how proud he is to be a Southern Baptist. I’m no expert, but I do know that Southern Baptists take special pride in being locally autonomous and having a congregational approach. If you told a Southern Baptist that the elder structure is “very Baptist”, they’d be at least surprised. Some might be angry. And it’s probably this attitude that necessitated Piper’s paper to justify it to others. I’m not saying the attitude is correct. But it is more representative of “Baptists”. And to miss that I think misses something about what being a Baptist (at least a Southern Baptist) is all about.
I’m not trying to slam you, it’s just if you’re going to compare/contrast Baptists and Presbyterians, you can’t present the elder structure as being “very Baptist”. That’s not really true, and it misses one of the most fundamental differences between the two denominations.