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Resolution On The Autonomy Of Baptist Churches And General

WHEREAS, Baptist polity identifies the local congregation as the foundational basis of church order; and

WHEREAS, The local Baptist congregation is understood as autonomous, with full power and authority to conduct its own affairs, and is thus free from any power of coercion by other local churches or any general Baptist body; and

WHEREAS, Autonomous Baptist churches have voluntarily and freely entered into fellowship with and cooperation through general Baptist bodies (associations, state conventions, and the Southern Baptist Convention) for the purpose of eliciting and combining support for mission, education, and benevolence ministries; and

WHEREAS, Those general Baptist bodies are also fully autonomous, each “independent in its own sphere,” and thus beyond the coercion of any other body or local church; and

WHEREAS, Local churches and general Baptist bodies bear the sacred responsibility to maintain the basis of true Baptist cooperation, which lies in evangelical mission, faithful confession, and mutual accountability under the Word of God.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That we, the messengers to the 135th session of the Southern Baptist Convention, affirm the autonomy of local Baptist churches and general Baptist bodies; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we confess our respective responsibility to maintain the integrity and scriptural discipline of every Baptist body in terms of faith, practice, membership, and programs, thus protecting the witness and purity of the church and denomination; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, That we urge a comprehensive preservation of historic Baptist polity, understanding the proper autonomy of local Baptist churches and general Baptist bodies under the mutual accountability all Christian bodies share under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.