The Baptist local church is composed of believers, Elder (Pastor) who has the responsibility of teaching and exhorting and deacons who take care of everything else. This is based on the early local church as found in Acts, "So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table. Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." (Ac 6:2-4) Unfortunately, Baptist conceive the local church as antonymous, not dependent on any other local churches or any other higher authority except Christ.

The question inevitably arises --What to do when the local church cannot resolve a question of faith and morals? Some Baptists are trying to resolve the problem by the creation of a modern convention, that is, representatives from local churches come together to vote on the matter before them.

What did the early Churches do when the dispute over circumcision arose?

The early churches when confronted with those who wanted Christians to be Circumcised sent representatives to Jerusalem to consult the Apostles. The Apostles decided as follows, "' It is the decision of the holy Spirit and of us not to place on you a burden beyond these necessities to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage.'" (Ac 15:28-29) Trevor Bowen makes this observation: "The authority of this "convention" was the Apostles and prophets who represented God. Uninspired congregational representatives voting upon a creed or course of action are in no way parallel to this meeting that was guided by inspiration of the Holy Spirit." (Webpage: The autonomy of the Local Church by Trevor Bowen, in search of truth.org) So, either the local church accepts the convention decision or is left to itself to resolve a question.

Consider the following:

Is there an alternative? Yes, the local church can look to the representative of Peter in Rome for an answer to their question, but by doing so they would be admitting that the Catholic Church is right in maintaining that the Pope is infallible on questions of faith and morals, because like the Apostles, he is guided by the Holy Spirit. Or, Baptist churches can choose to join the Catholic Church. They would have to admit that their local church is not autonomous or self ruling.

9. Separation of Church and State