posted on Mar, 1 2013 @ 02:40 PM
I posted the following Wednesday on a similar thread regarding the Westboro Baptists
repeated here for the benefit of those who claim that WBC is not a church (and, for the record, I am appalled by their behaviour.)
Actually, they're a legitimate Baptist church, regardless of what they do.
Baptists are a Congregationalist polity, meaning that, in their structure, there is no over-arching hierarchy that sets doctrine or expected
behaviours (the "Southern Baptist Convention" is the closest thing to an organizational structure, but that has no control over anything other than
who belongs to it, and Westboro obviously does not.)
Because of this particular polity, the church's doctrine and theology are whatever the local pastor declares them to be, regardless of acceptability
or even the qualifications of the pastor. Most Baptist churches, of course, hold to a pretty common theology, but goofballs like Westboro are as
legitimate a Baptist church as any other.
Whenever you see a statistic battered about like "There are 30,000 Christian denominations!" that's a mis-representation of this type of polity,
because technically, every single Baptist church (along with "Congregationalist" and some Anabaptist churches) is technically a separate