While thumbing through William Lumpkin’s Baptist Confessions of Faith I came across a fascinating point in the confession of faith of one of the Baptist groups in Amsterdam. The document is titled “A Declaration of Faith of English People Remaining at Amsterdam in Holland” and is dated 1611. As this Baptist group summarized the principle tenets of their faith, emphasizing their understanding of the church, they included this statement (#16 in the list). I include it here first as originally written and then in updated language:
That the members off everie Church or Congregacion ought to knowe one another, that so they may performe all the duties off love one towards another both to soule and bodie. Mat. 18.15. 1 Thes. 5.14. 1 Cor. 12.25. And especiallie the Elders ought to knowe the whole flock, whereof the Holie Ghost hath made them overseers. Acts 20.28; 1 Pet. 5.2,3. And therefore a Church ought not to consist off such a multitude as cannot have particuler knowledg one off another.
That the members of every church or congregation ought to know one another, so they may perform all the duties of love to one another, both spiritually and physically. (Matt. 18:15; 1 Thes. 5:14; 1 Cor. 12:25) And especially the elders ought to know the whole flock over which the Holy Spirit has made them overseers. (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2-3) Therefore a church ought not to consists of such a multitude that each member cannot have individual knowledge of one another.