I believe scripture teaches church autonomy, pastoral authority, and closed communion -- all three. I think I'm strong on all three, because scripture teaches all three. If you lose the gospel, none of the three matter any more though.
Church autonomy, pastoral authority, and closed communion are about protecting and propagating the truth. They are a means to an end. The end isn't church autonomy, pastoral authority, and closed communion. Those are tools in the toolbox, so to speak. They are tools by which the truth and a sub category of that, the gospel, can be protected and propagated. If the truth and the gospel aren't protected and propagated, then those three don't matter any more. You don't even have a church without the truth and the gospel.
As I say that, my first questions for you aren't, what do you believe about the nature of the church, church autonomy, pastoral authority, and closed communion? I'm asking you first what you believe about the gospel, because you don't even have a church without the gospel. I'm saying that I believe some churches are more concerned about their own autonomy and pastors, their authority, then they are the gospel itself.
The three and perhaps a few others -- whether you use the King James and what's the nature of the church -- in practice seem to take preeminence over the gospel among some professing Baptists, including unaffiliated Baptist churches. I'm asking you to think about it.
I'm glad our church is autonomous. It is again because the Bible teaches autonomy. Autonomy allows the Bible as our authority. We are not subject the compromise and corruption of hierarchical authority. The certain means of purity God gave to individual churches can have their full effect on the preservation of the truth and the gospel. God designed for the truth to be kept by a church. You get it outside of individual church authority and the means are diminished for protecting the truth.
I'm glad for pastoral authority. The point of pastoral authority isn't to make it easier for a pastor to corrupt the truth and the gospel. Pastoral authority is not a divine right of kings. It has a purpose and is effective for that purpose. The pastor feeds, leads, and protects. He feeds the gospel and the truth. He leads in the gospel and the truth. He protects the sheep from diversion from the truth and corruption of the gospel. It's not about not being questioned.
I'm glad for closed communion. If communion was supposed to be close or open, I'd go with that. If you practice closed, but you allow truth to be perverted and the gospel altered, then you've missed the point of closed. Closed allows for separation. Separation is intended for purity. Purity is purity in the belief and practice of the truth, including the gospel. If you are not protecting your church from a false gospel, but you do protect your church from close and open communion, then you are missing the point of being closed.
I know people who are close in their communion, whose church is far more pure than those who are closed communion. I know those with closed communion with false worship. Communion with God is more important than communion with other church members. If you are not aligned with God in worship, the qualities of your worship are ungodly, then you've got a bigger problem the wrong practice of communion. I know those with closed communion, who allow in those who preach another gospel. They won't allow someone outside of their church to join them in communion, but they have communion with someone who preaches a false gospel. In as simple terms as possible, that's messed up.
Church autonomy, pastoral authority, and closed communion are the truth. However, I would rather fellowship with someone who emphasizes the truth, all of it, except for those three, than the one who treats those three like they are more important than the truth and the gospel.
Let me close this with a car metaphor. Your acceptance of false worship and a false gospel is like having a blown engine. Your acceptance of close or open communion is like having some dents on the body or fenders, maybe a crack on the windshield. With the latter, at least you can still drive the car. The former you can't and you won't.