“Where two or three are gathered” is New Testament shorthand for saying final authority is not found in the Bible but in the Church.
The “Free Church” tradition is an umbrella term that focuses on the freedom to worship, teaching, and governed itself the way it chooses. Independents, Baptists, Evangelical Free, Quakers and Pentecostals all are Free Churches and find their meaning in the passage, “where two or three.”
Unfortunately, the Free Church tradition has about as much authority as Julia Louis-Dreyfus in The New Adventures of Old Christine saying “I forbid it“.
Pope Benedict informs us:
“It is nevertheless difficult to see how the title of ‘Church’ could possibly be attributed to [Protestant communities], given that they do not accept the theological notion of the Church in the Catholic sense and that they lack elements considered essential to the Catholic Church.”
God’s love for us is greater than 500 years of doubts, fears, and division.
I recently experienced the death of a loved one. Even though I knew him for decades, he never was convinced I was a Christian. Perhaps I read the wrong translation or believed in tradition with a capital T. I’d say to him, “I have my doubts too. Fortunately, God and I are working my salvation out.” The day he passed away, I said, “He fell asleep a Baptist and woke up a Catholic.”
I don’t believe everyone is in heaven but I certainly hope so. You may even see me there.