Alliance of Baptists / Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by Salty, Apr 2, 2010.

  1. Salty

    Salty
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    This thread is for info only - not for debate. Due to the liberal / conservative difference in the SBC, many churches have left the SBC and formed the A of B and the CBF.

    What I wondering is what the difference between the two fellowships are. Do they work closely together? Are the member churches more of a regional set up? Why do they have two organizations, is there any talk they would merge?

    Just wondering.

    Salty

    Ps Please nothing critical , just the facts....
     
  2. rsr

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    The Alliance was formed earlier and has always been more liberal on matters such as women clergy and homosexuality.

    It has about 130 affiliated congregations, largely found in metro areas, particularly on the East Coast. The largest number of congregations are in North Carolina and Virginia.

    The Alliance has an "ecumenical partnership" with the United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ, and some churches are affiliated with those denominations, as well as with the American Baptist Churches-USA.

    The Alliance has a very loose structure, preferring partnerships to recreating denominational structures of its own.

    The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is larger — about 1,900 congregations — and was formed later than the Alliance. My observation is that the CBF was formed by Baptists who were unhappy with the way the SBC was going but were 1) too conservative for the Alliance and 2) wanted to recreate a denomination along the lines of the SBC.

    Thus I would view the CBF as a protoconvention, which has its own publishing house and missionary board, yet has been denied the full trappings of a convention by congregations that don't want to go down that road again. It is a partner in several educational institutions but controls none of them, for example.

    The two had some discussions about merging early on, but nothing came of them.

    The Alliance is "welcoming and affirming" of homosexual relationships; the CBF has no official stance on homosexuality but "does not allow for the expenditure of funds for organizations or causes that condone, advocate or affirm homosexual practice. Neither does this CBF organizational value allow for the purposeful hiring of a staff person or the sending of a missionary who is a practicing homosexual."

    Both support having women in ministry.

    A good number of Alliance churches also are affiliated with the CBF, but given the sheer numbers, they are a minority within the CBF.

    Sometimes, given modern Baptist polity, it is hard to sort through the welter of affiliations because they are not necessarily exclusive.

    One example I'm familiar with is First Baptist, Oklahoma City. It is affiliated with the CBF and left the Southern Baptist Convention and the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (the statewide SBC organization). Yet it remains a member of the Capital Baptist Association, the vast majority of whose member churches are Southern Baptist. (And, though they are technically autonomous, some Oklahoma Baptists will tell you that the associations function as subsidiaries of the statewide convention.)

    Another example, picked almost at random, is Calvary Baptist of Roanoke, Va. It is affiliated with the Alliance and the CBF (and the ABC-USA) yet is also affiliated with the Baptist General Association of Virginia, which itself is associated with both the CBF and the SBC.

    Of course, a good many churches are affiliated with both the SBC and the CBF, although dual alignment has been slowly waning in the past few years.

    I appreciate the spirit in which you asked your questions and would remind posters that this is a fellowship forum, not a debate forum.
     
  3. Joseph M. Smith

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    rsr gave an excellent and informative reply. I just want to add a word about multiple alignments. The District of Columbia Baptist Convention, which I am now serving as Interim Executive, was been dually aligned from its inception with Northern (now termed American) and Southern Baptists, because Baptist leaders in the nation's capital did not want to perpetuate the divisions that had come about as a prelude to the Civil War. A few years ago I was privileged to chair a committee that studied and successfully recommended a third alignment, with the Progressive National Baptist Convention, in recognition of the fact that more and more of our churches were historically African-American.

    We do not, however, presume that the triple alignment of the Convention is ipso facto a triple alignment for each church. Not only would that be poor polity, but also it would create needless hard feelings. So each church selects its own national affiliations ... choosing as many as they wish from ABC, SBC, PNBC, NBCA, NBCUSA, CBF, or whatever. Not many are Alliance of Baptists, although their headquarters is in one of our own churches.
     
  4. Salty

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    Some good info - just bumping for new members :thumbs: :saint:
     
  5. Squire Robertsson

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    Francis Wayland

    While abolition was the proximate cause in the 1830s for the split in the Triennial Convention, there was also a basic philosophical one. As Francis Wayland put it in his Principles and Practices of Baptist Churches, "Baptist Churches can not be represented." This principle is the reason why Northern Baptists conducted their inter-church affairs on a functional and individual basis. The various churches sent in financial support. However, the goverenance of the various organizations was in the hands of like minded individuals not the supporting churches.
     
    #5 Squire Robertsson, Dec 20, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 20, 2010
  6. Joseph M. Smith

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    Yes, the so-called "Society Method" of missions support versus the "Convention Method." Well familiar with that.

    And as for the idea that Baptist churches cannot be "represented", while most Baptist bodies of the southern hue call those who attend their meetings "messengers", we here in the D. C. Baptist Convention use the term "delegate". In practice there is no real difference, but there is a subtle distinction in theory.
     
  7. Salty

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    was not aware of a difference, would appreciate if you could enlighten us :thumbsup:
     
  8. Joseph M. Smith

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    Just that the term "delegate" does imply that the person acting in Convention assembled does so as a representative of his church, not as an individual. Theoretically a delegate could be instructed by his home church to vote a particular way on an issue. I do not know of instances where this has happened, but that is implied in the term.
     
  9. Salty

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    Thank you.

    But as I am a messanger (just voted on by my church) am I not sending the message of the church to the association or convention?
    Now you got me wondering about this! :confused:
     
  10. Joseph M. Smith

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    You could indeed be considered as sending your congregation's message, as you will likely vote on things not only on the basis of your own thinking and conscience, but also on the basis of what you think most people in your church would want, on any given issue.

    But that is not the same thing as being instructed by them. Conceivably a "delegate" might be told, by congregational vote, "Vote NO on (whatever issue)", and you would do so, even if you thought "YES" was the correct position.
     
  11. Baptist Believer

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    Hmm…

    That’s not the tradition I grew up with (pre-1979 mainstream Southern Baptist Convention). We were “messengers” in fellowship both to and from the Convention or cooperating churches. We greeted each other, built bonds of fellowship and relation, learned what cooperating churches were doing together and then reported back to our congregations what we and our SBC brothers and sisters discussed and decided together at the annual meeting.

    We were allowed to exercise our own judgment for convention matters (not necessarily what the majority of our congregation might choose) based on our congregation’s trust in us as representatives of those who have been formed and shaped by our interaction with our local expression of the body of Christ.

    Now I know that seems idealistic, but to some degree it was true for many people before things became overtly politicized in the mid- to late-1970s.

    In my congregation, it is still true.

    Yes, that happens quite a bit too, on both major sides of any controversy. Fortunately I have never been overtly told how to vote (I would cheerfully ignore those instructions if I was already a seating messenger anyway) by a representative of my congregation. I have angered a number of good friends on both the left and the right by extending grace to “the liberals” and “the fundamentalists” alike because it was clearly (at least in my understanding) the right and loving thing to do during SBC and Baptist General Convention of Texas votes.

    So has the D.C. Convention ever held this idealistic viewpoint or do they really send people with instructions on how to vote?
     
  12. Joseph M. Smith

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    I have no memory over forty years involvement with DCBC of any congregation instructing its messengers/delegates. I really think the language here is a holdover from previous years and from a historic involvement with Northern/American Baptists, and that our people do go to the annual meeting intent on voting their own consciences. Fortunately for us, we did not have to participate in the SBC "wars". Hard to find many arch-conservatives here.

    Probably the most controversial vote we have taken did stem from the SBC battles, however, as about ten years ago the SBC North American Mission Board decided to terminate unilaterally the cooperative agreement with DCBC. Eventually the result was that several staff had to be cut, and some churches, I believe, did take congregational stands on this ... strongly enough that their "delegates", if not formally instructed, still knew what was expected of them.
     
  13. Tom Butler

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    Pastor Smith, you have a good handle on the distinction between delegates and messengers.

    My SBC understanding is that messengers go uninstructed. However, in practice, it may not be that way. During the early days of the Conservative Resurgence, our conservative church elected messengers--including our pastor, of course--who fully understood that they were going to the convention to vote for the conservative candidate for president. And they fully understood that this was the way the congregation wanted it.

    The church did not instruct them, but it didn't have to.

    The church may instruct its messengers, but that is unwise as a general rule. There are too many questions to be considered, and the messengers will hear arguments and facts that the church cannot hear. They must be trusted to use their best judgment, and should not have their hands tied.

    Except of course, to vote for a conservative president. But even that is problematic these days, since all the candidates are conservative.
     
  14. Baptist Believer

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    Yes, that's a more concise expression of what I was trying to say in my previous post. However, I think that works only if the church is not diverse in theology or practice among the individual members. In most churches of which I have been a member, there's a high degree of conformity regarding ethnicity, economic status, education level, political positions, theological presuppositions, and the working out of Christian faith in one's personal life and the broader community. In that circumstance, messengers are very likely to vote like a delegate.

    However in diverse congregations, messengers may vote very differently from each other on numerous issues. As a member of a highly diverse congregation (in all of the categories I listed above), we find unity in our common experience in Christ and not much else. Everything else is an exercise in grace, humility, patience, and focus on the calling of the gospel.

    I'm guessing that the D.C. congregations are highly diverse as well. If so, do you find that delegates/messengers tend to vote in unity with one another or is there diversity?
     
  15. Squire Robertsson

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    The non-representation principle is alive and well among the Historic Northern Baptists. A good example of how the principle works is the way the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International works. It is a fellowship of like minded men and women. Churches while contributing their support are not and can not be members. The board is self perpetuating. The only real executive action it takes is the sending of chaplains into the Armed Forces.
     
    #15 Squire Robertsson, Dec 23, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 23, 2010
  16. Joseph M. Smith

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    Is the term "Historic Northern Baptists", as you are using it, the actual name of an organization, or is it a generic to cover groups like the one you mentioned? I suspect the latter; I had never heard of a group by the "Historic ... " name before. And does the title, whether that of an actual organization or a generic descriptor, suggest that these are folks who believe themselves to be perpetuating the values and style of the Northern Baptist Convention before the divisions that began in the 1920's?
     
  17. Squire Robertsson

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    It's not the name of an organization. It is more of a descriptive name covering many of us who trace our spiritual DNA back through the Northern Regular Baptists (cf the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches). The best example of the term I can give is Hamilton Square Baptist Church of San Francisco, California founded in 1881. HSBC doctrinally hasn't moved an micrometer from its founding. In it's early days, HSBC was affiliated with the Northern Baptist movement. It left the convention in 1947 joining the Conservative Baptist Association. In the mid 60's, HSBC joined left the CBA and its pastors continued to fellowship with the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship (founded in the '20s).

    As for " perpetuating the values and style of the Northern Baptist Convention before the divisions that began in the 1920's?", actually we are more pre-convention in our outlook. Remember, the Northern Baptists operated with out a convention for around seventy five years.
     
    #17 Squire Robertsson, Dec 24, 2010
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  18. robt.k.fall

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    From San Francisco

    As HSBC's historian, the Squire summed up our history nicely.
     
  19. Salty

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    I brought up this thread as we are discussing the AoB and CBF on another thread
     
  20. Tom Butler

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    I subscribe to both a CBF-leaning discussion forum, and one which is closer to the AofB folks. As a redneck, right-wing deep-water Baptist, I often find myself in a minority of a minority on those boards.

    But the discussions are reasonably civil and rarely is there a rancerous argument. They are nice people, just wrong about some things. I have never been made to feel unwelcome on their boards.
     

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