The Schism in the Southern Baptist Convention

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Crabtownboy, May 31, 2008.

  1. Crabtownboy

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    NOTE: The following commentary ONLY pertains to the status of the Southern Baptist Convention as a RELIGIOUS BODY, in comparison to other religious bodies. This issue may have little, if anything, to do with Southern Baptist theology. An understanding of current trends in Southern Baptist factionalism does not provide a meaningful understanding of Southern Baptist life and religion. Researchers interested in these subject may wish to study material provided by moderate and conservative Southern Baptist organizations. [Assorted SBC links.]

    This article originally appeared on the "Largest Religious Bodies" page, with the intent to discuss the degree to which the Southern Baptist Convention remains a single religious body, although it is divided between moderate and fundamentalist factions.

    This article has been moved here to a separate page both because of its length and also because the importance of this schism seems to have diminished since the late 1990s. In effect, the massive split in the Southern Baptist Convention that some people predicted would occur was abated by smaller-scale defections by a number of individual state conventions and congregations. In 1998, the largest state constituent convention of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Baptist General Convention of Texas voted to disassociate itself from the SBC. In June 2004 the Southern Baptist Convention voted to remove itself from the Baptist World Alliance, which it felt had become too liberal. The SBC had been the largest Baptist denomination within the worldwide alliance of Baptists. These organizational realignments helped diminish the pressures within the SBC that had long festered as a result of disagreement between its moderate and more conservative factions.

    Also, many congregations that have remained within the Southern Baptist Convention have simply opted to use the high degree of autonomy within the organization to de-emphasize SBC ties while strengthening association with Baptist and Evangelical organizations that better suit their particular preferences. Many congregations no longer identify themselves as "Southern Baptist" or even "Baptist," yet remain under the umbrella of the SBC.

    Many observers believe that the fundamentalist/conservative wing's "takeover" of the Southern Baptist Convention has essentially already happened.
    As its name implies, the Southern Baptist Convention is more of a religious convention than a religious body in the traditional sense. It promotes congregational polity in matters of practice and belief to a higher degree than most of the organizations on this list. The SBC is currently the second-largest Christian denomination in the United States, and perhaps the sixth largest in the world, but it does not represent a united community. Convention leaders have been fairly candid in explaining that the SBC has long been split between moderate and conservative factions, with irreconcilable doctrinal differences between the two factions over issues such as Biblical inerrancy and literalism, the ordination of women, acceptance of modern science, whether or not a saved Christian can reject grace, etc. Some SBC writers and leaders have said that despite the doctrinal schism, one reason the convention remains formally united as one organization is so that they won't be numerically smaller than competing religious bodies.

    Scores of congregations and individual members have officially left the SBC (in fact, its membership has actually decreased recently), but many of their reasons for leaving are completely unrelated to issues dividing the moderate and conservative parties. In fact, such defections are probably not caused directly by the schism. The action that moderate congregations have more frequently taken in response to conservative control of the convention is to form alternative state conventions, such as the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Baptist Alliance. Other churches have not left the SBC voluntarily, but have been expelled by their state conventions for reasons having to do with the controversy over homosexuality. Despite the ongoing internal schism, analysts believe a complete formal break between the moderates and conservatives into separate religious bodies is unlikely in the near future, although it will happen eventually. (See also: Shimron, "Dissension part of being a Baptist", News-Observer; URL: http://www.news-observer.com/daily/1998/07/24/faith01.html.)

    According to Cliff Tharp, coordinator for constituent information for the Southern Baptist Convention, about 5 million of the SBC's "members" are "non-resident." Some of these are people who joined a local Southern Baptist church, moved away, but never had their membership records transferred and now nobody knows where they are. Keith Eitel (Professor of Christian Missions, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) points out that non-resident members also include college students that have moved away from home to attend University but desire to remain members at their home church and only come under the "watchcare" of a host church in or near the University they're attending. Also, missionaries serving with the SBC's IMB have resident membership at a local congregation in the U.S. while serving far from home.

    Paul R. House, editor of The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, wrote (in "Baptism, Assurance, and the Decline of Conservative Churches"; URL: http://www.sbts.edu/news/sbjt/spring98/Spr98edit.htm):

    http://74.125.39.104/search?q=cache:XmbQ4YSRPdMJ:www.adherents.com/largecom/baptist_SBC_schism.html+reasons+for+leaving+baptist+church&hl=cs&ct=clnk&cd=21&gl=cz
     
  2. Baptist Believer

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    No we didn't.

    I was a messenger to the annual BGCT meetings throughout the 1990s and we never even considered such a thing in a vote.

    What the BGCT did in 1998 that upset some in the SBC was to reaffirm the 1963 BF&M instead of affirm the newly revised 1998 BF&M. But that's a very different thing than "voting to disassociate."
     
  3. rsr

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    BB is absolutely correct. The BGCT is stil in full cooperation with the SBC, though the relationship is, well, prickly. (The BGCT also is a member of the Baptist World Alliance, as are two other SBC affiliates, the Baptist General Association of Virginia and the Baptist General Convention of Missouri.)

    I don't know if "many" no longer identify with the convention, but it does seem to be a trend. I know of a handful of SBC churches in the area that no longer use "Baptist" in the name. I think it also is true that more churches are looking outside the convention for partnerships and resources.

    I don't think there's any doubt about that, though supporters would call what happened a "resurgence," not a "takeover."
     
  4. Revmitchell

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    No doubt about it. The conservative , fundamental scriptural theology has been reestablished back to the mainstream of the convention. And the extreme liberals (no such thing as a moderate) have found it difficult to live within the mainstream.
     
  5. Baptist Believer

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    There's no doubt that you define "moderate" much differently than moderates would define themselves. I identify myself as a moderate. But I don't believe (or disbelieve) things the way self-identified SBC fundamental-conservatives claim I believe.

    I've only known one person whom I would characterize as a liberal Baptist teaching in a Baptist institution, and he was in a Texas Baptist school. And his contract was not renewed when it became clear he was trying to undermine the faith of the college students.

    Every moderate I have ever known was very serious about his/her faith and was working to put the teachings of Jesus into practice in their lives.
     
    #5 Baptist Believer, May 31, 2008
    Last edited: May 31, 2008
  6. Revmitchell

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    There is nothing moderate about denying the inerrancy of scripture. Those who do may well take their belief seriously. But they are working to undermine the faith of others by this false teaching.
     
  7. Crabtownboy

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    Inerrance has been a tool used very effectively by the devil to split Christians apart. It is an article of faith to believe in inerrance and no where is the word mentioned in the Bible and nowhere is it said to be necessary for salvation. It is a man made doctrine of the late 19th century and no where, nowhere, nowhere does it appear in scripture as it is described by fundamentalists.

    Were the first manuscripts totally without error, that is did the copiest make no mistakes? No one really knows. We do not have them and never will. God does not make mistakes, but people do. So, it is a man made article of faith well used and twisted by the evil one to his purpose.

    Now Rev before you go ballistic note I did not say that I do not believe in inerrancy. I said it is an article of faith and is no where to be found in scripture. There is nothing fundamental in damning others because they did not agree with you on ever jot and tiddle. That is a very liberal misuse of God, scripture and makes a mockery of the way Christ lived.
     
  8. Revmitchell

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    What makes a mockery of God is to say that His word is unreliable n any fashion with regards to history, science, precepts or revelation. The Word of God is more than just a book of words. Liberals dislike the term because it suggests their view is unorthodox. And they are all working hard to convince everyone otherwise. As for me I will stick to the fundamentals.
     
  9. Brother Randall

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    "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness"... (2 Timothy 3:16)
     
  10. Crabtownboy

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    You are wrong again in your understanding. But you touch on the more important question. I have never said that his word is unreliable. I said that inerrancy is an article of faith.

    No one has a copy of the original manuscripts.
    No one ever will have an original manuscript.

    So it is an article of faith to say there was or that there was no mistake or error in any of them.

    The doctrine of inerrancy cannot be made from scripture. It simply isn't there. Now you condemn liberals for what they do not believe. But it is just as wrong and perhaps more evil to build a doctrine and use it as a test of whether a person is a Christian or not that is not Biblical. In that regard you are just as liberal as any liberal, just in a different way.

    Brother Randall posted the scripture that says:

    I was sure someone would and I believe that scripture is true. However, note that is says that it is given by inspiration of God. It does not say that it was written down with no mistake nor does it say that it was written down with a mistake. So we are back to accepting inerrancy as an article of faith, not a proven doctrine.

    Now to the more important issue you touched on ... and that issue is do the translations we have now contain enough of the truth about God that they are reliable for use in study and worshiping him? I believe they are and I use them for that.

    To insist they are inerrant is to show a lack of faith in God's ability to make himself know to us and to all who have lived and ever will live. My stance is that God is never at a loss in any situation and is always able to use any situation to make himself know, and to bring people to him.

    I expect you do not consider JW's Christian. But God can use a JW or any to bring people to himself.

    A woman here in Prague told me the following story from her own life. She had become a Christian, but her mother had not. A JW came to their house and her mother agreed to begin a Bible study with her. They met for a month or so and one day the JW asked the woman, "What about your daughter."

    Her mother replied, "Oh, she goes to the little church down the street." Her mother did not even know the name of the church.

    "If I were you," the JW lady said, "I would want to know what they are teaching my daughter. I would go and find out."

    The mother thought this a good idea and began attending and became a Christian committing her life to Christ. It was a Plymouth Brethren church.

    Here is an example of God showing himself in an unusual way.

    Do not attempt to force the Bible to say what it does not say. Let the Bible preach to you, not you to the Bible.

    I have no problem with people to stick to the fundamentals. But I have problems and will not remain silent when I see people creating doctrine that is not in the Bible and then insisting that anyone who does not believe as they do are condemned and not Christian. That is far too liberal for me to accept.
     
    #10 Crabtownboy, Jun 1, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 1, 2008
  11. preachinjesus

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    I think there should be a tension in a good denomination. Tension is a good thing so long as it is earnestly held by grace filled people.

    I believe in inerrancy (why I have to preface my comments with that is something I still am uncomfortable with) and can (and have) sign the Chicago Statement without reservation. That said the rhetoric of inerrancy has been used as a weapon to destory faithful believers in Christ who have legitimate questions about their faith. When we replace the third person of the Trinity with the Scriptures we deny the efficacy of God.

    I personally cannot accept many of my friends definitions of inerrancy because they are too limiting (and seem to deny historical fact.) That said we still enjoy terrific fellowship with each other.

    We must remember that we have three areas of belief with acording acts:
    * Foundational beliefs that define Christianity
    * Doctrinal distinctives that define our denominational desires
    * Perferential areas that define who we hang out with

    One thing that seems to keep coming up with so many conversations is the demonization of those who believe a bit differently about inerrancy. Usually what I try to do is figure out if that person is sold on biblical authority and celebrate agreement there. There are plenty of people who agree with authority but have legitimate questions about inerrancy. They believe the Bible is authoritative but question the hardline positions of some. Maybe we should first find our unity before finding out difference.

    It seems in my beloved convention we have an influx of bitter Christians who desire conflict and finding where we disagree more than where we agree. We have lost the power of the Holy Spirit in our convention. Just a few poorly worded thought. :)
     
  12. JustChristian

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    You're talking about inerrancy of the original manuscript, correct? There's no doubt that there are minor factual inconsistencies in the Bible we have today. If you doubt that I can show a few to you. These have NO impact on the message the Bible delivers.
     
  13. Revmitchell

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    Does scripture contain enough truth in scripture to worship?


    Such a liberal position creates a huge problem. First it makes scripture subjective and man becomes the standard rather than God.(Matt 22:29)

    Second it denies that God has the ability to maintain the truth of His Word. ( Matt5:18, Luke 21:33) The problem with liberals is they place to much faith in the failures of man and put them in a place that overpowers God's sovereignty. (Ecc. 3:14)

    And I will not remain silent when people diminish the reliability and the authority of God's word. Liberals may work hard to redefine the fundamental position but they always show themselves thought such phrases as "the bible is a book of words". No experience has any influence of authority if it doesnt line up with scripture. It is not a book of secular poetry where we can pull out of it what we want or believe our perception is the authority over scripture.
     
  14. guitarpreacher

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    So are you saying that a translation, KJV1611 for example, contains no human errors in the way that it was translated?
     
  15. Revmitchell

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    No I am speaking to what we have today. Inerrancy doesn't speak to the minor copiest errors. It speaks to the reliability that when scripture speaks to a doctrine it is as God intended it to be. You cannot reasonably say that any clear teaching of scripture lead you away from God. You cannot say that when scripture speaks to a historical moment that it is incorrect. You cannot say the when scripture speaks to a matter of science that it is incorrect. Else you be found a liar and only God to be true.
     
    #15 Revmitchell, Jun 1, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 1, 2008
  16. Crabtownboy

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    And who took this position. Not I. But it is a valid question and I believe God has protected his word such that it is reliable for us to use and to worship him with.

    No, it does not deny that at all. It merely asks the question. Each has to answer to his/her best ability. It is you who are taking a liberal position in attempting to make the Bible say what you want it to say and not accept it for what is really says.

    And that is exactly what you are doing, diminishing the reliability of the Bible by preaching hate of other Christians who do not agree with you and in attempting to use non-Biblical doctrine as a test of whether a person is a Christian or not. So, start accepting what the Bible really say.

    This is one of the reasons many Baptist churches are loosing members and why the word Baptist is held in contempt by so many people. They see the hatred preached and do not hear or see the love of God being preached or lived out in the lives of people who preach hatred!
     
  17. Crabtownboy

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    And this answer shows one of the big problems that fundamentalist have created, they do not even agree with each other what the concept of inerrancy means. The most widely accepted short definition I have found is about the original manuscripts. The other extreme are those who say that all translations are without error. Now here we had a 3rd element being argued and that is that scripture is reliable. But that, from what I have read, is a totally different subject and has nothing to do with inerrancy.

    The answer shows also that the author of the statement above does not seem to really understand the concept as defined by others. See the definitions below.

    And yet, here is a person who is using it as a litmus test for judging all other Christians and this description does not even agree with most other definitions of inerrancy.

    You would think that those who place such importance on this doctrine, which isn't Biblical, would at least come up with an agreed upon definition.

    I guess it means whatever a holder of the belief wants it to mean at the moment in an given discusstion.

    And, that is an extremely liberal position to take.

    There are many other web sites where the concept is defined and if you check them you will find there are many ideas of what this nono-Biblical concept means. It is sad that such a concept where there is no general agreement of what it means is used to cause such damange to Christianity.
     
    #17 Crabtownboy, Jun 2, 2008
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  18. blackbird

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    BaptistBeliever is right----and such is so---we preachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ MUST preach the Scripture we hold in our hands as COMPLETE TRUTH with no mixture of error!! We MUST preach the Scripture we hold in our hand as COMPLETELY infallable, inerrant, and COMPLETELY inspired by God!!!
     
  19. Crabtownboy

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    But is your interpretation of scripture infallable and without error? Which translation are you talking about? There seems to be much confusion amont fundamentalist about what inerrancy means. I have found many "definitions" and they certainly do not agree with each other. Also as no one has nor will ever have an original manuscript and even if we had one who would know if the translation was totally correct, then it is an article of faith that the originals were without any error. I am not saying I believe they had error, but am simply trying to show this is an article of faith and those who do not believe as I, or you, or anyone else, but are steadfast followers of Christ are also Christian.

    You are saying any scripture you hold in your hand? So any translation is without error if you have it in your hand when you preach?
     
    #19 Crabtownboy, Jun 2, 2008
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  20. Revmitchell

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    Wiki and the religious tolerant sites are liberal sites trying to explain what they do not hold to. There is no difference between what I have said and the other site. I have shown the biblical position of inerrancy on my last post. Liberals need it not to exist so they can keep scripture subjective and maintain their ungodly positions. And they must redefine what liberal is as well as the authority of scripture. In the end the word of God is more than just "a book of words". And no one but a liberal would ever see it as such.
     

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