Monday, February 04, 2008

New Baptist Covenent Appealing to Southern Baptists?

I don't know that a statistical breakdown will ever be available, but I suspect a lot of Southern Baptists were present at the New Baptist Covenant. Indeed, many CBF churches in the South are dual SBC/CBF congregations. And many, many Southern Baptists have no interest in the direction the fundamentalist denominational leadership is moving.

An article by the New York Times
, while not the final word, offers an indirect but intriguing take on the Covenant meeting: of four persons quoted, one is a young women with no stated affiliation; one is a layman in a National Baptist Convention (African-American) congregation; and the remaining two are Southern Baptist ministers - both of whom spoke glowingly of the Covenant meeting. There was no mention of either the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship or American Baptist Convention.

Many Southern Baptists have remained on the sidelines while theological fundamentalists have taken over and restructured the SBC in their own image. I wonder if issues such as racial unity, environmental concerns, and healing/social ministries might be enough to finally move some of these disenfranchised-yet-still-Southern-Baptists from the SBC side of the Baptist ledger to the broader, larger world of Baptists as represented by the New Baptist Covenant Celebration?

7 comments:

That Baptist Ain't Right said...

Unfortunately, this Southern Baptist couldn't attend due to the flu bug, but from all I've seen & heard, it was awesome. Cooperation replaced cold, dead orthodoxy. Refreshing.

Danny said...

It's hard to tell after only one meeting, and there are always substantive issues to debate over.

Anytime there can be fellowship, though, that's encouraging. THere may be an undercurrent of SBC folks who aren't lock step with the leadership.

Jeremy said...

I am the 24 year old son to the "renegade" in this article. I don't think that the apple fell far from the tree :)

I was too young (or not yet alive) to experience the most heated years of the SBC shift. I thought I understood the extent of the harsh rhetoric used by conservative-fundamentalist pastors during this time - until I read their reactions to the NBC. After reading numerous false presumptions, false reports, and slanderous opinions on blogs and news sites, I am beginning to feel a strong urge to distance myself from the SBC.

On a more positive note, I sensed a great call to action at the NBC like I had never experienced. Emphasizing the aspects of Luke 4 in Baptist evangelical life will be very appealing to younger Baptists who are looking to utilize their faith-practices in all parts of the world.

Lee said...

I think we forget that the very nature of being Baptist lends itself to a very different way of thinking when it comes to denominational identity. In any given year, fewer than 5% of the churches that support the SBC's Cooperative Program send messengers to the convention, and the cumulative total since 1990 is less than 25%, which means that three out of four contributing churches haven't had a single member attend one in seventeen annual meetings. Southern Baptist churches are independent and autonomous, and while there are those in its institutional leadership who would like to believe otherwise, most of those who voluntarily cooperate by supporting the missionaries and seminaries do not govern themselves by initiatives and programs handed down from Nashville.

Likewise, the same holds true with other Baptist churches. I have lunch on occasion with an African American pastor whose church supports one of the denominational groups represented in Atlanta. He was only dimly aware that his denomination was meeting in Atlanta, and I was his source of information about the joint meeting and the Covenant celebration. His response was similar to most Southern Baptist church leaders I know regarding denominational gatherings; that attending such meetings is a low priority compared to his daily routine in the church.

But the same principles hold true for CBF, for the Baptist groups involved in the Covenant celebration. Such gatherings, including annual or bi-annual meetings, are not "representative" of the churches in the bodies that participate. The SBC is made up of messengers, not delegates. CBF's general assembly is open to anyone who wants to come and pay the registration fee. Some Baptist groups do elect delegates, but there are very few in the Baptist family who allow the collective meeting to have any authority whatsoever over the churches. As a popular saying these days goes, "That's the way we roll."

Anonymous said...

Don't forget how basic systems work. They have an inward resistance to change. Thus, I doubt that many of the dually aligned, and not aligned (but still moderate) churches will swing away from the Fundamentalists. It just hurts to much to change...and churches hate to hurt.

Tim Dahl

chelsea1106 said...

Hopefully I am at the right place where someone can give me answers. I love Jesus with all my heart and I serve him every day of my life. I do belong to a baptist church, but I really dont claim all of their beliefs. It seems that they, as with many churches are so closed minded and judgemental. What I mean by that is, if someone were to walk in wearing something "out there", they would be shunned. (not by me, but by others.) Are all Baptists this way? Why cant we all love like Christ loved? he did not shun people on what they looked liked, I mean he forgave a prostitute for goodness sakes. I think our "so called christians" are the very ones running people out of the church that reallly need Jesus. So back to my question: are all Baptists close minded and judgemental or are there Baptist churches practice acceptance?

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Broadman & Holman Baptist History Collection (11 Vols.)