Friday, March 31, 2006

An SBC Worth Saving

Douglas Baker draws a worthwhile distinction between being conservative and being theological. He writes:
What is needed is a precise theological understanding of the protracted struggle with theological liberalism. Without it, policies of inerrancy and the “the cause” become a recipe for drift and ultimately defeat.
In other words, let's be serious about doctrine. He proceeds to say:
Pragmatically, the conservative resurgence could be in trouble. The prevailing ethos of the day held by critics of the Southern Baptist Convention is that the modern conservatism of the SBC holds no specifically theological ideas –- only political ones -– which are not worthy of serious consideration by the thinking class. Could this be true? Many critics say the level of preaching by “conservative” preachers across the SBC all too easily resembles something between an Anthony Robbins self-help seminar and a used-car salesman peddling his latest deal.
Exactly. I see many parallels between Baker's ideas and Bauder's, although Bauder is obviously more exhaustive. Two more quotes are crucial. This one:
Without the recovery of a denominational imperative that a local congregation is the most important and indispensable agent for Christ and his kingdom, the denominational beast easily could eat her own young. The current cultural and political milieu of the 21st century offers little evidence to sustain the hope that an explicitly theological movement is necessary, desirable or even possible.
And this one:
The third and most pressing need yet to be realized fully by the reformation of the SBC is a focus on local churches as the primary agent in Gospel ministry to the world. As to this third issue, despite the revolution in theological thought initiated by the seminaries and others, restraining the appetite for big numbers and big Baptist programs has proved, thus far, beyond the human agency -– even for theological conservatives.
Tom Ascol also discusses this briefly.

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