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[+] On Being Southern Baptist
Posted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 11:53 am
Scott Mc
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Joined: 12 Aug 2004
Posts: 80
Location: E Nash




I've been thinking a lot about this lately. I know there have been several comments on the forum relating to the southern baptist convention, its "beliefs", being associated with it, etc. There are probably even more questions out there that have not been answered. I don't claim to have all of the answers, but I'd like to give 2Ę.

By the way, I grew up a United Methodist, attended a PCA Presbyterian church in college, and did not attend an SBC church until after college.

{I will interject here that, admittedly, most of the quotes from sbc.net are in conflict with much of the gender-inclusive postings on the forum. Since this debate is raging elsewhere, let's understand that as a point of discussion/contention and leave that to the other thread. Very Happy }

The SBC was begun to allow churches to be a part of a larger enterprise, pooling their resources to establish and advance Great Commission work. (The original charter refers to this as the "propagation of the Gospel.") The principle is that the impact of the group as a whole is greater than the sum of the impacts of each individual church. The Southern Baptist Convention refers both to the denomination and to the annual meeting of "messengers" (church representatives) that happens in the summer.

One of the most firmly held principles in the SBC is that of local church autonomy and self-rule. Unlike some denominations, the SBC does not tell local churches how they must run their church. (This doesn't mean that people within the SBC will never do that, of course. But that's a problem with a person, not the entity.) A perusal of the SBC's website at http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/ will show that most everything is stated in generalities, suggestions, or opinions. More to this in a second.

Technically, if your church has given to any of the mission causes of the SBC, then your church is Southern Baptist. Surprisingly, that's it. No signing of a paper declaration or anything like that. There is no denominational ordination of ministers; or "dis-"ordination, if that's a word. That's left up to the local church.

The SBC has various ways of disseminating its beliefs/views/opinions. Three are Position Statements, Resolutions, and the Baptist Faith and Message. Position statements reflect the actions of the Convention and its entities (seminaries, LifeWay, North American Mission Board, International Mission Board, etc.) http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/positionstatements.asp There is nothing requiring a church to accept or adhere to all position statements, as far as I have found. I think one would find that most of them are universally acceptable anyway, with the possible exception of the women in ministry position statement:
Quote:
Women participate equally with men in the priesthood of all believers. Their role is crucial, their wisdom, grace and commitment exemplary. Women are an integral part of our Southern Baptist boards, faculties, mission teams, writer pools, and professional staffs. We affirm and celebrate their Great Commission impact.

While Scripture teaches that a woman's role is not identical to that of men in every respect, and that pastoral leadership is assigned to men, it also teaches that women are equal in value to men.

and the position statement on sexuality:
Quote:
We affirm God's plan for marriage and sexual intimacy Ė one man, and one woman, for life. Homosexuality is not a "valid alternative lifestyle." The Bible condemns it as sin. It is not, however, unforgivable sin. The same redemption available to all sinners is available to homosexuals. They, too, may become new creations in Christ.
[I base my judgement only on what has been posted previously on this forum.]

According to sbc.net, a resolution has traditionally been defined as an expression of opinion or concern. These are the things you hear a lot about. Issues concerning Disney, alcohol/tobacco, gambling, fetal tissue, boy scouts, all fall in this area. Again, these are not laws that the SBC has laid down that all churches have to follow. These are primarily things that have been "resolved" at the annual meeting by the representatives of the different churches. Last year, we heard a lot about a resolution to remove christian children from public schools...of course it failed, but if it passed, its nothing more than a non-binding opinion or concern of that group of people.

On the Baptist Faith and Message, here's a quote from sbc.net
Quote:
On June 14th, 2000, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a revised summary of our faith. The committee's report says in part:

"Baptists cherish and defend religious liberty, and deny the right of any secular or religious authority to impose a confession of faith upon a church or body of churches. We honor the principles of soul competency and the priesthood of believers, affirming together both our liberty in Christ and our accountability to each other under the Word of God.

You might be surprised to see some of the things in here. Like pursuing peace and not war, for instance. By the way, if you check the preable to the BF&M, you'll see several women as the undersigned on the committee that proposed a review of the document.

I, too, get worried when I see a southern baptist seminary professor as a guest on Larry King or another news show. I don't always believe the same as they do. Unfortunately, a person like that delivers his comments as being the voice of all southern baptists or all Christians for that matter, even though his own organizational documentation does not support such a presentation. I think this kind of thing is in large part what has stigmatized the sbc. I'm sure there are a lot of individual experiences people have had that even reinforced this.

When we lived in Houston, we attended a Southern Baptist Church. It was very different than the typical SBC church around Nashville. I now know that there is a very broad spectrum that is encompassed by the southern baptist convention.

I don't type this stuff to defend the SBC, so much as to provide more information related to posting on this forum. I am not a "dyed-in-the-wool" baptist. I am a follower of Christ. I believe some things that the SBC says, and I disagree with some things too.

Let us conclude two things. We cannot always characterize something by our own experience/knowledge, and that we may be characterized by a single experience with other people.

If you've gotten this far, thanks for hangin' in there. Very Happy

[+] 
Posted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 1:18 pm
Sam
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Joined: 12 Aug 2004
Posts: 41




Quote:
The SBC was begun to allow churches to be a part of a larger enterprise, pooling their resources to establish and advance Great Commission work.


I am afraid this is a misstatement. The Southern Baptist Convention was founded in 1845 because they didn't like the antislavery position of their northern brothers and sisters. By forming their own convention they were able to listen to sermons that backed up their racism and pro-slavery beliefs. While pooling resources has become a valuable by-product of the SBC, it was not the purpose for its origin.

[+] 
Posted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 1:46 pm
leslie e
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Joined: 02 Sep 2004
Posts: 51




Sam - where is the support for this statement? I'm not saying that it is not valid, because I haven't looked into it myself. I just prefer to have facts to back up such statements. Just curious.....
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Posted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 2:21 pm
FatAndy
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Joined: 10 Jan 2005
Posts: 5




According to the Batist Heritage & Historical Society (which in non-SBC):

"Perhaps most critical of all was the slavery issue. This practice had been forced upon the colonies by England early in the seventeenth century against the protests of Northerners and Southerners. Northern merchants, however, soon sought the profit involved in importing slaves from Africa. Southern planters, the only ones able to use large numbers of unskilled laborers on large plantations in a relatively warm climate, helped to prolong this evil. At the height of this system, however, two-thirds of the white families of the South owned no slaves at all, and Baptists (who were generally of the lower economic status) were probably less involved than this."

I think to catagorize the formation on May 8th, 1845 of the SBC as a way to promote or continue racism is misleading. The fact is that there were no slaveowners present of the 293 church leaders present. I think the main factor was to form a separate home mission organization, because of the lack of presence of missionaries in the South. Also, because of the cultural differences between a industrial north and an agricultural South. the slave issue was a politcal football to be tossed around then and apparently still.

I would also like to know where you are getting your facts from. Thanks.

_________________
Picture a mic, the stage is empty
A beat like this might tempt me
To pose, show my rings and my fat gold chain
Grab the mic like Iím on soul train
--Eric B & Rakim "I Know You Got Soul"

[+] 
Posted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 2:26 pm
leslie e
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Joined: 02 Sep 2004
Posts: 51




okay. after doing a little internet digging (which i wouldn't consider by any means the ultimate base of facts), i found some interesting information. however, i didn't find anything that exactly supported sam's statement that
Quote:
By forming their own convention they were able to listen to sermons that backed up their racism and pro-slavery beliefs.


however, i did read the following:
Quote:
The Southern Baptist Convention was formed May 8-12, 1845 in Augusta, Georgia. Its first president was William Bullein Johnson (1782-1862), who was president of the Triennial Convention in 1841. The immediate, though not only, cause was the controversy over slavery between Northeners and Southerners within the Triennial Convention and the Home Mission Society. Though the bodies were theoretically neutral, some Baptists in the South did not believe the assurances of neutrality. They knew several leaders were engaged in abolitionist activity. To test this, Georgia Baptists recommended James E. Reeve, a slaveholder, to the Home Mission Society as a missionary in the South. The Society did not appoint Reeve, presumably not on the basis of his being a slaveholder, but because the Georgia Baptists wished his appointment specifically because he was a slaveholder. Baptists from the South subsequently broke from this organization and formed the new convention.

Another issue that disturbed the churches in the south was the perception that the American Baptist Home Mission Society (org. 1832) did not appoint a proportionate number of missionaries to the southern region of the U. S. It is also evident that Baptists north and south preferred a different type of denominational organization. The Baptists in the north as a whole preferred a loosely structured society composed of individuals who paid annual dues. Each society usually focused on a single ministry. The southern churches preferred an organization composed of churches patterned after their associations. A variety of ministries were thereby brought under the direction of one denominational organization.


This was quoted from a history on the Southern Baptist Convention from Wikipedia. Again, I don't look to this as the ultimate authority on this subject. From reading this, I gather that as in MANY cases, there are always many factors that influence situations. I think the issue of slavery may have played a roll, but it was not the ONLY influence in this decision.
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[+] 
Posted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 3:01 pm
Scott Mc
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Joined: 12 Aug 2004
Posts: 80
Location: E Nash




Sam wrote:
Quote:
The SBC was begun to allow churches to be a part of a larger enterprise, pooling their resources to establish and advance Great Commission work.


I am afraid this is a misstatement. The Southern Baptist Convention was founded in 1845 because they didn't like the antislavery position of their northern brothers and sisters. By forming their own convention they were able to listen to sermons that backed up their racism and pro-slavery beliefs. While pooling resources has become a valuable by-product of the SBC, it was not the purpose for its origin.


Okay. The point of my whole post doesn't ride on the origins of the SBC. The point of my post was to encourage people to investigate more about the SBC and to understand that the SBC is not the organization that legislates don't dance, don't drink, boycott disney, let's all go to war, and women can't preach.

If my origin claim is incorrect, then I will retract it <and edit my post accordingly>. It is not essential to the point of the whole post, and if it is inaccurate, it in no way invalidates the rest of my comments.

I'm not typing this to argue. I'm typing it as information that I've been thinking a lot about lately. As I said before, I'm not trying to play the role of defender of the SBC. I'm hopefully giving information that people can take for themselves and investigate. Frankly, I don't care so much if people agree or disagree with the SBC, as long as they know what they're disagreeing with. Like I said, I do not agree with everything myself.

I hope that we will cut the slavery arguing as not being relevant (at least not intentionally relevant) to the point of the post. If it is a hangup, I'll edit it out.

I won't argue anymore on this. If anybody finds information contrary to that which I have posted. I will edit or note it in my original post. I have no problem with that.

[+] 
Posted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 3:06 pm
Sam
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Joined: 12 Aug 2004
Posts: 41




Thank you for your honesty and openness, Scott. I do have a question for you:

Although the SBC is, to a large extent, as you describe (allowing local churches to be autonomous, etc.) how do you asnwer people when they mention the offenses of the past (slavery, racism, sexism, etc.)? While I agree it is ultimately up to indiviual churches within the SBC to act as they choose, and while this can be a good thing, how do you approach someone who will never step foot inside a church that gives money to the SBC?

I know a lot of people like this and am just curious to see what you'd say to them.

[+] 
Posted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 3:49 pm
Scott Mc
Has ideas
 
Joined: 12 Aug 2004
Posts: 80
Location: E Nash




I think that it is unfortunate that someone would feel that way. I can understand that there could be things in the past that would make people feel that way. I also understand that there are things about the Christian Church that would make people feel that way.

Frankly, if someone feels like they could never step foot in a church that gives (or receives) any support from the SBC, I think that's okay. Fortunately, there are a lot of non-SBC related churches that people may feel more comfortable being a part of. The bigger question may be what if they won't step foot in any church?

If this person was someone I knew, then we could have ongoing conversation about it. This person could learn my own heart and know what I'm about and what I'm not about, and could understand my own perceptions and viewpoint of the SBC and churches "associated" with it. Still any person would have to decide for themselves if a church community is right for them.

Some people may say they can never be part of a church that takes an offerring or collection of some kind (like the giving pitcher.) If this is such an important issue, I hope that the person would find a church that would be a great fit. Incidentally, I have a friend that falls in this category, and I am grateful to say that he has found a church community where he can really thrive.

I'll be honest to say that I have not met anybody (to my knowledge at least) that feels this way. I've had friends that wouldn't go to any church whatsoever. Interaction comes down to relationship and trust, not arguments or pursuasive talk.

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