Alliances WITH Baptists
Kirby Godsey's newly-elected successor, President Bill Underwood of Mercery University, has an insightful editorial in the latest edition of The Baptist Studies Bulletin published by Mercer University's Center for Baptist Studies. Check it out...
There are whispers of an exciting new movement emerging in Baptist life. Within the past several weeks, leaders of Baptist organizations representing more than 20 million Baptists have launched an unprecedented initiative to advance the Kingdom through the combined voice and work of Baptists throughout North America. Baptists from the North and from the South. Black and white Baptists. conservative, moderate and progressive Baptists joining together in a covenant–the North American Baptist Covenant–to affirm "their desire to speak and work together to create an authentic and genuine prophetic Baptist voice in these complex times."
Rather than focus on our disagreements over doctrine, there is much on which we all surely can agree. Jesus has commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves and to manifest this love by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick. The Bible could not speak more clearly. And here there remains much work to be done. The average annual income per person in the world’s poorest nations is only $211. More than half the world’s people live on less than $2 a day. Over a billion people must survive on half that amount. Imagine what it must be like to have $1 a day for food, housing, clothing, health care, transportation and education. Millions of people are on the brink of starvation in the Horn of Africa. Every month, more than 100,000 people in the world die of malaria, diarrhea, and more than 200,000 die of AIDs. These are moral issues. They are issues of private morality–are each of us as individual Christians doing what we can to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, and care for the sick? They are issues of public morality–are we as a nation doing what we can?
There is power in unity. We Baptists can accomplish more together than any one of us can accomplish alone. This is the premise of the Baptist leaders who have signed the North American Baptist Covenant and who are moving forward aggressively in scheduling a national convocation of Baptists from throughout North America for 2007. Imagine the power of more than 20 million Baptist voices in North American joined together in a mighty chorus sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and its implications for public and private morality. Imagine over 20 million Baptist voices urging the leaders of our nation to adopt policies that promote our moral values. Imagine over 20 million Baptists looking for ways to combine efforts to more effectively feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and care for the sick.
We certainly would disagree if we chose to focus on some theological issues. Some Baptists believe the Bible is inerrant. Others believe it to be the authoritative record of God’s revelation. Some think that the creation accounts in the early chapters of Genesis convey a recitation of historical fact. Others have concluded that these creation accounts use metaphor to convey fundamental theological truths. Someday we will know the answers to these questions and other questions on which we disagree. But for now, we can only see through a glass darkly. Imagine, one day standing before God and trying to explain that we refused to combine our efforts with those of other followers of Christ to more effectively minister to the world because we disagreed over the meaning of the creation accounts in Genesis.
Though we Baptists are famously independent, we have also recognized that as Christians we owe important responsibilities to our communities. Indeed, we have an illustrious history of building up the Kingdom of God through cooperative endeavors with other Baptists in missions, health care, and education. We are at our best when we are working together. That is the vision of the North American Baptist Covenant.Read more about The North American Baptist Covenant.