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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Why I Am Still A Baptist

In the latest newsletter of the Baptist Heritage Counsel of Georgia, Bill Wilson contributed an essay entitled, Why I am still a Baptist. Bill Wilson serves as the pastor of First Baptist Church, Dalton, Georgia.

Below is the portion of his article which I found most interesting...

Second, as grateful as I feel for our past, I must tell you I am concerned about where we are today.

The plateau we find ourselves on, the waning energy I sense around the moderate world, the concretization of institutions and methodologies, the devotion to vehicles over vision has me worried. Too many of us have "married" our young institutions and organizations, to the detriment of being able to envision a new and more expansive future. I believe it is time for us to refocus our attention on vision and give less of our attention to vehicles.

While the vision of a positive, authentically Baptist alternative to fundamentalism is alive and well, I do not believe we have fully arrived at what God intends us to be or do as we enter the 21st century. It is quite possible that the best vehicle for carrying us down the road of being authentic Baptist has not been created yet.

I recognize many think that feeling this way and saying this aloud is akin to disloyalty to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, but I say this as one who is committed to and grateful for the ministry of CBF. I believe the future vehicle for moderate Baptist life is yet to be revealed and that if it is to be a viable future, we must be pliable and flexible with regard to structures and organizations.

I believe CBF will play a key role in whatever that network or organization is, but that "IT" is still in the incubation stage...and probably always will be. I hope and pray that we will be willing to see ourselves as a forerunner of what could be, rather than a finished product...even willing to diminish ourselves if something greater emerges. that takes a level of maturity and a big-picture approach thinking that is lacking too often among us. My concern is that we simply continue to do what we are doing and that our impact wanes and our plateaued status turns into one of retreat. Some of us have not given up on the idea of a growing,expanding, broadeing moderate Baptist/Christian movement in America and beyond.

What is IT? If not the CBF, then what? A merger of sorts with ??

It's okay to criticize, but Wilson could have elaborated on his own vision and what this future "vehicle" might be....


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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10:27 AM

Blogger dave said...

Could the "IT" he referred to be something we catch a glimpse of in Washington, DC, this year?

In 1845(?) the SBC split from the (then)Northern Baptist Convention.
What if the two reunited?

Doubtful the current SBC would join but what about a CBF/ABC merger?

2:23 PM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...


I'd support some type of unique partnership at this point but not a full merger. CBF is still sooo young.

Meanwhile, the ABC has their own issues that must be dealt with. I'm not sure whether it would be wise for the CBF to merge with an organization that is not exactly financially healthy (at the moment)?

2:34 PM

Blogger dave said...

Perhaps sometime down the road.

I think it would be a good thing to reconcile with our brothers and sisters.

And if not(yet)a merge, at least I hope the meeting in DC will start an on-going partnership.

2:49 PM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

What do you make of Gardner-Webb not being selected as an Identity Partner with the CBF?

Only BTSR, Truett, McAfee, and Campbell were chosen as Identity Partners - the remaining schools were deemed leadership partners.


The first 3 schools were obvious selections but I'm not sure why Campbell got the nod over a few others?

3:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:14 PM

Blogger dave said...

Yeah, I saw that about my Alma Mater. I had always thought of Campbell and G-Dubb as sister schools (one doesn't go without the other). I'm not sure what I make of it all.

Perhaps they only wanted one per state. (They also left off WF).

And why only selecting 4 of the 6?

Does this have to go to a vote at the GA?

And BTW, I've noticed you get a bunch of junk responses, you might want to enable the word verification.

3:34 PM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Thanks for that tip. I seem to be getting several of those comments each day.

I'm not sure if it has to be approved by the Assembly. I kinda don't think so...

5:11 PM

Blogger Dr. Danny Chisholm said...

Baptists have always had schismatic tendencies, and perhaps there will be more shifts and splits down the road. I'd like to think CBF is just now gaining its legs for mission and ministry. It's only a teenager, for goodness sake!

10:14 PM

Anonymous art jaggard said...

Hey BDW!
Great blog!
As an ABC (former) middle judicatory person I had great hopes for a CBF/ABC merger a dozen years ago. I just don't see it happenning any more. Culturaly CBF is far closer to SBC than to ABC. And as you comment, ABC is in the midst of what some Regional Executive Ministers have called implosion. To merge with ABC would be to merge with a system committed to protecting an agenda that affirms the practice of homosexuality.

A fine line I suppose, but real none the less, ABC officially says the practice of homosexulaity is incompatible with the Bible, but the system is committed to protecting the agenda affirming the practice. My sense is that the fabric of the ABC family will not survive the strain of this discontinuity. Is the fabric of CBF strong enough to not tear in half under such stress?


7:32 AM

Blogger roy said...

I don't know enough about the culture of the CBF but Wilson's comments resonate for me as an ABC person. I believe that the Baptist tradition holds within it the seeds of something new that works very well in a post-modern world. The tensions between soul liberty and community, church autonomy and the associational principle seem to fit a post modern world well. Add to that the historic commitment to mission around the world and I think we have the seeds of something.
The problems come when we step back from those historic affirmations and when we focus on structures rather than mission.
FWIW, I think Art's read of the issues in ABC around homosexuality are a little incomplete but that is another post. And I don't see a CBF/ABC merger taking place any time soon either.

10:18 AM


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