Category: Ecclesiology

Baptism-Lite—SBC and Spontaneous Baptisms

Tim Rogers, Pastor, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Indian Trail, NC

There is a movement that seems to be sweeping our denomination and it is called Spontaneous Baptisms.  I for one believe, if done properly, we should not be concerned with this movement.  However, with every movement there comes some who refuse to adhere to the clear teaching of scripture and thus dumbs down the scriptural understanding.  Therefore, I call this “Baptism-lite”.  This phrase is taken from an article I saw referencing the Church of England and their uprising concerning the prayers being offered over the waters.  In the Church of England their Baptism has a salvific meaning to it and as such I would vehemently disagree with their practices and their thought that the Priests prayers does something special to the water.

Steven Furtick, Pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC, in a sermon he has prepared on his website concerning how to prepare for a spontaneous baptism service expresses some things that are completely tied to scripture and some things where he abandons the scripture to fuel his own particular beliefs. Concerning the meaning of baptism Furtick says; “Baptism is an outward expression of an inward change. The reason we dunk people all the way under the water is that Jesus went all the way into the grave and came back up again.” Amen and Amen!! PREACH IT, PREACHER!!!!! “Great opportunities necessitate immediate obedience.”  “Today my mom is choosing it to be her spiritual birthday.” “This has nothing to do with you joining a church.” This is where Furtick leaves the scripture.  Baptism has more scriptural evidence with becoming a part of a local body than it does with identifying a spiritual birthday.  Thus, the baptisms that are performed at Elevation have nothing to do with church membership because Elevation does not have a membership role.  When Elevation baptizes people they view this as baptizing them into the “universal” church and nothing to do with accountability within the local community of baptized believers we refer to as the local church.

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The Shot Heard ‘Round the SBC (Part D)

Steve Lemke, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

The Fault Lines in Southern Baptist Life

In the first three parts of this article, I have been reflecting on Brad Whitt’s article “Young, Southern Baptist, . . . and Irrelevant?,” which was published and discussed widely in state Baptist papers, various blogs, and Facebook discussions.  Whitt’s response to these many comments has now been posted on his blog, which he entitled, “The Challenge for Contributing, Committed Southern Baptists.”

Whitt’s article obviously touched a nerve in Southern Baptist life.  I described it as one of the deepest fault lines in the SBC – between what Whitt suggested were those who have a “high Baptist identity” and those who have a “low to moderate Baptist identity.” I tried to flesh out this distinction in the first section of my post (Part A).  I then described several other interconnected fault lines, particularly the small church/megachurch fault line, in the second section of this post (Part B). I made the case that these partially overlapping fault lines are disintegrating the “center” of Southern Baptist life, and that splinters or a split within the SBC fellowship seem almost inevitable.

In the third post (Part C), I attempted to describe two possible futures I see for the SBC, which I believe to be the only viable options.  In Way One, because of our fallenness “in Adam,” the only way to unity and peace is through division. I also likened it to a Baptist Babel, in that we are being divided into camps speaking different languages. Obviously, I do not regard this as God’s ideal.  Today I will propose the second alternative, what I am labeling the “in Christ” option:  Unity through Cooperation.

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The Shot Heard ‘Round the SBC (Part C)

Steve Lemke, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

The Fault Lines in Southern Baptist Life

In the first two parts of this article, I have been reflecting on Brad Whitt’s article “Young, Southern Baptist, . . . and Irrelevant?,” which was published and discussed widely in state Baptist papers, various blogs, and Facebook discussions.  Whitt’s response to these many comments has now been posted on his blog, which he entitled, “The Challenge for Contributing, Committed Southern Baptists.”

Whitt’s article obviously touched a nerve in Southern Baptist life.  I described it as one of the deepest fault lines in the SBC – between what Whitt suggested were those who have a “high Baptist identity” and those who have a “low to moderate Baptist identity.” Attempting to describe this real but somewhat difficult-to-define fault line, which involves a cluster of theological/ecclesiological/methodological issues but may be primarily more a matter of ethos, was the subject of the first section of my post.

I also suggested that the “Baptist identify” fault line is just one fault line in Southern Baptist life.  In fact, there is a series of other interconnected, partially overlapping, and partially converging fault lines in the SBC – smaller churches vs. megachurches, anti-GCR vs. pro-GCR, majority Baptist theology vs. Reformed theology, advocates of associations and state convention vs. detractors of associations and state convention, Cooperative Program as a high value vs. Cooperative Program as a tertiary value, etc.  An eruption in one of the fault lines sets off shockwaves in each of these other interconnected fault lines.  In the second section of this post, I attempted to unpack another of these fault lines in SBC life, and one that is sometimes overlooked – between the smaller churches and the megachurches.

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The Shot Heard ‘Round the SBC (Part B)

Steve Lemke, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

“Young, Southern Baptist, and . . . Irrelevant?”

In the first part of this article, I reflected on Brad Whitt’s article “Young, Southern Baptist, . . . and Irrelevant?,” which was published in the South Carolina state Baptist Courier, on his own blog, and in six additional Baptist state papers. Responses to Whitt’s article, pro and con, have weighed in all over the country in Baptist papers, various blogs, and Facebook discussions.  Whitt’s response to these many comments has now been posted on his blog, which he entitled, “The Challenge for Contributing, Committed Southern Baptists.”

I observed, for those who might have missed it, that the title of Whitt’s article appeared to be an allusion to an oft-referenced article in the 2006 issue of Christianity Today, entitled “Young, Restless, and Reformed:  Calvinism is Making a Comeback and Shaking Up the Church,” by Collin Hansen, which he later expanded into a book by a similar title, Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists. I also noted that many of the “new Calvinists” or “neoCalvinists” about whom Hansen wrote seem to fit the description of what Mark Driscoll and Ed Stetzer call “Reformed Relevants.” Whitt retained “young,” since he is a younger pastor, and substituted “Southern Baptist . . . Irrelevant?” instead of “Restless and Reformed” or “Reformed Relevants.”  Obviously, Whitt thinks that his purported irrelevance has been greatly exaggerated.

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The Shot Heard ‘Round the SBC (Part A)

Steve Lemke, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Brad Whitt and “Southern Baptist Irrelevants

Brad Whitt fired the shot heard ‘round the SBC about a month ago when he published his article “Young, Southern Baptist, . . . and Irrelevant?” in the South Carolina state Baptist Courier and on his own blog.  In essence, Whitt expressed the concern that traditional Southern Baptist churches like his own were feeling marginalized and trivialized as “irrelevant” in many forums in Southern Baptist life. It created quite a furor, with some thanking Whitt for voicing “how I’ve felt for years,” while others criticizing him or saying that the concerns he voiced were unfounded.  Six additional state Baptist papers published the article, and discussions in blogs and Facebook from all over the country weighed in on the validity of Whitt’s concerns.  Whitt, a graduate of Union University, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, serves as Pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina, and has been the President of the South Carolina Baptist Pastor’s Conference. He has now posted his response to these many comments on his blog in an article entitled, “The Challenge for Contributing, Committed Southern Baptists.”

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