Category Archives for Ecclesiology

The Shot Heard ‘Round the SBC (Part D)

April 9, 2011

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)

April 8, 2011

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)

April 7, 2011

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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