What is Baptist Identity?

February 20, 2009

To be honest, I cannot answer that question fully. In fact, our movement is varied among people who do differ on tertiary issues, but believe (according to Dr. Mohler’s theological triage) secondary issues that define us as Southern Baptists do matter in areas of planting churches. With all that said, while I don’t believe I can fully define this movement, I do know what the Baptist Identity movement is not. It is not any one person or web site. So, for those who may try to define it as either SBC Today, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS), Peter Lumpkins, Bart Barber, or any other array of persons individually or entities corporately, they will find that strategy lacking.

Also, the Baptist Identity movement is not anti-Calvinism. If that was the case, SBC Today would not have a five pointer (Scott Gordon) or a four pointer (Robin Foster) as resource managers. I might also add that SWBTS has more Calvinists on staff today than when I graduated with an MDiv in 2002. In fact, when I was a student at SWBTS, Calvinism was routinely treated as the wicked stepchild of the SBC by some of the professors. While I might step out on a limb here, I do believe that Baptist Identity is anti hyper – Calvinism which diminishes the proclamation of the gospel to all people everywhere.

In general within the Southern Baptist Convention, the Baptist Identity movement adheres to the confessional statement of faith for Southern Baptists, the Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M). Also, there is a vision that many have adopted for Baptists called, “The Fifth Century Initiative” (FCI). In this FCI there is a clear vision of directives that made Southern Baptists a viable conduit of God’s grace since 1845. It is a call to once again focus on those directives so that the Glory of God can shine in a new and magnificent way as we begin this fifth century as Baptists.

What about the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR)? I believe that most if not all who are part of the Baptist Identity movement are primed and ready for any movement that enables the Great Commission to be accomplished in ways to reach the most people with the Gospel and build New Testament churches around the world. In fact the FCI has a section that deals with the Great Commission:

The Pursuit of the Great Commission: New Testament congregations are a construct universally relevant to all people, cultures, and ages. Southern Baptist congregations must visit afresh the Divine imperative to reproduce themselves throughout the world, embracing new opportunities to engage the task with greater vigor than ever before.

The goal of any GCR should be to help birth self perpetuating churches that engage in the global effort of the GCR. I personally appreciate Dr. Danny Akin for initiating this GCR concept in an effort to go the next step from the conservative resurgence that brought our convention to doctrinal accountability and fidelity to God’s Word. Any GCR that seeks to make disciples through the planting of local New Testament churches must be in agreement on the purpose and workings of a New Testament church. Without an understanding and unity in matters of Ecclesiology, the GCR is negatively affected and will ultimately lead to an adverse witness to the world around it.

In short, while I cannot fully define the term or movement, suffice it to say that Baptist Identity is an effort to pursue the Great Commission by joining with like minded confessional Baptists who desire to see God glorified in all the world.