Monday, October 24, 2005

Another one bites the dust

Another traditional Baptist distinctive is under attack in Missouri. ABP reports that "Missouri Baptists will vote again on local-church loyalty to SBC." If an amendment to the constitution of the Missouri Baptist Convention is passed, any church which wants to be a member of the convention must be a Southern Baptist Church, meaning it must meet the requirements for membership in the SBC, and must be "singly aligned" with the convention, in other words cannot "send a representative or messenger or financially support any other state or national convention or an organization that acts as a convention." In order to have that make sense, they have come up with a very interesting test of what it means to act as a convention. For the purposes of the amendment they "define a national convention as any organization which independently sends and ordains ministers to the United States military services." I wonder how long they had to look to find a way to exclude the CBF and some of the more traditional state conventions, without restricting affiliation with some other groups that are more in favor.

One of the distinctive characteristics of Southern Baptists has been an emphasis on the autonomy of the local church. For those who have not read it lately the BF&M defines a New Testament church as "an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel . . ." It also states, under the article on Cooperation, that

Christ's people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and conventions as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. They are voluntary and advisory bodies designed to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of our people in the most effective manner.

Historically, this has precluded the kind of connectionalism that is being proposed in Missouri. The local church was always free (with some obvious doctrinal exceptions) to be a member of the SBC and/or the state convention and/or the local association or any combination thereof. It is only with the ascendancy of the current breed of control freaks into positions of leadership at both state and national levels that this has come into question. I wonder which Baptist distinctive they will go after next.

1 comment:

Kaylor said...

Right on! Sadly, many Baptists seem to have no understanding of what it means to be a Baptist. Soon many of our conventions will be Baptist in name only. Power truly does corrupt.