I must be missing something.
There is a discussion on Les Puryear’s blog, and now at SBC Voices about whether or not you can be Reformed and Baptist. This discussion really is not about Calvinism. It is more about “Reformed” polity and other distinctives of Reformed theology.
Allow me to tie a few things together, and then I will explain why I am confused.
1. The Southern Baptist Convention as a denomination began as a missions endeavor. The hope was for like-minded churches to pool their resources to be more effective in missions.
2. “Like-minded” is more about issues related to the gospel itself, the practice of baptism, and regenerate church membership. It had little to do with other issues of polity.
3. Because of this belief the desire was to keep local churches autonomous. That means that local churches are able to maintain their own polity, etc. so long as they held onto the gospel, the biblical practice of baptism, and regenerate church membership. (Perhaps some will accuse me of rewriting history here—but I think it may be a decent summary).
Summary: Southern Baptist Convention=like-minded autonomous churches pooling their resources to spread the gospel to the nations.
This is why I don’t understand much of this whole discussion. Can you be a Reformed Baptist? At the end of the day this whole thing comes down to semantics. What does it really mean to be Reformed? What does it really mean to be Baptist? I just do not understand why this matters.
Obviously I believe that polity matters. But I never thought the intention of the Southern Baptist Convention was to make certain that all of the churches held to a certain polity. Puryear mentions 8 characteristics of being reformed and seems to say that only one is acceptable within the SBC. I could be wrong but I just don’t think that historically these 8 things really matter as far as pooling together resources (except #6 of course).
In my mind what the Great Commission Resurgence means is that we as a convention get back to what we original set out to do. Find like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ, pool our resources, and take the gospel to the nations.
And when the SBC becomes a bureaucracy or an agency to police tertiary doctrine/practice it is no wonder that young pastors are jumping ship. Many aren’t leaving the historical SBC, they are just leaving what the SBC has become.
But I’m probably missing something…