Saylorville Church responds: "Could it be that Dr. Bauder has touched a nerve of fear? ... a fear of 1,000 'what ifs'?"

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JD Miller's picture

I do not think we can ignore the implications of a location.  I grew up just south of where Greg Linscott is at now.  When I was in my teens and early 20's I was not yet a Baptist, but when I was talking to people about Christ and the Bible they would often ask "what are you?"   I'd tell them I was a Christian, but they wanted to know what that meant so I told them that I pretty much believed what the Baptists believed.  It was a helpful descriptor in that setting.  I do not ever remember getting a negative vibe for saying that, but that was 20 years ago.  I do not think there are any extreme IFB churches in that area (unless you travel a couple hours to Sioux Falls) at, so that may be part of the reason.

My wife on the other hand grew up in a very extreme IFB church in WY where the the pastor was Hyles supporting, KJVO, dictatorial, taking money from the offering plate, and committing adultery.  Her view of the term Baptist is a bit different than mine because of her negative experiences earlier in life.  Her experience has made her much more sympathetic to Saylorville's decision. 

She also had a more recent experience.  She loves to sew, and has joined an online board with other women who sew as well.  They have forums for sewing questions, but the ladies also bring up many other topics to talk about.  She has had a great opportunity to witness and disciple online with these women.  She has noticed in this group that many view the term "Baptist" much differently than I do, and many have a VERY negative view of it.

For Ron Bean it made sense to take out the name Baptist.  For Greg, I can see why it really makes sense to keep it.

On a side note, we are planning to move to the Sioux Falls, SD area at the end of April to start laying the groundwork for a Regular Baptist church plant.  In that area the Independent Baptist churches tend to be more extreme and many of the others tend to be quite liberal.  I am expecting that many of the churches most similar to the GARBC do not even have Baptist in their name in that area.  Once we get over there, we will have a better gage on how "Baptist" is viewed in that region.  I want to have Baptist on our sign to identify us, but my question is how big or very small the letters should be :).  Please pray for us as we face these decisions and other challenges of planting a church.

Marsilius's picture

Charlie, you're kidding, right? Catholic colleagues tell you that they have problems with Baptists and that means Baptists and their name have a problem? Has this story ever been any different in the last 400 years? You should hear what people who live around me say about the Catholic Church - and they aren't even Baptist! The scandals in the Catholic Church and the repeated heavy-handed tactics of its hierarchy have brought it shame time and again through the centuries. Westboro is an abomination. But how does its antics even compare to all the molested young people served so terribly by clergy of another institution? So how often do you tell your colleagues that they have a problem with their label? Obviously, I would not expect you to do so once. Neither would I.

So Charlie, thus far your reasoning is not very convincing. Various Catholic institutions have quite redeeming value to them. So do Baptist institutions. We should respect them a little more - name included.

Steve Newman's picture

Kevin Bauder makes a legitimate point in the "truth in advertising" label. 

From reading what Pat has to say, the change is very much about what could be called "advertising" the church. While I'm completely outside the situation and couldn't possibly know who is involved, there is a cause (advertising in the community on the Saylorville side) and now an effect (FBBC staff will either have to leave or find a new job). There's no doubt that Saylorville has profited from FBBC's presence for the most part. They have chosen this path. Did FBBC let Saylorville know that they would take this action before the name change? 

The tension between fulfilling the Great Commission and standing for a historic body of belief is one of the dividing points of many a body today. A name change does without a doubt make a statement. They obviously tracked the effect of what the Baptist name had on people they called. 

What is the limit of how far we will go in order to not offend the unsaved? What guarantees do we have that changing a name will change the minds of any unsaved? Their concern, according to their statement is about the church (as in universal, rather than local if I read this statement correctly). Is their "advertising" offensive to the saved or the unsaved? 

Mark Mincy's picture

Kevin T. Bauder wrote:

(6) The question is not whether the name Baptist is attractive to those who are set in their rebellion against God (we sometimes call them the unchurched). If so, then we’ll drop the word church pretty quickly, too. For that matter, we’ll have to drop the name Christian, what with the Crusades, the New Christian Right, and all. Perhaps we could be more successful if we just called the assembly something like Community Garden Club. That’s fairly innocuous, right? You can always gain a bit more visible effectiveness if you are willing to down play some aspect of your commitment to truth. Of course, the result is that you get more and more converts to less and less Christianity.

It does not appear that the question Saylorville is concerned with is whether the name Baptist is attractive to those who are set in their rebellion against God.  Rather, the question Saylorville is concerned with is why the name Baptist may be unattractive to those who are set in their rebellion against God.  And this altogether changes the conversation you are trying to have.  Perhaps in Saylorville's context, Baptist has become much like the word Fundamentalist - ambiguous, with much baggage attached.  That would not surprise me.  I live and minister in such an area.  And therefore, for the sake of the church, and for the sake of Christianity, and with a clear conscience before God Saylorville made the decision to drop the name Baptist.  One may not agree with all the resulting philosophical changes, etc. that accompany the name change.  But to imply that they are on the fast track to playing down their commitment to truth and becoming the Community Garden Club seems a bit harsh.

Mark Mincy

G. N. Barkman's picture

When I first came to the doctrines of grace, I was told by some of my Baptist pastor friends, that one could not be a Baptist and a Calvinist.  I gave that a lot of thought.  I wondered if I should become Presbyterian, but quickly decided that was impossible.  I could never embrace the ecclesiology, including infant baptism.  I strongly considered renaming our church "Bible Church" or "Community Church."

But I also began a study of Baptist history.  I read Tom Nettles book, "By His Grace and For His Glory," regarding the prominence of the doctrines of grace in the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention.  I read Kenneth Goode's book, "Are Baptists Calvinists?" about the doctrines of grace among Baptists in the north, and especially in the formation of the GARBC.  I read other books about the history of English Baptists, and learned about the strong influence of Calvinist Baptists in England and early America.

The more I learned, the more thankful I was to be a Baptist.  I began to believe that one of my goals should be to reacquaint Baptists with their doctrinal heritage, now largely lost.  True, many people in the community do not correctly understand the meaning of the name "Baptist."  Why should they?  Many Baptists do not well understand the meaning either.  Although not my primary aim in life, I believe there is great value in sticking with the name "Baptist," and endeavoring to introduce people to the true meaning of its long and noble history.

What formerly appeared to be a liability now looks like an asset.  What a difference the perspective of a few years makes.  I would urge caution.  Too many decisions are made in the haste of the moment, but circumstances have a way of changing.  I would argue for a longer view.  There are reasons for these historical labels.  Perhaps we should work harder at teaching our people who they are and why.

G. N. Barkman

Shaynus's picture

I'm a proud baptist who thinks it's a bad idea to have that fact in our church's name. My church is more historically baptist than many baptist churches, with the side benefit of having TONS of visitors who may not have come to the church if it had baptist in the name. Most people we get come to our church because they googled us, went online and looked at our website and came. A few blocks away from my workplace is a baptist church that is flying a rainbow flag proudly. Everyone looking into a new church who cared if we were baptist or not, would look at our statement of faith online to see if we were that kind of baptist or not. 

Steve Newman's picture

Shaynus wrote:

I'm a proud baptist who thinks it's a bad idea to have that fact in our church's name. My church is more historically baptist than many baptist churches, with the side benefit of having TONS of visitors who may not have come to the church if it had baptist in the name. Most people we get come to our church because they googled us, went online and looked at our website and came. A few blocks away from my workplace is a baptist church that is flying a rainbow flag proudly. Everyone looking into a new church who cared if we were baptist or not, would look at our statement of faith online to see if we were that kind of baptist or not. 

I appreciate your passion as well as your not standing where others do. However, I respectfully think there is an issue there. While you are a baptist and proud of it, you have cast doubt on whether that is really important. What does that do to the people who are part of your ministry? Do they become baptists? Sure, you have a nice doctrinal statement, but what are you going to have in the future? I think Greg makes some wise points above. 

There is also a troubling theme, which I find among others that I appreciate who have given up the baptist label, and that is that somehow giving up that label makes them instantly more palatable and gets them more people. The emphasis is often on the negatives of the baptist name, but perhaps it is the positives of the baptist name that have people so offended. Perhaps it is the caricatures of the baptist name that we have not defended that cause this negativity. Again, if it is all about advertising, aren't we in danger of throwing out the baby with the bath water and giving up a good association and a good body of doctrine for the praise of man and popularity?

Greg Long's picture

Steve, how are you "giving up...a good body of doctrine" by changing your church's name if you haven't changed your church's doctrinal statement?

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Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Shaynus's picture

Do they become baptists? Sure, you have a nice doctrinal statement, but what are you going to have in the future? I think Greg makes some wise points above.

Well, what did some baptists get "in the future" when they didn't teach their own doctrine correctly? Some very liberal Baptist churches, including the one aforementioned. Having a name in your title isn't voodoo that magically protects your church from error (and neither does removing the name make your church more mission minded). If having the title works so well, then why the amazing diversity among baptists themselves where the only thing they may agree on is baptism itself, and maybe not even that. I'm in an area with many stodgy, old, apostate Baptist churches, or dead, decisive fundamentalist ones (with glorious exceptions). So our setting plays into the decision because what is communicated by a name matters. Trust in the faithful preaching of the word of God, week in and week out to change your congregation to believe in historic baptist doctrine and it will stick. Trust in a name and it will not. 

Should you name a church "Fire and Brimstone Memorial Baptist Church?" Let's say you did, and later when you thought that might have poor connotations, you decide to change it to "Grace Baptist Church." Your old timers in the congregation might say "you don't believe in hell anymore??!!??" And you would say of course not and preach not one bit differently on the doctrine of hell. 

Of course I would not say that all baptist churches should do this, but it makes sense for some. 

Greg Long's picture

To the "other" Greg L... Smile

Do you think it would be appropriate for the church at which you formerly served to remove the word "Regular" from its name? Do you see that as analogous in any way to the current discussion?

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Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

JVDM's picture

One thing no one has mentioned: in light of Greg's statistics of the Des Moines area, are we to believe Pat Nemmers that Saylorville didn't want to separate from FBBC and the IARBC? Who are they trying to distance themselves from by removing the name if not from the most prominent group of Baptists in the area? I know there are some reasonable answers to that, but it is also a reasonable question. There's obviously more to this than either side is letting on about.

Greg Linscott's picture

Greg L, Smile

I don't know. How's that?

(For those who don't know, I was a member and served at Altoona Regular Baptist Church from 1995-2003).

I wouldn't be in opposition to dropping it, if I were there.  I know that practically, there were times in the history of the church where it was basically left out of things (like the literature stamps and stationery). At the same time, I wouldn't necessarily lead a charge to drop it, either. It's a question worth asking, but there were enough things that were being done in my time there that I think clarified who the church was with members of the community, including Pastor Humburg's ministry as a chaplain with the police department, that would overshadow any oddities people might sense with the name.

Again, I think that people unacquainted with things are going to figure out who you are, ultimately, by your actions. The people for whom the labels are most significant are other believers. And there, the term may be less useful to those who aren't in the GARBC, but it is still a term that can be clarified. Hey, we have to do that with words like "dispensational" or "separatist" or "fundamentalist" or "reformed" or what have you. Even those of you who drop the terms still have to end up employing them on some level, I expect (we are not Pentecostal, we are more like...). 

I appreciate many things about the Regular Baptist name and legacy, even though I didn't grow up in those churches, and haven't been a part of one for a decade now. But even in those circles, few churches employed the name in their titles. So... eh. I could go either way in the church title. I think it is more useful in the Association level, but there you go.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Shaynus's picture

Question. Let's say you don't want to change the name. Let's say you're starting out tabula rasa. Does that change the math on the question? It would for me.

Greg Long's picture

Kevin T. Bauder wrote:

Folks, let's keep our eye on the ball.

Pat Nemmers has rather cleverly diverted the discussion. Beware of following the false scent.

(1) The question is not how the New Testament named churches. In the New Testament, a city had only one church. The only differential necessary was to say that the church was "in Corinth" or "in Philippi." There were no churches that had abandoned New Testament polity, and consequently there was no need for New-Testament-polity churches to distinguish themselves from them. What we do see in the New Testament, however, is that acceptability of designating the differentia (which might now be "in Thessalonica" or "Baptist") as well as the genus ("church”).

(2) The question is not whether the name Baptist is some sort of talismanic protection against false doctrine. Pat says that my essay “insinuates” that it is. Bilge. I have never suggested any such thing. Faith has never suggested any such thing. Nobody that I know of has suggested any such thing. Pat is simply scoring cheap points against an argument that nobody is making.

(3) The question is not (as Pat suggests) whether Faith Baptist Bible College has changed its principles. For literally decades Faith has argued that the name Baptist is important. Then-vice-president George Houghton even published an article on this topic about twenty years ago. It appeared in an official Faith publication. As far as Faith is concerned, nothing is new here.

(4) The question is not whether a local church has the right to choose any name that it sees fit. Nobody denies that right. The question is whether a Christian institution has the right, at varying levels, to determine the boundaries of its own fellowship. Faith is not breaking all fellowship with Saylorville. Faith is, however, limiting fellowship at one level. If it did not, it would have to surrender a message to which it has been committed for decades.

(5) The question is not whether everybody understands or likes the name Baptist. Plenty of people do not. The question is whether the name is worth keeping, using, and even clarifying by people who prize what the name stands for. Pat has considered none of the genuine arguments in favor of that position. He has not even given evidence that he knows and understands them.

(5) The question is not whether Saylorville still agrees that baptistic polity is correct. He insists that no doctrinal difference exists between him and Faith. In fact, I think it does. When we appropriate doctrines, we always have to make two decisions. Our first decision is, What is the true doctrine? The second decision is, How important is this doctrine? Both of these are doctrinal decisions. A difference over the second decision is a real doctrinal difference. In other words, when we agree about what doctrines are true, but weigh those doctrines differently, we are experience a doctrinal disagreement. Willingness to be labeled for one’s adherence to a particular set of doctrines (which is what the name Baptist does) is an indicator of one’s level of commitment to the importance of those doctrines. I think that the difference between Faith and Saylorville is, at some level, really doctrinal.

(6) The question is not whether the name Baptist is attractive to those who are set in their rebellion against God (we sometimes call them the unchurched). If so, then we’ll drop the word church pretty quickly, too. For that matter, we’ll have to drop the name Christian, what with the Crusades, the New Christian Right, and all. Perhaps we could be more successful if we just called the assembly something like Community Garden Club. That’s fairly innocuous, right? You can always gain a bit more visible effectiveness if you are willing to down play some aspect of your commitment to truth. Of course, the result is that you get more and more converts to less and less Christianity.

Contrary to popular opinion, labels are important. They matter so much that, if we didn’t have them, we would need to invent them. The fact that some people counterfeit our label is no reason to stop using it. It’s simply reason to expose the counterfeiters. The fact that some people don’t like what our label stands for is no reason to stop using it. Our job is not simply to win people to the Gospel. Our job is to win them to the whole counsel of God. When it comes to church order, the whole counsel of God (as I understand it) has a proper name. That name is Baptist. (Other constructs have different names, and I celebrate the use of those names even when I disagree with the constructs that they represent). I think that the use of the name is a simple matter of truth in advertising.

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Dr. Bauder, let me begin by saying I have tremendous respect for you and have benefited greatly from your writings. (Don't you love it when people begin that way? Now comes the inevitable "However,...") And yet your response has been bothering me ever since I read it this morning. I was surprised at its rhetoric (as you, no doubt, were surprised at what you perceive to be the rhetoric in Pat's response).

(1) I don't see the relevance of your point #1, unless you are arguing that all such differentia are biblically mandated. Pat is simply saying they are not biblically required.

(2) I can't speak for Pat, but I got the same impression from your article. You spent half the article describing Cedarville's "broadening [of] its appeal" which has resulted in a University that in your view is worse than a secular one. The second half of the article describes FBBC's resistance to "soften[ing] its commitment" or "broaden[ing] its appeal." This is contrasted with Saylorville's decision to remove Baptist from its name and Faith's subsequent restatement of its Baptist identity. Your closing paragraph contains the sentence, "Simply to abandon principles in favor of increased influence, however, is a devil’s bargain." I fully recognize that the title and topic of the article was the two colleges in question, not Saylorville Church. But Saylorville Church is mentioned in the article, and in which of the two camps you mentioned would readers infer you believe it should be placed? I could fault no one for understanding you to be insinuating that Saylorville is softening its commitment, broadening its appeal, and abandoning its principles in favor of increased influence.

(3) Fair enough.

(4) The question is not whether Faith has the right to determine the bounds of its own fellowship. Saylorville is not denying Faith that right.

(5a) You may not believe the question is whether or not people misunderstand the name Baptist. Saylorville Church, however, believes that is part of the question. Additionally, I'm surprised that you would question Pat's knowledge of the issue and imply his ignorance of it. Perhaps he has weighed the arguments and found them wanting.

(5b) I have already asked you to specify which biblical doctrine Saylorville has abandoned, other than their commitment to a denominational label (which I do not consider to be a biblical doctrine).

(6) Again, I was surprised at the demagoguery in this point. Are you suggesting that Saylorville Church will some day end up dropping the name "church"? Can you point me to any number of churches who have dropped the name "Baptist" who are now known as "Community Garden Club" or some such moniker? Do you see no difference between the label "Christian" and the label "Baptist"? If not, what other labels are doctrinally necessary? "Regular" (see my question to Greg Linscott above)? "Conservative"? "Dispensational"? "Regulative-Principled"?

A word from personal experience...I currently serve at a church that dropped "Baptist" from its name 20 years ago (I was not at the church at that time, as I was still sitting at the feet of the Rev. Dr. Paul Hartog, my youth pastor, and Rev. Chris Hindal, my senior pastor, at Slater Baptist Church). What has happened to this church, 20 years later? Although you would differ greatly with some of our methodology (read: music), I can assure you that the Word is being preached and the Gospel proclaimed as clearly and urgently as at any of the four other churches I have attended who have had Baptist in their church name. Each week people are called to repent and trust in Christ, the Word is corporately read and then preached, and people are urged to publicly declare their desire to follow Christ through believer's baptism.

I'm not suggesting that no church or institution has ever slouched towards Gomorrah because of a name change. I am simply suggesting this is not a necessary consequence.

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Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Greg Long's picture

JVDM wrote:

One thing no one has mentioned: in light of Greg's statistics of the Des Moines area, are we to believe Pat Nemmers that Saylorville didn't want to separate from FBBC and the IARBC? Who are they trying to distance themselves from by removing the name if not from the most prominent group of Baptists in the area? I know there are some reasonable answers to that, but it is also a reasonable question. There's obviously more to this than either side is letting on about.

I don't understand your question, Jesse. How can we read into Pat's motives anything other than what he has said? I have every reason to think he hoped Faith would allow the professors and students to continue attending Saylorville.

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Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Greg Linscott's picture

Greg Long,

I think Jesse's point is if the unchurched recoil at the term Baptist, at least part of what they would be recoiling from (and Saylorville wants to avoid identifying with) would be Faith and the churches of the IARBC, since they would be among the most prominent local examples of what it means to be a Baptist in Iowa.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Steve Newman's picture

Greg Long wrote:

Steve, how are you "giving up...a good body of doctrine" by changing your church's name if you haven't changed your church's doctrinal statement?

Greg, I think you have not characterized what I said accurately, or I have not spoken well (which certainly could have happened). I'm not saying that the doctrinal statement isn't good. The positives of the baptist name do stand for sound doctrine. We all know that a single change does not indicate decline. However, the "evolution" of churches clearly goes from more to less conservative over time in most cases. Can we blame it on one change? No, it is a series of changes over time. Because we see one change, those of us who have been around for a while associate this with a series of changes we see or have seen in other places. Just having a doctrinal statement doesn't mean it is followed. If we move from identification with an association with what has historically been a sound fellowship, only if it is "in name only", don't you see possibilities for more? After all, now there is real potential for a wedge to be put between Saylorville and Faith and the state association, even if it is not manifested right away? Not that I'm hoping for that, but these conflicts can tend to take on a life of their own once they start.

Greg Linscott's picture

I think it does, to some degree.

I would also observe that this becomes a far less difficult decision to arrive at if you have been saturated in the environment of Bob Jones, compared to an environment like Faith and the GARBC. Baptist identity still means something to some BoJos, but there is more emphasis on the networks, prominent leaders and personal reputations. The environment of the GARBC is different. You have had (in the past) mission agencies, schools, churches, a publishing house, and various mercy ministries (Shepherds, Baptist Childrens Home, Baptists for Life...), not to mention the state associations, camps, and other things (the Grand Rapids, Michigan area has or had Michigan Christian Home, a retirement facility, for example). Now, the environment has been changing for quite some time, but (recent) historically, there has been a lot tied up in the name "Baptist" for that constituency. 

"Baptist" has as much to do for that group, I would say, with identifying, not only with a set of doctrines and beliefs, but with others you fellowship and identify with. I think that it also presented problems- differences like we can see even in this situation have been endured because of the associational ties. That was certainly true in the past- consider how people outside the GARBC could not understand why things at Cedarville were tolerated as long as they were- it was that sense of loyalty. When I was in Grand Rapids in the mid 1990s, Grand Rapids Baptist College and Wealthy Park Baptist (where I attended church) had been diverging from one another positionally for some time, but Wealthy's church services were still broadcast every week on WCSG, the campus radio station. Loyalty and tradition went far (GRBC started, after all, in the basement of Wealthy Street Baptist Church, and there were buildings named after Fuller and Van Osdel, two of Wealthy's prominent pastors of the past).

At this point, I'm not trying to persuade you of anything. I'm just trying to help you and others see why some consider this a big deal- not everyone who wants Baptist has probably thought it through like Kevin has (admirably) articulated. 

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Shaynus's picture

"Baptist" has as much to do for that group, I would say, with identifying, not only with a set of doctrines and beliefs, but with others you fellowship and identify with.

Is that a good thing? Is that what John the Baptist would have wanted? (sorry cheap shot there). But seriously I'm in the "good ideas beat institutional ideas" camp. Over time it's ideas that win over generations. It's true that in my childhood I had Ian Paisley preaching as a Presbyterian and it meant no shadow of fellowship was denied him. I had Presbyterians as history faculty. 

If you want to look two and three generations hence and influence today's generation, it has to be about ideas. This is why I appreciate so much Dr. Bauder's line of questioning in other places of SI. Ideas win. That's not a matter of opinion. It's a matter of fact. So for baptists to win, baptist ideas have to win. 

Greg Linscott's picture

I agree with you- I'm just observing that it is a factor in the matter.

 

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Joel Shaffer's picture

Interestingly, Baptists for Life just changed their name to Life Matters.   Over the years, their name Baptist for Life had caused much confusion to what they even do.   On several occasions, people had written them off because instead of viewing them as an organization that promotes the Biblical pro-life message through gospel and pro-life ministries, they thought Baptists for Life were a group that was committed to holding people to their commitment to "be Baptists forever."       

 

farmer Tom N's picture

First some personal info. I grew up in a IARBC church  in southwest IA. Both of my parents attended Omaha Baptist Bible College, and I went to FBBC for two years. I attended Saylorville for those two years. I then returned to my home church and started farming. Served on the board there until, because of financial reasons related to farming, I took a job in north central Iowa, where I now attend a IARBC church and serve on the church board.

My family has a unique and interesting Godly heritage which is a long story, but I was raised in a large extended family with relatives who were all believers but attended a variety of churches, Plymouth Brethern, IFCA Bible Churches and GARBC churches. My wife's family comes from a Reformed background, a church which is now PCA.

So, while I have been and continue to be a Baptist, I do not believe that the term Baptist  in our culture is a useful or helpful descriptor. I was recently asked by my boss, a moral man, but an unbeliever, what my churches association was with Westboro Baptist? He happens to attend a Reformed Church associated with the United Church of Christ, very liberal with a female "pastor". Trying to explain to him that their were various forms of Baptist, just as there are three different sects of Reformed churches in this community helped, but in the end, I was told that if I was anything like that "nutcase" Fred Phelps, he didn't like it. And neither do I.

I can understand dropping the name Baptist, and if offered the opportunity to do so, would vote to do so.

Let me illustrate why. 

One of my dad's brother-in-laws was an IFCA pastor for many years in Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, and did pulpit supply while working on the staff at Calvary Bible College in Kansas. After he retired from Calvary, he did interim pastoral ministry in Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas and Illinois.

I want to focus on one of those churches in northern Illinois. This IFCA pastor was the interim pastor at a Catholic Church.

(How do you put a pregnant pause in writing this?)

The first time I heard that he was doing another interim pastorate at a Catholic Church, I was dumbfounded, flabbergast, stupefied, almost speechless.

Here are the facts, with a link. Zion Christian Catholic Church was founded in Northern Illinois before 1900. It was started as planned community with the church at the center. He bought a large tract of land and designed it for a community of people who were associated with the church.

You can read, I'm not going to recount the history, you can read it for yourself. Needless to say, for almost a hundred years they were identified as a Christian Catholic church.

It is my understanding  that while my uncle was serving there as interim pastor, the church voted to remove Catholic from their name.

Good move in my opinion. The term Catholic has too many connotations in our culture today, which are at odds with Biblical Christianity.

http://www.ccczion.org/who-we-are/history/

I have come to the conclusion that the name Baptist has becomes similarly stained and abused like the term Catholic. To those who are outside the faith, Baptist is what Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Fred Phelps(Westboro Baptist) are about. To those who claim the name of Christ often the term Baptist is synonymous with KJV'ers, paper dresses, various other legalistic sub cultures of "faith plus lifestyle".

Do I think Saylorville did the right thing? I can't be the judge. I do understand it though. But I also support the right of FBBC to state their position. It may in the end be the wrong position, I can't judge that for certain either. But, I support their right to require their students and faculty to attend a church with Baptist in its name, because until they change their name, they are still a Baptist institution.

Now, if I were in total control of things, the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches would change their name to General Association of Fundamental Bible Churches, and the Iowa Association of Fundamental Bible Churches. And Faith would become Faith Bible College. Or Faith Fundamental Bible College.

Don Johnson's picture

farmer Tom N wrote:

To those who are outside the faith, Baptist is what Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Fred Phelps(Westboro Baptist) are about.

Yeah, that's it, to the lost, Fred Phelps and Bill Clinton - one and the same, move in lockstep...

If lost people don't get differences in kind like this, no amount of name changes or long explanatories will ever get through to them. But, quite frankly, I don't think lost people are as ignorant as some suppose.

farmer Tom N wrote:

Now, if I were in total control of things, the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches would change their name to General Association of Fundamental Bible Churches, and the Iowa Association of Fundamental Bible Churches. And Faith would become Faith Bible College. Or Faith Fundamental Bible College.

Tom, the term "Fundamental" is far more negatively charged than Baptist.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

farmer Tom N's picture

I threw that in there as bait sir. And you took the bait.

Do you know what the difference between a Baptist and a Regular Baptist is?

One is very uncomfortable!

Regular in front of Baptist is one of the most ridiculous choices of name I have ever encountered in my life. 

To anyone not attending a Regular Baptist Church and about 90 percent of those who do,  they have absolutely no idea what it means. None. I have twice in my life sat in a service with the national representative of the GARBC and listed to the explanation of what Regular baptist means and heard people say afterward, "I never knew that, and I've been a member here for (fill in the blank) years.

I am not suggesting that labels are bad. And I don't necessarily believe that labels should be avoided. But, pick one that makes a useful and necessary point.

I would contend that Baptist no longer does that.

On the other hand, I can describe myself to a believer from a reformed or evangelical church as a Biblical fundamentalist, and while they may not agree with me, they do understand what the fundamentals are and appreciate them.

Don Johnson's picture

I think it is somewhat disengenuous to claim to be a Baptist church but not wear the label. It isn't an unpardonable sin, or maybe not even a sin at all, but I think there should be some truth in advertising applied. The fact that some claim to be Baptists who don't follow Baptist doctrine doesn't matter to me. They aren't my problem.

But that's all, I'll bow out now. Not really an issue I am too concerned about, but I do applaud FBBC for their convictions and decision.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

TylerR's picture

Editor

This was a decision made by a local church. They voted on it. They decided to do it. For that congregation, they felt it was the best thing to do. Is this indictative of some dark, repressed seed of compromise? I doubt it. 

What is in a name? For Saylorville, it was too much liability to stomach any longer. This is the beauty of a church being independent, not beholden to a larger denomination. They can do what they please. 

Their letter was gracious and I understand their reasons. Some do not accept them. Let's take what they have to say on board, learn what we can from their situation, and be ready to tackle this issue if it ever comes up in our own churches. Again, I am so thankful individual churches can make their own decisions on this matter. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

While it is important to discuss issues like this, the last thing Fundamentalism needs is a "Baptist" word hunt amongst the various churches and ministries.  When I was in college, I agreed to do an internship at a Bible Church in NJ after already having completed one in a Baptist Church in SC.  When I was at the Bible Church in NJ, friends called me and wondered if I might be drifting away from the Lord because I was in a church that did not have the word "Baptist" in their name.  I learned more Baptist theology and Baptist Church polity and Church life than I ever learned in the Baptist Church in SC.

 

This church was part of a fundamentalist fellowship that had begun as Methodist but had moved to Baptist theology over the years.  Over the past 20 years, I have served in various positions of leadership of this fellowship and have appreciated them in so many ways.  Over the years, I have gotten sick over the dumb statements like - "We're not just Baptistic, we're Baptists."  Last year, we gave all of our Pastors in our fellowship a copy of Dr. Bauder's new book on Baptist distinctives.  I also just recently completed an Adult Bible Study at our church based on this wonderful book.

 

The funny thing is that most Baptists I know can't stand Faith.  They think the GARBC is apostate.  They think that Faith has Calvinism and there are several Baptist schools out there that have a spirit of animosity towards any school, church, or individual that would even suggest there could be a Calvinist out there that might be right with God.  They are even denouncing Spurgeon.

 

So, please be careful, a bunch angry "Baptists" fighting over the word has never helped Fundamentalism that I can see in my lifetime.

Ron Bean's picture

Sometimes baptists can't agree on what a Baptist is. Distinctives aside, they often disagree stronly with each other on whether Baptists can have multiple elders, can be Calvinists, or can practice close, closed, or open communion. 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Greg Linscott's picture

...to be less specific?

 

Well, again, I can see it in some cases. But, I would say it tends to be an exception.

Whatever the case, in the case in question, Faith and the churches of the IARBC would be, if not the predominate local representative of what it means to be a Baptist, certainly a primary example of such. A church has their right to do whatever they want. But it also stands to reason that the decision will have repercussions with those they seek to distance themselves from.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Greg Long's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:

Greg Long,

I think Jesse's point is if the unchurched recoil at the term Baptist, at least part of what they would be recoiling from (and Saylorville wants to avoid identifying with) would be Faith and the churches of the IARBC, since they would be among the most prominent local examples of what it means to be a Baptist in Iowa.

Thanks for the clarification, Greg. After reading your post and Jesse's further explanation in a PM to me, I understand his question and it is a valid one.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

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