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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Larry's picture

Moderator

I think it is somewhat disingenuous to claim to be a Baptist church but not wear the label.

Assuming that being Baptist is about what we believe, why would it being disingenuous to claim to believe something you actually believe?

The fact that some claim to be Baptists who don't follow Baptist doctrine doesn't matter to me. They aren't my problem.

I think the point is that these non-Baptist (perhaps even non-Christian) Baptists are (at least in some places) a problem for the people we are trying to reach. So if (and if is the question) a label is the stumblingblock, not to the already reached but to the unreached, why shouldn't removing it at least be considered?

It is true that labels mean things. But they only help when people who share definitions. If by "Baptist" someone means Fred Phelps or Hammond, then that is not particularly meaningful when I use the term.

In some cases (not all and maybe not this one, so I am not specifically referring to anyone here), some churches may tend to show a club mentality, in which we are far more concerned about the people on the inside than the people on the outside. I tend to think that points towards the idea that we have lost sight of the mission. We are focused on keeping people happy who should know better and be more mature. Clubs exist for people on the inside. Churches exist for both people in the inside and the outside. Even worse, in some cases, people are driven by those "inside" but outside their local church: "What will so-and-so say about us if we do this or that?" I suggest that's both helpful and dangerous.

I am not persuaded that removing "Baptist" is pandering to unbelievers in any compromising sense. Nor am I persuaded that it is a slip on the slope towards removing "church" or "Christian." But even if it cedes the principle, it doesn't condone the outcome.

I say all this as a firmly committed Baptist who has not led our church to drop the name, and who has talked to some people who won't even entertain the idea of coming because we are Baptist.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I understand some of the reasoning on both sides, but I'm still left confused about the reasons for separation. I thought that Scripture defined separation as necessary only when someone was involved in unrepentant immorality or teaching false doctrine.

So- what false doctrine or immoral practices does Saylorville now espouse that requires the students/employees of Faith to leave their church and quit their jobs?

If removing the name 'Baptist' is one of the symptoms of a definite departure from sound doctrine and practice, then the leadership at Faith needs to clarify these areas.

But if the word 'Baptist' on the sign is being proposed as a defining factor for fellowship... I don't even know what to say about that, other than it's ludicrous.

I don't think the label of Baptist should be removed simply to pander to unbelievers. The church as a local gathering is not primarily for the meeting together of unbelievers with believers.

But if since  word 'Baptist' is not, in and of itself,  Scripturally necessary for salvation or growth in grace, then the argument is simply one of words and names and not about fidelity to Scripture and therefore a pointless division amongst brethren.

Paul J's picture

I would guess that in times past Saylorville benefited from their relationship to FBBC and in recent years FBBC has benefited from it's relationship to Saylorville Church.  I applaud Saylorville's move as they move toward the un-churched and de-churched taking down the barriers that exist in our society today.  Having made this move many years ago and seeing the opportunity to have a low threshold on the doorway to our church and seeing lives changed that would not have made the step into many baptist churches.  In our area it is worth it and I would venture to guess for Saylorville Church the short term pain will be worth it for the eternal benefit. Jude 20-25.

Dan Miller's picture

I'm not saying that the school has no right to limit chosen churches- sure they do. But they don't have a "right" to do it  stupidly.

If I was already a member at Saylorville and a student or on faculty at FBBC, I hope I'd have the guts to stick with my church family and accept the consequences.

Greg Linscott's picture

Susan R wrote:

I understand some of the reasoning on both sides, but I'm still left confused about the reasons for separation. I thought that Scripture defined separation as necessary only when someone was involved in unrepentant immorality or teaching false doctrine.

So- what false doctrine or immoral practices does Saylorville now espouse that requires the students/employees of Faith to leave their church and quit their jobs?

If removing the name 'Baptist' is one of the symptoms of a definite departure from sound doctrine and practice, then the leadership at Faith needs to clarify these areas.

But if the word 'Baptist' on the sign is being proposed as a defining factor for fellowship... I don't even know what to say about that, other than it's ludicrous.

I don't think the label of Baptist should be removed simply to pander to unbelievers. The church as a local gathering is not primarily for the meeting together of unbelievers with believers.

But if since  word 'Baptist' is not, in and of itself,  Scripturally necessary for salvation or growth in grace, then the argument is simply one of words and names and not about fidelity to Scripture and therefore a pointless division amongst brethren.

 

Susan, 

All of your points could be said of a faculty member who became part of an EFCA church. Such an individual could (at least personally) hold to all the same principles of doctrine that a Baptist would. Would it be equally as ludicrous for Faith to limit their partnership with such an individual, in your mind? Would this, too, be a "pointless division among brethren?" If not, what would be the difference, in your mind?

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Dan Miller's picture

But Greg, even the GARBC doesn't require naming to be "bapitst."

Article IV. 1. (b)

Shall have had a Recognition Council of Regular Baptist pastors and messengers for the purpose of examining the Constitution and Bylaws of the church to determine if it is a properly constituted and functioning Baptist church.

http://www.garbc.org/?page_id=22

The EFCA church probably would not meet the GARBC constitutional requirement.

Greg Linscott's picture

Dan Miller wrote:

But Greg, even the GARBC doesn't require naming to be "bapitst."

Article IV. 1. (b)

Shall have had a Recognition Council of Regular Baptist pastors and messengers for the purpose of examining the Constitution and Bylaws of the church to determine if it is a properly constituted and functioning Baptist church.

http://www.garbc.org/?page_id=22

The EFCA church probably would not meet the GARBC constitutional requirement.

Dan, I was discussing that line with wbarkema in one of the other related threads (here).

As far as your second point, I understand what you are saying, but that wasn't what Susan was arguing (as I understood it). She was arguing against "pointless divisions between brethren." I was just observing that, at least in theory, one could line up perfectly with a Baptist as far as personal beliefs and convictions and be part of an EFCA church. Is that a "pointless division" in her mind, and how does that compare to what she has concluded is a "pointless division" in this case?

BTW- I would say, that whichever side you come out on this matter, whatever else it is, it is certainly not "pointless." There is a point of difference. Susan may not consider the point worthy of the attention it is receiving, but it is not "pointless."

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Bro. Linscott- That's why I asked someone to explain how Saylorville has departed from sound doctrine and practice, other than by wanting to drop a word from their name. 

If simply dropping the word Baptist is the point of contention, then that's ludicrous. But if Saylorville has changed their doctrine or application of doctrine or ministry methodology in such a way that Faith can't in good conscience allow their employees to attend, then they need to be clear in what areas Saylorville has compromised the faith, and how they believe this endangers their students and faculty.

I don't know anything about EFCA, and I don't have time to research them. But if I understand your point, I would agree that we may appear to agree with a group 'on paper', but in practice we are from different theological worlds. Is that the problem with Faith and Saylorville? 

Perhaps in all these threads someone addressed this question and I missed it.

 

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Susan R wrote:

But if I understand your point, I would agree that we may appear to agree with a group 'on paper', but in practice we are from different theological worlds. Is that the problem with Faith and Saylorville?

Perhaps in all these threads someone addressed this question and I missed it.


Susan, what you are asking here has been an unanswered question in all the threads on this topic. It has been assumed that this must be true, but I don't think you have missed it, because none of us have seen it definitively answered.

Dave Barnhart

Greg Linscott's picture

EFCA is the Evangelical Free Church in America (or was- they might just use the letters now. I forget). That is the church that Chuck Swindoll was a part of for quite some time (may still be, for all I know), and has Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (where Don Carson teaches). There are a lot of things they purposefully leave ambiguous and up to the individual, like eschatology, for example.

 

But if Saylorville has changed their doctrine or application of doctrine or ministry methodology in such a way that Faith can't in good conscience allow their employees to attend, then they need to be clear in what areas Saylorville has compromised the faith, and how they believe this endangers their students and faculty.

I would agree more needs to be said. At the same time, using the Baptist name is a ministry method of sorts. Again, perhaps not worthy of the level of attention it is receiving for some of you, but if that is the case, then maybe SC does need to make a clean break because FBBC has elevated a point beyond reasonable limits (that's not my conclusion, BTW).

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Jim's picture

Statement of faith:

 

We believe in the personal, bodily and premillennial return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, at a time known only to God, demands constant expectancy and, as our blessed hope, motivates the believer to godly living, sacrificial service and energetic mission.

Comment: They are chiliasts: " premillennial return ". Doctrinal statement has essence of imminence: "at a time known only to God, demands constant expectancy and, as our blessed hope"

And it is an association of churches much like the GARBC or MBA.

 

 

 

 

Greg Linscott's picture

dcbii wrote:
Susan, what you are asking here has been an unanswered question in all the threads on this topic. It has been assumed that this must be true, but I don't think you have missed it, because none of us have seen it definitively answered.

DCB2- the using the label is a matter of practice, and is one of the practices on which the two parties would differ on. Granted, it is not the only difference, and there is more that needs to be said (but for many reasons, isn't being said), but there continue to be matters and approaches that would make the distinctions clear in how they function every day. I provided the example videos earlier. As some have insinuated, music is a very visible and most prominent difference, but there would be other ones, from what I understand, though I don't have enough familiarity to comment on those.

In the end, they may not be inherent to the gospel in the estimation of many of you. I would argue, though, that they have presented challenges in a working relationship for quite some time. If, taking the one issue that has been clearly communicated on, Faith as an organization is teaching methods to their students that would include, say, when one plants a church it should clearly identify itself as a "Baptist" congregation (which would be, by the way, a principle you would get in a class at Faith), a church like SC clearly detracts from and contradicts that principle.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

G. N. Barkman's picture

I believe a lot of good points have been made on both sides of this discussion.  It is true that dropping the name Baptist does not necessarily indicate a change of doctrine.  As stated above, many churches embrace Baptist doctrine that do not use the name.

But it is also true that dropping the name Baptist makes a statement.  The assumed purpose is to make a statement to the community that the church does not identify with the negative concepts many have of the Baptist label.  Well and good.  But dropping the name makes a statement to both members and community that there is something unsavory about the name Baptist, or at least communicates that enough people think so that the label needs to be jettisoned. 

But this comes at a price.  The cost will be in losing identification with the historic lineage of Baptists.  Even though doctrine has not changed, identification has, and now neither church members nor community will identify the church with Baptist history.  That may not be important to some, or at least not important enough to risk creating a barrier in the community.  To others, this is important.  Its hard to teach your people the reasons why they are Baptists, and the value in seeing themselves as belonging to the noble Baptist heritage if the church no longer calls itself Baptist.  It seems to me that something valuable is forfeited by this move.  When I considered a similar change twenty-five years ago, I came to the conclusion that the cost was too great.  I didn't want our people to lose their connection to their Baptist heritage.

G. N. Barkman

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Greg Linscott wrote:
I would agree more needs to be said. At the same time, using the Baptist name is a ministry method of sorts. Again, perhaps not worthy of the level of attention it is receiving for some of you, but if that is the case, then maybe SC does need to make a clean break because FBBC has elevated a point beyond reasonable limits (that's not my conclusion, BTW).

Apparently Faith believes the use of the Baptist name is worthy of a serious level of attention if they are willing to make a break over it. It is interesting that the Baptist name could be considered a ministry method of sorts. I agree that Baptist tradition and history is precious, but are we unable to hold to an admirable tradition without the name over the door? Especially if the name over the door doesn't hold the same distinctions that it once did? 

There are labels that are useful and accurate, but some that are actually harmful. For instance, the use of "all natural" to indicate that a food is minimally  processed and contains natural ingredients (as opposed to man-made). But because there are no actual guidelines that companies have to follow to label their products as "all natural", the term is essentially meaningless. It is often used to dupe people into thinking they are buying a healthy product. Lots of things are "all natural", and some of it gets spread around the yard every spring to make the garden grow. 

Has "Baptist" reached that level yet? If not, its meaning certainly seems to be on its way to vain and hollow. It's a forgone conclusion that any good thing that comes down the pike, Satan will find a way to diminish and besmirch and spoil it. Some things are worth fighting for, but we need to be careful about how and why we 'contend for the faith'.

From what I've seen about the lack of clear reasoning here, is that what we are left with, (and please correct me if I'm wrong), is the implication that Faith believes the name change at Saylorville is indicative of a more serious  but not as 'obvious' compromise. The problem is, at some level, this is 'unspoken gossip'- a skill that Baptists have definitely mastered. Without clarity, there is nothing left but speculation. These kinds of machinations make my knees itch.

Greg Linscott's picture

Susan,

I would observe that what you attribute to a "lack of clear reasoning" in the discussions here is because we have had no official  FBBC representation. I have talked to some Faith people about these matters in the past, and was in the environment  a decade ago, but I cannot speak for the president or the board. JVDM is back in the environment,  Greg Long is a "faculty kid," and Paul Scharf is a former student (as is Bauder, for that matter), so there are varying degrees to which we can lend our perpsectives. But none of us, in the end, can communicate what the official position of the school is. They've done that with their statement. What is left unsaid is because it is just that- currently unsaid. It would be better, in some ways, if some things were said- but I would say that some of those issues you would have far less unanimity on that you do with the "Baptist" name among the constituency, and even the board itself.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

The comment about a lack of clear reasoning is referring to what has been left 'unsaid', not what has been said in this thread. I recognize that the FBBC doesn't have a rep here to answer questions, and that we are just tossing around ideas based on what little we know. 

 

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

Greg (Long),

So you're a fellow Ballard Bomber? I had no idea! Back in the early 1970s I spent many a happy hour in the gymnasium of the elementary school in Slater.

I can't help thinking that we are talking past one another at several points. You evidently think that I misunderstood (or even willfully misrepresented?) some of what Pat said. By the same token, I think you have misunderstood or misappropriated some of what I said, though I don't think you would misrepresent it. Rather than try to hash through this point by point, let me back up and try an entirely different approach.

While Charlie will surely cringe under the deficiencies of a gross oversimplification that I am about to make, I would like to suggest that approaches to language can be divided into at least three classes.

(1) Words mean other words. This is the approach of structuralism, and it readily decays into deconstruction.

(2) Words mean things. Besides being the approach of Rush Limbaugh, this is also (very roughly) the approach of nominalism. The word is merely a convenient label. When it becomes inconvenient, it can be easily replaced, discarded, or invested with some alternative meaning. Something like this is happening right now in the debate over "gay marriage," which isn't really either.

(3) Words mean ideas. This is approximately the approach of realism. Words point to something transcendent. Language is sermonic. While meanings can and do alter, meaning is nevertheless covenantal in nature, and, consequently, relatively stable. Meanings cannot simply be altered at will.

As it happens, I subscribe to theory (3). This definitely has an effect upon the way I view labels. Labels point, not to things (let alone to other words), but to ideas. The idea can be used to judge any appropriation of the label. If your can is labeled "corn," and you discover green beans when you open it, you don't just say, "Oh, this is another kind of corn." You judge the can to have been mislabeled.

The label Baptist stands for an idea. That ideas includes at least six components.

  1. The absolute authority of the New Testament in all church faith and order.
  2. Believer immersion.
  3. Pure church membership.
  4. Individual Christian responsibility.
  5. Congregational polity.
  6. Separation of church and state.

Because the idea judges every appropriation of the label, we are in a position to say that people like Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Fred Phelps really have no right to claim the to be Baptists. If somebody wishes to associate us with them, then we ought to point out that such individuals are guilty of dishonesty (at minimum) in applying this label to themselves. Then we ought to explain what a Baptist is.

Every Baptist should be able to do this. Training in this point ought to be a deliberate aspect of our catechesis. The label may not be found in Scripture, but the idea is (or at least we Baptists believe that it is). Not only is it found in Scripture, it is prominently featured there and it is vital to the bene esse, and perhaps even in some senses to the esse, of the church.

Since it is a very important matter, a church that orders itself according to the idea ought to be willing to announce its order publicly. I suppose that there are multiple ways of doing this. One way would be to feature the above list prominently on the church sign and other public documents. Most churches, however, have found it a bit cumbersome to call themselves the First [or whatever] New-Testament-Authority-Believer-Immersion-Pure-Church-Membership-Individual-Christian-Responsibility-Congregational-Polity-Separation-of-Church-and-State Church. They have found it much more useful to use the label that reflects the idea. That label is Baptist.

I would have no objection at all to a church dropping the name Baptist in favor of another name that was equally or more descriptive of its distinctives. Unfortunately, however, such a name does not exist. No one has yet coined an alternative, and if anybody did, it would not be likely to catch on. So we are stuck with the name Baptist.

I have nowhere suggested that if a church abandons the name Baptist, then it will also abandon the names Christian or Church. What I have argued is that all of the reasons for not claiming the name Baptist also apply to other labels like Christian and Church. If the argument for dropping the name is persuasive in the one instance, then it ought to be equally persuasive in the other instances, or, indeed, in any instance whatever in which someone somewhere finds a label to be either offensive or meaningless.

Of course I do not think that Saylorville is likely to stop calling itself a church (though many of the emergents have--we may not have a "Community Garden Club," but we do have a "Solomon's Porch?"). But why not? Whatever reasons Saylorville can offer for retaining the name Church also apply to retaining the name Baptist. It is simply a matter of calling things by their right names.

As far as I know, Saylorville still affirms all of the Baptist distinctives. At that level, we agree. The difference between us is this. I believe that those distinctives are so important that we ought to be known publicly for our adherence to them, and that the best way of announcing our commitment to these distinctives is to use the one label that denotes them. Since it has now rejected the label, I believe that it is fair to infer that Saylorville values the distinctives themselves differently than I do. Furthermore, that difference in valuation is a doctrinal difference.

Speaking of labels, here is the principal definition of demagogue: "a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power," (definition supplied by Merriam-Webster). I certainly hope that this definition does not apply to anything that I've said in this discussion.

By the way, I was number 83 on the football team. I played defensive end. Go, red and white.

Kevin

DrJamesAch's picture

I have on more than a few occasions, had the door slammed in my face when I stated I was from such and such Baptist church. But there was no way to tell whether it was because I said "Baptist" or because I said "church". Many are turned off by the name "Christian" and almost always site the RCC Crusades as evidence that Christians are evil. Yet I refuse to stop calling myself a Christian.

I have found that most of the doors I have knocked that abruptly ended any potential dialogue about the Bible already had their minds made up before I stepped on their porch. There have been many instances where there was a sense of hostility when the name Baptist was mentioned, and once I explained that you do not have to be a Baptist to go to heaven, and that you can be just as much a lost Baptist as a lost Catholic or Jehovah's Witness, their defenses weren't so taut.

In 1 Cor 1:11, Paul labeled a church as the house of Chloe. It was not just the church in Corinth, or the church by the riverside, it specifically identified the believers of a particular group. When a believer entered that town, they knew the difference between the doctrines of the house of Chloe, and the church of Webelieveitall on 1st Street.

I believe that changing your name can be seen as even more sinister than maintaining the Baptist name. It gives the appearance that you have something to hide once it is discovered that you believe the same things as a fundamental Baptist church. Seventh Adventists did this with their "Amazing Facts" ministry and more people were turned off by the fact that they tried to hide it then if they had just admitted their doctrinal distinctions were in line with the 7DAC.

Furthermore, I don't see the logic in the exchange of reputations. We don't want the Baptist label because of a few bad apples, but we would rather have the reputation of all the other emerging churches, charismatic denominations and other pseudo Christian cults that appear non-denominational? There is also just as much documented abuse within the non-denominational churches as there have been within the Baptist churches.

Finally, anyone who has studied the "trail of blood" of the Baptist church knows that fundamentalists have been labeled no matter what they have chosen to name their church. Changing the name of your church will not prevent those whom you fear will erroneously categorize your church from calling you a Donatist, Bogomile, Paulican, Montanist, et al, regardless of what name you give your church. We live in a society that thrives on labels whether it's the label of a church, a food category or an attitude defined by the DSM, it's inescapable. So why change a label that clearly identifies what my beliefs are to satisfy the criticisms of those who will eventually find another label for me anyway?

Dr James Ach

What Kills You Makes You Stronger Rom 8:13; 7:24-25

Do Right Christians, and Calvinisms Other Side

Joel Tetreau's picture

I'd love to say everything I want to say - but will not yet because of another private conversation I need to have first. I think I can say something very quickly to bring light at least to one part of the discussion. Some here might ask, "OK if the church in question says it is historically 'Baptist' why would they not put the label on their church name?" Let me draw a comparison.

There are many churches today that are historically and in practice a fundamentalist church. However many of those churches will not publicly call themselves a fundamentalist church because often very strong or even hyper-fundamentalist churches have given the good name of fundamentalism enough of a black eye that it actually impacts ministry (negatively) on the local level.

in the same manner

There is at least one Baptist church in Iowa that is historically and in practice a baptist church. However apparently they are no longer calling themselves "Baptist" (at least in the title of the church) because perhaps in Iowa and no doubt in other parts of the Mid-West there are very strong or even hyper baptist churches that have given the good name of Baptist enough of a black eye that it actually impacts ministry (negatively) on the local level.

So if you would not separate a fundamental church that does not use that name to describe itself even thought it is in fact historically fundamental......why would you separate yourself from a baptist church that continues to be a baptist church but simply does not use the label?

My guess is some here are just struggling with why you would do this......especially when the majority would admit that the term "Baptist" while historically significant simply does not say everything today that it once meant. A Baptist church can be everything from Hyper-Fundy to the extreme right to a Liberal/Neo-Marxist liberation theology to the left and everything (and I mean everything) in between.  

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

ChristyM's picture

Full disclosure time:  FBBC grad. Went to Saylorville my freshman year for all the wonderful reasons a person chooses their college church:  My roommate was going there. She was planning to attend Saylorville because family friends from their neck of the woods (and the same general neighborhood of my eventual in-laws) had settled in at Saylorville.  So a lot of deep thought went into the decision.  Ended up at Ankeny Baptist for the remainder of my time in Iowa. 

In the past decade we have unhappily found ourselves seeking out a new fellowship several times.  It is well nigh impossible to find a doctrinal statement with any substance from churches which do not have a "denominational tag".  We ended up in what should have been a baptistic leaning "nondenominational" church plant, only to realize the pastor took Presbyterian style polity as a defining issue.  Which is certainly his prerogative but it was masked somewhat by the statement of faith.  We had told the pastor we would be faithful attenders (and givers) but could never join.  We were initially welcomed and allowed to serve but eventually  were basically told to knuckle under for the sake of church unity.  We left, feeling like habitual church hoppers.

We are in Lutheran territory here - ELCA, WELS, Mo Synod and a couple of smaller bodies plus a few breakaway congregations (over various issues) with no formal ties to any body.  There is no wholesale movement to drop the Lutheran name.  I am right down the road from a Lutheran university, and got my teaching credential from a Catholic university.  Historically, it would seem those two groups have had their share of issues and reasons to want to move away from their names, but they don't. 

Just my observations from these deep, dark, woods Smile

Dan Miller's picture

Kevin T. Bauder wrote:
... The idea can be used to judge any appropriation of the label. If your can is labeled "corn," and you discover green beans when you open it, you don't just say, "Oh, this is another kind of corn." You judge the can to have been mislabeled.
Yeah, but you gave an example that is positively mislabeled. Here is an example of vegetable labeling that I think better compares to the discussion:

You want yellow corn. Your favorite brand used to be called "Yellow Corn." Now the canning company, which only cans yellow corn, has chosen to remove "Yellow" and simply call their product "Corn." 

Then you write papers supporting a boycott of this company's corn because words mean things and if they are going to change the name, maybe the corn won't really be quite as yellow.

 

Kevin T. Bauder wrote:
...The label Baptist stands for an idea. That ideas includes at least six components.

  1. The absolute authority of the New Testament in all church faith and order.
  2. Believer immersion.
  3. Pure church membership.
  4. Individual Christian responsibility.
  5. Congregational polity.
  6. Separation of church and state.

...

Every Baptist should be able to do this.

You can't count on "should," though, can you?

If you asked a bunch of unchurched people, "Tell me what 'Baptist' means." You would not get anything on that list, except #2 sometimes.

Greg Long's picture

Kevin T. Bauder wrote:

Greg (Long),

So you're a fellow Ballard Bomber? I had no idea! Back in the early 1970s I spent many a happy hour in the gymnasium of the elementary school in Slater.

I can't help thinking that we are talking past one another at several points. You evidently think that I misunderstood (or even willfully misrepresented?) some of what Pat said. By the same token, I think you have misunderstood or misappropriated some of what I said, though I don't think you would misrepresent it. Rather than try to hash through this point by point, let me back up and try an entirely different approach.

While Charlie will surely cringe under the deficiencies of a gross oversimplification that I am about to make, I would like to suggest that approaches to language can be divided into at least three classes.

(1) Words mean other words. This is the approach of structuralism, and it readily decays into deconstruction.

(2) Words mean things. Besides being the approach of Rush Limbaugh, this is also (very roughly) the approach of nominalism. The word is merely a convenient label. When it becomes inconvenient, it can be easily replaced, discarded, or invested with some alternative meaning. Something like this is happening right now in the debate over "gay marriage," which isn't really either.

(3) Words mean ideas. This is approximately the approach of realism. Words point to something transcendent. Language is sermonic. While meanings can and do alter, meaning is nevertheless covenantal in nature, and, consequently, relatively stable. Meanings cannot simply be altered at will.

As it happens, I subscribe to theory (3). This definitely has an effect upon the way I view labels. Labels point, not to things (let alone to other words), but to ideas. The idea can be used to judge any appropriation of the label. If your can is labeled "corn," and you discover green beans when you open it, you don't just say, "Oh, this is another kind of corn." You judge the can to have been mislabeled.

The label Baptist stands for an idea. That ideas includes at least six components.

  1. The absolute authority of the New Testament in all church faith and order.
  2. Believer immersion.
  3. Pure church membership.
  4. Individual Christian responsibility.
  5. Congregational polity.
  6. Separation of church and state.

Because the idea judges every appropriation of the label, we are in a position to say that people like Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Fred Phelps really have no right to claim the to be Baptists. If somebody wishes to associate us with them, then we ought to point out that such individuals are guilty of dishonesty (at minimum) in applying this label to themselves. Then we ought to explain what a Baptist is.

Every Baptist should be able to do this. Training in this point ought to be a deliberate aspect of our catechesis. The label may not be found in Scripture, but the idea is (or at least we Baptists believe that it is). Not only is it found in Scripture, it is prominently featured there and it is vital to the bene esse, and perhaps even in some senses to the esse, of the church.

Since it is a very important matter, a church that orders itself according to the idea ought to be willing to announce its order publicly. I suppose that there are multiple ways of doing this. One way would be to feature the above list prominently on the church sign and other public documents. Most churches, however, have found it a bit cumbersome to call themselves the First [or whatever] New-Testament-Authority-Believer-Immersion-Pure-Church-Membership-Individual-Christian-Responsibility-Congregational-Polity-Separation-of-Church-and-State Church. They have found it much more useful to use the label that reflects the idea. That label is Baptist.

I would have no objection at all to a church dropping the name Baptist in favor of another name that was equally or more descriptive of its distinctives. Unfortunately, however, such a name does not exist. No one has yet coined an alternative, and if anybody did, it would not be likely to catch on. So we are stuck with the name Baptist.

I have nowhere suggested that if a church abandons the name Baptist, then it will also abandon the names Christian or Church. What I have argued is that all of the reasons for not claiming the name Baptist also apply to other labels like Christian and Church. If the argument for dropping the name is persuasive in the one instance, then it ought to be equally persuasive in the other instances, or, indeed, in any instance whatever in which someone somewhere finds a label to be either offensive or meaningless.

Of course I do not think that Saylorville is likely to stop calling itself a church (though many of the emergents have--we may not have a "Community Garden Club," but we do have a "Solomon's Porch?"). But why not? Whatever reasons Saylorville can offer for retaining the name Church also apply to retaining the name Baptist. It is simply a matter of calling things by their right names.

As far as I know, Saylorville still affirms all of the Baptist distinctives. At that level, we agree. The difference between us is this. I believe that those distinctives are so important that we ought to be known publicly for our adherence to them, and that the best way of announcing our commitment to these distinctives is to use the one label that denotes them. Since it has now rejected the label, I believe that it is fair to infer that Saylorville values the distinctives themselves differently than I do. Furthermore, that difference in valuation is a doctrinal difference.

Speaking of labels, here is the principal definition of demagogue: "a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power," (definition supplied by Merriam-Webster). I certainly hope that this definition does not apply to anything that I've said in this discussion.

By the way, I was number 83 on the football team. I played defensive end. Go, red and white.

Kevin

Dr. Bauder,

When we moved to Iowa in 1986 from Ohio for my dad to take a position at FBBC, we lived in Huxley for two years before moving to Ankeny. We attended Slater Baptist Church all throughout my upper elementary and teenage years. I was not a Ballard Bomber per se, as I attended Grandview Park Baptist School, but I attended several Ballard athletic events and had several close youth group friends who attended the school. I know the Slater Elementary gymnasium to which you refer and can picture it in my mind because Paul Hartog took the youth group there on several occasions for open gym nights. Unfortunately (I hope you are sitting down for this), that elementary school has been razed to make way for a bank. As far as I have seen, there is not even any kind of historical marker commemorating the spot where the mind of the young Kevin Bauder began to be shaped in his formative years. But perhaps they have retired your football jersey number?

Thank you for your follow up post and for your patient explanation of your position. It was a helpful clarification. And I apologize for the "demagoguery" remark. (I could say that I was choosing to define the word differently than the dictionary, but I don't think that explanation would suffice with you. Lol

I am a Baptist through and through. In my younger days I was saved under the preaching and pastoral ministry of Dr. Ernest Pickering at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Toledo, Ohio. As I mentioned, as a teen I was mentored and taught by Pastors Hartog and Hindal at Slater Baptist Church. I was the youth pastor under Dr. John Hartog II as we helped to plant Maranatha Baptist Church in Grimes. I served on staff at Grandview Park Baptist Church. I graduated from Grandview Park Baptist School. I received my bachelors and masters degrees from Faith Baptist Bible College & Theological Seminary (taking Church History as well as Baptist Faith and Polity from Dr. George Houghton) and am pursuing an advanced degree at a Baptist institution. I have taught the Baptist distinctives to both teens and adults in church ministry. I am not ashamed of my Baptist beliefs.

I also understand the importance of labels. However, I'm sure you would agree that all labels are not equally important? Perhaps instead of theological triage, we could practice some kind of (I'm not sure of the right word)..."nominal triage"? (By "nominal" I mean "relating to names," not nominalism in the sense you mentioned.)

For example, up until my current ministry I have been a Regular Baptist. But as Farmer Tom N pointed out, the label "Regular" has caused almost universal confusion (if not mockery). I can't think of a single time when I mentioned that name to someone that it did not require explanation. In fact, I agree with Farmer Tom that most Regular Baptists don't even know what it means. (I would go one step further--and please correct me if I am wrong--I don't think it was used by the original Regular Baptists in an historically correct way. If I'm not mistaken, "Regular Baptists" were Particular [vs. General] Baptists. I believe the GARBC founders used "Regular" in the sense of "Good Old Fashioned Regular Baptists," that is not modernist or liberal.)

I agree with Greg Linscott that "Regular" is still helpful in an associational name, but I do not think it is necessary in a church's name. On the other hand, no one is suggesting that the name "Christian" should be discarded, no matter how much confusion or misunderstanding there is concerning it.

So what about "Baptist"? I think that is somewhere in between those other two labels. In other words,

"Christian" > "Baptist" > "Regular" (or "Fundamentalist" or "Dispensational", etc.).

The point is, I understand the desire to hold on to the label "Baptist." And yet I also understand those who are willing to let go of it (the name, not the doctrine) for the sake of the greater name, "Christian." I understand Faith's desire to keep the label, but I also have no quarrel with Saylorville's desire to let it go. The beliefs are far more important to me. I would agree that there are inherent dangers in discarding certain labels, but there may be greater advantages as well. Additionally, as I mentioned from personal experience (which is obviously not normative), a church can remove the name "Baptist" and still remain faithful to Christ, to His Word, and to Baptistic doctrine. We teach this to everyone interested in becoming a part of our church in our membership class.

Thanks for allowing me to interact with you, Dr. Bauder. Again, your contributions to this forum are much appreciated.

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

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Pastor Harold's picture

This past summer the SBC adopted the Great Commission Baptist (GBC) as an alternative label for churches. This was done to help Northern SBC churches to avoid the stigma of the word "Southern." This was a hotly contested issue and both sides made great points, but it passed by a slim margin. So take a page from your compromising cousin in the south, let them change their name. We can't stop this mentality, of being pleasing to all. This is between a church/collage and not a denomination, so unless your a member of that church/collage, who cares?

JVDM's picture

Greg Long wrote:

 If I'm not mistaken, "Regular Baptists" were Particular [vs. General] Baptists. I believe the GARBC founders used "Regular" in the sense of "Good Old Fashioned Regular Baptists," that is not modernist or liberal.)

 

I thought it was to distinguish themselves from American and Southern Baptists. I could also be wrong on that, but here in Iowa, nearly all of the Regular Baptist churches were splits out of the American Baptist Church.

 

Edit: Now I'm seeing that even this is not accurate, as the IARBC folks left the NBC, which later became the ABC. Hah, I guess we don't know, do we?

KevinM's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

According to the fount of all wisdom: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regular_Baptists

Argh. Yer killin' me. Please don't regard the Wiki definition as being accurate. At some point I'll hack into their site and give the definition an update...just haven't had time.

Short story: In the northern tradition, "regular" means "orthodox." The phrase was in popular use way before the GARBC adopted it in 1932. In fact, it crops up in the New York Times well before 1900. Its usage was a sardonic commentary on the state of Baptist affairs in the north: Churches had to go out of their way to clarify that they were orthodox Baptist churches, not the other kind. Our GARBC usage of this phrase was inspired by Howard Fulton's noted 1932 sermon, "What Do Old Fashioned Regular Baptists Stand For?".

Kevin Bauder is a "regular Baptist." Note the small "r" here. He embraces regular Baptist ideas. Note his post (#52223) in this thread, where he outlines (6) Baptist ideas. By the way...[commercial break]...those are the first six chapters of his new book, which everyone should purchase.

As far as my own "Regular Baptist" credentials go...I grew up on the same street as Greg Long in Toledo, and I've actually shared dinner with Kevin Bauder at the famed Taco Time in Ames (order the fried burrito, Bauder says, a fond memory from his high school career).

Greg Linscott's picture

Inevitably, when staffing the IARBC booth at the Iowa State Fair, you would get the guy who would come and make the crack about "regular" Baptists in regards to bowel movements... Meh

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Greg Long's picture

Kevin beat me to the punch.

For more information, you can read "What Does It Mean to Be a 'Regular' Baptist?" (The article also mentions the sense in which Abraham Lincoln was a Regular Baptist!)

After settling into the colonies, General [General Atonement] Baptists in the middle colonies were more commonly called Free Baptists. Particular [Particular Atonement] Baptists, in and around freer colonies such as Rhode Island, came to be called Regular Baptists. The designation “Regular” to describe one kind of Baptist did not appear until the Baptists came to America...

Eventually the name “Regular Baptist” became somewhat generic and no longer necessarily designated particular atonement beliefs...

Eventually any Strict Baptist churches in Canada that held to this strict order of belief about communion called themselves Regular Baptists because they were just normal, orthodox (regular) practicing Baptists...

The General Association of Regular Baptist Churches has affirmed a moderately Calvinistic statement of faith based on the New Hampshire Confession (1833). Its use of the word “Regular” has never been a direct reference to a particular view of the atonement; rather, it stems from the later, more generic meaning of the word. By the time the GARBC was formed in 1932, the Modernist Controversy had split the Northern Baptist Convention into several factions. Regular Baptists held orthodox beliefs in an era when some Baptist churches were highly irregular. This meaning of “Regular” was clear from the beginning, when Howard Fulton preached his seminal sermon “What Regular Old Fashioned Baptists Stand For.”

The Latin term regula, which means “rule or example,” is the root of our English word “regular.” The first time the word was used in the English form was in 1387. John of Trevisa (c.1326–c.1402, English writer) connected it to the Canon (“rule or measure”) of Scripture. The first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary provides a similar definition for “regular” in the adjectival form: “Ecclesiastically subject to, or bound by, a religious rule, belonging to a religious or monastic order.” For our churches, “Regular” is an adjective that describes Baptists as orthodox churches that affirm the rule or measure of Scripture.

In The Baptists (1988), William Henry Brackney summarized this long history by stating, “Baptists have differed widely about their origins and their composition.”6 This is certainly true. But when it comes to answering, “Who are the Regular Baptists?” it is not so difficult to find their origin or the distinct quality found in the word “Regular” when placed next to the name “Baptist.” A Regular Baptist believes orthodox, Baptist doctrine.

And let me correct one of Kevin's statements...I grew up on his street.

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

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Ron Bean's picture

What does it mean when we have to spend this much time finding a definition the name "regular" among ourselves?

I work in a secular workplace and have spent my last few days taking an unofficial poll among my co-workers. While I did encounter a few Christians who knew the "right answers, here are some general findings:

Everyone knew what a church was. (Condensed definition: a place for people who believe in God.)

What is a Christian?

           1. Somebody who follows or believes in Jesus.

           2. People who aren't Muslim or Jews.

           3. Didn't know.

What is  Bible?

           1. A religious book.
           2. An inspirational book.

Here's the interesting one: What do you think of when you hear the words "Baptist Church"?

           1. No idea was the number one answer.

           2. A kind of a Christian church

               most didn't know how Baptists were different while the rest said that they believed in dunking people in water

The there were the responses from people who knew about Baptists or were Baptists:

           1. "We believe in getting baptized to wash your sins away" narrowly edged "we believe in getting baptized because Jesus was baptized".

           2. Baptists don't let women wear pants

           3. And my favorite, "Go talk to M___ and B______, They're Baptists."

M________ tells me that he goes to the only real Baptist church around. The one started by Jesus. You can tell because they wash each others feet and don't do all this modern, worldly stuff.

B______ goes to the big Southern Baptist Church in town. She's looking for another church because she feels lost in the crowd. She just goes to church when she doesn't have to work, but feels she doesn't fit. We talked about her salvation and walk with the Lord. She said her church is big and just built a new annex, but most of the people are over 50 (she's in her 30"s) and there a very few younger people or teens.

Again, I know this doesn't prove anything, but it helps me to talk to people who are in the real world.

 

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

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