Is It Time to Join the SBC?

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James K's picture

"But the dangers inherent in the system are just too great."

So the conclusion is that something could be a problem so don't do it.  Those other agencies were set up perfectly and no flaw could exist.  What a relief.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

G. N. Barkman's picture

Excellent article.

I have wrestled with this question myself.  I have come to the same conclusion as Dr. Bauder.  The recent renewal in the SBC is nothing short of stunning!  Many of us on the outside thought it impossible.  Even many in the SBC did not except such an amazing reversal.

However, many of the former weaknesses remain.  Today, there is a good spirit of co-operation among conservatives in the SBC, but there is more tension beneath the surface than meets the eye.  There was a serious attempt to oust Dr. Al Mohler from Southern Seminary by influential conservative pastors of large churches.  (Or so I have been told by SBC friends.)  They failed, but only because Mohler's support was larger than they realized.  If the anti-calvinist members gain enough power, there will likely be a purge of Calvinists from positions of influence.  Hmmm.  Sounds a lot like the same battles within Fundamentalism.

So once the battle turned from defeating Liberals, it became an endeavor to defeat Calvinists.  Why should I leave the Independent movement for an organization that barely tolerates Calvinists?  I've got that already within Fundamentalism.  I personally see little advantage in joining the SBC.  I'm grateful that independency allowed me to work through thorny doctrinal issues, and I feel sorry for those, in whatever group, that find the pressure to conform too great to allow them the freedom to explore outside the box.

G. N. Barkman

Steve Davis's picture

James K wrote:

"But the dangers inherent in the system are just too great."

So the conclusion is that something could be a problem so don't do it.  Those other agencies were set up perfectly and no flaw could exist.  What a relief.

James,

Good observation. I would add that the dangers of a non-system or control system which exists in many independent churches and the non-cooperation/non-partnership that often results from isolation or competing orbits are great dangers as well.  We can always find dangers. I spent almost thirty years in the IBF and in what I believe was a healthier strain. Thankfully I still have some IBF friends but on the whole would prefer to be better connected with something outside our local body. I realize that some IFB churches find that with other churches through loose or formal associations and I wish them well just as Kevin wishes the SBC well (although I would not plant my flag with some IFB groups he mentions). I am not connected with the SBC but can see how it would be attractive for many apart from retirement, insurance, etc.  I think I could identify with them if the Lord led and opportunity was right. I  might also add that it's easier to stay in a church or movement when you have nowhere to go and are secure in your place with missionary support or salary, retirement, insurance, and reputation. I have observed more than one IFB who has looked at the SBC once their position in a church or school became tenuous no longer existent, and I don't blame them. At times there may be more convenience than conviction that we want to admit, IMO.

 

Steve

David R. Brumbelow's picture

Many Southern Baptists would debate the pros and cons of Southern Baptist insurance (Guidestone); some like it some don’t.  But either way, it is up to your church or you as an individual whether you have it or not.  It is not automatically provided to pastors.

Guidestone does a good job with retirement.  But again, it is completely up to the pastor or his church whether he puts anything into retirement, the SBC doesn’t do it for you.  They do sometimes send a small supplement for retired SBC pastors or pastor’s widows with limited finances; but that is as money is available and on a case by case basis (some give to a special fund for this purpose).  A SBC pastor is free to put his retirement money in any fund he chooses, whether Guidestone or some other investment company. 

As far as getting an SBC church to pastor, that is primarily up to you, the church, and the Lord.  Some SBC official may recommend you, but that is usually a long way from guaranteeing you a pastorate.  In some cases you may get blackballed by someone; of course that never happens in any other Baptist group J.

There are a number of different strains in SBC life, and a lot of freedom.  To a large extent, you can be a Southern Baptist and do your own thing.  While there are a multitude of differences, we are pretty well united around our doctrinal statement, the Baptist Faith & Message, 2000 (found at sbc.net). 

If any want to keep up with those peculiar Southern Baptists, subscribe to one of their state SBC papers, like the “Southern Baptist Texan” (texanonline.net). But also remember the state convention is independent of the national SBC. 
David R. Brumbelow

David S.'s picture

James,

Your reading of Kevin is not fair. He did not say that there were no flaws in the IFB agencies. If you have read Kevin in the past he has clearly offered much criticism for the types of agencies he mentions. The central argument that he is making is not the slippery slope of “the dangers are just to great.” Instead, his central argument is rooted in history when speaks of the people who fought their way out of the Northern Baptist Convention. They realized that “the work of cooperative ministry must never again be placed under the control of a centralized body.”

Instead of saying something Kevin didn’t you either need to prove that the centralized model of the SBC can consistently overcome the pitfalls mentioned in the article or that Kevin’s reading of history is wrong.

DavidO's picture

David S. wrote:
. . . you either need to prove that the centralized model of the SBC can consistently overcome the pitfalls mentioned in the article or that Kevin’s reading of history is wrong.

I don't really have a dog in this fight, but it seems to me all James really needs to prove (assuming a properly excluded middle) is that an individual can set the terms of his own involvement with the SBC to reduce/minimize/eliminate the centralized control which could one day motivate compromise.

The which brother Brumbelow intimates above is possible.

David S.'s picture

DavidO,

I appreciate the pushback since I have been mulling over the SBC question for some time myself.

That an individual or a church can set the terms of his own involvement with the SBC is probably true of most agencies. I will certainly grant that a limited partnership with the SBC would allow someone like brother Brumbelow to “do his own thing.” However, it seems to me that Bauder was specific with his main concern: the Cooperative Program. How can one partner with the Cooperative Program of the SBC and still set the terms of one’s own involvement? I am open to being corrected since I am not a Southern Baptist, but would not participation in the Cooperative Program effectively relinquish any substantive supervision that could be exercised by an individual or individual church? In other words, in what sense can you participate in the CP and still be setting the terms of your own involvement?

David R. Brumbelow's picture

The SBC Cooperative Program (CP) is a way for a church to give to all the state, national, and international ministries of the SBC.  For example, if a church gives $100 through the CP, the state Baptist convention keeps a percentage for their ministries (it varies state to state from 45% to maybe 70%).  The rest is sent to the national CP where it is distributed to the national SBC ministries (six seminaries, North American Mission Board, International Mission Board, Historical Commission, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission…). 

An individual SBC church is free to give as little or as much as they feel led and are able through the CP.  Some give one or two percent; some give 10 or 15% or more of their undesignated offerings. 

In addition, they have the option to give directly to any of the SBC ministries. 
They also have the freedom to give to independent or non-SBC ministries. 
Most SBC churches give at least something through the CP, but most also give in other ways. 
They can give to Christmas Shoeboxes, Gideons, Bob Jones University, or the Biblical Evangelist. 

There are some limited exceptions.  If the North American Mission Board is financially supporting a new church start, they may require that church to give a certain percentage through the CP.  But when those new church start funds end, the church is autonomous and free to give to missions as they choose.  Some state conventions add a limited amount to the pastor’s retirement (about $35 a month) if he or his church is contributing to the pastor’s retirement at Guidestone.  But if that church is not giving to the CP, the state may not contribute that amount to Guidestone. 

But an SBC church and pastor have a tremendous amount of freedom and autonomy. 
David R. Brumbelow

Rob Fall's picture

This sentiment also goes to one of the reasons for the splitting of the Triennial Convention.  As Wayland put it in his Principles and Practices of Baptist Churches:

A Baptist church can not be represented.

I would add in a body which would make decisions binding on the their local assembly.

David S. wrote:
SNIP

his central argument is rooted in history when speaks of the people who fought their way out of the Northern Baptist Convention. They realized that “the work of cooperative ministry must never again be placed under the control of a centralized body. SNIP

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

James K's picture

The point of the article was clear enough.  He won't join the SBC because the NBC was a disaster.  The fundamentalists of the NBC lost.  The fundamentalists of the SBC won.  Some people have to try and maintain that the Fundy system of the NBC was better.  It results in articles like what was written.  When colleges are hurting with enrollment and aren't looking at technology as a means to solve some of their problems, they need to posture in such a way as to project their own superiority.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Rob Fall's picture

I can only speak as Hamilton Square Baptist Church's Historian.  Founded in 1881 as San Francisco's fifth Baptist church, in 2013, we hold to the same basic doctrinal positions our founders held in 1881.

We agree to the "articles of faith" as generally accepted by the regular Baptist Churches of the United States.

HSBC has had no organizational ties of any kind, at any time with the Southern Baptist Convention.  It's not a matter of seeking to project our own superiority.  It's a matter of recognizing a familial separation that has developed of the years since the 1830s.  That's long before Fundamentalism was fun.

James K wrote:

The point of the article was clear enough.  He won't join the SBC because the NBC was a disaster.  The fundamentalists of the NBC lost.  The fundamentalists of the SBC won.  Some people have to try and maintain that the Fundy system of the NBC was better.  It results in articles like what was written.  When colleges are hurting with enrollment and aren't looking at technology as a means to solve some of their problems, they need to posture in such a way as to project their own superiority.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

James K's picture

GN Barkman, I was talking about colleges projecting superiority.  I do not understand your last post in light of that.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.