Thursday, March 09, 2006

The slippery slope toward credalism

While I have chipped in my two cents a couple of times previously on Wade Burleson's blog, I was able to leave a signed comment today (assuming that he is gracious enough to allow the comment as he has in the past) on his March 8th post about the point being missed yet again by the IMB BoT. The essence of my comment is to agree with him that the BoT is moving beyond the BF&M 2000 in a slippery slope toward credalism, but I would suggest that the earthquake that triggered the landslide down that slope was the BF&M 2000 itself. Its express language about being an instrument of doctrinal accountability, right on the heels of quoting the preface to the 1963 document regarding the place and role of confessions of faith in Baptist life, effectively establishes it as a creed. Point 4 of this introduction to the 1963 document states, "That the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Confessions are only guides in interpretation, having no authority over the conscience." The jump from being a guide in interpretation with no authority over the conscience to an instrument of doctrinal accountability that one must sign in order to retain a post within the denominational structure--be that as a seminary professor or missionary--is a major shift. Once the door has been thrown open to denominational incursion into establishing what a local church can and cannot believe and practice in areas where sincere Bible-believing Christians disagree, it will be difficult if not impossible to reverse the trend.

5 comments:

Jeff said...

Could we even go so far as to say that the slip began with the "conservative" takeover of the SBC beginning in the early 80's?

Gary Snowden said...

Jeff,

Undoubtedly much of the slide toward credalism coincided with the conservative resurgence. The pressure to utilize only accepted terminology to describe one's belief about biblical authority is an illustration of this trend. What still baffles me is why after insisting for so long on the word inerrancy to describe the Bible, that term wasn't incorporated into the BF&M 2000.

Anonymous said...

Gary writes, "...it will be difficult if not impossible to reverse the trend."

The trend will probably not be reversed, but what is taking place on the field through the power of God goes so beyond all our man-made attempts to control events. God is in control and He is preparing a Bride for Himself. No amount of policy changes, creeds, or even the next thing coming down the pipeline will even begin to slow down what God is powerfully doing around the world.

The only sad part is that we as Southern Baptists will probably not be major players in the years to come, but more likely sitting on the sidelines watching the incredible things God is doing with the simple and humble of heart.

I just got off the phone with someone calling me to help them find someone baptize a group of new believers. For a fraction of a second I was tempted to give them a little lecture on the implications of what they were about to do, and to suggest the "proper way" of dealing with their need. Naw, they wouldn't have a clue as to what I was talking about. All they know is they've got some new converts who need to be baptized. I certainly wasn't about to complicate the issue for them.

IMB M

Gary Snowden said...

Anonymous,

I too am thrilled with what the Lord of the harvest is doing in drawing people to Himself in countless places around the world. I was in Guatemala at the end of January, meeting with the leadership of the Guatemalan Baptist Convention under the auspices of WorldconneX, and there are some exciting things taking place there. I share your concern that Southern Baptists might be left viewing God's work from the sidelines if the trend toward increasing control and enforced uniformity of viewpoints is not reversed. Otherwise, I fear that the excellent work that other Great Commission Christians are accomplishing will be viewed with suspicion and distrust because they don't abide by our regulations.

GuyMuse said...

Felicidades on your new blog! I read with interest your entry above along with the comments.

In order to finish the task in South America, it is imperative that we partner with GCCs (Great Commission Christians). In our own M work over the past few years we have been blessed to work side-by-side with many non-Baptist believers who are totally sold out to Jesus Christ and have a passion for winning their world to Christ. We have been too busy with the "main thing" to even discover what our differences might be. I am honest when I say that these doctrinal issues just haven't been an issue up till now. What we have in common in Christ has welded our hearts together to seek the lost, baptize, disciple and teach.

I know our people would be totally bewildered to read through some of the blogs and news about the things being hotly debated in S. Baptist life. Why are we so distracted from the main thing would be their observation.