This post will mean little to many of you and I know that. It is really a statement I believe I must make for some who've known me for years.
I am a simple person. And, since I'm a Baptist, that would make me a simple Baptist, would it not! It may be that in this day however, it is my simplicity which could cause my downfall, if there is one coming, in any relationship I have to present day Southern Baptist life.
I've always prided myself, in a non-sinful way I trust, in being a "non-creedal" Southern Baptist. I've always viewed the difference between a creed and a confession of faith, which we have utilized for years in the SBC life, as, simply put, [there I go again with this simple thing] in a creed you have declared what is INCUMBENT UPON YOU to believe to be a part of a particular group, while in a confession of faith you have declared what you hold to in basic agreement WITHOUT COERCION of any kind from other people in the group.
The popular way of saying it when a confession of faith is embraced is, "I have no creed but Christ and no ultimate document of authority but the Bible." [An over-simplification to be sure.]
This means that as a Baptist, I have believed the Bible as I have interpreted it, under what I believed to be the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and have attempted to guard the freedom of EVERY OTHER person to interpret scripture the same way. as they attempt to hear God's voice for themselves, and to obey what he/she believes they hear Him say. That's a rather long sentence but it declares what a simple Baptist does
But I'm wondering if there might not be a present day struggle more with what being a Southern Baptist entails, than there is with what being just a Baptist entails. Our Baptist identity has always been founded on an understanding of certain fundamentals of the faith. You can name them. So can I. But our Southern Baptist identity has been shaped by our cooperative efforts in evangelism and missions with a confession of faith approach to the fundamentals of the faith. It HAS BEEN this unique cooperative approach to missions that has defined us as a the Southern Baptist Convention.
We are Baptist because of the fundamentals of the faith. We are Southern Baptist because we cooperate with people who MAY NOT interpret the scriptures exactly as I do, but, since we are not creedal but confessional, they can join us in sharing a mission purpose for the world. In the past that difference was OK. Not so much today.
It is this Southern Baptist identity that is at risk at present it seems to me. It appears to me, I say again, appears, we are shifting into a creedal approach to identifying who Southern Baptists are. My simplicity is causing me to have a great deal of struggle within me as to where I will stand if that shift from a cooperative effort in missions to a theological creed being made out of a confession of faith is ultimately accomplished. As I said, I AM a simple Baptist.
I really like what a life-long friend recently said of himself. "I'm neither a creedal Baptist, nor a conventional Baptist, but I AM a convictional Baptist." That sounds descriptive of my journey as well, except I've been willing to claim the last two while not the first. My struggle is remaining the conventional baptist in the present day. Creedalism would not allow that.
I've just re-read what I've written and I've gotten dizzy-headed trying to figure out exactly what I've said. I did confess at the beginning that I'm a simple person remember. That makes me a simple Baptist and the bottom-line is that this simple Baptist blogger is struggling with where Southern Baptists are going and whether this Baptist blogger can remain a Southern Baptist. I guess we'll see, won't we!