The following is an excerpt from “Baptist Ideals,” a booklet published by the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1964. It was prepared by the Committee on Baptist Ideals, Ralph A Herring, chairman, and eighteen Southern Baptist Convention leaders and scholars.
Both the local church and denomination, if they are to remain healthy and fruitful, must accept the responsibility of constructive self-criticism. It would be damaging to our churches and to our denomination to deny the right to differ or to consider that our methods and policies are final and perfect. The work of our churches and of our denomination needs frequent re-evaluation to prevent the sterility of traditionalism. This is particularly true in the area of methods, but it also applies to historic principles and practices as they relate to contemporary life. This means that our churches and denominational institutions and agencies should defend and protect the right of our people to question and to criticize constructively.
Healthy self-criticism will center on basic issues and will thus save us from the disintegrating effects of accusations and recrimination. For one to criticize does not necessarily mean that he is disloyal; his criticism may stem from a deep commitment to the welfare of the denomination. Such criticism will aim at growth toward full maturity both for the individual and the denomination.