God saved me by His amazing grace through the work of Christ. I am a disciple of the Lord Jesus because of God's discipleship of me. John Newton said it best "I once was lost, but now I'm found, was blind, but now I see." Christianity is not my religion of choice, it is my personal faith through conversion by God's grace.
However, I am a Southern Baptist by choice. I could never lose my Christian faith because I never found my Christian faith. God found me. On the other hand, one could walk away from the demonination and remain as committed to Christ as ever. I am a Southern Baptist by choice, and I refuse to walk away, because I believe it is the best denomination by which true Christian expressions of Biblical missiology, theology and ecclesiology exists. In other words, the SBC is an environment where doctrine, missions and churches excel.
That is, unless or until. . .
(1). We get to the point that formulas take the place of real missions ministry. I do not believe I could improve upon Marty Duren's post on this matter, so I point you to SBC Outpost and Marty's comments on the Cooperative Program. When a formula supercedes participation in, prayer for, and passion about missions, we begin to die in areas of missiology within the SBC. The ideal situation is for the International Mission Board, the Executive Committee of the SBC and all other agencies to empower churches to get excited about the mission efforts of the SBC and to work to include anyone and everyone within the SBC to be a part of those Great Commission efforts. The narrowing of the parameters of participation only forces some churches to take the road of funding missions independently.
(2). We get to the point that healthy doctrinal discussion and dialogue is substituted with fiat creeds. Southern Baptists have a huge legacy of confessional, theological statements. Most of our early SBC forefathers based their church and associational confessions on The Philadelphia Confession, which was an Americanized version of the English Baptist 1644 and 1689 London Confessions of Faith. I have taught courses on each of these confessions and I can promise you, the modern Southern Baptist will not have a clue about what is said in those Confessions, not because they are so poorly written, but because they are so WELL written.
The dumbing down of our theological understanding in the SBC has created an environment where people no longer debate theology. To seek to measure, and eventually approve, a person's theological acumen by asking that person to merely attach a signature to a simplistic doctrinal statement does nothing for the advancing of theological precision. What does that person believe about the atonement? What is that person's view of justification? What does that person believe about the Trinity? It is one thing to use the word "justification" but it is an entire other matter to know what it means.
In the 17th Century Baptists debated for months the nature of the eternality of Christ. Did Christ "proceed" from the Father from eternity? This question is absolutely senseless and foreign to a modern Southern Baptist because we are so doctrinally puerile. When debating the issue of "tongues" in the New Testament, one Texas pastor with a seminary degree actually said to me, "When I was in Seminary I was taught tongues was of the devil. It aint' taught in the Greek." I had no clue what he meant, but it was obvious he was not open to a freeflowing debate on the subject, or for that matter cooperating with anyone who had a different view than he on this non-essential.
Of course, I believe cooperation in the SBC in the area of missions should be based upon fellowship around the essentials --- the person of Christ, salvation by grace through faith, etc . . . In my church we are doctrinally precise, but I have no problem cooperating with other churches in the areas of missions and evangelism who are not as precise as we on the non-essentials of the faith. However, if and when some began to demand doctrinal conformity and precision in areas of the non-essentials, I will do my best to keep the doors broad and open to prevent the SBC from becoming an isolated evangelical sect.
(3). We get to the point when the churches are no longer the highest authority in the SBC, but rather authority is inversed so that boards, denominational executives and others seek to limit the autonomy of the local church.
The local church must be central. When ecclesiologcial matters are decided by those not affiliated with one's local church, we become very Catholic in our heirarchy and forsake our Baptist heritage.
It's time we as Southern Baptists focused on real ministry on the local church level, guarding sacredly the historic freedoms of Southern Baptists to do real, genuine Christian ministry in and through our churches the way each church is led by the Holy Spirit.