It is my desire in the next few months to contribute to the discussion by offering positive, specific recommendations on how we might move forward in our desire for evangelical conservatives of all stripes in the Southern Baptist Convention to cooperate with each other in missions and evangelism ministry. Below is a copy of a possible Statement on Southern Baptist Cooperation that we might be able to use to help us unite around the essentials, give liberty in the non-essentials, and charity in all things.
A STATEMENT ON SOUTHERN BAPTIST COOPERATION
The gospel is the story about Christ, God’s and David’s Son, who died and was raised and is established as Lord. We as Southern Baptists join together to proclaim the good news that God's Kingdom has come in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Lord and Messiah, in fulfillment of the Word of God.
The gospel we declare evokes faith, repentance and discipleship --- its accompanying effects include the forgiveness of sins, justification, reconciliation, adoption, wisdom and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Southern Baptists accompany our proclamation of the gospel with cooperative works of compassion and mercy for those in need or distress.
We strive to advance Christ’s kingdom on earth with the confession, proclamation, and application of the good news. The Bible is undoubtedly central to our cooperation, but Jesus Christ is the center of it. Therefore, we resolve to cooperate with one another, affirming the essentials of the gospel and our Baptist identity in these five doctrines:
(1). We affirm the authority, sufficiency and reliability of God’s infallible revelation to man in both His written Word and the Living Word Jesus Christ.
(2) We affirm both the full humanity and deity of Jesus Christ.
(3). We affirm Christ’s substitutionary death for sinners, His resurrection from the dead, and His gift of eternal life to all who are in relationship with Him by grace through faith.
(4). We affirm the Baptist distinctive of believer’s baptism by immersion for those who have come to personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
(5). We affirm that those apart from a relationship with Christ will face God’s judgment.
The sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Baptist Confessions, including the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, are only guides to interpreting the Bible, and have no authority over the conscience. We Baptists have historically differed in interpretation on finer points of doctrine not essential to Christian faith and Baptist identity. Yet, with all our differences on secondary issues, we as Southern Baptists desire to cooperate in ministry because of our love for the gospel.
Therefore, we intentionally put aside our differences on secondary issues for the sake of cooperative gospel ministry. We desire unity in the essentials, liberty in the non-essentials, and charity in all things. This statement of cooperation defines the necessary essentials which must be affirmed in order to participate in the cooperative ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention.
We desire to send to the world and our evangelical brethren through this statement of cooperation a sure and certain message: It is the gospel that unites Southern Baptists, and what unites us is greater than anything that might potentially divide us.