Thursday, February 02, 2006


Baptist Ideals

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.

Page 18
9. Self-Criticism

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.


Kevin Bussey said...

Wow! That person was a visionary. We must make adjustments along the way or we will become irrelevant!

Anonymous said...

How true. Thanks, Wade. I remember Ralph Herring and other wise ones from his era. I look forward to giving you the high five in Greensboro.
Florence in KY

Anonymous said...

The "SBC team" has no vacancy in its Team Leader position; the Lord Jesus Christ occupies that place (Matthew 28). But, the team has many, many task leaders--all SBC'ers, at some point in time. Except for our Team Leader, none of us alone is as capable in any way as all of us together. There is wisdom in acknowledging this and in acting on that knowledge--and folly in not doing so.

I, for one, will insist on the opportunity to provide constructive criticism to fellow-SBC'ers when it seems necessary, and my hope is that all of us determine to do the same. There is no way that the SBC is all God aims for it to be, nor is it as a whole the most mature denomination of believers on earth (despite our Landmark leanings)! Many other evangelical groups are outdoing us by far in their abilities to cooperate based on the essentials, and proportionately in leading the lost to faith in Christ (our bank accounts, agencies, numbers of congregations, etc., notwithstanding). We'd be wise to get-over our "if it ain't the SBC, it couldn't possibly be any good--or godly" mentality, and get down to the real business of God's kingdom.

The Team Leader probably is coming again soon; we'd better get started on this today! Anyone for cooperation on a greater scale beginning now?

Anonymous said...

Open and honest dialogue and discussion is essential to the health and vitality of any organization. This holds true for the believer in his prayer life. This holds true for the husband and wife team. This holds true for the church committee. This holds true for the committees of the largest of organizations as well. A couple of things stand out in my mind as key to the problems at hand related to these matters – “Group Think” and ignorance of the issues at hand.

“Group think” abounds in our churches today. I have been on church committees for years. Far too many times, if the agenda item at hand was of any importance, the outcome was predetermined with “gentle guidance” from key committee personnel. Often this “gentle guidance” came from the highest level.

Ignorance of the issues at hand abounds often times. Sometimes the reality of the constituent is shaped without any critical thinking on the part of the individual. Critical thinking is not a bad think when the heart and mind of the individual is in the right attitude. That attitude should reflect pursuit of the Will of God. I am reminded of Romans 12: 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

The tendency toward “group think” combined with plain old ignorance of the issues at hand in our committees from the church level to the convention level is dangerous. This combination causes dissention in the ranks when the “gentle guidance” is misdirected, un-bathed in prayer or at the very worst malicious in nature. What if God’s Will was being discerned by the minority opinion and not by the “gentle guidance” from above? Open and honest dialogue shared in a spirit of cooperation and love are essential. Paul’s definition of love should be revisited.

There should be no fear of well informed constituency. However, there should be a healthy respect for the power of a well informed constituency.
Bill Scott

Chaplain Richard said...

I was alerted to your apparent empasse with your denomination (I'm not SB) and am I suspect you are in private..that ANY denomination would take a posture such as this over non-essential doctrine. Being adamant about non-relevent methods of worship is a capacity I feel only can be held by Christ Himself. My spirit keeps asking me to check myself in all that I do to see if it lines up with the teachings of Jesus Christ. If it does not, or seems incidental, I ignore or do not use it. If I, in my limited wisdom, can see this simple principle, how can the conference miss it? Perhaps it is as you implied, that they are so caught up in 'controlling' that they, like the early Jews and their concerns about circumsion, forget the greater concern: that of teaching others about The Good News of Jesus the Christ.

I was raised Evangelical United Brethren (now affiliated with and called United Methodist), studied for the ministry under Nazarene tutelage and now am a Prison Chaplain operating under the support of a non-denominational church. When asked what denomination I am, I respond that I belong to the same church as Paul, Peter, Mark, Luke and Christ. It is my feeling that the doctrines of man has become a stumbling block in the progress of the work began by Christ, and, if He were here in the flesh, would be admonishing us to clear our ecclesiastical vision and begin to REfocus on the true gospel story that most all denominations recognize.

In these times of interdenomination disputes the greater loser is those languishing in the mission field. Like the hungry standing in line, plates in hand waiting, while the cooks and servers argue over whether to serve them with the ladle or the spoon. They are hungry! Feed them!

In my work the teaching of the Gospel is much more direct. As a Prison Chaplain deal with men and women who, if they have any spiritual background at all, are of a cross-spectrum of faiths. Into this inviron I must trod carefully as I deliver the Word so as not to begin any denominational controversies. It is not about denominations! It is not about doctrines! It is about Jesus Christ and Him crucified and risen for our salvation!

It is my heart-felt conviction that ANY deeply spirit-filled, from the heart, respectful method of worship is pleasing to our God! He is concerned with the position of one's heart, not the posturing of his methods.

May our God of peace and the origin of all Love find His way into this difficulty you and your organization is now facing. Keeping in mind that the Word teaches us division and chaos if not of God, but of Satan, perhaps all can come to a point of reasonable and resilient resolution. In the meantime, I hope all concerned recognize how the cults are able to use any form of 'bickering' mainline churces are going through, as a tool for the furthering of their vile causes, and act swiftly to find God's will and presence.

May God fit you warmly into the hollow of His hand.

Yours in Christ,

Chaplain Richard