Monday, May 09, 2005

SBC Slowly Dying

Baptist Press says the Southern Baptist Convention is in an "evangelistic crisis" but claims to have proof that it is dying more slowly than the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

The article failed to note how many SBC baptisms are "rebaptisms" of people whose baptism was previously reported. It is probably safe to assume that the number of "rebaptisms" in CBF churches is nil. Inflating baptismal statistics with "rebaptisms" has been rampant in fundamentalistic SBC churches since long before Bailey Smith's tenure as President of the SBC.

20 comments:

Greek Shadow said...

Interesting that instead of trying to figure out how to breathe life into the denomination the focus is on the CBF. The majority of Southern Baptist Churches have fewer than 100 members and a average attendance of 60 or fewer. As the farming communities across America die so do the Churches. In many cases it has nothing to do with CBF or the Fundamentalist takeover as that has not filtered down that much outside of urban and suburban areas.

Anonymous said...

Paul's Exhortation to be Steadfast

Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith.

But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.

We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command.

May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.

2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 NASB
I wonder if any of this is the purpose of this site. As for the statistics quoted by greek shadow, are you being selective? My church has larger attendance than that and I live in small town America.

Alice Clay said...

Anonymous,
Do you also go on some of the conservative blogs and quote scripture and "wonder" about their purpose in writing?

I believe that Bruce has a legitimate reason for posting this entry. Recently, Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology at Southern Seminary, commented to Baptist Press about how liberal churches and denominations are dying. So when one of his collegues releases a report showing that conservative churches are also "dying"...I believe it's worth noting.

I, for one, am not gloating over this report, but find myslef worried over the state of our churches. And having grown up in and working with conservative churches, I believe Bruce is indeed correct in talking about the "re-baptism" numbers pumping done in these churches.

Anonymous said...

I do not believe the decline in churches is due to conservatism. I fear that too many churches are compromising with the world and no longer presenting the gospel in such a way to win the lost. If the lost do not hear enough truth to know they are lost, it is difficult to win them. My concern with Bruce is that he would rather put the SBC down than to spend his time in a positive way that draws the lost to Christ.

Anonymous said...

Are baptisms down because of churches not properly following the church and state beliefs held by Bruce? What about the beliefs of 'Greek Shadow'? What about my beliefs? WE CANNOT breathe life into the church, only the Holy Spirit can. Baptisms are down because the church is not preaching the Word (2 Timothy 4:2), and the Spirit is not moving. Will the Spirit be present as we preach a Gospel that Jesus is only A way to salvation instead of THE ONLY way (John 14:6)? Will the Spirit be present as we pride ourselves in the policies of political parties or personalities instead of the principles in the Word? How will people repent if they don't know they are sinners? How will people know they are sinners if they aren't told about sin (Romans 10:17)? Jesus told the truth, didn't He? Luke 13:1-5

Here's a statement from several years ago that is still very applicable to us today...

"What is God going to say to us...if we don't forget this bickering, and this silliness and come together on a love for our Lord, a love for His Word, and a love for the lost - and get on with bold mission thrusts because salt penetrates...and may God help us be rid of the leaven, and the honey and to be salty saints for Jesus." - Adrian Rogers (from the 1988 Southern Baptist Convention)

Roger

Snoofy said...

Baptisms are down because white Southern Baptists are having fewer children than they once did. Children of church members are the primary source of new baptisms. CBF churches have even fewer baptisms than the SBC average because CBF churches are more urban with higher educated church members on average, and this demographic is having even few children. Christianity, whether liberal or conservative, is making few inroads into the pagan culture in America these days. So much for bragging rights or blaming someone?s theology on the sinking of the American church.

sepherim said...

Interesting that anonymous would use a quote from Adrian Rogers that demonstrates one of the problems with the new direction of the SBC. When Jesus was asked to summarize the law of God, he said "Love God and love your neighbor as yourself." Rogers summarizes, "a love for our Lord, a love for His Word, and a love for the lost." I find the change in emphasis very revealing. Can you say, "bibliolatry?"

Anonymous said...

sepherim,

>a love for our Lord, a love for His Word, and a love for the lost.

How can a Christian have a problem with any of those three things? We CANNOT separate God from His word, just like you and I cannot separate ourselves from what we say. If we deny the authority of His Word, we are in effect denying His authority. I don't think that is wise.

We can't have a lower opinion of Scripture than Jesus had. Note in Matthew 15:3-4 how Jesus refers to Exodus 20:12; Deut. 5:16; Exodus 21:17; Lev. 20:9 in the context of 'For God said'. While some may say Moses wrote that, Jesus tells us who the source of it really is.

Roger

TammyJo58 said...

Ah... Adrian Rogers...I haven't heard that name in a while. It makes me long for the "good ol' days" when SBC churches were on fire to do the Lord's work, and unwilling to get involved in worldly pursuits (politics). As a Christian and a member of an SBC church since the early 70's, I can assure you that the emphasis has definitely changed for the convention and that change has filtered gradually down into it's churches. Instead of spreading the gospel, we have become the "moralty police." It's hard to witness to a lost person when you are busy letting them know how evil they are. I think this is partly the reason baptisms are down in a lot of churches. We are too busy alienating the very people Christ wants us to witness to. Do we have to become like a lost person in order to witness to them? NO, absolutely not! However, often we are just as sinful as the lost with our judgemental, bickering, power grabbing, politics preaching, uncaring, unloving brand of Christianity. In fact, sometimes what we are practicing is not really Christianity at all - Christ is no where to be found in it.

I do not agree with everything Dr. Bruce has to say, but as a Southern Baptist, I have seen a lot of what he talks about with my own eyes. You can sit back and say, "That's not true!" until the Lord comes again, but that doesn't make it not true.

Oh, and the last time I checked, an average means just that - some will be bigger and some will be smaller. That is what average is.

God Bless,
TammyJo58

Anonymous said...

1. 2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
2 Timothy 3:15-17 (in Context) 2 Timothy 3 (Whole Chapter)

What is bibliolatry? How can we profess love for anyone or anything, if we do not first love His Word. Jesus death on the cross gave us access to the Father through faith and acceptance of the gift of salvation and that is the first step. We have to heed the Word to grow or we will remain as babes. It is puzzling to me the comments accusing us of idolatry for loving His Word (I guess that is what is meant).

Anonymous said...

tammyjo58, I have been in the Southern Baptist Church as a member since the mid 1940's and it has not been the conservative or fundamentalist Baptists (or now theocrats) that brought politics into the churches. You can believe whoever you wish to, but I have witnessed this coming on and now in full bloom and with an open mind and some research I think you will find the split not to have come because of Bible believers.

sepherim said...

I don't want to spend a lot of time covering ground that has already been covered. But the clearest example of how the current leadership of the SBC make Jesus subservient to the written word is the BFM2000. The removal of the christological principle of interpretation from what is supposed to be the convention's guide to interpreting the Bible was a serious error. Too many of them (SBC leaders) have forgotten what one of their former professors often proclaimed, "Christ is King and Lord of scripture."

Greek Shadow said...

In the quote that anon gave from Timothy use the word inerrant? Does the Bible claim it is withoug error? No to both questions. That quote says that the Bible is USEFULL. A shovel is usefull if you are digging a hole. The Bible is usefull if you are trying to understand God, and how to live a a Christian life. I reserve my worship, obedience, love and faith where it counts, not on a tool, on the person the tool points to. Adrian Rogers also said that as President of the SBC "if he believed pickles have souls then the professors at the Seminaries would have to teach that Pickles have souls." Those that proclaim so loudly their love of the Bible and their belief in it are really narcisistic megolomaniacs that think they are the only ones able to read the Bible and understand it and that their interpretations have to be goose stepped by everyone else. Inerrancy isn't about the Bible, it's about Man becoming God. Revelations sign of the Beast 666.

Point 2
Jesus was a teacher. He didn't go around condemning sin or sinners. He taught people how to change their lives. In most cases the people he came into contact with told Him their sins and then repented. Zacheus, the Samaritan Woman at the Well, and others lives were changed not by judgement and condemnation, but by Love and forgiveness. The only group Jesus ever judged and condemned were the Scribes and Pharisees, because they were judging and condemning everyone else. That is God's job, not Man's. Churches grow not because they reach the lost, sorry folks, but churches grow when after people have been saved the church helps them grow in their new found faith. Discipleship is what is missing, not evangelism. What good does it do to preach salvation to everyone who is already saved. Being Moral Police isn't discipleship. Teaching,Sharing personal struggles, giving encouragement, support, prayer, those help all Christians grow. Jesus didn't tell Peter to save His sheep. He said "FEED MY SHEEP."

Dr. Mike Kear said...

Shadow, you rock!

Anonymous said...

Greek Shadow made a very illuminating post. While many claim that those that believe the Bible is inerrant do so by a literal, unreasonable interpretation use those very methods to defend their belief that it isn't inerrant. For example...

>In the quote that anon gave from Timothy use the word inerrant?

So you are looking for literal English words to appear in the text and if they are not there you don't believe it? What about the context? What about the principle? This kind of defense is made occasionally by those that say 'homosexuality' isn't in the Bible either. I'd argue that that is certainly a literal and unreasonable interpretation of Scripture. I don't see how we can ignore the following references to scripture...

2 Timothy 3:16

Note how it emphasizes all of scripture. God knows the nature of man and how we like to cherry-pick the scriptures and ignore the more uncomfortable parts. Therefore we have these reminders. Also, one of last references in Revelation is Rev 22:18-19 where Jesus admonishes us to not add or remove from His Word. What I don't understand is that the folks that say the Bible is not inerrant never point us to the places where it is errant. For us to believe them, we have to in essence take their word over God's. What about Is. 55:11 and Heb. 4:12? Again, they are trying to decide what's best instead of just taking God at His Word.

How do we come to faith in Christ? Do we do it by church membership? NO. Do we do it by our works - our theological degrees or what have you? No. Romans 10:17 plainly tells us that faith comes through hearing the word of God. Where is God's word found - in the Bible!

>Those that proclaim so loudly their love of the Bible and their belief in it are really narcisistic megolomaniacs that think they are the only ones able to read the Bible and understand it and that their interpretations have to be goose stepped by everyone else.

Wow, that's a provocative statement. So are YOU now judging them by looking into their hearts and discerning their intentions?

>Inerrancy isn't about the Bible, it's about Man becoming God.

Who's determining what verses are valid and invalid or errant? It's not God doing that, but man. Why do those that don't believe in inerrancy care so much that there are folks that do? Why is there such animosity towards those that do - that leads to a labeling of them as 'narcisistic megolomaniacs' and the like? This all points out that this is a spiritual problem and not one of reason or logic. Prayerfully consider what I'm saying.

>Jesus was a teacher. He didn't go around condemning sin or sinners. He taught people how to change their lives.

Jesus was more than a teacher. He was the God-Man. Also, I'd point out that He didn't teach US how to change OUR lives. We can't do anything to change our lives. It's only after recognizing our sin and depravity and realizing the hopeless condition we are in will we turn to Him to be Lord of our lives - and then the Spirit will come into our lives and change us from the inside out. We can NEVER do it on our own. To proclaim otherwise is to put our faith in ourselves or our works. Jesus is the only one that can change us into who He would have us be, and that is the real meaning of discipleship. That means dying to self daily and taking up our cross and following Him.

>The only group Jesus ever judged and condemned were the Scribes and Pharisees because they were judging and condemning everyone else...

He condemned them for a lot more reasons than that. I'd argue that it all stemmed from their hearts not being in the right place. What was going on in their hearts was a lot more important than their outward actions. For even Judas appeared to be 'the model Christian' on the outside yet we know that he didn't believe.

Roger

Snoofy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Snoofy said...

Roger,

You said some good things, however I see this ?inerrancy? issue much as a ?technical? argument. Some people don?t want to be compelled to say the Bible is inerrant for the sake of precision. The Dead Sea Scrolls show the existence of at least three discernable text types and editorial revisions extend significantly beyond the original compositions (see the very conservative scholar R.K. Harrison Introduction to the Old Testament p.219 - even the Torah existed in a number of textual forms). To say a material, physical biblical text had to exist that was ?inerrant? in the initially written ?original manuscripts? actually has come to been seen as a poor way to describe the transmission and canonization process, at least as far as the OT is concerned. The OT was copied manually by scribes in Jerusalem on hundreds of sheep skins many times over and existed in many copies. Which copy was the "inerrant" one when the text reached "canonical" form? Harrison says there were at least three different text types and they differed significantly. It's also hard to know exactly what the inerrancy theory buys you since no one thinks we have the inerrant copy today. Moderates react strongly to the inerrancy issue mainly because of the way it was used to kick them out of the SBC. We now have as professors in SBC seminaries only people who believe each book of the Bible had an original written form without any error on terresterial material which was textually like the Bible we have today. This is perhaps true in some very rough sense, at least this is what conservative evangelical scholarship should probably try to say. But in a technical and precise sense it is false.

Jesus believed OT prophesy could be comprehended and that it would come to pass. He didn't have a technical definition of inerrancy. That is a requirement of Paige Patterson and the Conservative Resurgence.

Greek Shadow said...

I read a book many years ago by Richard Thrumbrand. He was a Lutheran minister that spent most of his life in Communist prisons for being a Christian. He told of how all the Christians would preach to the others in the prison cells and many were saved. Then the Communists got smart. They identified all these preachers and put them together in one cell separated from the others. Those that were Orthodox, or Catholic, or Protestant then started bickering and arguing among themselves. The topic that started this debate was about how the largest Protestant Denomination in the World is dying. Maybe it is the internecine fighting and bickering like the debate that has raged on this comment page. Why would any unbeliever want to join churches in such caos?

Greek Shadow said...

Typo, that is Richard Thurmbrand title of Book "In God's Underground."

Anonymous said...

Snoofy,

Thanks for addressing my comments. I don't know why inerrancy is such a stumbling block for so many. Where is the pressure coming from to not have faith in God's Word? That's one of those questions that we need to seriously ponder. Would God give us His word in such a hap-hazard, shoddy way that his children would never have confidence in the Bible - or doubt it when challenged by an unbelieving world? If God can create us, the universe, and everything in it, He certainly can make sure that the Word that He has for us is properly preserved through the generations. If not, He is not in control - and not very trustworthy either. The fallout of the 'inerrancy doubting' church is evident in the worldly doctrines being adopted left and right - and those folks I suspect have no interest in whether inerrancy refers to a certain kind of precision or not - they are instead letting culture dictate their view of scripture because they are not sure that truth can be found or understood in God's Word. That's a faith problem. The end result is a church that acts more like the world than the other way around. Will the Holy Spirit work and move in a church that is worldly? A church may have great programs and the congregation may be pleased, but without the Holy Spirit, hearts are not being changed, lives are not being changed, and discipleship is nonexistent.

Roger