Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What Is the "Baptist Identity Movement"?

If I am a part of any "movement" in Southern Baptist life with regard to Baptist identity, it is detailed here. Anyone wishing to affirm, critique, or analyze any "Baptist Identity Movement" of which I am a part should do so in reference to that document.


Tim G said...

Great point! I have tried to state this myself and yet few want to listen. It is clearly puzzling as to why the insistence of something that does not exist!

pastorsteveweaver said...

I affirm the "Baptist Identity Movement" of which you are a part. I must have missed something. Where's the controversy?

Bart Barber said...


There's a little bit of controversy. If you'll wonder to yourself where controversy usually comes from, I'll bet that you find the site labeling "Baptist Identity" as "Neo-Landmarkist" within three tries. :-)

peter lumpkins said...


Outside of a few blog posts, there is no Baptist Identity Movement. This is easily demonstrated by asking those who fling the "movement" term around just who belongs to it and could one get a copy of their forged beliefs.

One could also ask who the leaders are and who's the chief spokesperson for them and what you'll receive is a deafening silence.

The BIM is, in my view, little more or less than a blogging strategy to get people to read one's site.

"Insights" are stated which "prove" the blogger is in the know about Baptist life: "I wrote 2 years ago that it was going to come to this. Then I said 'the day is coming soon when the Lord's Supper will be refused to good, godly Christians'...It has happened just as I said."

Like an old baby rattle, "BIM" is really a bit boring now. So, "Neo-Landmark" is a new and improved "movement." Our former SBC candidate is not as creative. He just settles for "Landmark." Oh me, oh my...

I do like your linked document.

Grace. With that, I am...


Wes Kenney said...

Sign me up for that.

Joe White... said...

Does anyone else thing it a bit odd that some in the Southern BAPTIST Convention get up in arms about having a Baptist Identity?

Bart, that is a good and noble document. One that we should all be able to get behind. One question though, is the updated covenant that you seek going to be similar to your new church covenant?

Bart Barber said...


Our covenant is not even finished yet…I just made some edits this morning after our pastors' meeting. Of course, I have some influence upon the document, and of course, I advocate the development of some new standard as a covenant.

But our church covenant will be a product of our entire congregation. It would be presumptuous of me, before it is in its final form, to indicate what it will or will not be.

Ron P. said...


You know that is not going to happen. No matter how consistent you are at restating your views, it just is not going to happen.

We are all too aware, that for some bloggers, (and a few in particular) it has become the norm for them to (mis)label, (re)define, and (mis)characterize others and their beliefs to justify their preconceived conclusions. It is much easier to attack the bogeyman that some have created than to actually engage in what is actually stated. I do not expect that the name calling will stop.

BTW, I concur with Wes, sign me up for the 5th Century Initiative. It is a Biblically sound Baptist document. That is a "BIM" that I heartily endorse.


Ron P.

Dave Miller said...

I affirm the "Fifth Century Initiative" and everything in it (I'd love to see your idea of a church covenant).

I think the "Baptist Identity" issues which trouble some of us are the things raised by Malcolm Yarnell in his teachings on baptism and other issues.

The IMB issues, of course are the genesis of this discussion.

*Emphasizing the role of the "baptizer" to an unhealthy point - if you didn't get baptized in the right church or by the right kind of minister, it doesn't count.

*Exclusion from service of those with a private prayer language.

Baptist Identity is a term that Dr Yarnell and others have used in describing their beliefs, so it is not per se derogatory.

I think the heart of it is defining "being Baptist" on issues that are not covered in the FCI - closed communion, local/universal church.

I will be honest (then duck). I would love to see the Fifth Century Initiative become a purpose statement for the SBC. But when I read what Dr. Yarnell writes, it gives me the willies. (Caveat, I know he is an honorable man - I just disagree strongly with the views he has expressed about baptism, and other polity issues.)

I see a distinct difference between the two visions.

If the FCI goes to the floor of the convention, I will put on a skirt and lead cheers!

debbiekaufman said...

Again, speaking for myself only. When all of you quit excluding, applauding, quit having J316 type conferences, and what other things I have mentioned in my earlier comment, then I will believe you. Not before. There is a saying that I believe to be true. Actions speak louder than words.

Dave Miller said...

Of course, then it would fail miserably.

bapticus hereticus said...

The challenge is surely great, should one wish to embark on this initiative, to which I encourage, even if some initiatives are, in my estimation, less worthy of pursuit or already slated for failure. One wonders how, nonetheless, the journey will unfold; that is, the process is quite complicated considering the stated relationships and that the continuing search for meaning is only partially based on insights within and among periods listed below (which do not exhaust the possibilities):

1st century
17th century
21st century
1st century --> 17th century
17th century --> 21st century
1st century --> 21st century
21st century --> 17th century
21st century --> 1st century
17th century --> 1st century

I appreciate the challenge of historians, for their task is far greater and more important than we know. The historian surely knows that baptists have a better chance at being baptist and growing as a baptist (and baptist body) if a revititalization of cooperative association is embraced and practiced (given such facilitates a greater chance for comprehensive and deep knowledge), but this initiative will likely prove to be the most difficult in SBC. I wish it success.

CB Scott said...

This is not my first time to read this document.

Yet, today I read it with a renewed understanding as to the importance of our being watchmen of a sacred trust given us, not by the formation of the SBC in 1845, nor the beginning of the CP in 1925. but, because:

We have been entrusted with the gospel. We must live it, teach it and preach it with all our hearts, minds, bodies and souls, for it is the gospel given us by God who demands our love and obedience with all the afore mentioned faculties.

In addition, as were other brethern admonished before us by the ancient Jude who said:

"It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."

Certainly there are now, as were then, times we must contend for the faith.


Dave Samples said...


I've read through your initiative three times and I've yet to see anything that I cannot support. It does not appear to be divisive in any way. You have allowed for diversity within our convention while at the same time calling for a unity around fundamental core values that I believe we can all stand on. Unless I'm misunderstanding something, it appears that I agree with you! Well done!

Anonymous said...

I look forward to seeing the new Church Covenant.
I suppose I'm revealing my old fashioned nature, but I still like the old Church Covenant. Other than some old fashioned language, I find it amazing how well a document from around the 1850s speaks to us today.
Apparently Baptists in the 1850s had about the same problems we have today. Come to think of it, they also had about the same problems they had 2,000 years ago.
David R. Brumbelow

Jack Maddox said...


I find it somewhat confusing that one who holds to limited atonement and unconditional election would lecture someone else on being 'exclusionary'.



volfan007 said...


:) Thanks for making my day, Bro.


Would you consider me one of those BI fellas?



Bart Barber said...


I'll agree that "Baptist Identity Movement" is a term entirely coined by others and hung around my neck without my consent.

I will clarify, however, that I do believe that there are elements of historic Baptist theology that are biblical and that are being ignored by some Baptists. I do hope to see our obedience to those biblical principles restored. I don't know whether that makes a "Baptist Identity Movement" or not. But whatever you call it, that's what I'm trying to do.

Bart Barber said...

Joe White,

The phenomenon that you have described seemed strange to me years ago when I started this blog. Now, the novelty has worn off.

Bart Barber said...

Wes and Ron P.,

I never doubted your sentiments.

Bart Barber said...

Dave Miller,

If you wear a skirt to the SBC, I'll personally move to unseat you as a messenger. But when we kick you out, the SoulForce people will LOVE you!


Just kidding, brother.

Bart Barber said...


I welcome any wishes for success.

Bart Barber said...


I think that you could easily have written this.

Bart Barber said...

Dave Samples,


Bart Barber said...


When it is ready for release, I'll put it right out. I hope that I do not build such expectation in your heart that you are doomed to disappointment!

Bart Barber said...

Jack Maddox,


Bart Barber said...


"Baptist Identity" seems to be a label stuck on with somebody else's paste. You'll have to ask him.


debbiekaufman said...

Jack: That statement would show your misunderstanding of limited atonement, I am working on one now, but that is not for discussion here is it.

debbiekaufman said...

That should be I am working up a post on that very subject now...

Jack Maddox said...


Your response shows very simply your ignorance of the doctrine. Keep studying, I trust you will get it right!

: )


Dave Miller said...

I'm offended, sir.

I'm told I have nice legs for a fat guy!

Baptist Theology said...


I am not sure what gives you the "willies," but please be careful to read what I write and distinguish it from what certain vehement detractors write about me and my beliefs.

As for your admiration for the fifth century initiative, you may find it interesting to note that Dr. Barber and I wrote the SBTC resolution on regenerate church membership together, as well as the fifth century initiative, although I took the lead on the former and he on the latter.

If you really want to know what my beliefs are, please consult the fifth century initiative (mostly about ecclesiology) and my academic writings (which span the spectrum of theology). A list of them with some document links may be found at www.baptisttheologians.blogspot.com.

In Christ,

CB Scott said...

I don't know if I am a "BIMer" but I have spent the night in a BMW.


Dave Miller said...

Dr. Yarnell,

My opinions of your theology have been formed from reading your "White Papers" and blog comments.

My opinion is exactly as I stated. You seem to be an honorable man, who has a view of Baptist history, theology and denominationalism that I hope and pray the denomination as a whole will reject.

I wrote extensively on my site about what I found unbiblical about your view of baptism, though I am quite sure you have not spent much time reading the ravings of an isolated Sioux City pastor. I used your writings, not what others say about you, as the basis of that.

What I like about the the FCI, while I was aware you had involvement in its writing, is that it states things we can all believe, without some of the things you have said that make me uncomfortable (primarily, definitions of what a true church and a true Baptist are).

I have enjoyed your writing, respect your scholarship. It is your views that give me pause.

I apologize if my phrase "the willies" gave you any offense. I could have probably worded that better.

If you are ever bored, and you wish to read what I wrote about baptism, it is on the archives (May/June of 2008) at my blog, http:thistentsjustright.blogspot.com.

Again, I try to keep myself focused on ideas and not personalities and character. If "the willies" was inappropriate, I apologize for how I stated that.

Dave Miller said...

To be more accurate, Dr. White's paper on baptism on your site, and your comments on baptism that I read online formed the basis of what I wrote.

Baptist Theology said...


Be aware that sometimes I am impish. Sometime, I only put half of my statement on a blog, simply because I know somebody will run off with it in a direction that I never would. I am sorry that my impishness caught a man of your character in that way. You may be sure that my statements about a "true" church are one of those impish moments, one that I intend to let linger for a time. Just stay tuned for the second half....

In Christ,

Dave Miller said...

I'm embarrassed.

Here I am trying to argue with one of the preeminent theologians in the SBC, and he visits my site, and the first thing he finds is a typographical/grammatical error.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.