Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Historic Mending of a Denominational Split

If you are a fan of Christian unity, then you ought to be a big fan of this.

The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) and the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas (BMAT) are announcing an historic agreement (HT: Southern Baptist Texan, Baptist Progress) that will bring closer two groups of Texas Baptists who have been separated denominationally for a century.

This is progress toward good biblical unity—the "unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" mentioned in Ephesians 4, grounded in the "one"s of Ephesians 4. Neither side is compromising itself doctrinally (read carefully the terms of the agreement). Instead, the innate centripetal force of doctrinal unity is pulling together cousins in the faith heretofore separated only by the legacy of the sometimes-cantakerousness of their sibling-fathers.

16 comments:

Bob Cleveland said...

Good news, and also good news that someone, for the first time in my memory (since high school) used the word "centripetal" correctly.

Greg Alford said...

This indeed is very good news! And hopefully points toward a new age of greater unity among the next generation of Baptist than we have seen in the past generation of Baptist.

"centripetal"... Bob, I had to look it up :=)

David R. Brumbelow said...

I had a centripetal once, but the wheels came off.

Seriously, good news about our SBTC and BMAT.

David R. Brumbelow

Joe Blackmon said...

This is great news. I doubt that it would ever happen, but I hope this doesn't mean that the SBTC would consider mending fences with the BGCT. I suspect I have a few points with which I would disagree with the BMAT but at least I know that they are Christians and that the believe the Bible. If I were a Texas Southern Baptist, I could work with them in ministry despite those disagreements. I don't see how any Christian in good conscience could cooperate with the BGCT.

Bart Barber said...

Bob, Greg, and David. ;-) Hey, I know the high vocabulary standards of my readership, and I try to keep up!

Bart Barber said...

Joe,

Actually, SBTC churches are not, for the most part, divided from BGCT churches. FBC Farmersville, for example, is partnered with several BGCT churches through the Collin Baptist Association and with the vast preponderance of BGCT churches through the Southern Baptist Convention.

Yes, it is true that my church is not a member of the BGCT institution and does not contribute financially through the BGCT institution. Our reasons for doing so are simple: We do not see the wisdom of retaining 80% of our CP funds in Texas to (among other things) help Baylor reach for Tier-One University status (which I hope they achieve, but with money not coming from our offering plates) while a lost world goes to Hell. Also, we find that the SBTC better matches FBCF's theology than does the BGCT. We have little interest in footing the bill for a Christian Ethics professor to tell a class that he isn't ready to call homosexual sex a sin until he learns more about the causes of homosexual inclinations. The fact that these differences place me at odds with the institutional BGCT is well-documented.

However, my reticence to support the institutional BGCT does not mean that our church is separated from BGCT churches. No, we are not members of the BGCT. Neither is my hometown church in Lake City, AR. Is every SBC church from every other state separated from BGCT churches just because they belong to another state convention? Of course not. FBCF is no more separated from the churches of the BGCT than is every SBC church outside of Texas.

Look at it this way, Joe. Many SBC churches use an insurance provider other than Guidestone, whereas FBCF purchases insurance through Guidestone. Some of those who do not purchase insurance through Guidestone are angry at Guidestone (for coverage denied or whatever other unfortunate situation). Others are not angry, but have simply decided that another option makes for better stewardship for their congregation. The fact that our church uses Guidestone for insurance and another church uses another provider does not mean that the two churches are divided from one another, even if their differing choices arise out of differences of opinion. Even the churches angry at Guidestone are not out of Christian unity from another SBC church that purchases insurance from Guidestone.

SBC and BMA churches, however, have been almost entirely separated from one another for nearly a century. These developments are historic and exciting.

Joe Blackmon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Blackmon said...

Thanks for the explanation, Bart. That's what I get for trying to get a dig in on someone else who thinks that the SBCT and the BGCT should "mend fences". LOL

Bart Barber said...

Glad to explain, Joe. Certainly I'm not offering any sort of a reproof. I'm just giving you another way to look at things.

younglandmarker said...

I consider this a very sad day indeed. One of the agreed upon "Baptist Distinctives" is "2)baptism by immersion of believers only". 1) the historic Baptist position has been by baptism by immersion of believers only BY A PROPER ADMINISTRATOR. 2)the roots of the BMAT go back to the Landmark movement which came about as an attempt by men such as Graves, Pendleton, and Dayton to "reset the landmarks", or move back toward historic Baptist distinctives, even though contemporaneously the BMAT is moving away from this position. In case the reader may not be aware, Landmark Baptists believe that the authority of the Commission was given to the institution of churches begun by Jesus on the Shores of Galilee and those who would descend from the first church. We believe also that true Baptist churches descend from and hold to the teachings of the New Testament churches. We call immersions received that have been administered by churches (such as Methodist, Church of Christ, or Catholic) whose founding has been since Christ and who pervert the pure gospel to be invalid. We call such baptisms, even if by immersion, alien immersions. The apostle John wrote in 2 John 10:11 that to receive such baptisms would make a Baptist church guilty of assenting to these "churches'" false gospel, and therefore, there can be no more liberal position for a Baptist church to take other than perverting the gospel themselves or denying the fundamentals of the Christian faith.

Wade Burleson said...

Young Landmarker,

Thank you, sir, for proving the point I've been making for five years.

Where was your timely comment when I needed it as a trustee on the IMB, or on other occasions over the years when I pointed out our Convention was moving toward Landmarkism.

As it is a sad for you that your beloved BMAT is joining the SBTC, it is just as sad for me that my beloved SBC is becoming Landmark.

In His Grace,

Wade

Bart Barber said...

Huh?

Young Landmarker complains that BMAT is moving away from Landmarkism to affiliate with the SBTC, and Wade takes it as proof that the SBC is becoming Landmark? Young Landmarker's point seems clearly to be that BMAT is the one making the concessions in this arrangement.

This might be a fruitful conversation to have, Wade. I might, sometime in the future, post something to interact with your point of view. Of course, I remember how you promised to me on the phone that you would not mention me in a post unless you first called me and spoke with me about it, and I recall how I reciprocally promised the same to you. So before I do so, I'll let you know.

I plan to honor that promise.

Wade Burleson said...

Bart,

To dialogue about issues like this is very important. It sounds like you are implying that my post referring to this post is somehow not "honoring" a promise. In point of fact, I only gave you credit where credit is due in terms of where I received the information about the proposed ministry merger between BMA and SBTC. I wrote nothing of you personally, nor do I intend to do so.

However, if you wish to discuss the issue that Young Landmarker raises, I will be more than happy to jump in--in fact, I feel a post of my own in the making.

The SBCT and the SBC is being pushed toward Landmarkism. I've said it for FIVE years and I will continue saying it. Horrible policies that require SBC missionaries to be baptized by an "AUTHORIZED" baptizer is Landmark through and through.

Young Landmarker knows it, I know it, and anyone who is intellectually honest about the push toward Landmarkism in the SBCT and SBC knows it.

Wade

Bart Barber said...

Wade,

Feel free to post all that you wish about whatever you wish. Certainly you are going to do whatever you wish.

I wish to invest my time in more fruitful pursuits. May God bless your ministry in Enid.

Wade Burleson said...

Thanks Bart,

Blessings to your ministry as well. My post on neo-Landmarkism in the SBCT and the BMA will go up this week.

Chris Price said...

Oddly enough Young Landmarker is not BMAA or BMAT, but ABA.