Friday, June 2, 2006

Southern Baptists Losing Their Local-Church Emphasis?

Memphis Declaration

We publicly repent of having misplaced our priorities on the building and sustaining of institutions of secondary and far inferior importance than the local church.

The Memphis Declaration alleges that Southern Baptists have Demoted the Local Church. I completely agree. I think that we ought to support the institutions, and I propose strengthening, not weakening our financial and spiritual support of our seminaries and boards, but I think we are in serious danger of losing the Baptist Distinctive of local-church autonomy.
  • We have come to view the SBC too much as a denomination in the line of other denominations of churches that do not share our view of local-church autonomy. Thus, for example, if the convention doesn't enter church-planting partnerships with non-Southern-Baptists, then Southern Baptists are aloof. If the convention doesn't tell Southern Baptists to stay away from Disney World, then Southern Baptists have their head in the sand. I won't say that any of these things are bad. I merely object to the notion that "what Southern Baptists do" is exclusively or even primarily about what the convention does. I think it has more to do with what Southern Baptist churches do.
  • We've got this multi-site hogwash at work in our churches, which amounts to nothing more than pseudo-Methodist/Anglican/Catholic bishops presiding over multiple local congregations.
  • Thankfully, we're moving away from the most insidious form of tyranny over the local church—liberal professors and bureaucrats who demand financial support from the local churches while holding in disdain the theology of the local churches.
I can't repent of this one, because I've never been guilty. But I'll gladly applaud from the sidelines.

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