After posting some concerns I have about a couple of alarming things that are going on in Southern Baptist life, a friend asked me why I would want to remain a Southern Baptist. It’s a valid question and one I have asked myself. So I thought I would share a few thoughts here about why I remain a Southern Baptist.
1. Because Southern Baptists are a Christian people who are orthodox in their Trinitarian convictions, hold a high view of scripture, exalt the finished work of Christ on the cross for salvation, believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ, and believe that we should reach the nations with the gospel of Christ, calling all people to come to Christ in repentance and faith. I am at one and in agreement with the central convictions of Southern Baptists.
2. Because Southern Baptists ostensibly hold to the Baptist distinctives of regenerate church membership, believer’s baptism by immersion, and the priesthood of the believer.
3. Because Southern Baptists have resisted the siren song of theological liberalism and adhere to the truth claims of the Bible without abandoning them when they challenge the current cultural consensus.
4. Because Southern Baptists believe in the autonomy of the local church. Thus, many of the irksome elements we bemoan we are able to watch and speak to in an assembled convention meeting without having (many) of those irksome elements directly or injuriously impact our congregational life. We have no bishops informing us that we will do “a” or “b.”
5. Because Southern Baptists do have avenues of accountability whereby wrongs may be righted. We have a voice.
6. Because abandoning Southern Baptist life in reaction to the few who are being foolish hurts the many good folks who are doing great work here and abroad for the Kingdom of God. Thus, to stop giving to the Cooperative Program, for instance, in protest of the few really does hurt the many.
7. Because of the fundamental wisdom of the Cooperative Program and it’s capacity to do great good when administered rightly.
8. Because of our thousands of missionaries.
9. Because of a debt of loyalty I have for all that Southern Baptists have done for me and for my family. This loyalty is not unbreakable. There could, theoretically, be a time to walk away. But walking away from my Southern Baptist family would be just that: walking away from my family. I would have to determine that continuance in the Southern Baptist family was bringing shame to the name and cause of Christ. That is not the case.
10. Because of what I see in Southern Baptist people. I do not see the media caricatures as I watch Southern Baptists. Nor do I see, on the main, power politics and the things that gall us on the national stage. Instead, I see a group of people who love Jesus, love people, and who want to reach the world for Christ without abandoning the truth even when the truth is unpopular.
These are some of the reasons I remain a Southern Baptist.