Tribalism and the SBC

A link came across my Facebook page today to a scathing article written by one of the Reformed watchbloggers lambasting Mark Driscoll for a video he did at his “Resurgence” conference this year. So, I watched the 21 minute video. It was typical Driscoll – everything some love and others hate about him. He made a lot of sense and his tone was often cloying at the same time. I will put a link to the video below, so you can watch it if you wish.

WARNING: I’m talking about Driscoll just to set up the post today. This is NOT about him and comments that are made about him – pro or con – will be put up against a wall and summarily executed by firing squad. I’m not interested in restarting that foodfight. I’m focusing on the topic he addressed and thought I should explain why I am addressing it. I find some of the things Driscoll does to be alarming, even inexcusable. On the other hand, when he speaks, I find that he makes a lot of sense sometimes. That is what struck me here. I am not endorsing Driscoll in any way, but his video started me thinking about a topic I think we need to address. Hence, I am addressing it – the topic, not Driscoll.

The video was about the tribalism in the modern America church. His thesis is that we have divided into tribes, with tribal chiefs, tribal markers, and an unhealthy dose of tribal warfare! That part seemed to make a lot of sense to me. Most of our tribes are based on our beliefs in 4 major areas, he says.

1) Reformed.   2) Arminian

3) Complementarian  4) Egalitarian

5) Charismatic  6) Cessationist

7) Missional  8) Fundamentalist

He then ticked off some of the tribes.  A 2-4-5 is a classic Arminian. A 1-3 would describe the Gospel Coalition tribe. 1-3-5 is Sovereign Grace while 1-3-7 is the Tim Keller tribe. The Calvary Chapel tribe could be described as a 2-3-5-7. He describes several more in the video, which you may watch if you wish.


1) The obvious flaw here is that these differentiations are more continuum than fixed points. The world is not made of of Reformed folks and Arminians. Most Christians fall in between those two options in some way. I live in the middle between cessationism and being a Charismatic.

2) The tribes of the SBC follow these general guidelines in some ways, but we represent a more limited continuum. We have few outright charismatics, nor are there many among us who embrace the term Arminian.

3) The last differentiation, Missional and Fundamentalist, is pejorative and unhelpful. What he is talking about is philosophy of social engagement. Missional seems to have a different connotation outside the Baptist world sometimes. Missional is used to refer to those who seek cultural relevance. Fundamental describes those who confront or withdraw from culture. Obviously, Driscoll favors the missional side and the fundamental side is held in low esteem. A better set of descriptors needs to be devised.

Baptist Tribes

Still, I think he is on to something here. These are the issues we argue about to a large degree. I would describe our tribes in this way. If you feel like I am being pejorative, it is not my intent. I’m trying to be descriptive and informative here – thinking through what I have gleaned from observing Baptist life.

1)Reformed to Modified Arminian.

There are so few full Arminians in the SBC (especially those who believe in apostasy) that it hardly bears mention. There are a few modified Arminians out there on one end and a sizeable minority of Reformed Baptists on the other.  Most of us describe ourselves between those 2 poles. Traditionalists-other non-Calvinists-Molinists-Antinomists – 3 and 4 pointers.

My sense is that there is a smaller (size is obviously in the eye of the beholder) group on both ends – primarily for 5-pointers and for some Traditionalists – for which this is the only key tribal issue. They are either in the Reformed Tribe or the Traditionalist Tribe and little else matters. For most of us in the in-between groups, Reformed vs. Traditionalist is not the be-all, end-all of tribal identity. We see the Calvinism Wars as pointless, fruitless and a distraction. Those passionately in the Traditionalist Tribe or the Reformed Tribe do not always agree. For them, either promoting Calvinism or stopping its threat is a first-order, watershed issue. I’ve had people on both sides of this tell me I am naive for saying this is not a huge issue. To me, it is not. To others, it is.

2) Complementarian to Egalitarian.

This is one of the more clearly defined issues.  While there are certainly levels of complementarianism – from almost patriarchal views to more centrist positions – you can’t really be in-between on this. Either the husband is meant to be head of the home and the wife is meant to walk in equality of person with a complementary role, or the wife’s value as a person is determined by equality of role and responsibility. You are either complementarian or egalitarian – there is precious little wiggle room here.

3) Continuationist to Cessationist. 

Continuationists believe that much of the gifting/manifesting work of the Holy Spirit continued after the Apostolic era. The Cessationist believes such is not the case, that tongues, prophetic words and such “miraculous” gifts passed away at either the closing of the canon or the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. This one is more easily described. It is also a key Southern Baptist differentiation. While there are plenty of cessationists across the spectrum, one of the key points of conflict  between the Reformed Tribe and other groups has been the extent of the role of the Holy Spirit. Much of what many of us think of as normal Christian living is disdained by those in the Cessationist Tribe, especially those of the Reformed Cessationist Tribe. It becomes a major point of conflict.

4) Cooperationists to Confrontationalists

How should Christians engage culture? This is my attempt to improve on Driscoll’s wording  – missional and fundamental. Maybe you can come up with better nomenclature. The Cooperationist looks at our culture and tries to engage it in a relevant way. The Confrontationalist looks at the culture as sinful and wicked and approaches it more suspiciously.

I don’t want to get too personal here, but let me use an example. Jared Moore wrote a Bible Study  book based on the Harry Potter series. Those of you who thought that was brilliant cultural engagement would likely be Cooperationists. We cooperate with elements of the culture to shine the light of Christ and to transform lives. Those of you who thought it was a horribly bad idea to use Rowling’s book series as the basis for a Bible study would tend toward the Confrontationalist Tribe.

5) Yessies to NoNos.

This is one I’m adding just for us Southern Baptists. It is an outflow of the Cooperation/Confrontation conundrum, but it is different enough that it deserves separate billing. Many of our most intense battles in blogging have been battles between the Yessie Tribe and the NoNo tribe. I would direct you to a previous article of mine that examined Romans 14 and the meat sacrificed to idols issue in the early church. To (over?)simplify, Yessies believe that if something is not specifically forbidden in Scripture, it is permitted to the follower of Jesus Christ, if he does it with a clear conscience and a sense of Christ’s Lordship. The NoNoes believe that there are many things that should not be done by Christians even though they may not be specifically prohibited. Read the linked article for a fuller and hopefully more nuanced explanation.

We would often use the terms legalists and antinomians to describe these ends of the spectrum, but those are the kind of pejorative terms I’m trying to stay away from.

Final Thoughts

This was meant to be much briefer than it has turned out to be. Let me close with some conclusions.

1) Tribalism is a normal human reaction. Just look at how we cheer for sports.

2) Tribalism is not de facto sinful. There’s nothing wrong with me enjoying the company of like-minded people.

3) Tribalism can become destructive when we isolate from one another, when we start viewing the other Baptist tribes as our enemies, or worse, the enemies of Christ and the gospel.

4) One of our problems is that we a lot of time talking about one another. I’m discouraged at the way members of one tribe ridicule or denigrate those in the other tribe. It is sad, and yes, I’m going to say it – it often becomes sin! We need to engage one another with godly grace, brotherly kindness and proper honor.

Should I tell you which of the tribes is the biblically correct one? Perhaps that would be counterproductive.


Here is Driscoll’s video if you are interested in watching it.


    • Dave Miller says

      Actually, Driscoll describes himself as a 1-3-5-7. I’m not far from that myself, though I’m not really reformed or charismatic. I’m a 4-pointer with antinomist leanings, who believes in continuationism. I’m sort of a 7.5 on cultural engagement. Dangers on both sides there.

  1. Bob says

    So I guess I’m a 1-3-5.5-7-8.

    Yes, I think 7 and 8 should really go together – be in the world but not of the world.

    I say “amen” to this post because I know my own tendency is to only hang out with folks in my tribe(s) and there have actually been some losses in fellowship due to negligence on my part. What I mean is that we often fail to be intentional in keeping relationships and fellowship open with brethren who don’t share the same views.

    However, as a #1 triber living in Mississippi, it’s kind of difficult sometimes to find many folks that really want to fellowship with you, and so I think that’s why this is a good post that all sides need to think through.

  2. Matt says

    Dave, if I could identify Baptist tribes for what you’ve labeled, here’s my two cents worth.
    1) Missional v. Associational (a true Fundamentalist wouldn’t be in the SBC, by the way): Will the kingdom advance through engaging culture via a flexible ecclesiology of related churches or through autonomous churches in an association?
    2) Complementarianism v. Beth Moore supporters: Why is it that many SBC-ers aren’t for women pastors-teachers but are comfortable with Beth Moore?
    3) Particular atonement v. General atonement: No definition needed on this one.
    4) Gen-Xers v. WWII generation: There’s clearly a generational gap that lacks effective communication between each other.

    • Matt says

      Forgot the cessationist v. continuist one. I’d say it’s more …

      5) Word-led v. Spirit-led: Where’s the greater emphasis on how we obey subjectively, make decisions, organize church services?

        • Matt says

          Didn’t intend for those labels to be read pejoratively, just trying to make a dichotomy like the other categories. Obviously both would seek to be biblical and rely on the Spirit. The key words are ‘greater emphasis’.

          • Matt says

            If the term “WW2 generation” offends, then I’d be glad to call it “The Greatest Generation,” as Tom Brokaw does.

          • Dave Miller says

            I see your point, but I think that terminology won’t work because neither side will embrace it. It has a negative connotation attached.

      • says

        We who are continuationists are that because we believe that is the teaching of the word. We do not accept that we are not led by the Word. We are led by the Word to embrace the active power, spiritual guidance and miraculous work of the Spirit.

        I don’t think, on the other hand, that cessationists would like to be described as being opposed to being spirit-led. (They are just biblically wrong – sorry, couldn’t help myself).

        • Matt says

          I was just going off classifications listed on Wikipedia for Gen-Xers & The Greatest Generation. Of course, there is the Generation Y, or Millennials, as well. What other generational terms would people use?

          • Greg Buchanan says

            You forgot the “Baby Boomers”

            They are the really screwed up ones in between WWII and Gen X :-)

  3. dean says

    What you have identified for me is that I am evidently an island. I would have to be 1 but that is no where descriptive of who I am but rather who I am not. I eat breakfast with a few Methodist brothers each week. They listen to me speak of reformed theology and will include me in their tribe every now and then. I am quick to let them know that I am no where near their tribe. Its amazing we never have an issue when I state that to them but I can’t make such a claim when I say that to some of my fellow Baptist.

    I am a solid 3.

    I am a modified 6. See description of why I am a 1.

    I am a modified 8. See same description of why I am a 1 and 6.

    Mark Lamprectht prayed one time for my tribe to decrease. Man that guy can pray. I am the only one in my tribe.

    • says

      My point above was that the key was not that one tribe or the other grew or diminished, but that we learn how to interact with grace and honor.

      • dean says

        I was hoping to echo that sentiment by demonstrating that the truth is that many of us have beliefs that are not simple to put into a certain tribe. An illustration is that to my Methodist friends I am a reformed pastor. To my reform Baptist brethren I am a trad or semi pelagian or something. If we practice tribalism without grace we surely are going to be lonely. For few of us think exactly the same on all issues, e.g. young earth, old earth, worship style, theory of inspiration, etc…

      • Dave Miller says

        To a certain extent, all theological positions are relative. I might be accused of having charismatic leanings by hardcore cessationists, but my charismatic friends would see my views very differently.

        I’m pretty conservative, but one blogger used to call me moderate all the time because of views I held.

        • dean says

          Exactly Dave, the fact that others view us in certain ways through their lens only heightens the fact that we must be gracious. My natural response is for me to define who I am and why my way is better when I perceive such is happening. Dave, I have an observation that I hinted to earlier that I would love to hear some reply on. I can tell and be told by pastors who I fellowship with in other denominations that one is simply wrong and it doesn’t seem to be offensive. Why is that when we as fellow Baptist declare one of the other is wrong we square off and squabble? Is it merely because we want our views to be considered the mainstream view of what all Baptist belief? We are in the norm and you are on the fringe mentality? Could it be that we feel that if our side wins we will have control? I have a church of God pastor that I used to fellowship with we would talk about being baptized in Jesus name only and various ideas about that. Our time together is some of my most precious memories though he knew I thought his denomination was wrong on this issue.

          • Dave Miller says

            Not sure. One thing might be that your other conversations are in person, not on blogs. We all tend to behave better in person than we do on blogs.

  4. Bart Barber says

    I wasn’t sure where I fit in all of this, so I asked my wife: She said I’m a 10.

  5. says

    By the way, there is a good article at First Things on this same video today. I read that article, but it is not the one to which I referred above. Just wanted to clarify.

  6. says

    I think the main idea of Driscoll (if I am understanding him correctly) is a valid one: the Body of Christ is broader than any one of our particular tribes, and although we don’t need to necessarily renounce our tribal beliefs or distinctives, nor (at least some of) our cooperative efforts along specifically tribal lines, if we are to recognize and put into practice the reality of the broader Body of Christ, we should be pro-active in taking steps to more frequently expose ourselves to the ideas of those from other tribes and to rub shoulders with them.

    Also, one nuanced position between full-blown complementarianism and egalitarianism might be that of complementarians like myself who also believe the NT allows for female deacons. Another might be “egalitarians” who accept women elders, but still affirm some version of male headship in the home.

  7. says

    I have not looked at the Driscoll video yet. I might and then again I might not. The point that interests me is the continuum idea. We seem to be duced mixtures of both points of each continuum. In other words there are some elements of truth in each pole, but the problem is how to get at the truth in the pole. Consider a subject I once heard a Calvinistic, Reformed preacher preach: Ten Things A Sinner Can Do To Be Saved. He was, by the way, a leader in the Sovereign Grace movement for many years. I also gave some thought to the Offering and Operations of Grace thing view, the cause of a lack of evangelism in the Strong Calvinists of England in the 1700s and 1800s and even down to this day, and yet the truth is that such preaching could be just as evangelistic as the Offering kind. How? By the presentation of Christ, the lifting up of Christ before the eyes of sinners in such a way that they literally find it impossible to resist, in other words, the effort is to present the truth in its most irresistible fashion, in a fashion so wonderful that the sinner would not want to resist it.

    Take the Egalitarian Position, some folks might find it hard to believe, but some of the Calvinists of the Puritan period were Egalitarians, especially among the Baptists and Congregationalists. And why not? If we are members of the family of God, then brothers and sisters cannot lord over each other. They must exhort one another as brothers and sisters. Could that be why Matthew Poole allowed for Eldresses?

    And where is our tooted freedom of religion, liberty of conscience, when we do body slams on the Traditionalists/ After all, it was the Calvinists of the 1700s who had the numbers and yet came up with allowing for those who believed the Christ had tasted death for every man, due to their inability to grasp the context in Hebs.2. since these folks had suffered with the Calvinists in the period of persecution, the Calvinists felt ashamed that they were now looking on their brethren in less than brotherly terms. Hence, the union of 1787-1800 which enabled the SBC to function for almost two hundred years with a major theological difference being allowed. Now Dr. Patterson has practically made it possible for both groups to work together with his blog on Election last fall on SBC Today. Take a look at the blog I wrote on it on SBC Today about Patterson’s Points being the spur to a new unity and amity. Let’s get these folks who differ to stop wounding one another and start to work together on the same side. After all, with all of our differences, the SBC has been supporting the largest mission force in Protestant Christianity for many years. We just simply can’t permit that force for good to end in a disaster.

  8. Louis Cook says

    Would you expand on the quote copied below? Thanks.

    While there are plenty of cessationists across the spectrum, one of the key points of conflict  between the Reformed Tribe and other groups has been the extent of the role of the Holy Spirit. Much of what many of us think of as normal Christian living is disdained by those in the Cessationist Tribe, especially those of the Reformed Cessationist Tribe. It becomes a major point of conflict.

    • Dave Miller says

      Reformed Cessationists tend to disapprove of things that continuationists find normal and biblical. Pretty straightforward.

      • Louis Cook says

        Well without a single example given it is not so straightforward to me. Thanks for not shedding any further light on your statement. I’ll seek other sources.

        • Dave Miller says

          Tell me what you think and I’m gladto interact. I suspect you are trying to make a point, here. The floor Is yours.

          • Louis Cook says

            No, not trying to make a point nor be a thorn as my last post may have sounded. Just interested in some examples from your statement or an unpacking of some of the words used.
            I understand that a Cessationist would believe that prophecy, healing and speaking in tongues ended with the death of the Apostles. So what is it that they “disdain” that Continuationists find normal? Is it those three things already mentioned or other examples of the working of the Holy Spirit? Thanks.

          • Dave Miller says

            “God led me to resign this church and move to a new church” – the inner, subjective ministry of the Holy Spirit. I believe it is real. Cessationists disdain that – often ridicule it in the strongest terms.

            I’m talking about stuff like that.

        • says

          Dave got to an example but let me elucidate (hopefully) I for one (a former Charismatic) think people subjectivize the Holy Spirit to the point of blasphemy at times, by blaming him for bad decisions. Years ago Grudem write something about NT prophets would be better off saying “It Seems to me the Lord is saying…”. Regardelss of where Grudem stands on all that, most people leave out the “It seems” in referring to the “leading of the Spirit.” I don’t mean just semantically leave it out, I mean they completely ignore the concept!
          I believe, on the other hand, that God speaks to us through His word. Might he impress us with something? A direction or an interest or a desire to change something? Sure I think He can and does. I know He convicts of Sin, and his Spirit assures us that we are His people.
          But when you get to saying “God said, I should get that dark blue mercedes not the red one because that would just be arrogant for me to be that flashy.” Then I think God would call that “adding” to His Word.

  9. Rick Patrick says

    Driscoll is right about one thing…we do have our tribes. But I don’t think we Southern Baptists have quite as many as the broader evangelical world.

    And there’s something about all this that strikes me as interesting. As we become less and less denominationally oriented, tearing down those walls of division and saying, “Let’s all just be one in Christ,” we still erect the walls of tribalism within our so-called unity.

    The result is a tribal friction within our group where there used to be a cross-denominational respect for those outside our group. I wonder if we were not better off with those clear denominational demarcations.

    • Scott Shaver says

      I do remember a day when you could sense among local baptist pastors the kind of cross-denominational respect for those outside our group you mention.

      Sadly, it’s a different landscape of attitudes within the SBC than it was twenty years ago. Too many ministries have been scrapped and too much apologetic ink has been spilled for the SBC to ever get back to that memorable place … in our lifetime anyway.

      Causes me to wonder along with you as to whether or not we were better off with the demarcation lines.

  10. William Thornton says

    I would ask Dave and other commenters here to identify the SBC tribes that were visible and active ten years ago. When did we start talking about tribalism in the SBC and why?

    My experience is that the tribal approach to SBC life, once the CR was completed, is strictly a Calvinist thing. What other self-identified subgroup of Southern Baptists formed themselves into a movement to allegedly recover lost theological correctness?

    I know of none.

    The partial Arminians did not, nor the egalitarians or complementarians. There has always been a loud subgroup of disgruntled Southern Baptists who were less cooperative so there’s nothing new there. The bellicose Baptists we have with us always.

    And only just recently have we had activated an identifiable group who calls themselves Traditionalists and this is clearly a reactionary, counter reformation to the growing influence and power of Calvinists.

    Which of these groups, can be identified as blowing up churches on the basis of their theology? Not Arminians. Not egalitarians. Seldom charismatics, who haven’t had a lot of impact in the SBC since the 1970s. Calvinists.

    I’m on record here and elsewhere as being middle of the road on SBC Calvinists. I appreciate their contributions to the SBC. They alone are responsible for starting serious talk in the SBC about soteriology. The only data I have seen shows that they baptize more than non-Calvinists. And I appreciate that Mohler et al have ratcheted down the rhetoric and the tribal drum beating now that it is such a problem among us.

    I think it incomplete to speak of SBC tribalism and not recognize these things.

    I don’t know of a solution to this. If the creation of SBC tribes only fostered healthy debate and discussion, while maintaining respect and appreciation for the contribution of all, this might not be spoken of as a negative part of SBC life.

    Looks to me like we are at a place where we will be in for some grief, though.

    Maybe Frank Page’s committee has some magic pill that will fix this. I rather think not.

    • Dave Miller says

      No expert on this, but the two primary driving forces as I see it are the rise of Calvinism in the SBC and the rise if non-traditional church models – Saddleback, contemporary, hipster, “culturally relevant” etc.

      • Louis Cook says

        Now I think you are on the right track here. After more than a decade in Northern California and being in involved in two very different SBC churches, I think that I can both agree here and shed some light on this. Churches that in no way publicly acknowledge any connections to the SBC is now the norm here. They may give a small set amount to the Cooperative Program like a Saddleback does but otherwise they rarely talk about being Baptist in belief. I went to a SBC church that had never heard of Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong or transferring a membership. They did follow as gospel everything Saddleback, Willow Creek and Northpoint did or advised.
        I am now able to both fully understand and appreciate why many churches do not advertise “Baptist” in their name if that is seen as a potential barrier to visitors but do not agree with not adressing being Baptist, why or why not, once people are members. It is to me as if there is shame in the name.
        The history of Baptists has been one of seeking to fulfill the Great Commission and not trying to be a hip and culturally relevant coffee club. Sadly that seems to be a relic of the past in the minds of some.

        • volfan007 says


          I appreciate what you said, when you said this, “The history of Baptists has been one of seeking to fulfill the Great Commission and not trying to be a hip and culturally relevant coffee club. Sadly that seems to be a relic of the past in the minds of some.” My heart is sad about this, as well…..there seems to be a movement afoot that just throws doctrine to the wind….doesnt really matter, anymore… and, I’m talking about doctrines that are extremely important.


          • volfan007 says

            In some Churches, doctrine doesnt even matter. They’d rather teach self help, 6 step sermons, or discuss the benefits of staying physically fit, or how to be a better you; than to preach the Gospel. There are some Churches, where the Bible is really never, actually taught…just topical, shallow sermons on being a better Dad, or how to make friends, or being more loving.

            Thank God for the Churches, which do believe in preaching the Gospel, and in teaching the Bible.


          • Dave Miller says

            David, it may be true in some of the more modern “hip” churches that doctrine is not a key issue, but some of the more culturally relevant churches I know are also among the more doctrinally grounded and sound.

            Also, we have to be careful to act as if traditional SBC churches are somehow devoid of cultural aspects. We are not. Its just that we are relevant to a different culture – one rooted in the past.

            It is too easy for us to act as if traditional churches are Bible-based and more hipster churches are not. I do not think that is a fair assumption.

          • volfan007 says


            I wasnt talking about the more hip Churches vs. old, traditional churches…I was talking about some of the more hip churches, which throw doctrine to the wind. Those “relevant” hip churches that dont throw doctrine to the wind are A OK in my book.

            I like contemporary, worship music…not rock concert type, but worshipful contemporary music…and, I like coffee…and, I hate wearing ties.


          • says

            I don’t think I can bring myself to whole heartedly agree with a Vols Fan so I]m just gonna sit this one out. I’m of a different tribe. 😉

        • Greg Harvey says

          It isn’t “hip” to consistently reaffirm the simplicity of day-to-day activities surrounding the local congregation. It is a very Baptistic practice to de-emphasize tradition and to re-emphasize Scripture. We don’t see terms like Cooperative Program in the Bible and simply explaining the meaning of it is a distraction from the direct ministry of the Gospel: which is to say it takes time and energy to sell the mindset and the programs.

          I don’t think we should overfocus on these as essential features of local church life. Though I do agree it is appropriate to emphasize them as our primary platform for cooperation as Southern Baptists. If the local church isn’t actively making disciples, teaching them everything that Jesus taught us, and baptizing them into the faith, then let me be the first to say we don’t need their money in the SBC. They need to focus on first things first.

          If they are doing those things locally, then their vision will expand and today’s local church is better prepared for leaving the boundaries of their Jerusalem and participating in the effort to reach Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost ends of the earth. But at some point, realistically, they will reach the end of their own resources and abilities and especially for smaller churches the Cooperative Program gives them a platform for participation through combined giving with other churches.

          We just need to be realistic about what is necessary and what is sufficient when it comes to the Great Commission. Some things are sufficient but aren’t necessary. NONE of the Baptist-specific programs are necessary: God can accomplish his will with or without us.

          But most of these Southern Baptist programs ARE sufficient in their purposes and are in clear alignment with God’s desires for churches to the extent that they cannot accomplish the same thing themselves.

          I think the tough nut to crack is that a larger church often has better economies of scale and can do more on its own without necessarily enduring the same level of sacrifice as in a smaller congregation. That probably is where the fulcrum point is on frustration with smaller percentage of giving from larger churches being much more significant portions of giving than larger percentages at smaller churches.

        • SFG says

          I am a member, and part of the team that planted, a new Southern Baptist church in San Diego. We do not have “Baptist” in our name, nor do we advertise that we are a Baptist church for the simple reason that in our community the word “baptist” is a negative term to the majority of the population.
          It would be true that the majority of our members and attenders have never heard of Lottie Moon nor Annie Armstrong. It would also be true that the majority of our members and attenders are new believers or believers who had not gone to church for 10 years or more. We would believe that being “culturally relevant” in our community/neighborhood does not make us a “coffee club” but helps us as we seek to fulfill the Great Commission in our community and around the world.
          And yes, doctrine does matter to us. But it is also important for to talk about God and his truths in a way our neighbors can understand it, and for us to explain what we believe in both word and action.

          • volfan007 says

            BTW, it’s not just some of the “relevant” hip Churches that throw doctrine to the wind. I also know of some Churches that sing off of piano and organ music, and sing all the “Amens” at the end of the old, high brow hymns, which throw doctrine to the wind, as well. And, their Pastors could up, and preach little, 10-15 minute sermonettes on being nice to everybody. And, their people in the pew could care less about doctrine. They have a Church Country Club, and that’s really all they want it to be.

            Also, I know of some old time, country, traditional Churches, which care less about doctrine…even though they’d tell you that they do care. But instead, they’re all about family and traditions….

            So, I was not talking about all hip, “relevant” Churches. Although, I do think that too many newer, hip Churches do fit into the dont care about doctrine, and dont support Baptist mission work mold….and, that is sad. I personally wish that they’d be hip and “relevant,” and that they would also preach and teach the Bible, and emphasize giving to SB missions, and participating in SB missions. I wish that more of them would really care more about things like Believers Baptism by immersion, and being congregational, and such….


  11. Joe Blackmon says

    No surpise that Driscoll doesn’t like barriers. He and McDonald tossed softballs at TD Jakes so they could affirm him as Trinitarian. I mean, they asked questions and a Jehovah’s Witness or a Mormon could affirm.

    As Dave has pointed out before, there are brick walls and picket fences. The problem come, I think, that there are folks that want to hold hands and sing Kum-by-ya whilst having a Coke and a smile. Where the problem comes is when these people want to extend grace and paitience to folks that are obviously not orthodox (a la the Conservatives like Dilday during the CR who weren’t willing to rid the convention of moderates). That’s all moderates need to get a toe-hold….conservatives who are willing to co-exist with them.

  12. volfan007 says

    Dwight McKissic…are you looking in? I just wanted to tell you that I wish you could attend my Church this Sunday night, and next Wed. night. I think you’d love it….and, I wish you’d be there to “Amen” the sermon. I’m preaching thru the Book of Acts right now…on Sunday nights and Wed. nights….goinig thru Romans on Sunday am….anyway, I’m on Acts 10, right now…..about Peter and Cornelius….and the title I’ll be using for the sermons on this passage is, “Is God White?” I plan on challenging my people to the core of their being about racism….


    • Dwight McKissic says


      I admire your application of those text & your courage to preach it from that vantage point. As a Black preacher, it is important for me to preach about racism as well from the vantage point of Black toward White racism.

      Racism is a sin. And no race has a monopoly on racism-including Whites. And there is no sin Blacks cannot commit-including the sin of racism. If both White & Black preachers faithfully preach & model racial equality, inclusion & solidarity we will see a change in our churches & society.

      May The Lord bless your preaching this next week. I too wish I were there to hear it. I am tempted to come but in the midst of a 40 day fast. Traveling triggers my appetite so I won’t yield to the temptation. Temp me again though when I am eating & I know you know where to go to make sure I get a good down home meal.

      • volfan007 says


        My wife can cook. She can really cook. The evidence is seen by looking at me. If you’re ever in this neck of the woods, I’m sure that she would cook you a good ole, down home, Southern meal that would delight your taste buds.

        Also, Dwight, I know that you’re right….racism cuts both ways. In another Association that I used to be in….we asked a good, solid, Black Church to join with us…to be a part of our Association…the Pastor wanted to join, but he met with some resistance amongst his Deacons, especially in one of the older Deacons, who had a lot of influence in the Church. He did not want to join with White People. That was sad.


  13. Frank L. says

    Tribalism is most deeply reflected by how we parody ministries we don’t like for whatever reason–like suggesting Saddleback throws “doctrine to the wind.”

    The impetus behind tribalism is ignorance and envy a great deal of the time it seems to me. Tribalism flourishes when groups substitute pronouns for a direct article.

    “Our” way becomes “the” way. Or worse we confuse pronouns. “Our” way becomes “His” way.

  14. Jess Alford says

    I think the reason we now have so many different tribes is that no one
    knows where the Gospel center is really located. We have become like bees, we can smell the honey but just can’t locate it. The Gospel center suppose to be Jesus, It’s not that way anymore. Too many people worship the tribal leaders instead of the one who died for their sins.

    I refuse to commit myself to a tribe, since there is probably just one of me anyway.

    I just try to stick to the BFM63, and go on about my business. Who ever preaches anything different is wrong so I pray for them.

  15. says

    1 – 3 – 5.5 – 7.5 …although it occurs to me that Driscoll was referring to tribes rather than individuals. So it’s a bit fruitless to identify our personal convictions when talking about tribes. Just a couple of other observations:

    #5 sounds like the difference between the Regulative and Normative principles of worship, although those terms could be used in a broader sense.

    Regarding #4, using your terminology, Dave, it is ironic for cooperationists to go tribal against the confrontationalists.

  16. cb scott says

    Tribes? Let’s see . . . . . .

    If I had been a Catholic, I would have joined up with the Jesuit Tribe.

    If I had been a Mormon, I would have joined up with the Danite Tribe.

    However, since I am a Southern Baptist, I just naturally joined the CR Tribe.

    • Greg Harvey says

      I’d join the Groucho Marx tribe, but only if they wouldn’t have me as a member, of course…

        • says

          Christine: Do you know the history of the Jesuits? I don’t know whether CB does or not, though I would not be surprised, if he did. Being identified as a Jesuit kinda puts a fellow in Baptist circles not in a good light…due to their history. Though I do know the present Pope is a friend of the Billy Graham of South America…They have prayed together. Even so one wonders about them folks who were kicked out of the church for about 70 years….There is the problem of their communist experiments in South America in Uraguay and Paraguay back int eh late 1600s and early 1700s…and their relationships with the illuminati, the issue of the Black Pope running the papacy instead of the regular asetting pope? See what I mean? Not saying no Catholics are saved. Just saying I remember when CAtholics threatened to beat up my members of a small Baptist church nearly 50 years ago in Missouri over a our opposition to a state school bus bill that would have given them the opportunity to get their students hauled to Catholic schools at tax paers expense. We even showed our good will by handing out their materials at our church. They still threatened us. Hard to forget that kind of stuff. ON the other hand I have a Catholic girl who within the last year brought a recliner for my wife (an invalid) gratis. Have had many Catholic friends, but also studied the history of the Inquisition…Not a pleasant subject.

          • Christiane says

            Hi DR. WILLINGHAM,

            the Church has two-thousand years of baggage, not all of it good, some of it absolutely dreadful (i.e. Spanish inquisition) . . . but there was always hope in the Church . . . the first hospitals, and the first universities (some still in existence) . . . and education has always been a top priority . . .

            I attended a small prep school in Virginia (Catholic) and I had to take three city buses to get there . . . there were no public school buses available for us, and no one minded in those days and in that place,
            but I am sorry to hear that your area experience political pressure that amounted to bullying over bus service privileges.
            There is never any excuse for that kind of behavior, least of all from a Christian people.

            I’m glad someone was kind to your wife with the gift of a needed recliner . . . but likely that act of kindness was motivated by Christ’s love which impels all Christian people to reach out to others in a caring way.
            Kindness has no denomination; nor does patience, nor love, nor any good work done for the love of Christ and in His Holy Name . . . I know that the gift of having loving-kindness for others is a mark of the whole Church, Dr. Willingham. . . . people that love live in God, and He lives in them, as we have been told in sacred Scripture.

  17. Donald says

    ” two primary driving forces as I see it are the rise of Calvinism in the SBC and the rise if non-traditional church models ”

    I think you’ve hit it. Theological subgroups do tend to group together, sometimes to the detriment of that group. The groups with the most energy are going to be the one’s getting the most attention. My “tribe” falls into age-integration and homeschool (along with all the associated trends) and we are constantly fighting against tribalism. It is all to easy to look down on those who are “wrong” where we are “right”. I often remind our folks that the defense of those beliefs that we hold most dear begin with “patterns” and “normative” and “model” and “seems to be” rather than “thus saith the Lord”.