How now shall we play? Cooperating is one thing. Ecumenism another. Can these two agree in the Southern Baptist world? Let’s consider the past and present for a moment.
Another former SBC president, Herschel H. Hobbs, pastor of First Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, hosted an ecumenical gather in his church. Roman Catholics, Nazarenes, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Southern Baptists were “eating, laughing, praying, and singing together” at what Hobbs called a “rally for the Agency for Christian Cooperative Ministry.” Hobbs, the host pastor and a member of the steering committee of the proposed agency, explained, “I feel that by being here, I’m no less a Baptist, but much more a Christian.” Beale, David O.. S.B.C House on the Sand? Critical Issues for Southern Baptists . Greenville: Unusual Publications, 1985. 141.
More recently I’ve documented some ways in which Southern Baptists are working with non-SBCers.
One event that took place in Campbellsville, KY.
Churches from such denominations as Southern Baptist, Methodist, Church of God and Presbyterian were among the 25 sponsors of Gage’s Sept. 14-17 crusade, according to crusade chairman James Jones. (Source)
One for world hunger.
For 15 years, Bostick has headed up the Heart of Texas Good Samaritan Ministry…is a North American Mission Board missionary. Most of her financial support for the food ministry comes from domestic World Hunger Funds via area Southern Baptist churches…the Brownwood food pantry and warehouse also is an inter-denominational effort that involves about 200 Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Nazarene and Assembly of God volunteers. (Source)
Another with Bobby Welch in South Korea.
[Welch] visited South Korea in his role as Strategist for Global Evangelical Relations with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee…He also preached at First Glory Presbyterian Church…the first Baptist ever to preach at the church in northwest Seoul…Invited guests included representatives from the IMB, the Korea Baptist Convention, Korean Baptist churches and the BWA. (Source)
Considering the past and present examples above how should we react to such events? What does our statement of faith say around which we’ve agreed to cooperate?
Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ’s Kingdom. Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ’s people. Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament. (XIV. Cooperation: BFM)
I’d love to hear some of your reactions to these types of events. What is your reaction, especially, in light of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000? What should we strive for in the future concerning such events? Does this further the purpose of the SBC? If so, how?
For what it’s worth…