The Convention will only deem a church to be in FRIENDLY Cooperation…which…has not intentionally operated in…opposition to the doctrine expressed in the [BFM2K]. —EMPHASIS Mine
I am committed to cooperating with Southern Baptists no matter how the convention might choose to characterize that cooperation. While I prefer the designation friendly cooperation, if my choices are between “friendly non-cooperation” and “unfriendly cooperation,” then I will choose the latter, instructing our financial ministry assistant to forward all funds through denominational channels with a scowl planted firmly upon her face.
My wife and I were there in Orlando in June of 2000. We cast our ballots in favor of the BFM2K. However, in the last three churches I have served, at the time of my call, I agreed with the Search Team to abide by the custom established by each church in the matter of observing the Lord’s Supper. For the last sixteen years, anywhere from four to six times per year, I have led my church in the practice of Open Communion—intentionally operating in opposition to the BFM2K.
I know the above rule was not written to marginalize Open Communionists like me who comprise over 50% of the convention. The parenthetical example provided by the committee specifically mentions churches who endorse homosexual behavior. Unfortunately, the shotgun of the rule in question scatters fire everywhere. If the only target is truly the church endorsing homosexuality, perhaps the use of a rifle would be a more appropriate choice.
However well intentioned, I believe this portion of the article should be removed. There is much more non-compliance with the BFM2K than at first meets the eye. In fact, an argument can be made that at least three such areas of non-compliance, when combined, are capable of casting perhaps 98% or more of the convention into my Dungeon of Unfriendly Cooperation. Without time or space for lengthy elaboration, let me simply mention the three doctrines required by the BFM2K that, strictly speaking, classify the vast majority of Southern Baptists as “intentionally operating in opposition” to the BFM2K, along with rough estimates of non-compliance percentages:
- Closed Communion—In Article 7, not only is believer’s baptism clearly a prerequisite to the Lord’s Table, thus ruling out Open Communion, but the Lord’s Supper is said to be for “members of the church,” thus ruling out Close Communion as well. (96%)
- General Atonement—In Article 3, “The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man.” David Allen writes, in the Baptist Journal of Theology and Ministry, Fall 2012, Volume 9, Number 2, p. 48: “The use of the word ‘man’ in context clearly indicates ‘mankind’ as a whole. The BFM does not limit the death of Christ to the elect but to the same group which is made in his image, man.” (16%)
- Inherited Sinful Nature—In Article 3, imputed guilt is disaffirmed: “Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.” While addressing the Traditional Statement in the Baptist Journal of Theology and Ministry, Fall 2012, Volume 9, Number 2, p. 30, Adam Harwood writes: “the verbiage for Article 2 was taken from Article 3 of the Baptist Faith and Message (BFM) 1963 and 2000. By approving the BFM in 1963 and 2000, the SBC excluded from the convention’s confession any notion of inheriting of the guilt of Adam’s sin.” (16%??)
Among the 4% of Southern Baptists who are Closed Communionists, we can assume that a certain percentage either believe in Limited Atonement, Imputed Guilt or both. If so, the percentage of Southern Baptists, strictly speaking, who are not to be deemed in friendly cooperation with the convention, quite possibly approaches the 98-99% mark.
Maybe this could lead to an entirely different kind of One Percent Challenge: “Be a part of the One Percent of Southern Baptists Whose Cooperation is Friendly!” On the other hand, perhaps we simply need to review our Baptist history, and discover anew the marvelous difference between a confession and a creed.