You may have missed it (like me), but yesterday was the anniversary of the Anabaptist Movement. This was a big deal for Dr. Paige Patterson and will be a perpetual observance at SWBTS. According to the school’s website:
President Paige Patterson proclaimed January 21 Radical Reformation Day at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary . . . “Today is a very significant day,” Patterson said, adding, “… a day that from this day forward in the life of Southwestern Seminary is going to be a day celebrated.”
If you need a refresher, you can read about the Anabaptist movement on wikipedia or the hall of church history. There were many groups that broke off during the Protestant Reformation. These were called “radical” when they would not wait for reforms to come slowly. Among these was a split from the Swiss church that led. The first Anabaptists rejected infant baptism and didn’t like the slow pace of Zwingli on other issues. The rest of the story doesn’t resonate so well with Southern Baptists and few maintain a direct link back to this group.
What Would A Radical Reformation Mean For The SBC?
Dr. Patterson’s words made me think about our current culture in the Southern Baptist Convention. Many people are calling for different reforms in the SBC. But I wonder if the Radical Reformation is a good model for the SBC. What would happen if we had some radical reformation in our own ranks?
1. 40,000 Church Splits
The radical reformers didn’t stop with Baptism. Soon, any doctrinal division led to another movement. The radical reformers were church-splitters, sometimes for good and sometimes for ill. If SBC pastors followed their lead, then every local body would find good warrant to divide.
2. Protest Our Own Convention
Those pastors who were left would still be too radical to shout AMEN at our annual meetings. In fact, they would have to stand outside in protest this summer in Louisville. As a matter of conscience they could not participate in our corporate false witness regarding membership. Let’s not forget all the trouble these radicals would cause in the exhibit hall – every exhibit would be ransacked in the name of holiness.
3. Ban All Political Speakers At The SBC
Maybe this is not such a bad idea? The radical reformers were all about separation of church and state (after they failed to takeover a few cities). The idea of worldly leaders addressing our meetings would be an abomination. In fact, if we followed Grebel’s notions that Christians may not be magistrates, we’d need to remove several several Baptist congressmen from our churches.
4. Seek The Spirit’s Manifestations
Another shock to our SBC ways would be all the spiritual manifestations that come with the radical reformation. I would guess many Southern Baptists would become upset if “words of prophecy” started appearing as a regular feature in Baptist Press.
5. Bye Bye Baptist Faith & Message
The Anabaptists were not excited about confessions and typically rejected them altogether. So one might expect that a radical SBC reformation would greatly cut or eliminate our statement of faith.
6. The Ban Would Be Reported In Our ACP
One missing piece to our statistical records is the number of believers we have placed under the ban. This would change if we recovered the sense of holiness that accompanied the radical reformation. We might even have a goal to Ban 1 million members in 2009. At that rate, we could see real separation restored to our fellowships within 10 years.
What Do You Think?
I admit some of these thoughts were amusing to me and I dobut if we could really anticipate what radicals would do among us. But what do you think the Anabaptists might say if they could see us now? Is radical reformation the need of our day?