I’ve always been a cutting-edge kind of guy! It is now 2012 and I am getting ready to review and comment on a book edited by David Dockery and published in 2009. That is an eternity in blog years.
But I published a review of this book by Wes Kenney on July 11 and my appetite was whetted to read and respond to what the book teaches. So, I am going to begin a series of chapter-by-chapter analysis of this book. The book has an introduction by Dockery, fourteen chapters and a conclusion by Danny Akin. It has articles by such unknowns as Al Mohler, Paige Patterson, Timothy George, Morris Chapman, Ed Stetzer, Thom Rainer, Richard Land and Nathan Finn. It is well worth your time, if you are Southern Baptist, to get the book, read it and learn along with me. In fact, if some of our contributors or regular guests want to get in the act and review a chapter, I would be more than happy to let you join in.
I got into blogging a long time ago in the midst of the brouhaha over what came to be known as the “Baptist Identity” movement. I don’t really want to dredge that back up and redraw those old battle lines, but I do believe that one of the fundamental problems we have as Baptists is a lack of understanding of what we are. There is a pull between the more exclusive “Baptist is biblical” concept and the desire to be part of the universal church. Ought we lean more to the Calvinist side or to the non-Calvinist side? Should we adopt a traditionalist stance stylistically or strive to be more culturally relevant? There are a lot of questions.
On August 17, I wrote a post called, “The Tie that Binds: The Sea-Change in Southern Baptist Culture.” In that article, I argued that what once bound Southern Baptists – our cultural uniformity, no longer holds us together. Absent that cultural bond, we are flying apart in every direction, rapidly splintering into sub-groups that may one day split the convention wide open.
I believe that we have a great need to figure out who we are and what it is that binds us together. If we do not define our Baptist identity, we are, I believe, at risk of a serious fracturing in the days ahead. We must develop a unity based not on our cultural ties, but on Christ’s work in us, our theological unity based on the BF&M, our worldwide mission in his name and our commitment to work cooperatively with one another in spite of our differences on tertiary issues.
I will begin this series with a review of David Dockery’s introduction (pagtes 13-21 of the book) in the near future. Then, we will proceed with examinations of the chapters one by one, ending with Danny Akin’s conclusion.
Here are the chapters:
Introduction: Southern Baptists in the 21st Century, by David S. Dockery.
Part One: Theological and Historical Perspectives
1) Southern Baptist Identity: Is there a future? by R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
2) Southern Baptist Identity: A Theological Perspective, by R. Stanton Norman
3) Southern Baptist Identity: A Historical Perspective, by Gregory A. Wills.
4) Is Jesus a Baptist? by Timothy George
5) Learning from Nineteenth Century Baptists, by Russell D. Moore
6) Learning from the Anabaptists by Paige Patterson
7) The Roots of Baptist Belief, by James Leo Garrett, Jr.
Part 2: Ministry and Convention Perspectives
8) Axioms of a Cooperating Southern Baptist, by Morris H. Chapman.
9) Toward a Missional Convention, by Ed Stetzer.
10) The Future of the Traditional Church by Jim Shaddix
11) Evangelism and Church Growth in the SBC by Thom Rainer
12) Future of State Conventions and Associations by Michael Day
13) A Free Church in a Free Society by Richard Land
14) Priorities for a Post-Resurgence Convention by Nathan A. Finn
Conclusion: A Future-Directed Proposal for the SBC by Danny Akin
Each post will include a brief (???) synopsis of the points made in the chapter and then will react and respond to those points.
I sincerely believe that it is important to the future of the SBC that we examine our identity and discuss it, to better define and understand who we are.
So, I hope you will join us in this excursion. Here are some suggestions.
1) Get the book and read along. It will be a more intelligent discussion if we read what is written before we respond! (This statement brought to you by the International DUH Association)
2) If you wish to write one of the chapters, let me know. In fact, I have no objection to having multiple responses to some of the chapters.
3) Think through these issues thoughtfully, carefully, prayerfully and biblically as we narrow down our Southern Baptist Identity.