The best conservative Baptist network that I’m aware of is the Southern Baptist Convention. The SBC is a network of over 50,000 cooperating churches and church-type missions spread all across the United States. These like-minded churches cooperate together primarily for missions and theological education under the banner of a shared statement of faith known as The Baptist Faith & Message.
As I teach prospective members in our church’s new member class, you couldn’t always refer to the Southern Baptist Convention as a conservative Baptist network. There was a time when we had professors teaching in our Southern Baptist seminaries who denied essential doctrines like the virgin-birth and deity of Jesus, the inerrancy of Scripture, and the authenticity of the miracles recorded in the Bible. Thankfully, that all changed through a course correction known as the Conservative Resurgence.
Today, we have six orthodox, BF&M-affirming Southern Baptist seminaries where faithful pastors, missionaries, and church leaders are being trained to take the message of the gospel across North America and to the ends of the earth. Every professor teaching in our Southern Baptist seminaries is required to affirm the BF&M 2000. Not only must they affirm the BF&M personally, they must teach in accordance with and not contrary to this shared statement of faith that we have adopted as Southern Baptists.
There will always be disagreements among faithful Southern Baptists regarding tertiary issues. While we agree on the exclusivity of Christ for salvation, we don’t all agree on the particulars of soteriology. While we all agree that God created men and women different and that this results in differences between men and women both in the home and in the church, we don’t all agree on the particulars of how those differences should be lived out.
These differences are important, but Southern Baptists do not believe that these differences must divide us. We believe that we can link arms together for the cause of Christ and His Kingdom despite our disagreement on tertiary issues.
I am thankful to be a part of the conservative Baptist network known as the Southern Baptist Convention. There’s no doubt that we have challenging days ahead. But I am optimistic for our future as Southern Baptists if we will maintain agreement on the main things, allow for disagreement on tertiary issues, and link our arms together for the sake of the gospel here and among the nations.