(NOTE: If you’re (a) not a Southern Baptist, or (b) don’t give a rip about SBC goings-on, please accept my apology in advance. Feel free to proceed on to the next post…nothing to see here. Thank you.)
In light of the recent and ongoing “business” involving our International Mission Board, I found this Baptist Press article interesting. And maybe somewhat disturbing. It’s this line that makes me go “hmmmmmm…”
In reality, sober involvement with these issues holds promise for greater purity of fellowship and purpose and promotes a stronger, more singular witness to the world.
Nettles lists nine “tracks on which the Southern Baptist reformation must move forward.” Here are the nine tracks (Some cursory comments by yours truly may follow at a later time today.)
— Baptists must remember the depths to which they had sunk before the conservative resurgence. The SBC must not fall into a lethargic holding pattern of premature satisfaction, Nettles writes, but must remember that the church is to be always bringing itself into line with Scripture.
— Baptists must hold fast in teaching and living out their confession of faith, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, Nettles writes, recounting how Baptists have been a confessional people since their beginning at the outset of the 17th century.
— Baptists must build their churches with doctrinally informed expository preaching as the cornerstone. Nettles notes that the embrace of inerrancy does not necessarily guarantee biblical preaching.
— Baptists must recover the work of evangelism that is biblically authentic. Nettles spends two chapters showing the dangers of pragmatic, formulaic approaches to evangelism and calls for the proclamation of a full-orbed message that exposes in sinners the depth and terminal nature of their illness and sets forth the healing balm of the grace of God in Jesus Christ. A fully biblical approach to evangelism will produce regenerate church members, versus formulaic approaches to evangelism that offer cheap grace, he writes.
— Baptists must recapture the complementarity of Law and Gospel. That is, Baptists must return to preaching the Law to show sinners their ruined state and drive them to Christ, Nettles writes. There is a fundamental relationship between Law and Gospel that must be part of the preaching and teaching within the SBC, he writes, noting that Baptists throughout their history have preached with a careful articulation of both.
— Baptists must recover a grace-centered theology. Nettles calls Baptists to return to the biblical message that salvation is completely a sovereign work of God that involves all three persons of the Trinity.
— Baptists must, in their proclamation and teaching, clearly articulate a fully Trinitarian doctrine of divine revelation and salvation. A major aspect of this, Nettles writes, is a commitment to a Christ-centered hermeneutic — interpreting the entire Bible in terms of redemption that consummates in Christ Himself.
— Baptists must build their doctrine of the church upon the whole witness of Scripture. Nettles calls on Baptists to return to their foundational principle of regenerate church membership that includes calling doctrinally astute pastors to teach and lead. Baptists also rediscover biblical church discipline to uphold a biblical standard of holiness within the body, he writes.
— Baptists must recover a theology that will allow them to develop a comprehensive Christian worldview not only philosophically but in personal spirituality. Contemporary Baptists must have their minds renewed by Scripture and be equipped to view all of life through its lens, Nettles writes.