Christian denominationalism is easily dismissed as anything but Christian. True, Christians should be unified, not at each others’ throats. Yet, in a fallen world where sinners abound, denominationalism may be the best way of preventing more significant division within the universal body of Christ.
My three-year-old was doing a three-year-old thing at breakfast. He wouldn’t drink his milk because he said it smelled funny. Every time he put his cup to his mouth to take a sip he curled his nose and told us “This milk smells yucky!”
Finally, I did what dads do. I took the cup and gave it a sniff. Turns out, he was right! Sort of. It wasn’t the milk that actually smelled funny but the cup. The inside hadn’t been cleaned properly and it gave off a noticeable odor when you put the cup to your nose. I attribute the problem to my older children who are too much like the adolescent version of their father who thought washing dishes poorly might get him out of having to do it (as an aside I was wrong, and so are they!).
Of course, I wouldn’t have gotten my youngest to drink the milk if I would have taken a paper towel and simply shined the outside of the cup. The outside wasn’t the problem. It was the inside that was causing the issue. I could have put a sticker on the outside of the cup that said “Clean Cup!”, but alas, the inside is what needed changing.
In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Theoden remarks to Aragorn, “The old alliances are dead.” That phrase sticks in the back of my mind as I write this post because it is not my intention to end or strain any alliances. These are not the days for conservative Christians to make enemies within their own ranks!
We are few in number as it is. May the old alliances remain alive, and may my brothers and sisters in Christ hear me out on why you won’t see me personally endorse Ronnie Floyd’s Vision 2025. It’s not that I necessarily disagree with everything. Instead, I see a glaring blind spot.
To me, the vision says we need to replace the tires, detail the car, and repair the windshield. But we’ll leave the failing transmission untouched. New tires are always great. But not if the vehicle can’t shift.
A Book of Numbers
Based on these 2019 numbers, 36.1% of Southern Baptists are in church on any given Sunday. And that’s if the 5,250,230 [attending] people were all members. Of course, some of them are guests, and children, so 36.1% is actually high, but we’ll use that number anyway.
This means that on any given Lord’s day 63.9% of those professing allegiance to Christ are missing. And this isn’t a Sunday here or there but the telling story of the entire year.
Furthermore, the trend is going in the wrong direction. Based on the numbers presented, in 2018 the percentage was at 36.5%. That means in 2019 fewer members are attending church percentage-wise than they were in 2018.
As Southern Baptist pastor, Jim Elliff, once wrote, the SBC is largely an unregenerate denomination. That is, if we take the New Testament’s admonitions about the local church seriously.
On this episode of the new CR:V Podcast contributor Nate Schlomann sits down with Jeff Wright to talk about the presence of women pastors in SBC churches.
Reminder: Article V of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 reads, in part:
“[The church’s] scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture” (relevant point emphasized).
Find it on Apple Podcasts or by clicking here.
Egalitarians base their argument for indifference with respect to gender in society, the home, and the pulpit on the idea that men and women are created equally. This post series has argued that when it comes to creation order and its implication for ‘gender roles’ in the church, Southern Baptists do not all differ from the world or from egalitarians. Recent rhetoric regarding women teaching, and even preaching, to men in the SBC, is of some concern. It seems like everywhere we turn, we find ourselves covered up in egalitarian patterns of thought.
In this article, Tom Nettles responds to a post wherein, “Oklahoma Baptist Pastor Wade Burleson has attacked (again) the idea the Bible prohibits women from holding the New Testament position of pastor-bishop- elder.”
In his 2006 article, “After Patriarchy, What? Why Egalitarians are Winning the Gender Debate” (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, vol. 49, no. 3, September 2006, pp. 569–76), Russell D. Moore describes how, “Egalitarians are winning the evangelical gender debate, not because their arguments are stronger, but because, in some sense, we are all egalitarians now.” (576) The current state of the SBC is even worse than Moore predicted. In fact, Moore seems to have not only given up on resisting what he calls a feminist movement, but may have contributed to it.