Southern Baptists Evangelicals and the Future of Denominationalism: Union University, Oct 6-9, 2009 (Live Blog-Day 1, Ed Stetzer and Jim Patterson)

uu-conf1Demoninationalism–Ed Stetzer

Two Faulty Assumptions about Demoninationalism:

1. Denominations are necessary or even an integral part of the mission of God

2. Mistake to attemp to interpret the role of denominationalism in the life of the local church apart from the Missio Dei

Denominations may not be necessary, but are valuable.  They are good tools to be used in the mission of the church.

“Being consumed with the machine of the denomination can and does distract from the mission of the church.”

Why Denominations have a future:

1. Denominations are inevitable…like-minded ways will always find a way to cooperate.

– “Networks are proto-denominations…”

2. New Mindsets–Younger Evangelicas are looking for a sense of rootedness in a fragmented society

3. Churches that belong to denominations have confessional have confessional systems and accountability that ground them in orthodoxy

– “Today, denominations often are bastions of orthodoxy, while independent congregations more easily shift in their theology.”

What Kind of Denominationalism is Desirable?

– “So I am not for denominations in the sense that I think they are God’s answer for the world. No, only the local church is charged by Christ to storm the gates of hell. Christ builds his church upon the rock of Peter’s confession. He does not build a denomination.”

1. We want to see denominations that are missional as opposed to tribal.

– “Denominations should value self-sacrifice above self-preservation.”

2. We want to see denominations based on confessional consensus.

3. We want to see denominations that value methodological diversity.

– “Denominations that are effective for the kingdom of God unite in doctrine and diversify in methods. We are to seek a confessional consensus, not a methodological one.”

– “If an SBC leader says that he cannot be in the same denomination with Rick Warren because of his personal convictions, then he or she needs to leave the Convention. Why? Because he or has established a more narrow standard than the BFM 2000 states.”

4. We want to see denominations that assist local churches, not vice versa.

– “…the denomination exists to help churches carry out the Great Commission.”

– “An urban spiritual legend persists that says denominations exist to plant churches and call out missionaries. It is wholly untrue. Local churches are responsible for church planting and missionary-sending. The denomination exists to assist the local church in her task.”


“I’m remaining a Southern Baptist for these reasons: I Believe what we believe, Churches that belong to denominations are the primary agenst of global evangelization, Diverse leadership environments stretch me, Because God led me to, Demoninational affiliation is not just about me.”

“In His wisdom, God has allowed for the cooperation of churches in networks and denominations so that the greatest number of people in our darkened world can be most effectively reached with the one thing that brings true unity: the Gospel., I believe we can do more together than we can apart.”

“Reflections on 400 Yrs of the Baptist Movement: Who We Are. What We Beleive”–Dr. Jim Patterson

Began with an incredible rap through 40o yrs of Baptist History, hillarious!

Thesis–History is messy–in particular, Baptist history is messy.

Key 17th Cent Developments:

1. General/Particular Differences

2. Confessional Statements to set doctrinal parameters

3. Associations to strengthen denominational life and identity

4. Focus on vital Christian experience in John Bunyan’s writings

5. Debates over music

– “In the 17th cent, fights over Calvinism and fights over music!”

18th Cent Growth:

1. Background of General and Particular Baptist decline in England

2. Education–Bristol Baptist College

3. Transatlantic Revivals

4. Birth of International Missions

19th Cent Controversies:

1. Missions and Anit-missions

2. Alexander Campbell and Restorationism

3. Slavery and Division in America (SBC begins in 1845)

4. J.R. Graves and Landmarkism

5. C.H. Spurgeon and teh Downgrade Controversy in the UK

Trends Since late 19th Cent:

1. Increasing Theological Diversity:

– historical orthodoxy

–  emphasis on religious experience

– social gospel/social justice themes-Rauschenbusch and ML King

– liberalism-Fosdick

2. Continuing Revival Trad-Billy Graham

3. Insitutional Matters-various SBC developments

4. Increasing Pragmatism in Baptist Life

Full paper and concluding thoughts will be in print at a later date.