The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is said to be considering a name change during the annual meeting of that denominations executive committee this week. Any news concerning my old denomination catches my attention, but especially something like this, as this isn’t the first time they have talked about this issue.
SBC President has appointed a task force to study the situation and to consider four questions;
1) Is it a good idea, that is, is there value in considering a name change?
2) If so, what would be a good name to suggest?
3) What would be the potential legal ramifications of a name change?
4) What would be the potential financial implications?
I think Dr. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY offered some very valuable insight into the situation in a recent article on his website:
“There are good arguments to be made on both sides of this question — so let’s make them. There are important questions to ask — so let’s ask them. There are emotional issues that pull at our hearts — so let’s talk about them. There are generations of the past to whom we owe so much and a generation of those now living we desperately wants to reach — so let’s bridge them. There are legal and financial issues to consider — so let’s consider them. There are so many Southern Baptists from which we need to hear — so let’s listen to them.
Most importantly, there is a world desperately in need of the Gospel of Jesus Christ — so we must not allow this question to divert our energies from the Great Commission task. It will not matter what we call ourselves if we lose sight of the one great cause that has brought us together.”
My history and disagreements with the SBC are well documented to anyone who cares; I was “raised” in a Southern Baptist church, made a profession of faith and was baptized at Walnut Grove Baptist Church in Epps, Louisiana at age 14, was licensed and ordained in the ministry through that church, served in ministry for many years before leaving the denomination in 2007. (Why I left the SBC, The Expositor, 5 July 2007).
I share all of that again to make the point that I am not an outsider with any knowledge of the denomination’s history, doctrine and practices. I am praying that the desire to change the name isn’t solely so for some felt need to appease the politically-correct crowd, or to make yet another fleshly attempt to accommodate the “seeker”.
The SBC loves the title of “America’s largest protestant denomination”, even though the numbers are always misleading. But ultimately it doesn’t matter anyway.
In my humble low-shelf opinion, change the name if you like. I am far more concerned and saddened by the dominant Arminian theology and practices within the SBC than I am in its name and claims to fame.
Get the Gospel right and everything else will fall into place.