Southern Baptists and the POO

The Southern Baptist Convention is having their annual event right now in USA – a huge gathering. I made it to the 1999 event back in . . . when was it . . oh yeah . . 1999. But i haven’t been to one since. Mean Dean gives us 3 bloggers who are there now. But only one of them mentioned that the SBC decided to pull out of the Baptist World Alliance on Tuesday. Maybe its not a big deal to them . . .
“Baptist World Alliance? Which state are they from?”
“Ahh . . i think Kentucky”

But I think its a really big deal and a tragedy. We are living in a world where people are looking for new ways to collaborate while preserving distinctiveness. The SBC’s habitual strategy of “POO” (Pulling Out Overtly – yes, i just made that up) is not only limited by the amount of organizations it can withdraw from before there is nothing left to pull out of (the local library will still be there to boycott), but it also destroys the opportunity to grow through relationship, and to show the world a united Body of Christ. . . .

Why did the SBC pull out? Some people say because of BWA’s soft theology, and “anti-American” bias. Others say they are sore that Cooperative Baptist Fellowship joined the BWA last year. I hope its not the latter – CBF is a really good group and doing a great job. I flew into Atlanta a few years ago and met with Dan Vestal, who heads it up – really nice man, and his son Joel is a good friend of mine – a missionary himself with Servlife and one of the original Young Leaders (pre-Emergent).

And also (call me a name dropper) the former President of BWA was a mate of mine from Australia – Dr. Noel Vose of Perth, W. Australia. OK, ‘mate’ is a strong word. We met a few times . . hows that?

Now, call me naive, but I would think that the SBC could somehow iron out the minor wrinkles and show the world that at least they can get on together with other Baptists. I mean, if they cant hang out with family members within the same denomination, then where will they find the maturity to enter into conversation with groups that are really different? And not even Baptist? Not even Christian? What does that say about the power of Christ to heal? We need to try harder . . .

(everyone, with gusto . . . )
“Can’t we try just a little bit harder?
Can’t we give just a little bit more?
Can’t we try to understand
that it’s love we’re fighting for?
Can’t we try just a little more passion?
Can’t we try just a little less pride? “
Sing the whole song if you want to get carried away.

I think this is a bad move. The BWA has a voice in world affairs and a great reputation. The SBC could use help in both. I am guessing and hoping that Baptist churches and State Conventions around America will stay connected to BWA and support them. In fact, I am counting on some of them to come over to Birmingham next year for the BWA World Congress. Maybe we could do something special next year in Birmingham and honor the Southern Baptists from America that still want to play in the global scene – its a big baptist world and the current fundamentalist flavor in SBC does not necessarily represent all the states or churches . . or people.

Now for my Southern Baptist blog altar call:
. . . Uh hummm . . .
(teary voice)
Some of ya out thar are feelin somethin deep inside ya
a yearnin’
a deep conviction in ya heart
I’m gonna ask ya ta do somethin
im gonna ask ya to get off this post
and click on that thar comment button
yes, you
you know im talking about you
come on now
. . yes . . i can see that hand – thank you
you go ahead and comment on this blog postin’
yes i see your hand also
now while the choir-program google searches all 37 verses of “O Lamb of God”
i want you to write out ya comment below
please make it brief and no jpegs over 25K
html is allowed for hypertext
comment spam not allowed
one of our counselor-bots will be tracking your IP address
and automatically sending you email confirmation of your decision
yes . . i see that IP address coming up on my screen
yes . . . theres another one
[activate virtual tears] now the rest of ya
fathers, mothers, bloggers,
by writing ya comment with ya hand,
you are sayin YES JESUS in ya heart to God
Yeeeeeeeeessss Lord Jesus!!!!!!!
come on now
now the choir-program is gonna copy and paste quietly while you write

“Just as I am without one plea . . . “

UPDATE: Best reporting on the event was the Baptist Standard report


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • brother a repent.
    I ask ya all to forgive me. I ask ya lord to bind us together – SBC an the BWA – draw us in Lord. We is yearnin for ya to do that.
    Ohhh bless me Jesus – I’ma sayin yes to ya! I’ma sayin yes to givin ma IP and ma ey-mail, and I’ma gonna start a blog!

  • bobbie says:

    they will know we are christians by our walls, by our walls, yes they’ll know we are christians by our walls…
    you are dead on – if they can’t get along with similar ‘baptists’ they are virtually making themselves a sect instead of a denomination – removing themselves from the discussion by POO is like the spoiled kid taking their ball and going home. they are rendering themselves ineffective and don’t even realize it.

  • Greg says:

    In defense of the Southern Baptists (but not necessarily of the SBC)…
    I appreciate their staunchness and backbone. Yes, I know they are tied to an evaporating culture and use clunky, outdated methods of sharing/proclaiming the gospel by our standards and I’m sorry this has gone the way it has with the BWA. However, the Southern Baptists have been playing an ever increasing role in sending money overseas to help our poverty-stricken brothers & sisters. This is something they haven’t been trumpeting and is at least something they’re doing right.

  • Dan says:

    It is a tragedy !!! You have gotten that right. The encouragement I have is that emergent is at least breaking some walls down with younger people. Someday the SBC will be no more and Christianity will survive. The “mean spirited” attitude is so sad. Kill everyone that doesn’t agree with us. What a wonderful Christian attitude !! I repent !! Don’t get me started……The best one can do is forget they exist.

  • andrew says:

    Yes, Greg, and more than that, – There are fantastic IMB missionaries from USA, sent out from America who are doing a great job.
    China, for example. And not to mention my mentor Bro. Thom Wolf, who is SBC.
    And there are some great people with NAMB (North America Mission Board) as well that are friends of mine. Although rumor has it that NAMB might be struggling to keep SBC funding this week, if some SBC people get their way. Let pray that we can all stay together and all keep playing.
    Hi Dan. Knowing there are key people inside SBC means that i cant really pretend they dont exist. Emergent is also partly in their debt. I met Chris Seay at a SBC sponsored event in Georgia back in 1997, along with some other people – SBC had flown in about 8 people to spend 4 days together. It was a good and worthwhile event. Shortly after, Chris suggested i become part of the Young Leaders Team.
    So, even SBC has a part to play in the Emergent history.

  • robbymac says:

    Forsooth and anon!
    Great post, but the real reason I’m commenting is to tell you that I quoted your “When We Stop Emerging” post on my blog, with hyperlink provided of course.
    Just thought it’d be “good blogging manners” to let you know…

  • Alan Cross says:

    Sad, sad, sad, sad. Living in Montgomery, Alabama, USA, you would think that most people are in favor of the current direction of the SBC, us being in the “Bible Belt” and all. Not so, my friend. Most who know anything about it think that it is a shame and see it for the farce and the power play that it is. I have heard strong confirmation from those who really know that it is over the CBF being admitted to the BWA. I do not think that it is too strong a word to say that some of our SBC “leaders” actually “hate” the CBF. That’s how it seems, anyway. But, since I do not know any of the these people personally, I only judge them by what their actions appear to be. I cannot judge their hearts – maybe they are pure and it just doesn’t look that way.

  • Darren says:

    I was reading a lecture by a friend of mine today who wrote that he’d been reading Loren Mead’s The Once and Future Church:
    “A major difficulty of the Christendom paradigm was its assumption that there was one answer, one way. Unfortunately, although the paradigm demanded uniformity, no lasting way was found to achieve it. …the one way was
    perpetually defeated by differences of opinion and conviction, and no way was found to enforce uniformity.”
    A little later in his book he went on say,
    “Within what eventually became the United States, the shattered Christendom Paradigm produced denominational shards, each of which perpetuated something
    of the paradigm within its own boundaries. There was a makebelieve quality in each shard’s assumption that its world was a microcosm of the whole world of which it was the remnant, as of nothing else exists.”
    This I believe is why people dont want to pay much attention to us anymore. The church cant even love itself, let alone it’s neighbours…
    ps. what music would you have playing during the alter call? you cant very well have an altercall without the music…

  • Toby says:

    I’m Southern Baptist, but from the BGCT side of things. You know from your experience with BGCT churches where the hearts of most of 30 somethings and down are. There are too many emerging minds in the mix for the Paige Patterson crew to rule forever. Or, Maybe they will, and we’ll just be about the business of ministry while they whine about something else.
    As for the IMB, a missionary friend of mine is heading up a joint program that will be based in Thailand and involves the IMB, Wycliffe, YWAM and Campus Crusade. This ministry will be about the business of storying the gospel to people groups world wide. I know first hand (because I helped Steve find some of the books) that part of the research for developing the stories and methods of presentation came from literature written by emerging pastors. Very unpropositonal, very un-Patterson SBC. But also very much Jesus centered. So, keep your head-up. One day the emerging leaders of today will run the SBC.

  • andrew says:

    What music Darren? You gotta problem with “O Lamb of God”?
    You probably want me to suggest the song, “Dont Pull Out On Me Yet” but the lyrics are far too crude for this PG rated blog.
    So i would say . . David Soul’s “Dont Give Up On Us Baby” would work. if we could just substitue “baptist” for “baby” . . .

  • andrew says:

    i have enjoyed a deep relationship with the BGCT (Baptist General Convention of Texas) for many years and still work as a consultant for them. I have a huge amount of love and respect for them.
    As for IMB and storytelling, I was trained by John Langston (IMB) at Golden Gate Seminary to tell the complete story from creation forward in under 45 minutes. It has been enormously helpful.
    And once people get out of America, we all seem to intertwine our ministries and work together. i meet IMB people all the time.
    In September, I will be speaking at a conference in Budapest where David Garrison will be the main speaker. This IMB guy totally rocks and his teaching on house church movements has been adopted all over the world. My thanks to the Southern Baptist for their support of David, Curtis Sargent (who i met in Malaysia – a guy who has helped turn China upside down) and others like them.
    There are so many good people inside SBC, in and out of USA, (Linda Bergquist in San Francisco comes to mind) that i could blog all day on them. And these people have to put up with petty minded fundamentalism as a part of their package. God give them patience and wisdom. We will always have Pharisees. And we will always have people that overcome anal-retentive leadership to accomplish great things for God.

  • Just Todd says:

    Thoughts from across the pond …

    I met Andrew Jones online and on the phone. We have mutual friends. He has a good post on the whole SBC-BWA thing from the perspective of someone across the pond – as Andrew lives in London. I liked a…

  • Just Todd says:

    Thoughts from across the pond …

    I met Andrew Jones online and on the phone. We have mutual friends. He has a good post on the whole SBC-BWA thing from the perspective of someone across the pond – as Andrew lives in London. I liked a…

  • Just Todd says:

    Thoughts from across the pond …

    I met Andrew Jones online and on the phone. We have mutual friends. He has a good post on the whole SBC-BWA thing from the perspective of someone across the pond – as Andrew lives in London. I liked a…

  • I think it’s important to keep in mind that there is a valid biblical paradigm of not being publicly associated with Christians with whom you can not in good conscience endorse or condone. The SBC takes this idea very seriously, and, while that probably results in divisions over certain hot issues and ignoring other important ones (since no group is perfect or has it all figured out), I can at least cheer that someone has guts to do what they believe – even if their beliefs are not perfect.
    Is “we’re cool with everyone” to the emergent church what “contemporary worship” was/is to the modern church?
    I suppose the personal attitudes people have toward others do matter a great deal, and to whatever extent these attitudes are based on unfounded assumptions, they should be corrected and not used as the basis for such reaction.
    On the other hand, I don’t think an institutional separation is the same as a group of Christians saying to another group of Christians “You aren’t real Christians, because you don’t meet standard X.” Organizations can agree to stop working with other organizations when the mission of either is threatened, and it’s not the end of the world.
    I think the emerging church is realizing two things here simultaneously:
    1. Organizations have lots of messy business like this that we don’t like.
    2. You can’t control other people unless you have something they want, and even then, you can only control them to the extent that a) You know enough about them, and b) They care about losing what you give them (group membership, funding, etc.).
    I think it’s obvious that the emergent types are not big fans of things like denominations. But at the same time, we’re approaching an era in which established denominations are jumping on the emerging bandwagon (which may be a sign that it has stopped emerging, as you’ve discussed recently).

  • Gregg says:

    Well, it is no real surprise. The SBC has had a hard time getting along with their own SBC members, thus the formation of the CBF. How can we expect them to get along with those in the BWA. It is truly sad, but it is also what has become the norm for the SBC. “Believe exactly what we believe word for word, the way we say you must believe as long as we say you must believe it or we are going to pick up our ball and go home, or kick you out of our seminary. It is a sad state as the SBC builds the box tighter and tighter around themselves.
    It is becoming an exclusive club. No wonder people are NOT lining up to join.

  • brad says:

    Justin makes some excellent points, to which I would add that it is (in my understanding) biblically appropriate to express “providential perseverance” and suffer long and along with all who claim to be a disciple and are undergoing a transformation process to become more like Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, it is biblically inappropriate to tolerate everything, such as the behavior of disciples who are proving themselves toxic to others, wounding them through spiritual abuse, legalism, and such like – whether inflicted relationally or organizationally. There are times to stand against evil behavior inside our own tribes. We’re not called to be theo-universalists or to allow theo-fascists to wreak havok on the Body.
    All of us need to get this tension in tune, whether we’re from the traditionalist/residual perspective or the emergent perspective or even the non-traditional/non-emergent perspective.
    (And as a sidenote, there genuinely are at least some of us who don’t feel particularly in harmony with either the traditionals, the older evangelicals, or the younger evangelicals …)

  • rdavis says:

    I have now lived through 25 years of this SBC thing. That is half my life and most of my ministry. Soon this one will blow over. Someone will write a letter to an editor demanding that we go back to winning people to Christ, though some of us never left that off. Then, in a year or so someone in the SBC leadership will get mad at someone else or want what someone else has and we will go at it again. Meanwhile, this generation of young people quiety moves off to another brand.
    In good conscience it is impossible for me to tell young people that they should go into ministry with a Southern Baptist body. What do I tell them next year when the next atrocity occurs or the newest coercive document is produced and they must sign or lose their spot?
    This mess is worse and deeper than your blog and comments show. The SBC is down in every major area and they are dragging others with them. The isolated good works that a handful are able to do around the world are scarcely justification for the works of the leadership of the SBC, fortified as they are by stolen institutions and sheltered by their vast wealth.

  • andrew says:

    Thanks Rick
    You are right of course, but sometimes it takes someone in your position to say it out loud.
    This is Ricks post called And you can put pants on a monkey but it still don’t make him elvis written from China. I recommend jumping over to Rick’s blog at this point.

  • Daniel says:

    I have been pastoring in the International Baptist Convention for seven years now, and have seen our Convention leadership struggle through a painful “de-coupling” process with the SBC. Though the fruit of the process has been unequivocally positive for us–the IBC is a much stronger, much more effective organization today than it was five years ago, in spite of the continuing exodus of U.S. military personnel from Europe–the pain has lingered in the hearts of many on both sides. Were it not for the SBC, it is doubtful that our Convention ever could have gotten off the ground. But that was fifty years ago, and a different SBC. Today it’s hard to imagine that kind of cooperation, a joint effort undertaken by equals, even existing with the SBC.
    Many of my dearest friends, and most of my mentors, are either Southern Baptists or have their roots in the SBC. I desperately don’t want to alienate them, but my conscience won’t let me ignore this or adopt a “to each his own” attitude. What the SBC has done is wrong…but it’s just another step of wrong at the end of a wrong path.

  • rickdavis says:

    Thanks, Andrew, and God bless.

  • matt h. says:

    Although not raised as a Southern Baptist, I am a student here in Louisville, KY at one of their seminaries. And while I would be the first to cringe at some of the hokey-pokey “soul-winning” revivalism that dominates the mainstream (or at least those who are in positions of leadership) is not an indication of the SBC as a whole. As far as the BWA goes – I think there was a genuine concern over doctrinal fidelity… not a mere political or hate-filled decision. You may disagree with the theological tenets that drove the decision, but to simply label it as hateful is naive and misguided.
    And let’s be honest here – it wasn’t like a select group made the decision. The issue was put before all of the messengers at the annual meeting for a vote. And it passed. So it’s not just the Paige Pattersons, but also the hundreds of pastors and lay-leaders who had concerns over the affiliation.
    And as far as “emergents” taking over the SBC – I have a hard time seeing that. I think us Calvinists have a much better shot at it! =)

  • Volf, Chapter Two, vol. 1

    A few weeks ago I was ready to renounce any and all allegiances to the Southern Baptist denomination. The first stroke came by way of the SBC from the Baptist World Alliance. “My God,” I thought out loud. “We’ve excluded

  • Volf, Chapter Two, vol. 1

    A few weeks ago I was ready to renounce any and all allegiances to the Southern Baptist denomination. The first stroke came by way of the SBC removing themselves from the Baptist World Alliance. “My God,” I thought out loud.

  • Jessica D says:

    Wow. I almost don’t know what to say. Almost. Reading the comments of some people here very nearly brought tears to my eyes. I don’t know anything about this issue. I don’t attend SBC conventions, though my pastor does. I’ve heard him say when he’s there he deals with some funky attitudes and backward thinking. And a few of the churches in our association are typical Southern Baptist Joke churches. I am a Southern Baptist for a couple of reasons. First, the Cooperative Program provides for a whole lot of missionaries, as long as people are willing to give. People are hearing the Gospel! Yay! Second, I found out what mainline Protestant churches endorsed and was relieved to find the SBC in agreement with biblical standards addressing homosexuality and abstinence. Maybe I have been misled. However, I am a member of a small-but-growing church plant in California which is affiliated with the SBC, was supported by NAMB, and participates in a local association. We have no hymnal. We are more closely modeled after the growing house-church movement than a regular church, though we have not found it necessary to boycott weekly worship. The SBC allows and has supported this work, which has seen more than 50 people come to know Christ in an area where people are surrounded by churches but have never met Christ.
    For anyone to say that they wouldn’t send a young person to work with any SBC churches is naive, self-indulgent, proud and spiteful. God is working in thousands of SBC churches! He is bigger than any petty differences people have…including yourselves.
    I am excited about what God is doing in our association of churches, and in fact, in all of the California Southern Baptist churches! I recently participated in a meeting with the director of worship for the state convention. He was open to the most progressive worship ideas and to the leading of the Holy Spirit. This was encouraging to me.
    Ok. Here it is. I guess if you can hate on and condemn the SBC, AND make fun of the supposed speech patterns of thousands of people you don’t know who are, just like yourself, people Jesus died for, then I guess the SBC can get in or get out of any organization they wish, for whatever reason they wish. Next time, cast a vote if you want to affect the outcome of such an important decision.

  • andrew says:

    thanks Jessica for your thoughts,
    I suppose some of the people who made those comments may come and read your thoughts – or you could always visit their blogs and comment on them there, or send them an email.
    Hate is a strong word and you are the first to bring it up. I dont think the word “hate” is appropriate in this thread and i hope it does not appear again. They will know us by our love. Can we drop the “h” word? Please?
    And as for making fun of accents – you would laugh if you heard my silly mixed up accent, and i would hope that you and all of us can enjoy the freedom to laugh at ourselves. God forbid that we all become sooo P.C. that we fear saying anything that might offend other believers. God forbid we all end up living like haemopheliacs in a razor factory. Lets use Romans 14 as a guide and get on with ENJOYING LIFE.
    (No offence to haemopheliacs intended)
    I have many happy memories working with the California Southern Baptists – from speaking at their youth camp near Fresno and supervising Seminary students, to building up their community center in San Francisco. There are many good people there and its great to see them involved in house churches, etc. I trust they will stay my friends no matter what affiliations their denomination chooses to keep or loose.
    Andrew Jones

  • Joshua Burton says:

    Well, I was born and raised southern Baptist. Believe or not my mothers water broke (aka labor started) during an altar call at a Baptist church. I have heard more choruses of “The Old Rugged Cross”, “Amazing Grace”, and “Just as I am” than I care to remember. I think our music minister actually kept adding verses to those songs so we could sing them longer. Seriously though, I think it is right to honor the SB’s for their passion for the lost and their desire for public morality. I, however, am part of an entirely different bird now. I think we would do well to honor our spiritual heritage where we can, apologize for what we need to, and learn from what is/was wrong. Honestly I think the monstrous size of the SBC means that it will always be more of a political/religious institution than a covenantally-bonded family. I don’t know what else to expect from them. I don’t dishonor them in saying this, but unless there is a major dismantling of the entire organization, they have outlived their usefulness. Old, rigid wineskins cannot house new wine. We respect and honor the purpose they served.

  • Ben Dubow says:

    You hit it right on the head. I have found similiar issues across the board with denominations. That is why the church plant I am involved with has decided to be post-denominational…check out SPCC::Blog: Have Denominations Outlived their usefulness?

  • andrew says:

    interesting timing, considering i posted this a year ago . .
    last week the bwa world congress took place and 2 states did what i hoped they would do
    virgina and texas both came over and went one step further – they joined the bwa – how about that?

  • An O'Nymous says:

    Perhaps you can explain these (and the many other)inconsistencies contained in that book of lies you call ‘the bible’?
    “… the earth abideth for ever.” — Ecclesiastes 1:4
    “… the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” — 2Peter 3:10
    “… I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” — Genesis 32:30
    “No man hath seen God at any time…”– John 1:18
    “The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father…” — Ezekiel 18:20
    “I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation…” — Exodus 20:5
    “Honor thy father and thy mother…”– Exodus 20:12
    “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. ” — Luke 14:26
    What is incredible about the Bible is not its divine authorship; it’s that such a concoction of contradictory nonsense could be believed by anyone to have been written by an omniscient god. To do so, one would first have to not read the book, which is the practice of most Christians; or, if one does read it, dump in the trash can one’s rational intelligence — to become a fool for god, in other words.

  • miles says:

    Mr. or Ms. O’nymous,
    if you are really sincerely curious about knowing what makes people like me tick, then let’s get beyond arguing about the authorship of the Bible and have a real conversation so that we can all learn something from eachother. I feel like I sense hostility in your post and I’m not sure why you would care so passionately or have such a strong reaction to our life experiences, but please feel free to get in touch with me if you want to try to hash out eachother’s questions. My email and blog addresses are included here.

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