The description of this blog refers to me as a "Reformed Southern Baptist." What in the world is that?
I have written previously (click here) about what I believe a Reformed Baptist is. I have also admitted that I have a bit of a Fundamentalist stream in my thinking (click here).
So what is a Reformed Southern Baptist? Quite simply, a Reformed Southern Baptist is a Reformed Baptist who wants to remain in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). This answer may seem painfully obvious to some people, but it should be noted that many Reformed Baptists have departed from SBC life.
How does this work? How does someone who holds to Reformed theology remain in the SBC? There are several different answers to this question. Some Reformed folks within the convention are determined to change the beliefs in the convention as a whole so that the SBC itself becomes Reformed. Quite frankly, I think this is very unwise. It will just lead to more fighting within the convention. We certainly do not need this.
Others who are Reformed have all but left the SBC. In other words, they are technically in the convention, but have little to do with the convention or other SBC churches. This seems isolationist to me and accomplishes little.
My position on the issue is that I will, when appropriate, talk about issues such as the Doctrines of Grace, God's complete sovereignty, Calvinism, etc. This may occur within or outside the church setting. I'm determined to be open about this. However, I'm also determined to do this in a kind, loving manner. I also have no agenda to change people's minds.
Since I have the wonderful opportunity to preach and teach during the week, issues of God's sovereignty will certainly arise. For example, right now I am preaching through Genesis 1-3 in order to prepare for a series through the entire book of Matthew beginning in December. Genesis 1-3 shows us a completely soveriegn God who is Creator and Owner of all that exists. I certainly hope that at the conclusion of Genesis 1-3 the people of Chevis Oaks Baptist Church see God as sovereign. Why? Because that is what the text shows us. My agenda is to be biblical, but not to force any sort of system.
Currently in the SBC, there is at least some concern and some confusion over issues such as Calvinism, Reformed Theology, etc. Reformed Baptists within the SBC can do ourselves a favor by loving God and loving others first, and discuss issues such as Reformed theology second. Reformed theology must not be what we are primarily known for.
A Reformed Baptist does have distinct beliefs (5 "solas" of the Reformation, believer's baptism, Doctrines of Grace, inerrancy of scripture, independence of the local church, separation of church and state, etc.). These beliefs, however, must not be what Reformed Southern Baptists are most known for. If it is, we will have little impact within the convention.
If Reformed Baptists are most known for lovingly living out the gospel in order to advance the Kingdom of God, then we may be able to influence the SBC in a positive light.
Let's let Reformed Theology be a positive in the SBC and avoid the fighting that has plagued the convention for so many years.