Calvinism and Declining Baptisms

Bobby Welch, current President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Pastor of First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Florida, is very concerned about baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention. He is also concerned about Calvinists within the Convention and what they are doing to the SBC’s baptism ratio. He posts his concerns on his church’s July 10 Newsletter and makes for an interesting read. Regarding Bro. Bobby’s recent cry for one million baptism’s this year, see my previous comments at FIDE-O. Concerning his Cavinistic concerns and claims, see Rob Wilkerson’s post and a post by Tom Ascol [part 1], [part 2], and [part 3]. I too am concerned about baptisms within the Convention. I am very concerned about my own personal evangelism and that of my congregation. We would no doubt be in Bro. Welch’s crosshairs for our lack of water stirred within the past year. I am grieved when the church is not seeing people openly profess their repentance and conversion through the waters of baptism. But, I’m also concerned about many of the baptisms that ARE taking place. In my experience, many SBC pastors [including myself at one time] are ready and willing to dunk anyone who will repeat a prayer after a minimalist [at best] presentation of the gospel. Perhaps we should also be taking statistics on just how many newly dunked professors of faith are also abandoning their confession and their church. I am not convinced that we are merely ineffective in our follow-up techniques and marketing strategies. Pastor Welch did not discuss anything about the gospel we preach, only the numbers he says we should...

Southern Baptists: The Unregenerate Denomination

Challies.com reviews an article by Jim Ellif on the discrepancy in many Southern Baptist congregations (Southern Baptists, An Unregenerate Denomination): the number of members verses the number of attenders. This has always been an issue in my mind. Why do we allow hordes of non-attending members to remain members? Honestly, we are not the only denomination that does this, we just brag about our membership rolls more vociferously. In addition to Jim Ellif’s article, I would recommend reading Mark Dever’s article, “Why We Disciplined Half Our Church.” While we jump on Southern Baptist Churches who brag of meaninglessly high membership numbers, shouldn’t we also be wary of those who boast of large crowds but amazingly small membership in comparison? Is it a healthy church that has 15,000 in attendance on a weekend, yet has only 3,000 to 5,000 on the membership roll? If the crowd on Sunday is inordinately larger than the number who have officially joined themselves to the congregation, have we adequately communicated the necessity of the local church? Have we consistently and clearly communicated the responsibilities of Christians to one another? Just a...

Pushing Jesus Aside

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a moderate-liberal breakaway group from the Southern Baptist Convention, is beginning to show its face more clearly with every passing year. At this year’s convention, the Fellowship revised its constitution and bylaws, removing from their purpose statement clauses that directly referred to Jesus Christ. Interestingly, the news report from CBF’s web-site gives little detail regarding the changes. Baptist Press (the SBC new organization) provides quotations of the past and new article’s wording: Under Article II of the CBF’s previous constitution, the purpose of the Fellowship was described as that of bringing together Baptists who desire to call out God’s gifts in each person in order that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be spread throughout the world in glad obedience to the Great Commission. The revised article in the constitution describes the Fellowship’s purpose as that of serving Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission. Further, the CBF has removed language that formerly referred to the authority of the Scriptures. Again, the CBF report does not mention this. Baptist Press notes: The revised article also does not reference the authority of the Bible without the aid of creeds, as did the original. Instead, the revised article cites the CBF’s belief in soul freedom, Bible freedom, church freedom and religious freedom. Freedom to believe anything one desires. Freedom to think anything you would like regarding the Bible and regarding Jesus or the lack of Jesus’ necessity. The CBF is finally beginning to become more open about its liberal lean. The CBF will be a good fit for the modern drift toward pluralism...
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