What we believe, not what we call ourselves, makes us Baptist

Dr. Stan Norman is the director of the Baptist Center for Theology & Ministry at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. The center exists to provide theological and ministerial resources to enrich and energize ministry in Baptist churches. It brings together professors and practitioners to produce and apply resources on Baptist life, polity and ministry. The mission is to communicate the distinctive identity of Baptists.This is a much-needed ministry, because it ain’t cool in many places to be a Baptist. While I prefer Baptist in the name over the door of my church, this is not what makes you a Baptist. Some are Baptist in name only. Others are Baptists without the name. What we believe is what makes us a Baptist.

Doctrines such as priesthood of believers and autonomy of the church are important. These are not to overshadow such teachings as inerrancy of Scripture, salvation by grace through faith, security of the believer and baptism of believers by immersion. Certain doctrines are non-negotiable.

Methodology is a different matter. Church leadership style, names, music and dress code are open to contextualization. Form does matter. We cannot endorse an anti-biblical model. On the other hand latitude and grace should be extended to those who are different from us. For the SBTC and the SBC to be significant in the 21st century we must be willing to lay aside some of our preferences, per Romans 12:10.

Churches differ in polity. Over the next few issues of the TEXAN various positions will be discussed. It is healthy for us to affirm a broad fellowship that includes a number of interpretive positions. The liberals said we would squabble among ourselves to our own demise. I am not willing to let them be prophetic. Let’s not compromise one iota on the major doctrinal beliefs. Let’s be open to contextualization in doing church, missions and evangelism.

Now, back to the Baptist Center for Theology & Ministry. You can visit its website at www.baptistcenter.com. You will find stimulating material about our collective Baptist future and discussion that will help your understanding about Baptists. There are good reasons to be a Baptist and especially a Southern Baptist.

Executive Director Emeritus
Jim Richards
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
Most Read

Jesus film entirely in sign language is historic first for Deaf community

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (BP)—When Joseph Josselyn of “Jesus: A Deaf Missions Film” lost his hearing as a toddler, life became “a little painful at times” as he grew, accepted Jesus and worshipped God in the hearing …

Stay informed on the news that matters most.

Stay connected to quality news affecting the lives of southern baptists in Texas and worldwide. Get Texan news delivered straight to your home and digital device.