Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why Denominational Barriers?

I do not normally read the SBC blog. However, this evening I stopped by to check it out. This particular post, Baptists? Methodists? Presbyterians? Charismatics?, caught my eye. The article opens with this.
Something that I’ve been observing for quite some time now, and especially here lately, is that a lot of people, who belong to Baptist Churches, could join a Church of another denomination and couldn’t tell any difference. I can’t tell you of the people that I have heard say things like…"Well, there’s not that much difference between us Baptists and the Methodists, right?” (I can't legally post this image so click here)
Now I do not know the theology of David Worley in particluar. I find it interesting amidst the anything goes to get professions and baptisms SBC that someone would care about such things. I mean really. Recently, Ergun Caner said that Dr. White's debates with Muslims are like a Jerry Springer show while ignoring the fact that he has been tazered in chapel to get the youth excited. So when methodologies and revivalistic methods within SBC churches mimics that of a methodist church or a pentecostal church, should people within an SBC church know that there are denominational differences?

Worley goes on to explain the things that he sees to differentiate baptists from other denominations.
How can you not believe that things like eternal security, autonomy of the local Church, Believer’s baptism by immersion, priesthood of all believers, salvation by grace through faith, and all the other doctrines that we hold dear–as God’s Word spells it out for us–are not worth holding onto?
I remember several years ago, while sitting in a Baptist church, watching a former methodist candidate for a pastoral position. Only one older woman, who was probably seen as annoying, asked the obvious question, "Don't you have to be a Baptist to be able to be a Baptist Pastor?"

The response was interesting, but typical. One couple looked at me and said the very thing Worley decries in the first quote, "Why does it matter. We are all just Christians."

Although Worley offers some important points such as salvation by grace through faith and priesthood of all believers, don't Methodists and Presbyterians believe that as well? He offers two significant differences with other denominations, Credo-Baptism and Eternal Security. Yet again, on a fundamental level, why are these really different? I do not know Worley's theology, but if the SBC as a whole is going to shun the Reformed/Calvnistic branch within her midst, if the SBC as a whole is going to continue in their understanding of some kind of autonomous freewill of man and an understanding of grace that sides with the doctrine of Prevenient Grace (just as the Methodists do), then on a fundamental level there is simply no basis for eternal security. I would also submit that the typical SBC view also denies the very basis for a consistent Credo-Baptism position (eg: if we may dispense with the Regulative Principle of Worship and allow "altar calls" then why is it wrong for Presbyterians to baptize children?).

The fact is, if one takes the time to read the statements of faith in almost any church, there really is no difference among denominations. For people who constantly decry that we should all just get along, why decry the differences?

Denominational differences are important. That is why I am standing in the Reformed Baptist camp. Theology does matter. He states toward the end,
BFM2000 is what we believe the Bible clearly teaches
I wonder if he realizes that the BFM was written by Calvinistic/Covenantal Baptists. Is he even concerned that most SBC churches have departed from the Creeds of the past such as the Philadelphia Confession?

In conclusion, I agree with Worley that there is a problem among SBC members and pastors as to their ignorance on this issue. I would submit, however, that this stems from a poor theological understanding of man and the all sufficient grace of God. Once salvation becomes centered upon man's autonomous free will, then the other issues simply flow from out of this view.

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