Wednesday, August 27, 2008– In today’s Baptist Press is an interesting article about Baptists and the doctrines of Inspiration and Inerrancy. It seems that 100% of the pastors agreed with the Bible being Inspired by God and 97% strongly agreed in the inerrancy of Scripture. That is a wonderful and encouraging stat. But the survey also included church members and attenders in the questioning and here is where it gets a bit disconcerting. Let me quote from the Baptist Press article:
“Brad Waggoner, vice president of B&H Publishing Group, in his upcoming book “The Shape of Faith to Come,” reports that only 69 percent of adults who attend an SBC church at least once a month strongly agree that “the Bible is the written Word of God and is totally accurate in all that it teaches.” Eleven percent in the LifeWay Research survey somewhat agreed with the statement, 11 percent neither agreed nor disagreed, 5 percent disagreed somewhat and 3 percent disagreed strongly.
Research for Waggoner’s book also indicated that only 76 percent of adults who attend an SBC church at least once a month strongly agree that “the Bible is the authoritative source of truth and wisdom for daily living.” Twelve percent somewhat agree, 8 percent neither agreed nor disagreed, 2 percent somewhat disagreed and 1 percent strongly disagreed.“
What this tells me is that my experience through the years is confirmed by the research- Baptist people are very independent minded (stiff necked? Rebellious?) and generally speaking have not been well taught from Sunday School or the pulpit. It also tells me that we are indeed a mixed multitude; the idea of a regenerate church membership has long since departed from the 16 million strong(?) SBC.
In the church I pastored for 15 years, if you asked the people they would probably tell you they believed in the inerrancy of Scripture. But practically speaking, they rejected doctrine after doctrine, had a canon within the canon, and did not want to hear anything from the Old Testament. So if you really looked at that survey, and asked some more probing, in depth questions, you find that a large percentage of those who claim to believe in inerrancy, claim to believe in the Bible as the authoritative source of truth and wisdom for daily living, really do not.
Granted, to the extent that we are all sinners and that we sin daily, we are practical disbelievers in the authority of Scripture, we could even be called practical atheists every time we sin. But I think that would be a bit overkill. What I am talking about is the many in our churches whose lives are just like the world’s but they come to church. They can mouth the creeds and find some Bible stories, but really make no effort at following Jesus and denying self. This will always be an element in the Church, but we as Baptists long ago gave up on serious discipleship, strict membership requirements and catechism. The sad state of affairs in Baptist life is directly the result of unsound doctrine and practices.
But the good news is that in the last 20 years our seminaries have been turned around and are heading in the right direction. Hence, the large number of pastors that adhere to the truth. But what to do about the state of the laity? The church I pastored for so long has been on life support for 25-30 years. I merely prolonged its death. It is almost dead now. Some churches just need to die off. New churches need to be founded on Scriptural principles with strict doctrinal and membership requirements as part of the foundation. The Reformed Resurgence in SBC life is significantly helping in this aspect. Baptist colleges are in desperate need of a Reformation as well (see Baylor). Our seminaries are squared away but our colleges are not what they ought to be.
Then there is the whole issue of Sunday School literature. Voof! I gave up on Lifeway Sunday School literature in my SS class about 1994-95. And the children’s literature is even worse than the adults’. We have to take seriously the challenges of living in a postmodern world and realize that we have to teach our children, youth and adults with more rigor and discipline in SS. In children’s SS we are teaching Bible Stories and morals instead of doctrine and how to think biblically and live it out.
If we do not Reform our SS literature for all ages and reform Baptist colleges, we can look for this disparity in beliefs between the Preachers and the Members to increase with time.
I thank the Lord that I am now in a biblical church, Redeemer Church in Fort Worth, TX., that is founded upon the Word, that has some rigorous membership requirements, church discipline, biblical expository preaching and a real emphasis on discipleship for all ages.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )