David Gushee, Distinguished Professor of Ethics at Mercer University, and a moderate Baptist himself, reflects in an article published by the Associated Baptist Press about the identity crisis of moderate Baptists after the fundamentalist turn of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The term ‘moderate’ is really a misnomer, because under its umbrella we find both true Christians – in the Biblical, historical sense of this word, as well as straight liberals – in the real (as opposed to the manipulative) sense of this word, as people who deny the basis tenents of historic Christianity. Thus, ‘moderate’ means, in this context, rather ‘non-SBC’, which is mostly a structural, denominational label, not a theological one.
Yet, the same is true with the term ‘Evangelical’, rightly argues Gushee. Because SBC has ‘taken captive’ this label, for most ‘moderate’ Baptists ‘Evangelical’ really means ‘fundamentalist’ (whish is, thus, a also a structural term). Now, obviously, not all SBC Baptists are real fundamentalists, from a theological point of view, though its leadership may be so. Many of them are real Evangelicals, in the general, theological sense that this term has received after 1950, when applied to the ‘new Evangelicals’, as opposed to the theological fundamentalists, who become, consequently the ‘old Evangelicals’.
In this context, ‘moderate’ Baptists have a real identity problem (nevertheless, it seems that SBC Baptists are beginning to feel the same way, although they are not yet ready to admit it).
Where will the future of ‘moderate’ Baptists take them, asks Gushee? Read his (tentative) answer HERE.