Why am I a Southern Baptist?

June 27, 2006

I get asked this from time to time.  I’ve written a personal testimony in Nettles & Moore Why I Am A Baptist.  That talks more about the theological issues that would make me affirm that baptism is only for believers. 

Why am I a SOUTHERN Baptist?  Because I am a member of a Southern Baptist Church.  Why have I encouraged our local church to get more involved in the Southern Baptist Convention, to not only cooperate in a friendly fashion, but to do so increasingly?

For the same reason that the SBC was initially founded, and for the same reason that the Triennial convention was founded before it (in 1814)–to help local congregations cooperate in order to send missionaries in order to evangelize the entire world.  True, the SBC had a sinful defense of slavery as part of the culture of its founders, and even a precipitating reason for its founding, but the main motivating cause, even through such terrible expressions of human falleness, was the desire to send missionaries with the Good News of Jesus Christ throughout the world.  That did not and has not changed.

The SBC isn’t a church, and we don’t pretend to be one.  We don’t convene annually to entrust the doctrine and discipline of our local congregations to each other, or to the convention as a whole.  We meet in order to agree enough to send missionaries together.

Coming up on the bi-centinniel celebration of the Triennial Convention, I don’t know of a group whose aims more nearly match those original ones than today’s Southern Baptist Convention.  They originally united to help support Adoniram Judson.  That trickle of witness for Christ has become a flood.  And I rejoice to be a part of it.

That’s why I’m a Southern Baptist.