I’m not a “baptist born, baptist bred, and I’ll be a baptist when I’m dead” kind of Baptist. I married into it actually. I do believe God had a plan in that. I didn’t get connected with God relationally until I was 24. I went to Baptist institutions for education because I wanted to know more about the denomination I would serve as a pastor. For the most part, Baptist are regular people. I like being Baptist. There are some things that are very aggravating. I’m at a Baptist History and Heritage Conference in Georgetown, Kentucky. Great lectures and presentation of papers on Baptist Life. All these folks are good people. But let me give a little response to what I’ve noticed in our SBC history and reflect on what I’ve heard so far in this conference.
1. We struggle to deal with the fact of our racial past and present. As I’ve listened to each lecturer, I’ve noticed there is always (in presenting Baptist History) a “I don’t know what to do with our ugly beginning regarding slavery” kind of feel. It’s not intentional. It’s just fact.
2. It amazes me how world focused the convention was and is, yet in many ways the SBC is not able to translate that into reality in the United States. I hate it for those who have been faithful in past years. Specifically, the issue of race dogs the SBC bad. Much of our Baptist heros of the 1800s were not so heroic. There seems to be an unwillingness to even to address it. For a denomination that’s very diverse, it’s sad.
We need someone to tell the whole story of our past, our journey, and our present, in a way that tells the truth and yet is hopeful because of our present. Also, I’ve noticed we need Black Historians to tell the Black Baptist Story without our “interpretation.” It would be OK, trust me 🙂
3. Baptist History/Identity is something worth studying. I’m going to do a personal research paper on “What makes Baptists different now?” Many denominations and non-denominational groups are doing what Baptists are doing. Is there really any difference? Theologically? Methodologically? I’ll publish it and will turn it into a sermon. Our people need to know who we are, where we have been, and what we stand for.
4. I have SOOO much respect for Baptist Historians. They are simply scholars and know how to put things together. I took Dr. Leon McBeth for Baptist History and Dr. Paul Gritz for Church History at SWBTS. I got to see Paul Gritz here and just love his spirit. Awesome scholars.
5. The presentations here have been scholarly, but have also been Google. A couple of presenters used PowerPoint and had preaching audio in the lectures. Cool.