I started reading this article because it discussed how the existing conservative power structure in the Missouri Convention of the Southern Baptists is becoming increasingly alarmed at the way moderates in the denomination are associating with liberal people and their ideas.
The focus of the article is Roger Moran, a lay person who has become the political mover and shaker in the Missouri Baptist community. Moran is very concerned with
“…a young band of moderate Christians that he believes is trying to steal back the convention, undercutting his empire. It’s a growing movement he’d like to see disappear.
‘You begin to see this new generation of moderates rising up and giving cover to the more liberal factions of this movement,’ Moran says. ‘And the point I’m trying to make is, ‘Folks, this thing is coming in under the radar.”
This ‘thing,’ according to Moran, is the emerging church — a term that has come to define a broad swath of churches that attract younger Christians by tapping into a secular culture. The movement — which promotes alternative ways of attracting young people, including rock music and alcohol — makes traditional Christian leaders nervous. “
Then the article goes on to describe some of the interesting aspects of the situation:
Moran is especially worried about Acts 29, a network of about 90 emerging churches across the country. One member, The Journey, is a successful, socially moderate, theologically conservative church in St. Louis that has ties to both the Missouri and Southern Baptist conventions.
The Journey doesn’t consider itself Baptist and calls itself “inter-denominational,” but in 2005 it borrowed $200,000 from the Missouri Baptist Convention to help buy and renovate a former Catholic church in south St. Louis. The church holds one of its outreach ministries at the Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood, where theological conversations take place at the bar, sometimes over beers.
In December, Moran began publicly questioning The Journey’s loyalty to Baptist doctrine.
Most Southern Baptists oppose the consumption of alcohol, and Moran has seized on the issue of beer in the emerging church as proof that a younger generation will compromise established doctrine to attract souls.
Moran also is worried that his promise to conservative Baptists during his rise to power is beginning to show some wear. He promised his allies they would enjoy a prolonged era of control. [emphasis added]
“So all these churches, all these pastors that I went around saying all this stuff to, it now kind of looks like I reneged,” he said.
I’m first reminded of Jesus criticism of the Pharisees – “you teach the precepts of men as if they were the commandments of God” (Matt 15:9 and/or Mark 7:7)
But then I read the quote “He promised his allies they would enjoy a prolonged era of control”. (No commentary needed…)
And the final bit from the article that struck me:
“The Southern Baptist Convention is growing increasingly terrified that they’ve spent all this time recreating the denomination in this (conservative) image, and now nobody cares,” he said. “Young seminarians are challenging them on issues and saying, ‘Your vision of reality is not ours.'”
What is so striking to me about all this is that the playbook that Moran is using to create this conservative ruling coalition in the Missouri Baptist Convention comes right out of the playbook used to do the same thing to the whole of the denomination. And it’s the same set of ideas and goals that are being applied in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion right now by groups like the AAC and the Network.
But I wonder if the groups working to reform Anglicanism into a confessional body with clear standards will run up against the same wall that the Baptists are. “Your vision of reality is not ours.”
That’s a quote to ponder.
Read the rest here: STLtoday – News – Religion