The Ephesians 4 Project: Article XIV
Christ's people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and conventions as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. They are voluntary and advisory bodies designed to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of our people in the most effective manner. Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ's Kingdom. Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ's people. Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament.
Unifying Principles of Article XIV
One of the reasons that I am proud to be a Southern Baptist is her history of Christian cooperation, not only within the SBC itself but also with “various Christian denominations.” The Baptist Faith & Message gives a proper balance here around which all Southern Baptists can rally.
In recent days, however, it seems some Southern Baptists have become divisive over what really should be non-divisive issues such as the following, just to name a few: single, pastor/elder-led congregationalism versus plural, pastor/elder-led congregationalism; use of church discipline versus refusal to use church discipline; consumption of alcohol versus teetotalism in regard to alcohol; and Reformed soteriology versus Arminian soteriology (perhaps more of a fence-riding form of Arminianism since Southern Baptists affirm perseverance of the saints; see the BF &M, Article V).
These divisions are regrettable and lamentable when a world of lost people remains lost. Let us, therefore, return to a deeper sense of cooperation as Southern Baptists and preach the gospel to all the nations.
For His Glory,
Jeremy, I've read this article before, but given some of the debates I've been in on the blogosphere, this article is evermore relevant today. Really, it's sad to hear the sort of rhetoric that comes forth from these debates. Basically, there is a loud, angry voice that's rising in the SBC. They seem to be Fundamentalist Traditionalists. They see the SBC as basically the Kingdom of God and want to cooperate within the SBC but not outside the SBC. Very sad!
Great job breaking down some of the debates that are going on. Unfortunately, the BF&M is being ignored in this debate by one side.
You're right been. It is a sad day when Southern Baptists are not cooperative with other like-minded (not same-minded) believers such as Methodists, Presbyterians, Charismatics, etc. who preach the gospel. My question is who is more Southern Baptists, those demonstrating cooperativeness or those decrying it? I think the former is the answer based on the BF & M and our SBC heritage.