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Can Baptists Cooperate?

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of educators and pastors from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.  I delivered my stump speech on 10 Dispatches from the Emergent Church and got some excellent feedback.  Then I was thoroughly questioned by Bo Prosser, who really raked me over the coals.

The folks who make up the CBF are primarily expatriates from the Southern Baptist Convention — at least that’s how they identified themselves to me.  The fellowship formed in the early 1990s when the conservatives in the SBC completed their takeover.

In some ways, I felt great resonance with the CBFers, in that they are generally moderates/centrists/independents.  They also practice congregational polity, which means that each church is autonomous and voluntarily in fellowship with other churches — thems my people.  They do struggle with not becoming a denomination; one person said, “We did what we knew, which looks a lot like a denomination.”

One interesting conversation, however, caught my attention.  The CBF is not moderate about baptism: It’s believers’ baptism only, no exceptions.  I found it interesting that an otherwise non-ideological group is hard and fast on that one element of Christian practice…



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