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Saturday, July 29, 2006

To dunk or not to dunk

When I was growing up a good Southern Baptist in Texas would never question the mandates of the Southern Baptist Convention. We looked to that body in much the same way that the Catholics looked to the Pope and the Vatican.

For a least a couple of decades now I've considered myself a Methodist. The church's beliefs much more closely aligned with mine that than of the Southern Baptist Convention's. I jokingly refer to myself as a "reformed Baptist."

I tell you all this, so that you understand my amazement about a local church's move to change some rules.

Henderson Hills Baptist Church in Edmond, a Southern Baptist member church, is bucking convention. The church's membership will vote today and Sunday on whether to eliminate baptism as a requirement for church membership.

Needless to say, the move has brought some criticism, and might get the church booted out of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Church leaders say there is no clear biblical evidence for using baptism as a prerequisite for church membership. SBC leaders say a church practicing "open membership" may jeopardize its cooperating membership with the convention at both state and national levels. Notice they don't argue that it's mandated by scripture.

In 2001, the First Baptist Church in OKC voted to sever ties with the Southern Baptist Convention over issues of doctrine and women's roles in the church. So Henderson Hills might be in good company if its ousted, or decides to sever the ties itself.

Like everyone else, I'm curious as to the outcome. I personally think it's good for religion to have followers question the decisions made for them by some entity, be it a governing board or the Vatican. After all, shouldn't the Bible be the governing board?


V-Grrrl said...

I'm an Episcopalian and the three tenets governing church practices are reason, tradition, and scripture. All three hold equal weight.

Policies, practices, and positions are agreed upon by an annual convention of church members and clergy and an occasional (every five years?) meeting of the house of bishops.

This has allowed the church to be traditional in many respects and yet evolve--most recently to include women priests and bishops and openly gay clergy.

Gina said...

People evolve, so it seems natural to me that a church can evolve.