With the rise of intensity surrounding homosexuality and gender; the recent questioning of the pillars of the doctrine of atonement; the surfacing of new loose views of scripture that have led to doubts regarding Canonicity; the forceful promotion of Evolution, and the growing incongruity regarding our mission, etcetera, it is apparent that our traditional Baptist orthodoxy is under attack. In previous generations it seems there was a fair amount that could be left unsaid when formulating a statement of belief. However, it is the sentiment of the Baptist Union Executive that the content of our currently used 1924 Statement of Belief be expanded to clarify and contemporize our Baptist faith. This exercise will serve to produce a more robust statement of belief that will better defend the tenets it was originally drafted promote.
As a Union of Churches, we are a very “broad church”; comprising a large geographical area, a rich diversity of languages, ethnicities, cultures, ministry contexts and even, theological persuasions. From Arminian to Reformed, Charismatic to Conservative, Covenantal to Dispensational, Urban to Rural, the wealthy to the poor and the in between; we are all still “Baptists”.
That diversity is an asset and has great gospel potential. However, it also has a potential for division and even apostasy if not properly celebrated, checked and defined.
We need to firmly establish the foundations of our unity; the non-negotiable core of what we share in common; the basis from which we can celebrate our unity within our diversity without uniformity. We need a shared “belief statement” which defines us as Baptists, to which we can all subscribe in good conscience. The stronger, the more clearly defined we make that shared conviction, the more we will strengthen our unity.
Therefore, as we move forward as a Baptist Union seeking to embrace, uphold, empower and celebrate our diversity, it is essential that we define very clearly what it means to be Baptist.
Today, 4th October, 2016:
“We, the 15 members of the Executive Task Team, herewith present the fruits of our work over the past months, containing a proposed new Statement of Belief for the Baptist Union of Southern Africa. It has been a privilege to contribute to such an important need, and do trust that our proposal will be of help to our churches as we consider updating our 1924 Statement of Belief”.
“…. the church of the living God, which is a pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15)