It Takes An Emergent Village..

Over the years since the IBFNA was organized, we have struggled over those who abandoned the name Baptist as a term that identified them. While some used to complain that its use identified us with the Conventions, in fact, churches, schools, agencies and other organizations changed because they felt constrained or limited by the term and eagerly shed the title to become more friendly to the world and more seeker sensitive. But what about those organizations that made the move but kept the title? In hindsight I am thankful for those who came out of the proverbial closet to declare that they do not wish to be so narrowly defined. At least we can respect their integrity, if not their doctrinal position. The real question, however, is how many other organizations and ministries have moved away from a fundamentalist Baptist position but keep the title to mask recent changes in their positions, or at least to keep Baptist dollars rolling in that might otherwise be cut off. In some recent research, I found a few examples to demonstrate my point: From a Baptist mission agency:
"..Is an independent faith mission agency that exists to serve local churches in carrying out the task of world evangelism...(Which is also) in partnership (with a school) to provide theologically conservative graduate education..." From a school that abandoned its rich Baptist heritage and dropped Baptist in one name but retains it in another: Is an evangelical Christian university..recognized for its distinctive commitment to Christian worldview and leadership development. From the same school's Confession of Faith: "..Affirms a core confession of convictions in common with the creeds of the early church, the confessions of the Reformation and all conservative Evangelical Christians."
For those who have set aside the title Baptist, the direction of their movements is unmistakenly towards Evangelicalism, New or otherwise. If you're one of those who consider the name drop and move into Evangelicalism as benign, you need to takeoff the blinders. Beside being market-driven by what people want in a church, there have been other changes like elder rule in place of congregational polity and an open, if not Reformed, perspective on eschatology. These and other changes are clearly the undermining of Baptist distinctives, much like we continue to suffer under the influence of people like John MacArthur. While we have rightfully criticized the movement towards entertainment instead of worship and into contemporary music (which MacArthur now defends) instead of the great hymns of our faith, these are but the symptoms of a deeper doctrinal shift that seeks to redefine Christianity and the Church and to challenge our fundamental doctrines. Evangelicalism not only has opened the door to historical Liberalism but has also built a bridge to Ecumenicism, as recently represented by the Emerging Church Movement (ECM), also known now as the Emergent Village. In a recent occasion where I met a staff member of the local Calvary Chapel, I asked what their position was regarding the ECM. His reply was that Calvary Chapel strongly opposes it and his pastor would preach against it, except the movement or its leaders would never be identified by name from the pulpit. I can understand Calvary Chapel's opposition to ECM. After all, it is the next step down an already slippery slope towards Ecumenicism; and contemporary worship churches may yet be threatened by the loss of people to ECM operations or face the necessity to become like ECM in order to keep their people from leaving. It will be an interesting test of the people drawn to contemporary churches whether they will still seek some measure of Biblical preaching or gravitate towards the more open views of Scripture characteristic of the Neo-Orthodoxy of ECM. If the term "Baptist" is to mean anything to the present generation and if we would be faithful to its true heritage, we cannot be part of the watering down of the authority of God's Word. Our reaction to such changes and nonsense should be a deeper conviction to preach the whole counsel of God's Word, teach our people its doctrine and challenge our people with a renewed zeal for holy living. It is not a time to stand on the sidelines and watch the wreckage cause by compromise. Neither is it a time to wring our hands in despair, as if there is nothing to be done about it. We need to faithfully preach His Word, with His power, for His glory and see how God still changes hearts in the midst of confusion caused by the folly of men. As things change more rapidly and more widely than ever before, it is a blessing to cling to the One Who changes not.

Dr. Charles L. Dear