The Independent Baptist’s largest annual convention has been taking place this week in Brisbane.
I’m really glad to see that it’s being live streamed. I almost went this year but my budget and schedule conspired to strangle the life out of that idea.
But I wanted to share a few thoughts:
First, some would view me as an antagonist toward this convention and the IBs in general. While I do have some significant concerns, and haven’t been shy about sharing them, I am an Independent Baptist and count many within the NBF orb dear friends.
Second, I think that part of the reason that the Independent Baptist movement in Australia has become what it is (I refer specifically to those concerns I mentioned), is a lack of public, open discussion where ideas can be critiqued and thinking can be challenged and sharpened.
So in that spirit, I’d like to comment on a few themes that have cropped up in the few sessions I’ve been able to watch.
I’ll start with a couple of positive comments and then move on to a few concerns.
I rarely mix with other IBs but that I am challenged by the passion with which they tend to pursue the things of God. Love ’em or hate ’em, the Independent Baptists believe what they preach and they preach what they believe.
Independent Baptists generally aren’t happy to sit on the sideline watching television. They tend to roll up their sleeves and get to work… even if it is just for the Sunday afternoon potluck dinner!
Being around that challenges me and stirs me to fervency of spirit.
Recent years have shown an increased interest in Australian Baptist history. Last night’s Australian Baptist history presentation was a moving illustration of how we Independent Baptists are beginning to see ourselves as part of a Baptist tradition here in Australia that precedes the Fundamentalist Independent Baptists by a hundred odd years.
While those who have a stronger claim to this heritage might object to this trend, I think it’s important that we are beginning to see ourselves as more of an indigenous movement. I’m also encouraged to consider how this growing interest in pre-IBF Baptists could broaden our perspective a little.
For instance, last night’s presentation heavily focused on the influence of Charles Spurgeon on Australian Baptist history. I would think that this kind of rooting can only be a good thing for the growth and maturation of the Independent Baptist movement in Australia.
Now to some less positive comments.
I noted that there was a strong trend in the few sessions/portions of sessions that I saw toward enculturation. In other words, the Scriptural truths which were being presented were pre-applied to a particular cultural mindset so that the end result was to communicate, not merely Scriptural truth, but an entire culture which includes both Scriptural truth and human culture.
For instance, instead of talking about how we preach on modesty, we would talk about preaching on dress standards.
Or instead of talking about testifying about the grace of God in our lives, we would talk about soul-winning (i.e. door-knocking).
My concern is that these types of pre-applied messages tend to render the actual Scriptural truth indiscernible from the cultural application. In other words, I suspect many will leave the meetings feeling that Scripture teaches that we should set dress standards and that Scripture teaches that we should use the door-knocking methodology. But it doesn’t.
What are your thoughts?