Today I found a great site from some young culturally relevant Southern Baptists at baptisttwentyone.com. I thought the timing was interesting because of my recent post entitled "Wish you would step back from that ledge my friend." I was encouraged to find a group of young evangelicals like me who desire to reach our culture in order to see Jesus' kingdom expanded and his name glorified. I have to admit that I have pretty much written off the Southern Baptist Convention in the area of cultural relevance, and it is encouraging to see a resurgence growing among them.
Great thoughts, and even better motive. However, people like myself who have gotten the shaft time and time again find ourselves wondering whether there are many more than just the guys at Baptist21 and "several other 'older-40' pastors and leaders."
One must also wonder about the effectiveness of reforming from within. One glance at church history, and it seems that the cards are stacked against you. Of course the conservative resurgence worked, but could a second resurgence only several generations removed work again?
I think of Erasmus of Rotterdam. He lived during the reformation and even offered his own scathing reviews of the Roman Catholic Church in works such as In Praise of Folly. But he was committed to reforming from within. Erasmus, of course, has his place in history, but he essentially failed at his efforts in reforming the church. Marin Luther, likewise had thoughts of reformation from within. He finally realized, however, that if reformation was going to happen it was going to happen from without rather than from within. Much of what we have as protestants today, we owe to Martin Luther. Where would we be if he never decided to step outside the Convention… um.. I mean Catholic Church?
Reformation from within is possible. Reformation from outside the convention is far more likely. And with only one life to live, I'll take my chances on the outside. After all, my ultimate allegiance was never to the convention. Why spend my time fighting over it, when there is so much more important work to be done. I believe that the modern church is at a major turning point, and when the history books are written about this era, I don't want to be found on the side of Erasmus. I want be found among the Luthers, Calvins, Zwinglis, and Hubmaiers. These guys saw errors that needed be corrected and actually had the cajones to step out and do something about it. Personally, I think Erasmus was scared. Sometimes I wonder if determination to save the convention is bred not out of conviction but fear. Staying within the SBC is safe and familiar. Whatever it takes, I want to be about my Father's business. I laud the guys at Baptist21 and hope there are many more like them. Who knows, maybe the SBC is cabable of another resurgence, but I for one am not going to wait around to find out.