When the boundaries that a confession of faith necessarily marks out are acknowledged, you can be sure that someone somewhere will start leveling the charge of bigotry.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
So writes Robert Frost in what could be called a poem for modern evangelicals. Indeed, the very idea of set markers that distinguish what is acceptable from what is not strikes many professing Christians today as bigoted and unloving. This is true when a church takes membership seriously and distinguishes between those who belong to the church and those who, no matter how long they may have been attending the public meetings of the church, do not. I have fielded more than a few Monday morning phone calls from irate Christians who were offended by the fencing of the table at the previous Lord’s Day communion service.
Some Christians also get offended when a church—or a convention of churches—insists that its confession of faith not only asserts certain truths that it believes but also actually excludes some beliefs and practices. In other words, when the boundaries that a confession of faith necessarily marks out are acknowledged, you can be sure that someone somewhere will start leveling the charge of bigotry. Or worse. If you doubt this then go read the elaborate announcements of departure from the SBC recently published by Charlie Dates and Ralph West.
What was the offense that provoked these pastors to lead their churches out of the SBC? It was a joint statement issued by the presidents of the six SBC seminaries that reaffirms the Baptist Faith and Message “as the doctrinal statement that unites and defines Southern Baptist cooperation and establishes the confessional unity of our Convention.” In other words, the presidents said that they enthusiastically affirm that the BFM establishes the doctrinal boundaries for the SBC.
Had they stopped there, as Danny Akin, President of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, later stated that he wished that they had, probably no one would have left the convention over their affirmation. But the presidents had the temerity to point out some necessary distinctions that the BFM makes. Specifically, the presidents said that any “affirmation of Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality and any version of Critical Theory is incompatible with the Baptist Faith & Message.”