Polity And Proclamation: The Relationship Between Congregational Polity And Evangelistic Church Growth In The SBC -- By: Alvin L. Reid

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 03:1 (Spring 2005)
Article: Polity And Proclamation: The Relationship Between Congregational Polity And Evangelistic Church Growth In The SBC
Author: Alvin L. Reid


Polity And Proclamation: The Relationship Between
Congregational Polity And Evangelistic Church
Growth In The SBC

Alvin L. Reid

Professor of Evangelism/ Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
P.O. Box 1889 Wake Forest, NC 27588

In 1988 near Washington D.C., 175 people gathered together for what they called a war meeting. This group had been the outcasts of American culture. They decided the only way to change this perception would be for them to recast their community in a different light. For a week they met, concluding that they would use rhetoric and other forms of persuasion, and invade the arts, media, politics and yes, even religion. They left the meeting committed to use the freedom and democratic processes we have in America to reshape completely American opinion. Sixteen years later, because of this meeting and other related factors, Americans as a people look at homosexuals differently in America, especially in our popular culture. Since then, sodomy laws have been struck down. Shows like “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” are found on cable television. Homosexuals are as common now on network shows as any other group. Madonna and Britney Spears kiss on television, and issues from gays in the military to gay marriage have become frontline political topics. Why has this change come so widely and so rapidly? Because a movement, utilizing our system of government and the free society it promotes, has spread. It has changed America, but not for the better.

Go back in history 2, 000 years, and you will find a smaller group. In a culture far less free, 120 people met together in Jerusalem. They had no political might, no economic power, and

no well known leaders. They had one faith, one Lord, one mission—they were one movement. And the world is different because of them.

From the early church until now, cultures and societies have been affected by movements. In our own Southern Baptist Convention, we have witnessed, and many of us have been zealous participants, in a conservative resurgence moving a massive Christian tradition back to a more biblical, conservative stance on biblical authority. This movement has come through three fundamental forces. First, leaders arose who, at great personal risk, moved for theological change. Second, a consensus about the authority of Scripture and biblical inerrancy brought together a large number of Southern Baptists who agreed that the issue was so critical, that unless the SBC turned to a more orthodox view of Scripture, she would cease to exist as a legitimate force for the gospel.

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