By Dr. Dan Ferrell
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold (Proverbs 22:1).
A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth (Ecclesiastes 7:1).
There is not much disagreement among discerning twice-born men of the Issachar tribe that we are definitely in the last days. Paul said that there would be a wide-spread apostasy prior to the revealing of the man of sin. I Timothy 4:1 says that many shall de-part from the faith. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; " (II Timothy 4:3).
In order for a group or individual to fall away, they must have had some scriptural stance. In order to apostatize, they must have professed some-thing.
Granted, the best way to determine the scripturality of a church is to check its doctrinal DNA. But, is the name Baptist important? Is there something to this time-tested moniker that Baptists should embrace and hold dear?
The trend today (which has accelerated over the past thirty years) is to shun denominational names and identities and to de-emphasize doctrinal issues, especially if they are unpopular. Basically, the current trend is unmitigated pragmatism.
The gurus of the church-growth marketing world tell us to stress felt needs, incorporate emotional experi-ences, support the unity of all faiths, and adopt a humanistic evangelism that leaves the customer twice-fold the child of Hell.
Christianity has become a lucrative business where calculated success is the end that justifies the means. Ironically, in spite of their ridiculous worldly compromise aimed at gaining a larger crowd, churches in America are seriously declining. Southern Baptist churches, from 1994-1999 declined by 22.7%. From 2007-2012, the decline increased to 29.5%. '
In England, from 1969-2011, the Church of England knocked down 500 of its own churches and deconsecrated another 1,000.2 Last year, the Montreal Gazette reported that 340 church buildings are now seeking new vocations with secular businesses. According to the Assembly of God Report of 2014, 4,000 churches are closing in the United States every year, while only 1,000 evangelical churches are planted annually.2
Finally, one must also consider that 80-90% of churches in America are on the decline. According to Southern Seminary (a Southern Baptist Institution), over 1,000 Southern Baptist Churches close annually. And what of our beloved Independent Baptist Churches – are they enjoying revival?!
Many of America's largest churches in the 1970's are no longer Baptist in name or in doctrine. The great Temple Baptist Church of Detroit, Michigan, is now Northridge Church; Land-mark Baptist Temple of Cincinnati is now Landmark Church of New Beginnings; and the Highland Park Baptist Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee, is now Church of the Highlands.
Hundreds and thousands of Baptist churches have succumbed to the insidious trend to shirk their historic land-mark. But in every case, sound doctrine and doctrinal emphasis were first abandoned. And why not? If the Body of Christ is universal and invisible, as Protestants and Evangelicals contend, why not merge our baptisms and communions, and tear down the walls?
But, if the church that Jesus started was a local and perpetuating assembly with John's baptism and a restricted communion, then those assemblies must and will earnestly contend for the "once-given faith" (Jude 3)!
Are Baptists to become the "Authenticus Baptistus" as Reverend Russell Dilday quipped? Are staunch Baptist churches the dinosaurs that are almost extinct?
The tendency is not just a trendy facelift of black paint, choirs replaced by drum-heavy praise bands, or a younger and more hip pastoral staff (adorned with earrings, tattoos, or both). No! It is doctrinal apostasy and evangelistic voodoo!
Reverend Russell of the Southern Baptist Convention Nashville said, "We are simply following a trend that exists in Baptist, Evangelical, and even old-line Protestant churches." The crying shame is not the Bill Hybels (Willow Creek in South Barrington, Illinois) or the Rick Warrens (Saddleback Church in Southern California) or the Joel Osteens (Houston, Texas). Rather, the indignity stems from the thousands of Hybel, Warren, and Osteen want-to-be's!
It is no longer Bible exposition; it is the motivating sensational monologue coupled with the "golden calf' musical concert. It is no longer doctrinal fidelity; it is the felt need(s) of every seeker (Psalm 53:1-4). It is no longer the power of the Holy Spirit; it is the power of marketing strategies and the promotional gurus. It is no longer about compassionate confrontational evangelism; it is about cell groups and feeding the poor.
And, most importantly, it is no longer about the Great Cause of God and Truth — it is about the group mentality and competing for the praise of men.
The Tenure of the Seeker-Sensitive Movement and the Emergent Church will end soon enough. Because society is always changing, so, too, will be pragmatic churches.
Matthew 7:24-29 makes it clear that churches that are built on shifting sand will not stand when the storms come. Is it not amazing that the Roman Harlot does not drop the name Catholic?!
Reverend Bill White changed his church's name of 87 years from University Baptist Church to Christ Journey. Rev. White said, "Baptist today has as many flavors as Baskin and Robbins ice cream. It has no defined meaning; and where it does, no positive meaning."2
John Burke, a SBC pastor of the newly named church by the Glades in Southern Florida said, "Come as you are: Whether alcoholic, a doubter, or a homosexual — everyone is a struggler here."
"We would rather spend our time explaining Christ to people than explaining Baptist," said social media director Summer Boone.
Should Kraft Cheese change its name to Community Dairy Product? Should Ford- Motor Company change its name to Wheels on the Move? Maybe Pepsi should seek a new facelift — Global Fizz?
Listen, I rejoice that thousands of compromised Baptists are dropping the name Baptist. I wish I could send them an interdenominational fruit basket this Christmas, because they make the challenges of real Baptists much easier. They drop the name Baptist because they do not identify with Baptist history, Baptist people, or Baptist doctrine. Dropping the name Baptist will simply accelerate further apostasy. Should Baptists desire greater success in evangelism and ministry outreach? absolutely! But we can achieve this through the power of the Holy Spirit, Gospel preaching in deep waters, love, prayer, hard work, dedication, and loyalty to the ordinances. Dropping the name Baptist is an insult to our martyred forefathers, and an affront to the One baptized by John the Baptist.
Truth needs a Ground and a Pillar (I Tim. 3:15). Salvation of the soul is not ecclesiastical; it is Christological.
But there will always be a remnant of Baptists who will preach Christ and not remove the ancient landmark. Is the name a guarantee of scriptural order? No, one must check the church's doctrinal DNA.
Think of it this way: the first church was built with Baptist bricks, though it was not titled as a Baptist church. Does it seem proper to hang a sign on a brick house that says "Brick House"?
I do not want to appear proud or arrogant about my Baptist heritage; actually, I am stunned with gratitude to be a Baptist. For those of you who find that Baptist Brand rather archaic and restrictive, I say to you, "Farewell. Someday I hope you repent."
"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us" (1 John 2:19).
1 Compiled by A nnual Church Pro-file, Lifeway Christian Resources; Nashville, Tennessee. 2 Southern Seminary. Summer 2014; Volume 82, Number 3.
Glad To Be A Baptist
By Ronnie W. Wolfe 6-26-2014
I'm glad to be a Baptist; The name I'll gladly wear. It doesn't matter what men say, This cross I'll gladly bear.
My fathers bore it rightly well; They bore it not in vain. They carried it through thick and thin And suffered through the pain.
They taught it well to our young men; They held the banner high. They suffered not the angered souls Who asked the reason why.
And we today who Baptists are Should hold the banner high And suffer not the angered souls And give the reason why.
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Revelation 11:17 "Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned."
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