Reformed Theology and Southern Baptists: The Masses Don’t Care

English: Postage stamp depicting Martin Luther...

English: Postage stamp depicting Martin Luther, the initiator of the Protestant Reformation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many of my friends and associates work in churches and ministries.  Some of them talk quite a bit about being “reformed.”  They make it a point to bring this up often.  Some even go as far as to include the label on their blogs and websites.  Presently, there are debates among Southern Baptist leaders about who is the most reformed, or whether it is OK to breath the word in the context of their ministries.  Southern Baptists go as far as to offer conferences addressing reformed theology and to issue informal statements about their theological positions in an effort to garner support and approval from like-minded leaders.  Have we taken this discussion too far?  The Protestant Reformation occurred hundreds of years ago.

Can we not agree on whether God is sovereign over all things, that humanity is fallen, that the saved are elect, that salvation is in Christ alone, that sanctification leads to the transformation of persons and society?  Why is this still being debated?  Could it be that denominational leaders are so narcissistic that they want to continue the argument so that they draw attention to themselves and to their own glory for being in such a superior theological position than others?  Or are they afraid they are going to lose influence if they don’t line up with their cronies and continue to draw the unassuming masses to their churches?

I have a response for reformers.  My answer may sound a bit smug, but I don’t intend it to be that way.  My answer goes something like this, “One thing I am sure of—I seek to be conformed and transformed.”  I like these words.  Conformed and transformed.

By now you know that I am referring to a couple of passages in Scripture, Romans 8:29 and Romans 12:2.  Romans 8:29 refers to how God has called us “to be conformed to the image of His Son.”  In contrast to this type of conformity, Romans 12:2 tells us what not to be conformed to:  “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

It seems that all the reformed guys are more intent on being conformed to their reformed counterparts than they are on being conformed to the image of Christ.  I don’t hear much coming from these guys about the “conforming” that God works in us, the ultimate and complete sanctification.  This is the goal of our relationship with God through Christ Jesus.  Conformation implies that there is something already established that is the object of our conformation.  This is God’s will and it is a concept that we must grapple with in order to understand His will.

The act of transformation involves something in transition, namely ourselves and our constant act of turning our mind toward God in each thing we are confronted with in the world.  It is a metamorphosis, a total change from the inside out that is led by the mind.  My mind is transformed as I pray, as I read God’s Word, as I involve myself in fellowship with other believers.  This transformation is essential in discovering God’s will for our lives.

Be careful of the tendency to ignore conforming and transforming.  Sometimes the snare is the theological issue of the day, things that tend to puff up rather than to produce the humility and patience of being conformed to His image.  My prayer is that Christians would carefully examine their hearts to see if God is working in them in such a way that produces this image in them.

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One thought on “Reformed Theology and Southern Baptists: The Masses Don’t Care

  1. Ron Kyker January 26, 2014 at 2:41 pm Reply

    I appreciate your article very much, but I fear you lump Southern Baptist reformers with the likes of the International assoc. and those who associate with the London Baptists. The church has historically required some reformation through its history to get back to the true gospel of Christ which is exactly what you spoke about in your article. We are to search our hearts, to take the test of faith, looking to see if the evidence of faith is truly in us. This self-examination is not being encouraged and taught in our churches. The church itself is totally opposed to this self-examination. The bible teaches that what good work God begins He will bring to completion. It is widely estimated that 80% of all those members sitting in So. Baptists pews are lost. Do we care to find out why that is. Do we have the courage to preach the gospel of Christ telling the lost that they are lost. You know if this gospel is preached, half of the members would get up and walk out. Maybe this cleansing needs to take place like it did during the early church and the reformation. It is exactly the conformation and transformation that I want to see my church get back to. It is hard to find these days. I subscribe to Paul Washer, John Macarthur, and John Piper. I am not a Calvinist. Things like the simple prayer and a watered down theology have replaced the true message of Christ. If you preach this message, you are hated and spurned in So. Baptist churches. We, as So. Baptist are afraid to do this conforming and transforming. We choose instead to keep those 80% lost folks in our churches and we are preaching them straight into Hell letting them think they are saved. In a Nation that is going to Hell fast and hasn’t seen a major revival of God’s Spirit in over 100 years, we have to ask ourselves why this is. We need to get back to preaching the truth. Pastors are afraid to. They will be condemned if they do. A great preacher once said “if after a preacher preaches the Word, he will either be hated for it or the people listening will hate their sin”. We don’t preach this way anymore. We have reduced the gospel of Christ down to 5 things you need to know and 4 hoops you need to jump through and poof, your saved. There is not evidence of Christ living in most of the people who confess Christ. The bible is clear; many will cry Lord Lord only to hear Him say “depart from me, for I never knew you. You sound like you believe and are preaching this truth. That is all those, like me, who believe the So. Baptist traditions, like a simple prayer, need some reforming. If you can’t agree with this after studying God’s Word, I would ask you to please explain to me how you cannot. I love my church and I have an extreme desire and grief in my heart for those lost in our churches. To write me off as only wanting to puff myself up is an offense to me. I want only God’s will and do nothing to promote myself. I want only to see people know the truth and be saved from sin’s condemnation. There are many who believe in reform that truly only want this. Your article lumps us altogether as people not worthy to be listened to. I believe it is you that is unwilling to self-examine and allow our church to self-examine to see if we are church like Corinth or the Church at Sardis. I fear most of our So. Baptists Churches resemble the latter. That is my concern and want to see God’s Spirit moving amongst our churches again. There is a reason our churches aren’t like the early churches with little movement of God’s Spirit. We are lost in America. We are not over-churched; we are lacking a knowledge of who God is because it isn’t preached anymore. Respectfully; Ron C. Kyker

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