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FIRST-PERSON: Will Southern Baptists practice biblical conservatism or acceptable progressivism?


EDITOR’S NOTE: Ronnie Floyd is president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee.

NASHVILLE (BP) – In my reading over this past Thanksgiving weekend, one of the articles that really caught my attention reported how a mainline denomination may soon cease to exist. Over the years, this same denomination has captured media headlines because they have popularized a very progressive theological direction relating to the cultural issues of today.

Yet, our Southern Baptist Convention remains a convention of churches that deeply and unashamedly believes in the authority and infallibility of the Bible. The words from our own Baptist Faith and Message about the Scriptures [2] represent classic biblical conservatism. That is why we try with vigilance and grace, “to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.” Jude 3.

The scope of our biblical conservatism is written in our Baptist Faith and Message [3]. In fact, I encourage you to read it, teach it and even preach it because it gives not only what we believe about the Scriptures, but the spirit of how we desire to carry out what we believe.

Any cultural progressive would view our Baptist Faith and Message as both extreme and irrelevant in today’s world. Their concerns would not only be with our beliefs about the Bible, but also with how we believe these Scriptures should be lived out in the world today.

Our 50,000 congregations across this nation as well as our entire Christian denomination currently face mounting pressures that will only continue to intensify in the future. The battle for the Bible never ends and that is why we must always contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once and for all.


As a biblical community of Baptist churches, we must unite more than ever around the Bible and what we believe about it in faith and practice. Earlier this week, our SBC Council of Seminary Presidents released a strong statement reaffirming with eagerness the Baptist Faith and Message [5]. While our churches and institutions realize our historic beliefs as Baptists, we also know the continual challenges before us.

Temptations will lure us to flirt with what we may deem as acts of “acceptable progressivism;” however, anything that moves us away from the Scriptures will end up moving us away from God Himself. The Church is not running for the most popular award; the real Church of our Lord Jesus Christ never has.

Our acceptability into the culture will only come when we stand upon the Bible as God’s Word and unite together to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the whole world. When the world sees us caring for all people, loving all people and providing all people hope through Jesus Christ our Lord, they will begin to believe we are real and may indeed have something important to share.

The future is not in having cultural conversations apart from the Bible. This will always lead to division. Southern Baptist pastors, leaders and churches need to be having biblical conversations about cultural matters. What we think really does not matter and will never change anyone’s life. However, what God thinks about life and how He wants us to live in the world today is exactly what this world needs to hear. This will always lead us to unity.

This is why we must always share, teach, and preach the Bible. When the Bible speaks, God speaks. God’s Word endures forever – it is final! We are always to view culture and its issues through the biblical lens of the Holy Scriptures.

There is no future for any denomination that wants to dabble or dive head-first into the cultural progressivist movement of the day. The dabble will soon become the draw, and the dive will be into the vanity of humanity’s philosophies that are empty and anti-biblical.

I am only one of approximately 15 million Southern Baptists. As for me, I will always run to the Bible and remain there closely and continually. As long as I am in this role and fulfilling this calling in my life, I will stand upon the Bible without any reservation.

Furthermore, because of what I believe about the Bible, you can know this: From before the sun rises every morning until complete exhaustion, I will do everything I can with all I am to work diligently to unite our churches toward taking this Good News of Jesus Christ to every person across this world.

Now is the time to lead.