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His mission isn’t to ‘save people,’ pro-CBF pastor tells newspaper

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–A Southern Baptist pastor who identifies himself with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship told a Birmingham, Ala., newspaper his mission is not to see people saved and that his church will discuss the possibility of severing ties with the Southern Baptist Convention.

“My approach to mission is not to save people,” said Southside Baptist Church pastor Steve Jones in a May 26 interview with The Birmingham News. “I don’t like this ‘win-them-at-all-costs’ attitude.”

Jones was referring to Southern Baptist efforts to share the gospel of Christ with all people, including those of the Jewish faith.

Jones told the newspaper he has a harsh view of current conservative leaders within the SBC and disagrees with many of the denomination’s recent pronouncements, including the 1996 call to reach out to Jews.

“The whole mindset — that Jews are lost and we need to convert them — it’s a very condescending relationship,” Jones told the paper.

Jones said he identifies more strongly with the CBF, a 10-year old group disgruntled with the SBC. He said his church will discuss the possibility of severing ties with the SBC at a June 24 meeting.

Jones’ comments on Southern Baptists came during a story about Southside embracing a Jewish congregation in search of a temporary worship site.

Temple Emanu-El, a Reform Jewish temple, will hold services at Southside during a 14-month renovation project. The two congregations celebrated the Jewish festival of Shavuot — commemorating Moses receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai and God’s gift of the Torah to the Jewish people.

Temple Emanu-El Rabbi Jonathan Miller told The Birmingham News he’s never heard of Baptists and Jews worshiping together.

“It’s very significant,” he told the newspaper. “It really will be a joint worship service.”

Miller said he was originally leery of sharing a Baptist church.

“For our members there was a bit of fear — that they’ll want to convert us, they won’t respect us, that they’ll proselytize us,” Miller told the paper. “We believe there are many ways to get to God. Christians have a true view of God; Muslims have a true view of God; Jews have a uniquely Jewish view of God that we believe is true for us.”

A spokesperson for the CBF declined comment to Baptist Press May 28.

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