SBC in the last thirty years

Nathan Finn is doing a series of 3 posts on 15 things that have changed in the SBC since 1979. the first five are here. interesting stuff. looking forward to seeing the next ten.

here is number 5

5. Changing Relationships between Southern Baptists and Independent Baptists

During the 1940s and 1950s virtually the only difference between conservative SBC churches and Independent Baptist churches were that the former still gave money to the Cooperative Program. Both groups held to biblical inerrancy. Both groups focused on strong pulpit ministries and emphasized personal evangelism. Both groups abhorred progressive theology, especially in the SBC. Both groups were mostly dispensational. Both groups cultivated a generation of vocational evangelists who were among the most influential men within the respective movements. Independent Baptists even pioneered some ministries adopted in large numbers by SBC conservatives, most notably AWANAS and bus ministries. But all of that began to change in the 1960s and 1970s.

A growing number of Independent Baptists adopted a more strident view of “biblical separation” than most Southern Baptist conservatives could countenance. Many Independent Baptists made dispensationalism a test of fellowship, adopted King James-Only theology, and continued to promote racial segregation long after it had come to an end in the South. Southern Baptist conservatives rejected the “fundamentalist” moniker for these (and other) reasons. But some Independent Baptists, particularly those associated with men like John R. Rice, Jack Hyles, Lee Roberson, and Jerry Falwell, continued to cultivate relationships with individual Southern Baptist pastors and some (most notably Falwell) actually joined, or in some cases re-joined, the SBC. So the contemporary SBC is decidedly different than the strictest type of Independent Baptists, but close enough to “moderate” fundamentalists that some have even found a home among us. Many Southern Baptists are “fundamentalish” (if I can coin a term), but not necessarily fundamentalists.


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