The Southern Baptist Convention

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Organization and Management of the Southern Baptist Convention

John Javan Gray

Executive Summary

This study discusses that denominations have been the essential form of American religious organization. The most important of these changes in the past two decades has been the transfer of power and leadership in America's largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. The recent controversy in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is a familiar topic. Research further says that the understanding contemporary Southern Baptist polity requires a basic familiarity with the Convention's roots. One popular explanation for the "unity" is emphasized in the names of current American denominations (e.g., Lutheran Church in America, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church USA, United Church of Christ). Southern Baptists, however, have yet to reconcile with Northern Baptists (later to become the American Baptists), and the two remain separated halves of an antebellum whole. The dissertation further discusses that One might be born Southern Baptist in Georgia and might remain Southern Baptist, perhaps within a different congregation, even if one's views or ideas changed.

Table of Content

Executive Summary2

Chapter 1: Introduction5

Specific History and General Theory11

How the Controversy Is Uniquely Southern Baptist12

The Southern Baptist Convention and the Denominational Type15

The SBC and Its Environment: Similarities and Differences21

Scriptural Law and the Rise of Fundamentalism34

Background of the Study41

Purpose and scope of the Study41

Chapter 2: Literature Review43

Organizational Cohesion, Democratic Roots, and the Advance of Bureaucracy47

Settling In: The Limits of Denominational Solidarity51

Diversity, Disagreement, and Organizational Tension, 1942 to the Present59

Unsettling: A Challenge to the Old Establishment64

Organizing a Fundamentalist Coalition67

The Establishment Strikes Back72

The Fundamentalist Paradox80

Programs and Possibilities for the Fundamentalist Coalition89

Demographics of the Fundamentalist Coalition and Their Opponents92

Pastoral Authority and the Priesthood of the Believer Two Traditions of Local Authority96

Implications for the Future of SBC Polity101

The Limits of Membership104

The Bureaucracy and a New Set of Rules107

Membership in the New Polity107

Organizational Limits in the New Polity: Bureaucratic and Democratic110

Chapter 3: Methodology115

What is a Southern Baptist Church?116

Dealing with Geography117

Dealing with Data from the Church Letter119

Chapter 4: Results123

Application: Church Growth Research126

Surveying Southern Baptist Members128

Finding Southern Baptists in National Samples128

Finding Southern Baptists through the Churches131

Improving Response/Dealing with Non-Response134

Postscript: is it that bad?137

Chapter 5: Conclusions and Discussions138

Ambiguity without Consensus: The Development of Procedural Polity168

The New Official Polity170

The Institutionalization of Dissent173

The Other Southern Baptist Democracy177


Chapter 1: Introduction

The main focus of this research is to discuss that denominations have been the essential form of American religious organization. In the past, Southern Baptists were a cultural constant, but in California or Oregon or Michigan, "Southern Baptist" was a conscious identification that one could not take lightly. It added Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary during this expansion period. The research says that the denomination also named two standing committees the Committee on the Denominational Calendar and the Committee on Public Affairs to conduct Convention business. The CPA, later the Public Affairs Committee represents the denomination on the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs (BJCPA). The BJCPA is an umbrella group for many Baptist organizations (and therefore is not a Southern Baptist ...
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