Friday, February 27, 2009

"People of the ook"

There is a saying that Southern Baptists (of which I am one) are "people of the book." The claim is that Baptists are people who live by the bible. I'm guessing that it is Southern Baptists who most often refer to us this way.

When I think about this claim, I wonder what basis we use to say this. Do we really believe that we have things so figured out that we can say that we live by the book, and at least imply that others do not? For example, are we absolutely certain that we are correct about baptism and others (such as bible-believing Presbyterians) are not? Are they not trying to live by scripture as well?

Additionally, and more troubling, there are many areas where we as Southern Baptists as a group fall short of biblical standards. One of the most glaring areas is our ecclesiology. The more time I spend in Southern Baptist churches, the more I realize that the way we live as the church of God is often driven much more by tradition than by scripture.

In the bible, we see the church as a united body of believers in Jesus Christ living together, sharing their lives together, caring for the poor and hurting, and boldly and lovingly proclaiming the gospel to the lost. When we look at many (not all) of our Southern Baptist churches, we see people who love each other, but do not necessarily share life together. We see people who gather more for worship than for edification. We see much ceremony, but often times little substance. We see expository preaching, but lack of reaching out to the poor and hurting. We see our folks learning step-by-step plans of salvation instead of just living out a lifestyle of evangelism.

I realize these are generalizations. There are some SBC local churches that are really trying to be biblical. They are striving to follow not just what is commanded in scripture, but also what is modeled.

Regrettably, most churches within our convention appear to be unwilling to even ask hard questions of themselves. They just won't change to be biblical in practice because it would be too uncomfortable.

Since this is the case, we need to not be so fast to proclaim ourselves to be "people of the book." It seems that we are trying to live by the parts of the bible we choose. We are living by only segments of the book.

Maybe we should instead call ourselves just "people of the ook."


Holly said...

I have to agree with you. Thanks for pointing this out. I'd also like to see more corporate prayer in our Southern Baptist gatherings. Sometimes I wonder why something so vital as prayer isn't--I hate to say it--taken more seriously in the context of our worship services.

BTW, nice blog!

Eric said...


Thanks for your comment. I agree with you completely about prayer. We really need to take a long, hard look at what we are ignoring of what the bible says about what the church is and does.