Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of educators and pastors from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. I delivered my stump speech on 10 Dispatches from the Emergent Church and got some excellent feedback. Then I was thoroughly questioned by Bo Prosser, who really raked me over the coals.
The folks who make up the CBF are primarily expatriates from the Southern Baptist Convention — at least that’s how they identified themselves to me. The fellowship formed in the early 1990s when the conservatives in the SBC completed their takeover.
In some ways, I felt great resonance with the CBFers, in that they are generally moderates/centrists/independents. They also practice congregational polity, which means that each church is autonomous and voluntarily in fellowship with other churches — thems my people. They do struggle with not becoming a denomination; one person said, “We did what we knew, which looks a lot like a denomination.”
One interesting conversation, however, caught my attention. The CBF is not moderate about baptism: It’s believers’ baptism only, no exceptions. I found it interesting that an otherwise non-ideological group is hard and fast on that one element of Christian practice…