Timothy George: The Future of Baptist Identity in a Post-Denominational World

The final session of the day and of the conference is by Timothy George. His topic is the future of Baptist identity in a post-denominational world. He disclaims the title listed above, blaming it on the editors. Instead, his topic is titled “Is Jesus a Baptist?”

Dr. George begins with a word of personal testimony. After recounting his own journey in Baptist life, he affirms his appreciation for the Conservative Resurgance. But he is calling for us to move forward to face the challenges of the future without re-fighting the battles of the past.

Three strategies for the future:

1. Retrieval for the Sake of Renewal

Are Baptists a creedal people? Prior to the 20th Century, Baptists spoken very affirmatively of the idea of a creed. Baptists believed in the usefulness of “Confessions of Faith”. Baptists have never advocated “creedalism”. Baptists have always believed in religious liberty. Baptists have never exalted a creed to be above or on par with Biblical revelation. Baptists have never canonized any confession, but hold them all to be revisable in light of Biblical revelation.

Are Baptists Calvinists? Historically and empirically the answer is: “Some are and some aren’t.” He is not neutral. He was born an Arminian, as all are. He has come slowly to appreciate the doctrine of grace. But we no longer need to kill one another in our day. Let us banish the term “Calvinist” because it has become a new “N-word” to some today. To some a term of derision and others a badge of pride.

2. Particulary in the Service of Unity

We must maintain our particular distinctives in honesty in order that our unity on the essentials might be evident. Our observable love for one another will be a witness to a watching world. George is calling for an ecumenical unity.

By all means let us maintain and preserve our particular Baptist distinctives. But not that others might say how great Baptists are, but how great a Savior they have. That others might see our love for one another.

3. Humility in the Presence of the Holy

There is a fine line between a retrieval for the sake of renewal, and a Bapto-centricity. We must guard against becoming prideful in our Baptist identity. Beware lest we think of ourselves more highly than we should.


This concludes the conference schedule. I will be posting my reflections upon this conference in the near future. I will post information about the availability of audio and text of the sessions when I learn of those arrangements. Thanks for “tuning in”.

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