Religious Liberal Blog
Following the approval of a large majority of its churches, the board of the American Baptist Churches Pacific Southwest region voted unanimously May 11 to withdraw from its covenant relationship with its parent denomination. The board’s action makes final the separation of the 300-church region from the American Baptist Churches (USA) in Valley Forge, Pa.
Theological differences between the Pacific Southwest region and the national denomination have made “close cooperation” between the two difficult for many years, according to the statement from the board. Many of the denomination’s self-governing regions, such as the Evergreen Association in Washington and the Rochester-Genesee region in New York, openly accept churches disassociated from other regions because they accept unrepentant homosexuals as members. The denomination’s general board has refused to discipline the regions who accept such churches, citing Baptist freedom and local church autonomy as reasons.
Imagine that. Some churches accepted “unrepentant homosexuals” as members. They were probably even nice to them too. Probably said good morning to them, and even shared a pew with them too. Probably didn’t even call them names from the pulpit. Imagine. And they call themselves christian.
Of course, schisms are nothing new when it comes to baptists or any other denomination, but baptists have something of a peculiar history with schisms.
By the 1830’s tension began to mount between the Northern and Southern Baptists. Baptists in the South were embracing slavery because it was the core of their social and economic order. Baptists of the North were saying that God would not condone treating one race as superior to another while Southerners said that God intended for races to be separate. In around 1835, the Southern states began complaining that they weren’t receiving money for mission work.
In 1844 the issues of missionary work and slavery came to a peak. The Home Mission Society gave a statement saying that a person could not be a missionary and wish to keep his slaves as property. This caused the Home Mission Society to separate northern and southern divisions. As a result of this the Baptists in the south met in May of 1845 and organized the Southern Baptist Convention . 12
When the dust settles on the latest schism, which side will be seen as having been on the right side of history? ]]>