September 20, 2020

“Additional Doctrines,” Baptist Style

In debates and discussions here at Internet, a reader is likely to read that Catholics have “added doctrines” to Christianity. My reaction is not so much to challenge the statement- I believe it is a universal fact in Christian history- but to raise the issue of whether evangelicals really shouldn’t be somewhat more careful where they point that particular weapon. It could go off and hurt someone they know.

Just for example, I’ve thought back to my own upbringing in a Southern Baptist fundamentalist church in Western Kentucky. Did I encounter any “added doctrines?”

Let me be clear that I heard the Gospel in this church, was discipled intentionally, learned much about community and leadership and was encouraged and affirmed in my gifts and callings. I’m grateful for all the good the Holy Spirit did in me through that community.

But in this same context, I learned…

1. The only way to receive Jesus Christ and be saved was to walk the aisle at the end of a sermon and repeat a prayer provided by the preacher.

2. That the American flag and patriotic demonstrations were part of worship.

3. The Jesus had founded the Southern Baptist church, which had existed from Biblical times to the present day.

4. That Christians must be teetotalers, and no one in the Bible ever drank wine.

5. The King James Version was the only real Bible.

6. No one could be a Christian if they weren’t a Baptist.

7. There was an extensive dress code and behavior code for Christians that could not be specifically found in the Bible.

8. The civil rights movement was wrong and the Vietnam war was right.

9. Tithing was a New Testament requirement for all Christians.

10. Church sponsored revivals were endorsed in the Bible.

11. Deacons were supposed to run the church.

12. Sunday was a day when all businesses must be closed, and we should vote to impose that view on the community.

13. All true believers had a “born again” experience which they could recall and describe.

14. Being a good Christian was a matter of attending church events. especially all worship services and Sunday School.

There are certainly other matters on which our church taught and promoted questionable doctrines. We were strongly dispensational and had extensive beliefs about the end of the world, for example. If you crawled up inside a lot of things we said and did, you’d find bunches of legalism and even superstition.

The big difference is that these doctrines aren’t part of any Baptist confession of faith, though some were part of our church covenant, and all were frequently preached, taught and enforced.

Are these errors as bad as the extra-Biblical doctrines my church would have charged to Roman Catholicism? Purgatory? Praying to Mary? Papal infallibility? That’s not my call. But they are substantial. They deny or distort important things that all Christians believe.

Just a reminder that we need to be equally aware of our own issues with “additional doctrines” that can’t be substantiated by scripture. (And as I said elsewhere, our Catholic friends wouldn’t claim that everything they believe is clearly taught in the Bible. We did.)


  1. Although I disagree with many of the extra biblical teachings of the Catholic tradition, they seem to have a much better rational for filling in the blanks. I don’t think it’s legit, but it sort of maks sense at first glance.

  2. This ties in nicely with the previous posts. We’re back to the authority problem that “Bible-believing” churches have and the poor quality of the way we often interpret the Scriptures. I hesitate to deny anyone their opinions or convictions on some of these matters, but why do we need to hold them so tightly, as if they constitute divine commands?

  3. Don’t forget that no Christian can vote Democrat.

  4. Actually, in my church we all voted Democrat. But this was the 60s and early 70s.

  5. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    I got this type of “additional doctrines” inflicted on me back in the Seventies. The end result was the distinct feeling of the promised “Freedom in Christ” becoming more like getting sold a bill of goods. (Either that, or they defined “Freedom” along the same lines as North Korea.)

    P.S. The graphic at the top of this post has it wrong. In this context, that list should be only one or two “You Can”s and hundreds of “You Can’t”s, with more “Can’t”s being continuously added.

    Specific comments/snarks:

    1. The only way to receive Jesus Christ and be saved was to walk the aisle at the end of a sermon and repeat a prayer provided by the preacher.

    AKA “Say the Magic Words”. Christian Shahada.

    12. Sunday was a day when all businesses must be closed, and we should vote to impose that view on the community.

    Among other, additional views to be imposed.

    13. All true believers had a “born again” experience which they could recall and describe.

    Down to the exact day, hour, minute, and second; and if you couldn’t remember that exact day/hour/minute/second, you weren’t REALLY born again. See #1.

  6. Memphis Aggie says

    Lots of those things are just social/cultural constraints we Catholics would call “tradition”, not doctrines defined explicitly and taught as an essential part of the faith. I don’t think they compare in dimension and consequence to Marian or Papal doctrines.

    Of course I still don’t understand where the no drinking rule comes from. It always struck me as obviously contra Biblical and so it’s a mystery how that got shoehorned in given the Solas.

  7. The logic is fairly simple.

    The teetotal position was a response to the abuse of alcohol on the American frontier. There was no tradition of moderation a la Europe. It was abuse and all the terrible consequences throughout America. So the revivalistic denominations bought strongly into the teetotal movement, even though their Puritan ancestors drank. It was a way of supporting home, family, marriage, decency, etc. And it was roughly the same time that evangelicalism became a movement of women telling men what to do, which is pretty much what vast tracts of it are today, at least in churches and on the ground. Don’t be fooled by what things seem to be. The moralism of today’s evangelicalism is a woman’s movement.

    Today it has become a post prohibition stand against the counter culture, a stand against any kind of substnace abuse and a cause that people in the south can relate to. But it’s sheer hypocrisy- I’ve written on that there at IM in the past but better not link right now- Baptists drink all the time.

    Now we have a whole hermeneutic with a teetotaling Jesus and no real wine actually mentioned in the Bible. Just Welches.

  8. What do the “only-scripture-and-no-alcohol” folks do with Proverbs 31:6-7?

    (I’m not being snarky… just really wanting someone from that tradition to share an explanation with me that makes sense of their aforementioned commitments for scripture and against alcohol.)

    I’m not a fan of the proof-text game (the early church didn’t have the New Testament for a good long time, so they can’t play), but it seems appropriate in a conversation with those who would take a sola scriptura perspective.

    And, speaking of moralism, it seems worse to put words in God’s mouth than to not uphold the words that He gave. Shouldn’t we just stick to the (relatively few) “rules” that are given, acknowledge our inability to keep them all perfectly (or even barely), and run to Jesus (as opposed to making additional rules!?!)

  9. On the KJV, can anyone remember the SBC using Good News for Modern Man in the 1960’s? What a firestorm that caused!

    To amplify the iMonk’s commentary above, the Temperance movement came largely as a result of Lyman Beecher and his efforts to convert not only people but culture to Christianity. Not without some reason, since the average American in 1825 drank 7 gallons of alcohol per year, mostly hard cider and whiskey. Now, the average is 2 gallons, mostly beer and wine. Beecher’s position was considered an innovation, since traditional Christianity had not discouraged drinking up to that time.

    By involving church with culture (and for a lot of other reasons), church membership rose to twice 1776 levels by the mid-1800’s. Out of this also came the anti-tobacco movement, the Sunday School movement, the beginnings of suffrage, and eventually the anti-slavery movement. So, they had a positive impact on culture. Seems like there is a difference between taking on the problems of culture and enmeshing oneself in it.

  10. So the Baptist explanation for the miracle at the Wedding Feast of Cana is that Our Lord turned the water into grape juice?

    How does that work, without a lot of fudging that “Well, when they say ‘wine’, they don’t actually mean ‘wine’, they mean ‘unfermented grape juice'”, especially if there might be in some places also an emphasis on every single word of the Scriptures proceeding directly from God and inerrantly transcribed by the human authors?

    It is interesting to me as another example of something uniquely American in religion; over here we also had horrendous alcohol abuse during the 19th century (ach, we still have it to this day) and in response there was a temperance movement initiated by Fr. Matthew in 1838 which was one of total abstention from drink – but there was never any attempt to ban all alcohol, or make it a matter of church membership; the abuse and intemperate use of alcohol was condemned, but a social and medical role was acknowledged.

  11. Imonk,

    I grew up in an extremely similar environment, except that the rules were even stricter:

    No Santa. No Halloween. No music with a beat. No denims (jeans, jackets doesn’t matter). No dating – ever – God showed you who you are going to marry – no contact till after the ceremony. They even censored the Sound of Music (No I’m 16 going on 17..). No dancing (obviously – but also for married couples). Heck, AFTER I got married, I was told that a man and his wife should maybe not hold hands in public…. No sex-ed.

    On the other hand, I experienced Communion once or twice in 17 Years! Saw (believers) baptism once. But had to confess my sins to a “councilour” regularly. Had to watch Estus Pirkle’s “The Burning Hell” often – anybody remember that?? Scared the pants off me – because you see, almost never saw movies, and TV was bad…

    And folks wonder why I get my knickers in a twist when legalism comes up…. because this kind of legalism almost always boils down to pelagiansim – often it is just well hidden.

    Jesus words about little ones, stumbling, rocks and the deep blue see come to mind.

  12. Imonk,

    I would be very interested in hearing more of your thoughts on “evangelicalism [becoming] a movement of women telling men what to do”.

  13. Okay, this is probably swerving off at a tangent, but historically, what was the Baptist practice of celebrating the Lord’s Supper?

    By which I mean, was it celebrated only once a year or quarterly? in other words, infrequently – at least by Catholic standards 😉

    (Yes, there is a point to this). I know one part of anti-Catholic polemic back then (and I’m not singling out Baptists for this) was that they were wine-bibbers, especially the clergy, who were no better than drunkards because they were *compelled* to use wine for Communion, and since the laity only received under one species, the priests drank the wine and so were – yes, wine-bibbers and drunkards.

    I’m wondering if this absorption of extreme temperance into a rule for church membership and as a defining sign was more easily accepted because there wasn’t the same significance attached to wine as sacramental? So did early Baptists use wine in communion services? What did they do before there were conveniently available grape juices?

  14. 😀

    I was wondering where the comment would be-so I’m adding it- where you had to carry a gold-edged, red-letter KJV Study Bible with you on Sunday AM.

    Not to get too snarky, but I remained puzzled as to why such Bibles get lugged to church by some folks: the covers always look the same: bright and shiny: like the thing has never been opened…

  15. #1 – so true! This was how I was converted in ’89, only in my case it was the Four Spiritual Laws booklet. I was so naive though, it took me a few years to ask myself, Why, in order to be saved, do I have to read these exact words out of this particular booklet? And why, once I’ve read them aloud, I’m saved for life? A lil magicky, dont’cha think?

  16. Christopher Lake says

    As a Baptist by conviction (from studying the Bible), I agree that many SBC churches do have “additional doctrines” that have come to be emphasized more than the Gospel itself. What a sad, tragic shame– and a situation with which Boyce and the other founders of the SBC would be *very* upset.

    Much of what Michael describes in SBC life is, experientially, foreign to me. That is probably partially because the church where I was a member was in Washington, D.C., instead of the Deep South. It is also probably because the “ethos” of this SBC church was more what one might identify as “thoughtful Presbyterian” than “culture war Baptist.”

    In this church, Capitol Hill Baptist, “additional doctrines” were guarded against very carefully. By the time that I came to the church, there had not been an American flag in the sanctuary for a long time (it was taken down at Mark Dever’s request). Members of the church enjoyed the arts, watching various kinds of movies, listening to many genres of music, and so on. I do remember tithing being taught in one particular class, but I don’t remember it being taught from the pulpit, and I’m not sure that the elders had a unified stance on it.

    Speaking of elders, they did the preaching and teaching, while the deacons attended to the physical needs of the church body. The deacons definitely did not run the church. Regular attendance at Sunday morning and Sunday evening services was generally the order for church members, but exceptions were made for people in unusual circumstances. Even in this area, which was viewed as very important to the health of one’s Christian life (with which I agree), attendance at church was emphatically never seen as something that *saves* or *damns* a person.

    Every sermon either specifically dealt with, or eventually focused on, Christ and the Gospel. Specific political statements were almost *never* made from the pulpit (other than in some indirect ways, with occasional statements on the sin of abortion, references to international Christian persecution, appeals to church members to help those with less, materially, and prayers for governing authorities, as the Bible tells us to pray).

    Such was my experience of life at an “SBC church.” I know that there are all too many churches in the denomination that have the “additional doctrines” which Michael describes. It is beyond sad. I am thankful that the view of SBC church life that I saw was Christocentric and Gospel-centered. The parachurch ministry of Capitol Hill Baptist, “9 Marks,” is all about encouraging that vision for SBC churches, and really, for churches in general– many churches that are not SB participate in the 9 Marks ministry. I pray that this vision takes root and helps to grow more healthy, Gospel-centered churches!

  17. Martha, in my SBC experience we celebrated the Lord’s Supper about once a quarter. Oh yes, and it was church members only, everyone else was instructed to pass.

    To address Michael’s earlier comment, the Temperance movement in the 1800’s might have been headed by Beecher, Finney, et al, but was very definitely a women’s movement.

    I think Michael has brought up an excellent but subtle point that these restrictions in the SBC church he describes were considered Biblical commandments, not helpful suggestions. Tithing, in particular, has and continues to be a handy commandment in most evangelical churches. As one pastor said, “We couldn’t turn the lights on if we didn’t preach tithing.”

  18. Ugh, I hit Send before I remembered about the dress code. That was in a Baptist church I used to belong to. No pants on women whatsoever. In a Baptist church in Moscow, in a -30C degree winter, and I had a two hour commute where I had to change buses/walk several times. Oh, and they demanded perfect attendance. I wore a floor length wool skirt and three layers of leggings, and I was still freezing.
    (timidly) are we going to say anything about all forms of birth control being forbidden, or is it inappropriate for this topic? That was another source of puzzlement for me at my Baptist church.

  19. Am I the only one who read the end of Goldie’s last message and started singing the “Sperm Song” from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life?

    “We can have sex whenever we want because we’re Protestant!”

  20. Dan – why should Evangelicalism be any different from the rest of the world? 🙂

    DaveMc – thanks for that. I am definitely wondering if this lack of emphasis on the Lord’s Supper did help contribute within the culture of the Baptists to the rejection of all alcohol, not just socially but within church, to the point of making it a distinctive for the denomination?

    I’ve been Googling the use of wine in the Lord’s Supper and, skimming over various bits ‘n’ bobs is absolutely fascinating – there is one article by a certain person from a Baptist church laying out point by point why it’s grape juice not wine, and amongst the arguments pro-wine that he mentions and rejects is that Baptists used wine and it was only since the Temperance movements got off the ground that it was rejected; his counter to this is that using wine is (or was) a Baptist tradition and Baptist tradition can be just as wrong as Catholic or other traditions, and it would be wrong to go against God’s word in favour of tradition.

    So, basically he’s saying that every Baptist congregation since the 1600s (if you accept that’s when Baptists got started, and don’t think they were there from the beginning) up to the 1800s when they ‘re-discovered’ the proper liquid to use (sorry if that sounds flippant, but I can’t think of any better way to put it) were not only in the same boat as the ignorant, benighted, superstitious Papists and the other Protestant sacramentalists who were nearly as bad as the Romans, they were actively opposing the will of God as revealed in Scripture.

    Wow, is all I can say. Also, it doesn’t seem to have occurred to him, in his condemnation of tradition, that using grape juice is a *modern* Baptist tradition which they are trying to justify out of the Bible by saying “well, there is no actual use of the word ‘wine’ but rather ‘fruit of the vine'” and some very, I have to say, dodgy exegesis about the Israelites wandering in the desert having no wine but only the juice of the vine.

    Another guy who addresses this topic also made a remark that “Baptists have been using grape juice since forever”, which I have to think is more down to hastiness in posting than actually thinking deeply since come on – the 16th and 17th century Baptists didn’t use wine? Seriously? So this 1689 declaration really meant to say “unfermented grape juice” not “wine”?

    “The Lord Jesus has, in this ordinance, appointed His ministers to pray and bless the elements of bread and wine (so setting them apart from a common to a holy use) and to take and break the bread, then to take the cup, and to give both to the communicants, also communicating themselves.”

    You can certainly argue about what the Hebrew term used meant – grape juice, fermented or not, or wine; but the English word ‘wine’ pretty much means, well, ‘wine’ 🙂

  21. Martha – I didn’t grow up SBC but northern Independent Fundamentalist Baptist…and we had communion once a month, probably first Sunday evening of the month, if I recall correctly.

    iMonk – Agree with your list, it’s extremely accurate. Of course there can be more added to it…any fictional book has to be either Left Behind or Pilgrim’s Progress or from a “pre-approved” publishing company; any videos watched need to be Adventures in Odyssey; Patch the Pirate is the only approved childrens’ music; you graduate high school, you go to Pensacola or Bob Jones only; guys and girls can’t sit on the youth bus together; no movie theatres while you are a member of the church; and it’s ok to snitch on other people if they are breaking any of the laws.

    I had one youth pastor growing up who was great at contradictory statements. He’d tell us dancing is a sin, then say it’s ok for him and his wife to do alone. He’d say the only Bible is the KJV, then admit to using other translations for his sermons. Video games are bad, yet he played Nintendo64. Alcohol is bad unless it’s a glass of wine with his wife. Etc.

    The people who grew up in these environments are gaining positions of authority in the church. Hopefully our experiences won’t be repeated ever again.

  22. Dolan McKnight says

    You left out dancing and mixed “bathing,” i.e. swimming. This went to the extreme that the church camp where we went each summer had two swimming pools – one for boys and the other for girls. The only exception was a trip to the Brazos River near the camp where both sexes were allowed, but we had to wear a tee shirt over our bathing suits. At night, girls were not allowed to wear spaghetti strap dresses.

    When we went on to college at Baylor, the girls could only wear shorts in gym. To get from the dorm to gym, they were required to put on raincoats.

  23. Ky boy but not now says

    “3. The Jesus had founded the Southern Baptist church, which had existed from Biblical times to the present day.”

    I grew up at the same time as you in but in far western KY. I never really heard of this until much later. Was this something that died out in all but the mountains?

    “4. That Christians must be teetotalers, and no one in the Bible ever drank wine.”

    My son’s 12 grade SS teacher gave his last lesson of the year on this. My son came home asking “What the ….” It’s nuts. My already low opinion of said teacher went through the floor at that point.

    Of course growing up we knew we shouldn’t drink. It was printed in the front of the hymnals as a part of the SBC statement of faith as I recall. I never saw my dad take a drink but he always said this was nuts.

    “8. The civil rights movement was wrong …”

    The beginning of the end for the pastor I grew up with was when he allowed a business meeting to discuss what we’d do if “they” showed up and wanted to attend or GASP become members. This was about 69. Lots of politely heated discussion. I think the longest meeting we’d ever had. No decision.

    “12. Sunday was a day when all businesses must be closed, and we should vote to impose that view on the community.”

    As my dad would say. I guess we should really close everything down Friday through Sunday to take care of Muslims, Jews, 7th day, … We even had folks who said absolutely no one should have a job that required working on Sunday. But I noticed the church still turned on the lights, flushed the toilets, etc…

  24. Ky boy but not now says

    “Don’t forget that no Christian can vote Democrat.”

    To expand on iMonk’s comment. In Ky up through the 60s and some of the 70s the only Republicans on the general election ballot were typically for President, Governor, Senator, and maybe your Congressman. Louisville and Lexington might have a few more but if you wanted a voice you registered Democrat so you could cast useful votes in the primaries. The civil war has a very long tail.

  25. Christopher Lake:

    Mark Dever’s Church is as fringe as possible in SBC life. There’s really nothing typically SBC about it.

    That’s a good thing, btw, but Dever and the SBC Calvinists don’t represent the contemporary SBC as much as they represented the Reformed Baptist movement.


  26. Ky boy but not now says

    Dolan McKnight
    “You left out dancing and mixed “bathing,” i.e. swimming. This went to the extreme that the church camp where we went each summer had two swimming pools …”

    When a group of families went to a similar camp for an evening swim and then a camp out we had to wait for the ladies of a prior group to clear the pool as they didn’t allow mixed bathing so we couldn’t go in and change until they left. Someone asked our pastor while we were waiting what he thought of mixed bathing. He allowed how his shower really only had room for one so he hadn’t tried other arrangements. 🙂

  27. Martha:

    SBC Lord’s Supper frequency varies from quarterly to monthly in most churches. Spurgeon took it weekly, but that is unheard of.

    I’ve written a lot about Baptist views of the LS. Use the categories (Baptists) or search function to find them.

    Many early Baptists used wine, but not for long. Mr. Welches paid churches to switch. Consult wikipedia. And Baptists do not have a Catholic view of the LS. Nor do I.


  28. All: I did not include fundamentalist traditions or habits. I was listing what our church insisted was a Biblical and essential.

    In the past, a lot of things were quite normal in most Protestant and Catholic churches that we might laugh at today, such as mixed swimming, etc.

  29. Not one of the above positions can be found in scripture, King James or otherwise. I hate to be the one to break it to you, and no offense meant, but you were in a cult. Perhaps the cult belonged to the SBC, or the SBC encouraged cults, but get some therapy man. You were a cult victim. I mean it, all of you brought up in such a system best get some professional support.
    Was there no revolution, or call to reform? If I tried to impose that stuff on my kids they would stone me! With rocks! I guess because I have been thrown out of a couple places so I expect like minds to be tossed out too.
    Denominational hermeneutics, I find it dangerous.

    Martha, We are baptist,although a few more posts from Imonk like this one and we will need to re-think that, we have communion monthly, I am working on it as I would like to join the Lord at His table Weekly.

  30. wiloh:

    Who are you talking to and saying I was in a cult?


  31. Yes! you! Seek professional assistance! That is spiritual abuse! How you kept faith in God thru that muddle is a sign of His power.

  32. Question: “What will two Catholics do, that two Baptist will never do?”

    Answer: “Speak to one another in the Liquor Store”.

    Sorry, I could not help myself…

    Grace Always,

  33. My favorite experience from a fundamentalist Baptist church –

    One of the older elders found out that I smoked. He approached me, lovingly as a concerned fellow Christian (God bless him) and read this passage of Scripture to me for why smoking cigarettes was unBiblical.

    Isaiah 6:4-5
    “And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips’…”

    When I realized he wasn’t joking, I thanked him and, when finally back in my car alone, allowed myself to laugh – and almost died laughing (you cough hard when you smoke and laugh at the same time).

  34. OK willoh, I appreciate the sentiment, but I wasn’t saved and ordained in a cult. I take it you are not familiar with Baptist fundamentalism. It’s not quite as sinister as your reaction would indicate. I’m sure any description of Catholic school in the 1950s could be painted in similar colors. I’ve read a few books to that tune.

    I’m screwed up, but I did it after I left. Fundamentalism loved me, didn’t abuse me, and taught me a bunch of nonsense that wasn’t true. Pretty much like any family.

    Where I work today isn’t much different. Fundamentalists haven’t changed much.



  35. “Mr. Welches paid churches to switch.”

    ?! Swerving very close to simony, I would have thought.

    “And Baptists do not have a Catholic view of the LS.”

    Ah, pardon me, I seem to have been unclear in what I was saying. That’s exactly the point I was trying to get at: since there is not the sacramental understanding, the elements used are of less gravity, so to replace the wine with grape juice is less of a jump than it would be in a sacramental view (see the tussles over gluten in Communion hosts for RCs!) and moreover, with this kind of cultural colouring in the back of the mind, it’d be easier to denounce *all* use of alcohol as wrong and sinful, and to make total abstinence a doctrinal mark.

    Whereas with frequent Eucharists and the high view of the elements and the rubrics insisting on wine, it’d be tougher all round both as a matter of doctrine and as an expression of culture to remove alcohol altogether.

    I get the impression that the Lord’s Supper was, in general, celebrated very seldom (quarterly or yearly) in most Protestant denominations early on as a deliberate means of differentiating themselves from Catholicism, replacing the emphasis on the sacraments with one on the preaching of the Word and so forth, and that it was only as time went by that communion services became more frequent.

    I certainly would not presume to demand that Baptists should use wine instead of grape juice, or that they should change their theology; it’s just that casually tossing out remarks like “We’ve always done that since the beginning of time” is really giving hostages to (historical) fortune 🙂

  36. iMonk: “Fundamentalism loved me, didn’t abuse me, and taught me a bunch of nonsense that wasn’t true. Pretty much like any family.”

    That perfectly describes my 2 year stint in a fundamentalist Baptist church as well. The people there love the Lord and have a heart for Bible preaching and street evangelism. They have too many rules and absolutely no sense of the culture that they are in (as if they were still in the 1950s).

    My experience in that church was positive, I left there under friendly terms, and they consistently lead people to the Lord on a regular basis. The only reason I could think of to call them a cult, Willoh, is if you had experience regularly attending a particularly bad one that abused or twisted the gospel.

  37. “Question: “What will two Catholics do, that two Baptist will never do?”

    Answer: “Speak to one another in the Liquor Store”.

    Greg – Catholics in an off-licence? Scandalous!

    They should be in the pub, as is the only right and proper way of doing it 🙂

  38. @imonk: I thought this blog was your therapy?

    It certainly can be for me sometimes, this post included. Thanks again and I’ll mail you my co-payment!

  39. And it was roughly the same time that evangelicalism became a movement of women telling men what to do

    Don’t know if iMonk has read it, but re this issue I’d suggest reading Subduing Satan: Religion, Recreation, and Manhood in the Rural South, 1865-1920 by Ted Ownby. The middle section of the book is all about the rise of evangelical culture in the south during this period.

  40. YOu know what? I grew up SBC in the sixties and seventies in a not particularly liberal or out-of-step church, and I never felt that any of Michael’s “rules” were hard and fast rules. We discussed drinking and dancing, and some said the Bible taught that both were sinful. But most of us had dificulties finding a source for that belief.

    And the dress code was fairly lax to nonexistent. I wore mini-skirts and lime green pant suits with the best of them (ugh!).

    I never heard the theory that the SOuthern Baptist Church started with John the Baptist (that’s the way I heard it) until I was grown. And then I thought it was a joke.

    No one ever taught me anything about the civil rights movement or the Vietnam war in church. We were taught that tithing was good, but not a requirement.

    I just can’t find any of your “rules” that I thought were “rules” when I was growing up. Suggestions, maybe, even advice form older folks, but not rules.

    I think hanging a legalistic system like that around the necks of the entire SBC is unfair when it was not universal.

  41. Sherry:

    Could I ask a few questions?

    Was your pastor seminary trained? If so, where? Other staff seminary trained?

    Were you in an FBC? County seat? Urban area?

    Strong WMU? Highly supportive of the Lottie Moon Offering and the CP?

    I’m guessing you were on the SBC’s moderate-liberal fringe, which was dominated by pastors trained in Ky or NC, and had a fairly higher educational level congregation.


  42. Jim asked, “What do the “only-scripture-and-no-alcohol” folks do with Proverbs 31:6-7? ”

    My first church wasn’t SBC, but they partially allegorized it to show that alcohol wasn’t for believers. Those who are “perishing”, spiritually speaking, are unbelievers. Christianity is not a religion of “bitter distress”, so again it’s talking about unbelievers. Same with “poverty” and “misery.” So alcohol was God’s gift to unbelievers – only in a way, though – because enbelievers did everything without regard for God, so it was still sin, but it was a minor granted mercy for them.

  43. I would just add something to Sherry’s comment and that’s that I grew up in a West Coast baptist church of some stripe (it had GARB roots but had moved on a bit … not far enough) and DID have all these rules.

    So I think it’s not so much the SBC, per se, as it is any of the Baptist traditions that were heavily pietistic and fundamentalist.

    Buth thanks iMonk for taking on the cult thing. To call the fundamentalist Baptists a cult would be wrong indeed — though perhaps some of the smaller, personality driven congregations may have had a few of the marks of cultish institutions, like you said, aspects of “cultishness” can be found in any tradition and therefore we should use the term carefully.

  44. My wife, by the way, was forced to go to an SBC camp in the Mojave dessert where they couldn’t wear shorts or skirts. 🙂

  45. No one in the SBC ever takes on all the passages on alcohol.

    Listen to Mohler’s famous forum with SBTS students on this one.

    1) the Bible says one thing
    2) Southern Baptists believe another
    3) you want to work in an SBC church, you’ll get over what the Bible says and conform to the expectations of the denomination

  46. Imonk, 9 Marks and Capital Hill certainly don’t represent the entire SBC, but it’s influence is growing as ministries like theirs and Founders Ministry, Piper, Together for the Gospel, Jeff Noblit, MacArthur and others have a growing influence on us. Many young seminarians are graduating with not only a more reformed take on theology but without many of the above listed additions. My hope is that the SBC grows more biblical and less cultural.

  47. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    The teetotal position was a response to the abuse of alcohol on the American frontier. There was no tradition of moderation a la Europe. It was abuse and all the terrible consequences throughout America. So the revivalistic denominations bought strongly into the teetotal movement, even though their Puritan ancestors drank. It was a way of supporting home, family, marriage, decency, etc. — IMonk

    In other words, the Culture War Gospel of its day.

    Check out Collected poems of G.K.Chesterton sometime. A lot of them were written during Prohibition, and G.K. (a very traditional Englishman) never missed an opportunity to rag on the Yanks’ obsession with teetotaling and Prohibition —

    “He reached the farther shore,
    Where Hiram Higginbotham stood
    And bade him drink no more.”

    Now we have a whole hermeneutic with a teetotaling Jesus and no real wine actually mentioned in the Bible. Just Welches. — IMonk

    Which was named after a Baptist preacher named Welch, very active in the teetotaling movement. He preached that Communion wine was a sin while holding the patent on and being the only source of unfermented grape juice with any shelf life. You went teetotal under Reverend Welch, you had to buy your communion grape juice from him. Nice racket.

  48. This isn’t influencing the SBC. I am in great theological sympathy with these folks, but Macarthur, Piper, T4G are all taking young pastors out of the SBC. The SBC is going to decline partially because the fundamentalists will make it next to impossible for Calvinists- and that’s what we’re talking about here- to serve in the vast majority of SBC churches. The Calvinists will have a 6-10% slice of the pie, will have their own networks, celebrities, conferences, etc. The SBC’s cooperative vision will decline. It’s cooperative institutions will decline, and the SBC will move toward fragmentation. The Calvinists will call this renewal because they will gain in numbers in their 6-10%, but the great mass of the SBC has no interest whatsoever in this theological renewal, in Calvinism, in reformed theology or the whole business.

    The Calvinist SBC is a minority talking to itself. Saying good things, but having almost nothing to do with the larger denomination. Piper and Mohler should form a denomination and stop pretending that what’s going on at SBTS has anything to do with the mainstream SBC.



  49. I think Welch was a Methodist. The real fanatics 🙂

  50. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    That perfectly describes my 2 year stint in a fundamentalist Baptist church as well. The people there love the Lord and have a heart for Bible preaching and street evangelism. They have too many rules and absolutely no sense of the culture that they are in (as if they were still in the 1950s). — J.P.

    No, they are not “still in the 1950s” — at least not the REAL 1950s. They’re in the mythological Fifties according to Ozzie, Harriet, and Donna Reed. For some reason, this mythic Fifties is supposed to be some sort of Godly Golden Age.

    Go fig. I was a kid during the REAL Nifty Fifties (which actually lasted through the First 1960s), and it wasn’t a Perfect Godly Golden Age. My writing partner (burned-out preacher-man in rural PA) has constant problems with local congregations and some of his own flock who act like they were time-stopped somewhere around Eisenhower’s inaguration. One of our phone talks got onto this subject and sparked this rant on my end:

    If they were still in the REAL 1950s, they’d be smoking. Tobacco use peaked in the US (50-60% of both sexes) between 1930 & 1970, and the Nifty Fifties were right in the middle of that period.