Union, Unity and the Gospel

I read last week that Dr. David Dockery, president of Union University, had written a booklet called, One Gospel: Toward a Southern Baptist Consensus. It calls for a theological agreement "around which Southern Baptists can cohere and advance the proclamation of the Gospel, while avoiding fragmentation and division." This is offered in light of the division and controversy growing between some of the groups that make up the largest protestant denomination in the world. Dr. Dockery even lists the more easily identifiable groups saying, "The convention in 2006 often seems to be a disconnected group of fundamentalists, evangelicals, revivalists purpose-driven churches, pietists, quasi-charismatics, programmatic denominationalists, moderates, culture warriors, social justice types, and Calvinists." The booklet is particularly relevant to the current tension resulting from the resurgence of and resistance to Calvinism in our Convention. Dr. Dockery presents a theological exposition of the gospel in six parts. By gospel, he means more than the good news of the arrival of the Kingdom of God, but includes critically related doctrines that undergird the gospel message. The six sections are 1) God as Creator and the place of men and women in God's creation; 2) the fall of humanity into sin; 3) God's provision in Jesus Christ; 4) God's salvation of men and women from their estranged, guilty and dreadful plight; 5) the community of believers; 6) God's ultimate work of redemption.

Are these doctrines, as articulated by Dr. Dockery, able to unite the SBC? I don't know anymore. I think people actually prefer theological fragmentation and disunity. It allows a kind of doctrinal smorgasbord from which people can choose what they like without fear of being evaluated for their taste, or lack thereof.

Anyway, I really liked a lot of this. It is generous and yet full of conviction. Which means some will find it too broad, and others too narrow. It is at least a conversation we need to have.

This is not yet online, but if you want a free hard copy of the booklet e-mail Melanie Rickman at mrickman@uu.edu