Striking the Waters: The Joy of Cooperation

Although this article will publish after the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in New Orleans, I am writing before that gathering and in anticipation of it. Among other matters, messengers to the national meeting will be asked to consider a contested mid-term presidential election, the Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force’s recommendations, a debated constitutional amendment, and the appeal of several churches for reinstatement in the convention after being disfellowshipped by the Executive Committee earlier this year. I do not know what the outcome of any of these votes will be, but I do know that given the current culture of distrust, frustration, and various tensions, whatever is decided some will be disappointed and others pleased.

I fear we are danger of losing the joy and beauty of a Baptist kind of Great Commission cooperation. For now, the forms and systems of our cooperation remain, but the pleasure of it often evades us. Since 1925, a consensus of Baptists has publicly confessed that “Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ’s people,” (1925 BF&M Article XXII, 1963 and 2000 BF&M Article XIV). We’re still singing the song, but our harmony seems faint.

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