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On a More Inclusive CBF

Thomas Whitley

There has been a healthy amount of discussion in the days since the CBF General Assembly about the identity of CBF as well as the term most often applied to baptists in the CBF camp, moderates. Barry Howard, in his piece "Call me a Cooperative Baptist," expresses his hope for the future of baptists regarding their recent identity issues.

Whatever those in my portfolio of Baptist partnerships are called, my hope for the future is that the tent grows even larger and more inclusive, and that the matrix of partnerships emerges into a network that outgrows, out loves, and outlives the paradigms of the past.

Here's my confession: on the one hand I fully support this vision of the future of baptists (and of Christianity), for it is one that supports equality, dialogue, and acceptance. On the other hand, however, I also have difficulty supporting this view because of the very nature of organizations and groups of people. As the tent grows larger and new, different types of baptists are welcomed in to the fold, each contingency (is it too early to call them caucases?) will argue for its position to take priority of those held by other types of baptists and ultimately decisions will be made that affirm one group while marginalizing other groups (CBF's recent organizational policy statement on homosexuality shows the early realities of this).

My hope for CBF's future really is in line with Howard's here but it also includes a leadership that is able to manage the multitude of differing views that will be present as the tent grows larger and larger and will work to appropriately affirm every type of baptist represented in its ranks and not just those with the most money, loudest voices, or most persistent complaints.

As things are currently it seems that certain groups are already enjoying a sort of favortism. Can this be reversed and, if so, can meaningful neutrality be maintained when more baptists and more views enter the picture?

I'm doubtful but I hope CBF proves me wrong.