Goodwill Baptists?

April 30, 2007

Robert Parham has a thought-provoking piece at Ethics Daily today. It is entitled "Let's Use a New Modifier in a New Century to Describe Baptists." He makes some very good points about labels. Here are a couple of highlights:

Let's start describing ourselves as the goodwill Baptists.

Let's drop the milquetoast modifier "moderate" to describe Southern Baptists who distance themselves from fundamentalism.

... Some Baptists rightfully understood the pusillanimous nature of the word moderate and the unwanted symbolism of the yellow stripe. Over time these folk started using the term "mainstream."

That modifier didn't catch on much better than another modifier that some of us used erratically. We described ourselves as "centrists."

... Renaming is certainly not a unique issue for Baptists of the South. Some Southern Baptists have tried to drop the "southern" modifier, an effort that failed several years ago when the majority decided that keeping southern was a good thing, never mind that the term tied them to slavery, segregation and southern culture.

Of course, several SBC agencies have renamed themselves and a growing number of churches are dropping the name Baptists from their signposts. Bob Jones, president of Bob Jones University, suggested dropping the modifier "fundamentalist" after 9/11, offering the modifier "preservationist."
He makes a good point that the labels we use--especially those about ourselves--are important. It might take me a little while, though, to get used to his idea of "Goodwill Baptists." Meanwhile, Bruce Prescott has some good thoughts about this Ethics Daily piece. He writes at his Mainstream Baptist blog:
Personally, I would prefer that we call ourselves "New Covenant" Baptists, with "Golden Rule" Baptists as an additional modifer.
More thoughts might be needed, but it is definitely an important discussion.