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Are Southern Baptists Evangelicals? Part 2: Confession is Good for the Soul

I read one time in Guideposts that confession is good for the soul. So here goes: I am not prepared to finish this series of posts as it presently stands. I thought I could present a reasonable answer to this question in a couple of posts, but I was wrong. The issue is too big. The terms of debate are too complicated. I have been wrestling with this question for 2-3 years. Some have been wrestling with it their whole careers. So rather than attempt to dazzle everyone with a couple of slam-dunk posts, I am going to have to simply post my thoughts on this question from time to time. In other words, I am admitting I bit off more than I can chew and am now approaching this question from a different angle.

To review, I noted in my first post that I did not believe Southern Baptists were Evangelicals, at least in the sense of being a formal part of any interdenominational parachurch movement. I stand by that. But I also indicated, especially in my interaction with commenters, that I do think there is another sense in which Southern Baptists are Evangelicals. Actually, evangelicals with a "little e." Let me explain.

An evangelical is a born-again Christian who has a high view of Scripture, has an historic understanding of the person and work of Jesus Christ and has a missionary understanding of the Christian faith. By this definition, almost all Southern Baptists are evangelicals, even though I do not believe the SBC is Evangelical. In fact, there are many evangelicals who are not Evangelicals. Sadly, there are a growing number of Evangelicals who are not evangelical. There are also some Baptists who are not Baptists, many Methodists who are not Methodists and a multitude of Episcopals who are not Episcopals. There are even some Catholics who are not really Catholics. Confused yet? That's all I am going to say for now, though I hope it sparks some interest for future discussion.

Now, let me explain where I am going in future posts. I am changing the title of the series to "Southern Baptists and Evangelicals," and will attempt to demonstrate what we are, what we are not and, Lord willing, what we ought to be.I will elaborate on this theme with a combination of personal reflections, scholarly interaction and case studies from real life. I will also try to alert readers to others who are weighing in on this question, as I did last week with the link to Malcolm Yarnell's recent article. We will talk about many groups besides Baptists, but our goal will be to better understand who we are (and ought to be) as Baptists. 

I appreciate your patience, and I hope that the Lord will use this ongoing discussion to bring clarity to a very fuzzy (and critically important) issue.