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Stand with Christ: Why Missionaries Can't Sign the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.

Edited by Robert O'Brien. Macon, Ga.: Smyth & Helwys, 2002. 156 pp.

Books about recent events in the Southern Baptist Convention are usually hot potatoes. Although some of these books try to stand above the battle, most take sides on the theological and political issues that have fragmented Baptists. Stand with Christ clearly stands with the more moderate wing of SBC battles, but anyone interested in SBC history should consider its arguments.

Stand with Christ consists of a foreword by Walter Shurden, an introduction by its editor, Robert O'Brien, eleven essays by a wide range of authors, and an afterword by R. Keith Parks.

In general, says Shurden, the book is about three C's: Creedalism, Centralization, and Conscience, with the main focus on Creedalism (p. 1). Although some of the essays lament the general move to the right in the SBC, the main catalyst for the essays, suggested by the book's subtitle, is the requirement in 2002 that International Mission Board missionaries sign the 2000 version of the Baptist Faith and Message.

A brief review will not allow discussion of all eleven essays. David Currie, James Dunn, John Pierce, Russell Dilday, Kenneth Massey, Charles Deweese, Charles Wade, Bruce Prescott, Catherine Allen, and Earl Martin (two essays) all draw on their experiences in Baptist life to protest recent developments. Perhaps a quick glance at three of the essays will give the flavor of the book to prospective readers. Russell Dilday analyzes the 2000 BFM by noting seven positive factors and twelve negative concerns. His analysis is the most thorough in this book of the actual contents of the BFM 2000. Charles Deweese puts the current debate in a larger historical context, noting earlier Baptist confessions of faith, the assessments of four scholars in book-length studies, and selected lectures in the Hobbs lecture series at Oklahoma Baptist University. Earl Martin devotes two essays to the issue of missionaries signing the BFM 2000. In his first essay, he notes the reasons why some IMB missionaries cannot in good conscience sign the document.

A central theme throughout the book is the distinction between a confession of faith and a creed. For instance, James Dunn insists "A creed prescribes while a confession of faith describes one's approach to religion" (p. 21). The writers in this volume disagree with some of the revisions in the BFM 2000 as well as the requirement that the document be signed by Baptists, a historically noncreedal people.

Who should read this book? Ideally, anyone interested in recent events in the SBC. Realistically, readers sympathetic with the more "moderate" side of the SBC conflict will welcome the book's publication. Unfortunately, some on the more conservative side of the conflict might be reluctant to read it. The book can contribute to a continuing dialogue on issues that divide Southern Baptists today.--Reviewed by Warren McWilliams, Auguie Henry Professor of Bible, Oklahoma Baptist University.
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Author:McWilliams, Warren
Publication:Baptist History and Heritage
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 2003
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