JACKSON, Tenn. – April 30, 2008 – Southern Baptists must focus on the gospel and its proclamation, says Union University President David S. Dockery in his new work, “Southern Baptist Consensus and Renewal: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Proposal.”
Published by B&H Publishing Group, the book will be available in late May.
“‘Southern Baptist Consensus and Renewal’ is a call to cooperation and unity among Southern Baptists,” Dockery writes in the introduction. “It likewise is an invitation for a renewed commitment to truth, to doctrinal fidelity, and to faithfulness to the Christ-centered message of the Gospel. The book grows out of the desire to see Southern Baptists once again cooperate together, particularly for the purposes of advancing evangelism, global missions, and education.”
While cooperation and unity around the gospel was once a hallmark of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dockery said in recent years Southern Baptists have strayed from that distinctive.
“Southern Baptists have entered the twenty-first century following a lengthy period of controversy,” he writes. “The good news is that a commitment to the full truthfulness of Holy Scripture has been reclaimed and we cannot shrink back from this commitment. Southern Baptists, however, continue to struggle, wrestling with identity, cooperation, and unity, which has implications for missions, worship, education, and other ministries of our shared Convention life.”
Therefore, Dockery writes that the SBC needs a fresh vision that focuses on rebuilding consensus and praying for God to bring renewal to the convention as a whole. For that to happen, Dockery calls for Southern Baptists to re-emphasize their identity and heritage, and to trust God to guide them in the future.
The book “does not attempt to deal with every issue or wrestle with every intramural squabble that can be named among us as Southern Baptists at this time,” Dockery writes. “Instead, by reflecting on our history and our heritage, particularly our theological heritage, we call for renewed commitments to our shared cooperation around the truthfulness of Holy Scripture and the uniqueness of the Gospel message.
“We then look for avenues that point us toward a new consensus, with a focus on overarching issues like missions, worship, education, and leadership,” he continues. “Other key theological and ethical issues are addressed along the way, together with a reminder of our Baptist distinctives and identity. The proposal for a consensus is grounded in a biblical, historical, and theological framework.”
Among Southern Baptist leaders endorsing the book are: