JACKSON, Tenn. – June 26, 2009– A new book edited by Union University President David S. Dockery addresses questions about what it means to be a Southern Baptist in the 21st century.
“Southern Baptist Identity: An Evangelical Denomination Faces the Future” includes contributions from 16 Southern Baptists leaders, such as Danny Akin, Morris Chapman, Timothy George, James Leo Garrett, Albert Mohler, Russell Moore and Ed Stetzer.
“From time to time there has been a need for Baptists to once again reflect on who they are and what they believe, particularly in light of what can be called the historic orthodox consensus throughout the history of the church,” Dockery writes in the preface.
“We offer this volume with the hope that churches across the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) can be strengthened,” he continues. “It is our prayer that the gospel and its entailments can be proclaimed. Challenges facing Southern Baptists are addressed by seasoned Baptist leaders as well as by fresh voices in our convention. Important matters are explored from both theological and historical perspectives, as well as from ministerial and convention-oriented vantage points.”
Among the book’s 14 chapters are “Southern Baptist Identity: Is There a Future?” “Is Jesus a Baptist?” “Toward a Missional Convention” and “Evangelism and Church Growth in the SBC.”
Some of the chapters were originally presented at Baptist Identity conferences at Union in recent years.
In an interview with Justin Taylor on Taylor’s “Between Two Worlds” blog, Dockery discussed the book and what he hoped it would accomplish. Dockery said he considers the SBC to be at a critical point in its history, after emerging from a public controversy over the past 30 years concerning the authority of Scripture.
“In so many ways, there have been many good things develop over the past three decades including the recovery of the gospel and a renewed commitment to the truthfulness of Scripture,” Dockery said. “But the programmatic uniformity and cultural homogeneity that held us together for so many years has almost entirely evaporated. The controversy over first-order doctrinal issues has seemingly degenerated into ongoing infighting over secondary and tertiary matters, resulting in a fragmented and even balkanized convention.”
Dockery said he wanted the book to “be used of God” to help Southern Baptists establish a new consensus that would lead to spiritual renewal both individually and corporately.
“I pray that somehow our shared work in our churches, in associations, in benevolence agencies, in educational entities, and in our missions organizations can be strengthened by a reflection on the matters addressed throughout this volume,” he said.
Published by Crossway, “Southern Baptist Identity” is available at LifeWay Christian Stores and through such online retail stores as Amazon.