Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Facebook Baptist

I am a Facebook addict. I got started last June and now have over 200 friends on the site. Most of these really are friends—people I know and work with now and many from the past with whom I have reconnected. I started it as an experiment in social networking and have enjoyed the way it has put me into contact with many folks that I rarely, or never, see in person.

Facebook provides a number of applications. One must pick and choose carefully what to include for the personal profile. One application is called “My Church.” If you subscribe to this application, a nice logo will be added to your profile identifying you with a particular denomination. There is one for “Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.” Several of my friends have added this, but I have chosen not to. I have been wondering recently why I have resisted taking this step.

One reason is that I hold to a rather archaic idea that there is really only one “Baptist denomination.” Certainly, we have divided up into different camps over real and imagined differences, but there still seem to be some basic things that hold us all together (and I won’t get into that right now, since once you put a stake down on what those things are, somebody is going to come up with an exception—perhaps that’s the one thing that Baptists agree about). At any rate, I would like to try out being an adjective-free Baptist for awhile, as less when it comes to be part of a “tribe” of the Baptist family.

Second, I really believe the stance that we have declared for so long that CBF is not a denomination but a fellowship or at least “denomination-light.” I am not sure how long we can hold on to that idea as we add more structure, staff, and programming to the organization, but I think there is some strength in this position.

Third, this may be heresy for an employee of a state CBF organization to say, but I am not sure that we really have come up with the best answer to how we as Baptists are going to work together in the future. As national CBF continues to go through a “time of discernment” in the next few months, perhaps we will come out with a clearer idea of what we may become, but I don’t think we have found it yet. Is this scary? Yes. Is it realistic? Yes. The world continues to change around us, and we need to be discerning of the times.

So, as far as denomination goes, I guess I will just continue to call myself a Baptist for now, and leave that application off my Facebook profile.


Danny said...


You and Lori suffer from the same afflication. SHe is addicted to facebook, and it's been remarkable to find out where some of our friends have gone. We've located some seminary friends who are one hour from us--not possible otherwise.

WIth our church truly being a lone ranger in SW MO, I've become more and more concentrated on our local church and not as engaged with the larger Baptist network. This is partly by necessity but also due to motivation. I agree that the Baptist landscape is still in flux, and I don't see the urgency in CBF becoming a denomination.

I've heard that we might revisit this concept in Memphis this year. Have I heard correctly?

Ircel said...

In regard to the postmodern transition, Alan Roxburgh calls it "liminality"--passing through a time of change and not knowing exactly what is on the other side. It describes very well where we are as Baptist Christians.

I have not heard of any effort to revisit the discussion, and I don't see any need to at this point.

Have a wonderful Easter celebration!