October 23rd, 2009
Dockery, David S., editor. Southern Baptist Identity: An Evangelical Denomination Faces the Future. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2009. 304 pp. $19.99.
In a post-everything culture, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States is at a crossroads. While the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has a rich heritage with some colorful characters, they are finding that the past is not enough to maintain a gospel presence for the future. David Dockery has brought together many of the greatest minds in the SBC to take a look at the identity of the SBC and how she must respond to the ever changing landscape of the world.
Some of the contributors include R. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Daniel L. Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Paige Patterson, president Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Ed Stetzer, president LifeWay Research Center. All the contributors have been involved at great depths of the SBC. Some are “new kids on the block” while others have been around the block a time or two. All the contributors offer an informed understanding of SBC life from their particular perspective.
Southern Baptist Identity offers a historical understanding of the convention that aides our understanding of the problems being faced today. While there is nothing new under the sun, the leaders in the SBC understand that the unknown future is best understood by looking to her past.
Another quality of the SBC is the confessional statements that have been throughout her history. As many argue in the pages of this book, the confessional statements will become more and more important as the SBC journeys forward seeking to advance the kingdom. The beauty of the SBC is her ability to bring under one umbrella like-minded Southern Baptists with a common goal of reaching the world for Christ despite their differences in certain secondary and tertiary doctrines.
Every pastor in the Southern Baptist Convention ought to read Southern Baptist Identity. Every seminary student matriculating through her seminaries ought to read this book as well. To read the essays presented by the leaders of the convention is to gain valuable insight into where the SBC has been, is now, and will be going. These are encouraging times given the wide-open doors for global missions and global evangelism. If the SBC is to remain on the front lines of the attack on ungodliness, she must be informed. If you are a member of an SBC-affiliated church, then you, too, must be informed. Get this book and you will be.