Why The Baptist Identity Crowd Is Irrelevant

Today we bring you a semi-serious post, but never fear, we will return to our normal jocularity in due season.

The Baptist Identity crowd takes themselves quite seriously and they want you to take them seriously, too.  They don’t like you using the term “Baptist Identity” unless, of course, you mean by it exactly what they mean by it.  Of course, how would you know what they mean by it.  They fairly consistently refuse to define what it means.  Even when asked.  If you don’t use it like they use it you will be accused of cussing them.

Now, you may well want to cuss them, but surely you and I can find more pejorative epithets to hurl than “Baptist Identity.”  Wade Burleson The writer of Grace and Truth to You may have used it in a less-than-flattering way, and perhaps the closest Wade Burleson that blogger can get to profanity is “Baptist Identity,” but let’s be realistic.  Most of us grew up knowing what an insult was.  Even then the label “Baptist” may not have been entirely becoming but it wasn’t like saying, “Your momma’s a Baptist” would have caused a rumble on the playground.

Now, when I say that the Baptist Identity crowd (or the “convictional Baptists or whatever they want to be called) is irrelevant let me be clear that I do not mean that in a profane way.  If that’s what I meant I would say something like, “The Baptist Identity crowd are a bunch of….” well, let’s just leave this suitable for polite company.  Actually, I suspect that no one would even call them the Baptist Identity crowd if that were not what they had consistently chosen to call themselves.

Over at their one of their more prominent weblogs they have proudly displayed the words “Baptist Identity” in the masthead.  They have a “Baptist Identity” category label.  They have twenty-nine posts that fall under that category and when Mr. Mann is through with his current series of posts (which ironically have “Baptist Identity” in the title) there will be at least thirty-one.  If this is how you self-identify then it is disingenuous to complain when others refer to you as such.  If they do not like your particular version of “Baptist Identity” it makes even less sense for you to think that they should glow about the title as much as do you.

But none of that is what makes the Baptist Identity crowd irrelevant.  They are irrelevant because of that to which they have hitched their wagons.

When Baptists in England were looking for credibility in the eyes of English society and government they did two things: dissociated themselves from other groups (usually Anabaptists) who were viewed as heretics, and associated themselves with the Bible – or at least an acceptable understanding of it, like copying the Westminster Confession.  As an example, when Charles Spurgeon commended the 1689 London Confession of Faith to his congregation he did not tell them that in following it they would be good Baptists.  He told them that,

the younger members of our church will have a body of divinity in small compass, and by means of the Scriptural proofs, will be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in them.

Be not ashamed of your faith; remember it is the ancient gospel of martyrs, confessors, reformers and saints.  Above all, it is the truth of God, against which the gates of Hell cannot prevail.

Let your lives adorn your faith, let your example adorn your creed.  Above all live in Christ Jesus, and walk in Him, giving credence to no teaching but that which is manifestly approved of Him, and owned by the Holy Spirit.  Cleave fast to the Word of God which is here mapped out for you.

He didn’t call them to be good Baptists, or even better Baptists.  He called them to be Biblical Christians.

I believe that the Baptist Identity crowd believes that to be a Baptist Christian is also to be a Biblical Christian.  So do I.  But their error is in the labels they have chosen for themselves.  They do not talk so much about being Biblical Christians who happen to be Baptists.  They talk a lot about being Baptist Christians who happen to be Biblical.  They don’t argue about preserving Biblical identity, they argue about losing a Baptist identity.  A handful  of times they might say that they are one and the same, but as they are fond of saying, words matter.  The primary way you choose to identify yourself makes a difference.  You have chosen to hang your hat on “Baptist” Identity.  Good luck to you.  I think you have about as much traction for that as a bald tire on a frozen pond.


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