Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Baptist "Name-Tags" - Are They Helpful?

Often the question is asked - "Which Baptist are you?" So someone responds, "I'm a ____ Baptist." Do we then know what that person believes?

How helpful are "name-tags"? It seems that you and the one to whom you are speaking must have the same concept of the meaning of the names in order for them to be helpful. Do the "name-tags" often used by Baptists (conservative, fundamental, historic, independent, landmark, liberal, missionary, moderate, primitive, reformed, regular, unaffiliated, etc.) have a narrow enough definition to convey an accurate meaning of what one really is? For example, to say one is "independent Baptist" among many of my acquaintances will conjure up the Hyles/Rice type of Baptist. Yet a number of "independent" Baptist churches with which I am familiar are "Primitive" Baptists - almost the exact opposite end of the spectrum. Even to say one is SBC, BBF, etc., while identifying with which body one is affiliated, probably does not really tell much about what the individual believes.

"Name-tags" -- What do you all think? Are they helpful? Are they confusing? Are they divisive?


JLS said...

They are helpful only as long as they truly mean something. One must be careful not to stereotype on the basis of names, though. It seems that there is too much diversity, even among the smallest of groups.
Move over Baskin-Robbins, here come the Baptists with 57 varieties!!! Wait, that's Heinz, isn't it?

clinch64 said...

There have become so many divisions and interpretations, that there is no clear line with regards to any subgroup. I think politics and power will come into
play for so much of the confusion. I saw an adverisement for a church sometime ago that billed itself, "Traditional Southern Baptist Church".

Neil Vaught

Anonymous said...

The only name I trust on any name badge is "John", "George", "Mary" and "Jane". The life is not exhibited on paper, it is displayed in life.



RSR said...

They are not helpful to any significant degree in most cases. Some names still convey some meanings; a Landmark Baptist, I assume, will have a particular view of ecclesiology, while a Primitive Baptist likely has a fairly consistent view of ecclesiology and soteriology. (I'm not saying such labels are infallible nor a guide to what other beliefs may be present; I would never judge Primitive Baptists, for example, on the basis of what the Westboro Baptist Church does.)

But many suffer from one great defect: They are coined by opponents or adopted in defense.

You're a liberal! No, I'm not. I'm a, a, a moderate.

You're a fundamentalist! No, I'm, a, a, a conservative.