The Very First First Baptist Church
With all the changes in Southern Baptist life in the past twenty-five years, being a Baptist pastor brings to mind a pretty negative stereotype for many people today. Can't say I blame them either. For many, the word 'Baptist' is a synonym for intolerance, sexism, and a narrow right wing political agenda.
People often ask me about why I am a Baptist or why I'm still a Baptist or why I ever became a Baptist. I have to remind them that being a Baptist has not always meant what it has appeared to mean in these recent years, and I stubbornly refuse to turn loose of the biblical values and timeless truths that Baptists have believed and practiced from the early days.
Bill Webb, editor of Word & Way, has written a fine piece describing his visit to the historic First Baptist Church of America and what a worthy and significant contribution Baptists have made to our national life and to the work of the Kingdom. If you are an occasionally embarrassed Baptist like myself, it will make you proud once again. If, on the other hand, you believe that the recent changes in the SBC have been a positive thing, you might just be surprised by what you read. I love the words on the church's sign. "We reserve the right to accept everybody." That sounds like the Gospel to me. That must make God smile.