Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
|Cooperative Baptist Fellowship|
|Separated from||Southern Baptist Convention|
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) is a Christian fellowship of Baptist churches formed in 1991. Theologically moderate, the CBF withdrew from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) over philosophical and theological differences, such as the SBC prohibition of women serving as pastors. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship claims approximately 1,900 partner churches. The CBF is involved with the Baptist Center for Ethics, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, the Baptist World Alliance and 15 Baptist seminaries and divinity school programs which have emerged in the wake of the conservative direction taken by the six SBC seminaries. The CBF headquarters are located in Decatur, Georgia.
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship began in August 1990 as a reaction to the successful effort by conservatives to capture the denominational institutions of the Southern Baptist Convention after more than 10 years of public controversy between conservative and moderate/liberal factions of the Convention. The leaders of the conservative resurgence considered biblical inerrancy and a perceived liberal drift at Southern Baptist seminaries as the primary issues in their struggle against moderates and liberals in the SBC. The conservative strategy was to elect the SBC president a sufficient number of times to gain a conservative majority on the boards and agencies of the Convention. This was accomplished through the president's power to make appointments. Conservative leaders have elected all presidents of the SBC from 1979 to the present.
The progressive faction started the Alliance of Baptists in 1987. Frustrated moderates, following suit, met in 1990 in Atlanta, Georgia, and organized the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. It was the opinion of the moderates that the conservatives had departed from Baptist distinctives.
The core values maintained by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship begin with four items the CBF considers Baptist principles of faith and practice.
- Soul freedom is the ability of all people to relate directly with God. The belief in the priesthood of all believers is an important basis for this principle.
- Bible freedom is the principle of recognizing the authority of Scripture and the right of every Christian to interpret it as the Holy Spirit directs.
- Church freedom is the idea that every local church is autonomous and empowered to choose its own leaders and direct its own affairs.
- Religious freedom is the principle of separation of church and state. CBF supports this principle through affiliation with the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.
CBF members agree that the Bible teaches that there is one true God who created all people. Because of sin, humanity is separated from God but can be saved and redeemed through Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit convicts and converts those who believe in Christ and empowers the Church to fulfill its mission. CBF members agree that every Christian and every church is called to fulfill the Great Commission, share the gospel of Jesus Christ, and minister to the spiritual, physical, and social needs of people and communities.
Affirmation of women in ministry was one of the founding principles of the Fellowship. Most CBF members agree that both men and women may be ordained as ministers or deacons and serve as pastors of churches. On social issues, the CBF does not issue position statements. CBF members agree that as it is a fellowship of autonomous churches, issuing statements would be beyond its purpose. However, it does have an organizational policy on homosexual behaviour. This policy expresses the belief of many CBF members "that the foundation of a Christian sexual ethic is faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman and celibacy in singleness." However, CBF policies are not binding on individual congregations which make their own decisions regarding any issue; neither can a congregation be excluded from the CBF for disagreeing with core values or policies.
A free newsletter named fellowship! is published seven times a year. CBF also publishes an E-newsletter, Fellowship Weekly, distributed every other Friday. The Associated Baptist Press is a partner of the CBF.
References and notes
- This period is usually called the "conservative resurgence" by the current leadership and the term "fundamentalist takeover" by its detractors.
- Kell, Carl L. Exiled: Voices of the Southern Baptist Convention Holy War. Univ Tennessee Press, 2006.
- Merritt, John W. The Betrayal: The hostile takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention and a Missionary's Fight for Freedom in Christ. R. Brent and Company, publishers, 2005.
- Kell, Carl L. In the Name of the Father: The Rhetoric of the New Southern Baptist Convention. Southern Illinois University press, 2001.
- Hankins, Barry. Uneasy in Babylon: Southern Baptist Conservatives and American Culture. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2002.
- Cooperative Baptist Fellowship - Who We Are
- Web: 2 Jan 2010 CBF About Us
- Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. "Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Southern Baptist Convention Differences: A Conversation with CBF Coordinator Daniel Vestal". Retrieved 2009-06-21.
- Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. "Organizational Policy on Homosexual Behavior Related to Personnel and Funding". Retrieved 2009-06-21.