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Longtime SBC church planting leader trashes church autonomy

Jeff Christopherson of Send Institute says church autonomy not biblical. Also, Christopherson attacked patriotism and nationalism.

The Southern Baptist doctrine of church autonomy is fundamental to the Southern Baptist Convention polity; however, a longtime North American Board leader and missiologist with the Send Institute attacked the doctrine.

Jeff Christopherson described a document he was helping draft that focused mentioned church autonomy, “It started out as, ‘Although we recognize the biblical mandate of autonomy,’ and I just said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let’s stop here. Even though it is a tradition that we as Baptists really kind of hang on to, it is pretty difficult to prove the biblical mandate of autonomy. In fact to me, it seems more obvious that we can prove biblically it is opposite, interdependence…however we want to skew our history, we begin to see that (autonomy) is actually an overreaction to something else.”

Jeff Christopherson was appointed in 2011 by Kevin Ezell as NAMB’s Vice President for Canada. Christopherson is now a co-executive director of the Send Institute—a murky partnership between NAMB and Wheaton.

So, Christopherson was and continues to play an influential role in church planting. Yet, he denies something foundational to the Southern Baptist Convention.

Previously, Christopherson attacked patriotism, American exceptionalism, and nationalism in an essay published by Ed Stetzer at Christianity Today. In that essay (available here), Christopherson blamed patriotism for church decline in America.

Those Christopherson rant published by CT was virtue signaling Never Trumpism. That is bad; however, the attack on a fundamental SBC doctrine like church autonomy is astounding.

Former SBC President Morris Chapman wrote in 1997 about local church autonomy,

The principle of local church autonomy is one of the most cherished distinctives of ecclesiology among Southern Baptists today. Long ago, in response to ecclesiastical oppression, pioneers of Baptist thought adopted this identifying mark from Scripture.

One hundred years ago, the Southern Baptist Convention met in Chattanooga, Tenn., under a constitution that declared, “It shall be the design of this Convention to … fully respect the independence and equal rights of the churches.”

In 1965, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted The Baptist Faith and Message, which reaffirmed local church autonomy by recognizing: “A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is a local body of baptized believers who are associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel … This church is an autonomous body, operating through democratic processes under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.”

Today, the Southern Baptist Convention functions under a constitution which states “… while independent and sovereign in its own sphere, the convention does not claim and will never attempt to exercise any authority over any other Baptist body, whether church, auxiliary organizations, associations, or convention.”

What other doctrines do SBC Elites feel free to trash or ignore? We already know NAMB planted churches with women pastors.

What other doctrinal scandals will we find on closer examination?

Also, what other issues will come to light once discovery begins in the Will McRaney v. NAMB case?

Tick Tock SBC Elites. Tick Tock.
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