The inevitable progress of progressivism


The historic First Baptist Church of Greenville, SC will now openly bless same-sex unions and offer ordination to those who practice homosexuality. There is no real surprise in this to those who have followed the conservative/progressive divide within the Southern Baptist Convention over the past few decades. The heat has mostly subsided given the fact that the conservatives were able to wrest control of the Southern Baptist seminaries from the control of progressives.


The battles between the two sides resulted in, among other things, the organization of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) to which FBC Greenville belongs. Like the Southern Baptist Convention, the CBF is less a denomination and more a fellowship of cooperating Baptist churches. From the beginning the CBF seemed to embrace a doctrinal continuum ranging from those who remained relatively conservative to those who were angling for a redefinition of Christian orthodoxy. In such a situation the center simply cannot hold. And in the case of the CBF it seems to have given way completely.


Early on, the most visible leaders of the CBF scoffed at concerns that the group was “liberal” and would go down the same sad road of apostasy that the mainline denominations had traveled. More recently the CBF has been asked to clarify its positions on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Leaders in the CBF have dismissed such calls for clarification as fishing expeditions from rascally fundamentalists. But First Baptist Greenville, one of the most prominent churches in the CBF, seems to have answered the question quite clearly.


One of the lessons for the denomination to which I belong is that progressivism is by very nature always pushing. One might say that progressivism tends to keep progressing. Progressives rarely say, “this far and no farther.” What begins as merely gentle trimming to the doctrine of Scripture continues on to the inevitable swamp of heterodoxy.