The four stakes of a big-tent convention

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Tent-stakeHaving spent many a night in a tent, I recognize that any tent needs corner stakes to keep from being blown away by the least gust of wind. Likewise, to avoid being “blown here and there by every wind of teaching” (Ephesians 4:14), I believe the big tent of the Kentucky Baptist Convention must be anchored by our commitment to these four things: the truthfulness of God’s Word, our Lord’s Great Commission, cooperation, and the beliefs summarized in our historic Baptist confessions of faith, namely the Baptist Faith and Message.

First and foremost is a high view of Scripture. Kentucky Baptists affirm that the Bible is authoritative for faith and practice, trustworthy in all that it teaches, and truth without any mixture of error. We submit ourselves to God’s rule over our lives by submitting ourselves to the teachings of God’s Word. “The word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Peter 1:25).

Second, we are committed to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus says we must make disciples of all people groups. Thus, we believe that every church is responsible to share the gospel in its community and to the very ends of the earth. KBC churches share that belief.

Third, Kentucky Baptists are committed to cooperation. As is often said, we can do more together than apart. Could any one church care for 500 victimized children, start 18 new churches in Kentucky, 1,000 in North America, or 6,000 overseas? Could any one church support 4,800 missionaries in 150 countries or educate 16,000 seminary students? Could any one church host 12,000 children and teenagers for summer camp? Working together, every Kentucky Baptist church giving through the Cooperative Program can do all of these things and many, many more.

Fourth, the Baptist Faith and Message reflects our common confessional beliefs as Kentucky Baptists. The river of Baptist doctrine is fed by more than one theological stream. Some of our churches are passionate about a particular stream while others maintain room for diversity. At the convention level, our churches choose to partner together for the sake of the gospel, focusing on the river rather than any certain stream.

To exclude any Kentucky Baptist church sharing these four commitments is, in my opinion, a grave mistake. Churches, however, that abandon the truthfulness of God’s Word, the Great Commission, a commitment to cooperation, or Baptist beliefs are a poor fit for the KBC, because they jeopardize the identity and the precious unity God has assigned to the Baptist family. While we grieve any church that departs, we rejoice over every church that remains steadfast in its commitments to God’s Word, the gospel, cooperation, and its Baptist doctrine. I thank God for Kentucky Baptists!

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