Matthew R. Perry

The Church Needs Creeds and Deeds

In Apologetics, Culture, Evangelism, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Missions, News, Preaching, Religious Organizations, SBC, Theology on January 8, 2008 at 8:59 am

Recently, in response to a letter submitted to our Kentucky state Baptist paper‘s Baptist Forum section that seemed to say “No creed but the Bible,” I felt the need to respond to this mindset. Given how many Southern Baptists are straying to other cults such as Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses because of the lack of biblical depth they possess, I wrote the following.

I am saddened and stunned at the outcry of those who lament how Southern Baptists seek to clarify doctrinal issues concerning the Scriptures, God, Christ, the church, and family. And yet all of us show the same type of shock when we see that of all the denominations from which the cults steal their sheep, Southern Baptist are their primary source of growth. Why is this?

It is because we Southern Baptists define ourselves more by what we do than by what we believe. Look back over older Western Recorder editions: they spent more time teaching what the Scriptures say rather than talking about missions and church growth almost to the exclusion of doctrinal beliefs. In fact, when Southern Baptists take a stand, they are derided as uncaring, academic, and divisive.

I am all for loving Jesus, but I believe creeds are just as valuable as the deeds. Both must be present — both the content of Scripture as well as the fruit of obedience to the Scriptures. I am for loving the Jesus of the Bible who has clear attributes and had a clear mission for His people. Until Southern Baptist rigorously study who Jesus is, what He has done, what the implications are for us who claim to be Christ-followers, what he expects from His Church and its individual members, we will continue to be fodder for those who deny the faith as we will cease to grow in any significant and spiritual way. Numbers are not the only way to grow a church — we need to be sure there are enough faithful in the church already as well!

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  1. Hi Bro Matt,

    Thank you for responding to the letter in the Kentucky State Baptist paper. As a former Southern Baptist with a master’s degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, I am one of those who “strayed” to a cult. It was a Bible-based cult with a masterful and manipulative cult leader and like several other former Baptists who were involved in this cult, I got hooked. Interestingly, one of the cult members worked for our state Baptist paper.

    When I was in seminary I took a course on cults and the emphasis was on the teachings and doctrines of the various cults. Before joining this particular cult, I did my research. I reviewed their doctrinal statement and it could have passed for any mainstream Christian group. I also called several cult awareness ministries to see if this group was included in their list of cults and was told it was not.

    I ended up staying in this cult for over seven years before leaving. One of my last conversations with the cult leader was most telling. I said (shouted), “Your voice is so loud, Ole, that I can’t hear God’s anymore.”

    After leaving the cult, my husband, who had been a member for twenty years, and I, struggled to regain our relationship with God. The first year after leaving was one of the worst periods of my life, but with God’s grace, we are managing to hang on to our faith. We joined a liturgical church (cult experts recommend going to a church completely different than the cult experience) and are slowly making our way back to a strong relationship with Christ.

    Although now I see that the doctrine that this cult taught was heretical, the teachings were only one thing that was problematic. I think it is important that we teach the church and especially our young people, the other signs of a cult, as well as how they recruit and why they appeal to individuals.

    The largest number of cults in our society today is Bible-based cults. Thank you for addressing this issue. I pray you will continue to grow your church in these areas and teach your members how to minister to those who leave cults.

    Thank you,
    Wendy Duncan
    Author: I Can’t Hear God Anymore: Life in a Dallas Cult

  2. what is the date of the recorder in which this was published?

  3. Hopefully this week or next, depending on how many letters they get in.

  4. I agree with what you said Brother Matt. I’m getting to the point where I’m trying to figure out why I believe what I believe, and I think it is important to have Bible Studies and polite discussions on things like doctrine. I feel like the number one reason a lot of people stop going to church when they reach college is because they discover that they don’t know why they believe what they believe, and because they can’t find an answer, they look somewhere else. I also think Mrs. Duncan’s comment was very intelligent and appropriate. She has a good idea about teaching young adults about signs to look for in cults. I know we have at our church in the past, but it never hurts to review again. Anyway, God bless you, Bro. Matt, and have a good day.

  5. This is spot on. thank you for this- its encouraging.

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