Liberal ideas cause Baptist sect to sever ties with world alliance

The Auburn Plainsman/June 24, 2004
By Andriena Baldwin

Increasing tolerance of liberal ideas by members of the Baptist World Alliance has led to the Southern Baptist Convention withdrawing its membership.

The convention, with more than 16 million members, abandoned the alliance June 15.

One of the reasons for the convention's departure was the alliance's tolerance of same-sex marriages.

"I don't think it was the right thing to do, but I won't lose any sleep over it," said Steve Scoggins, pastor at First Baptist Church in Opelika.

Scoggins has been to other countries for missionary work, and he knows of others overseas doing the work of God.

"I hate to see us lose the commitment to churches in Africa, Scotland and other places," he said.

Scoggins said that the pros of working with others in the fellowship outweighed the cons.

"The alliance was more of a fraternal order," he said. "It provides fellowship amongst Baptists."

He said leaving the alliance will have little impact on the world, and his church will continue to do missionary work on its own.

Groups such as the American Baptist Churches, formally Northern Baptist, have gay-friendly services.

The Southern Baptist Convention rejects acceptance of homosexuality in its member congregations.

"They go against Christianity and traditional biblical morality by legitimizing same-sex marriages," Scoggins said.

"It is sad that one sin is chosen to be the vice in churches," Scoggins said. "I will not declare that (same-sex marriage) is not a sin, but only God can tell."

Matthew Potts, a sophomore in business administration and a dedicated Baptist, said he thinks the convention made the right decision.

"We condemn gay marriages, and there should be no affiliation with anything that condones gay marriages," Potts said.

He said some other religions are being too liberal by accepting same-sex marriages.

"Everybody is a sinner, only God is perfect," Potts said. "We all sin, but it's an option to be gay and to live your life in sin.

"You can't be gay and Christian at the same time," he said.

Jim Evans, pastor of Auburn First Baptist, said he doesn't agree with the decision to leave the alliance.

He said the denomination as a whole does not agree with homosexuality, but cutting themselves off from the world community and other alliance members is the wrong thing to do.

Evans said he believes liberalism within the alliance was a cover-up to leave.

"This is just my opinion, but the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) only wanted to leave because the alliance allowed the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship to join," Evans said.

The fellowship is a Baptist church group similar to the convention, but it consists of more politically moderate members.

Evans said the fellowship is not comfortable with the extremely conservative ideas of the convention and that the fellowship has alternative mission-sending groups.

Evans said the convention is leaving because it doesn't want to be part of the same organization as the fellowship.

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