In his brilliant book, Democratic Religion, Prof. Dr. Greg Wills details the way that Baptists in the South used to do church discipline and gives an account of why things changed. One of the main reasons that discipline declined among Southern Baptists was that they shifted from focusing on Bible and theology to focusing on efficiency and progress. Wills explains how pastors reinvented their understanding of the pastoral calling in the late 1800’s:
The pursuit of system and activity entailed a new conception of the pastor. Traditionally, Baptist pastors viewed themselves as custodians of orthodoxy and purity. They expected orthodox preaching to create right belief and pure behavior. Pastors in the New South supplanted the priority of proclaiming truth with that of efficient management of pious workers. (133).
Let’s join together in the prayer that we will see a return to viewing the pastorate as a theological and shepherding office rather than a management office. Let’s pray for pastors who will be custodians of orthodoxy and purity, who will proclaim the Scriptures for the good of people and the glory of God.
Indeed. This theme was one of the most helpful in Wills’ great book. He details the move to prizing efficiency and organization (termed ‘leadership’ today). I agree wholeheartedly- may we have more shepherding!
Praying with you. To this end let us labor.
I hope all is well with you.
Sounds like something I need to read. We have got to get back to the basics and stop jettisoning doctrine in the name of unity, or growth depending on the pastor’s objective.
Good words. As a Professor, what is your observation concerning the students? What is their emphasis, interest and perspective on this issue?
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