A recent article cites that the Southern Baptist denomination is shrinking.

Having an ‘Us Four and No More’ mentality is not the answer, neither will it help to be ‘conservative for conservativism’s sake’ because others are ‘liberal’. What passes for being “conservative” for some is just another form of theological liberalism, which passes itself off as having fidelity to the Word – but is really more (for ‘conservatives’) about an assuagement of personal insecurities. In the interest of transparency & honesty, my own church (The Assemblies of God) falters at this, on a couple of points (as do Southern Baptists) – but they have greater fidelity to the Word, because they don’t divide the New Testament into ‘that which was for them only’ and ‘that which is for us now’. Southern Baptist Cessationism (Anti-Pentecostalism) is a hangover from B.B. Warfield’s own insecurities and over-reactions to what he saw as abuses in his own time. The irony is that Southern Baptists want to follow Warfield’s Cessationist doctrine – but ignore what he (and Augustus Strong, as well) said about Evolution.

It is my opinion that our culture has drifted farther and farther from its previous center of a Judeo-Christian ‘worldview’ and those who are going to church now, are going because they want to find an authentic relationship with God that is transformative, redemptive, and maybe even risky – because to take a bold stand today is a risk itself. If this sounds like a rant – then I would ask you to consider that the Assemblies of God is growing – and not shrinking.

The ‘pneumatalogical/emotive austerity’ that Southern Baptists have advocated just does not cut it – and people are looking to be where they can find authenticity vibrancy in our culture. I believe that God may have had Grace over this obstinacy, but it may be drawing to a close.

In closing, I will also add that I believe one reason why the Assemblies of God is growing – is that people (either directly of indirectly) (and for this generation) are seeking out churches where they can worship with the ‘entirety’ of themselves – which is to say, they can worship with their ’emotions’ as well as their minds & hearts/spirits. I believe that this is important, and a key to an authentic understanding of a well-rounded, biblical worship. If this sounds absurd – then I’d recommend you read some Jonathan Edwards, especially his own understanding for the necessity and importance of a *responsible* integration of the emotions in authentic worship – which (again) is part of the key to the grown the Pentecostal churches.

A. G. Growth Links

Jonathan Edwards on Emotion as part of Worship
(Jonathan Edwards, A Treatise Concerning the Religious Affections)
(A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God
by Jonathan Edwards)

B.B. Warfield’s Acceptance of Evolution
[Mark Noll is a solid Evangelical Scholar, btw]