Thursday, September 28, 2006

Joshua Convergence and the priesthood of believers

I received an email from Dr. Emir Caner, one of the participants in the recent Joshua Convergence meeting in Orlando this week, concerning my critique of imprecise and misleading theological language in the statement that they produced.

Here is what the published statement said, under the principle of "identity:"
We are wholehearted in our dedication to Baptist ecclesiology as expressed in Scripture for our understanding of what constitutes a local church. We are Baptists by conviction not by tradition alone, believing the fundamental principles which constitute a Baptist church are the very ones which made up a New Testament church. Such essential tenets of a believer's church, founded upon the sole authority and sufficiency of Scripture, include regenerate church membership, believer's baptism by immersion, believer's Lord's Supper as a memorial, church discipline, local church autonomy, congregational polity, confessional fidelity, priesthood of the believer, separation of church and state, religious liberty, and an unwavering passion to carry out the Great Commission. We should never be prideful in being Baptist, but we should always be thankful in being Baptist [emphasis added].
Here is the critique I made of that:
Regarding the theological imprecision, I find it ironic that the self-styled heirs of the conservative resurgence have actually taken up the language of the moderate resistance by affirming the "priesthood of the believer." No individual believer consitutes a whole priesthood. The individualistic and subjectivistic spin that the moderates put on the reformation principle of the priesthood of all believers resulted in the perversion of this precious doctrine into little more than the adage that "every tub sits on its own bottom." It is a little like advocating the "communion of the saint."
In his email, Dr. Caner says that he agrees "wholeheartedly" with this point and requested that the language be changed. The change was in the works last week though it was only made yesterday. This revision can be seen at the Joshua Convergence website. [EDIT: the link is now fixed]

I appreciate the effort Dr. Caner made to alert me to this change.

2 comments:

Brian Hamrick said...

Sounds like a good precursor to the debate. I'm encouraged.

Grosey's Messages said...

I must say though, when 2 baptists are talking about the priesthood of the believer, they are not generally talking about the communion of the saint.
I guess there needed to be a checking of the terminology, and the definition of the terms given by both parties.
I remember posting a statement of faith for a Conservative Baptist Fellowship, where in order to get the whole statement onto one page I had to drop the 's' in "priesthood of believers". It was the only word I could safely shorten for the sake of presentation .. and what a caneing I got over that!!!
I promise the intent was there, the definition was the same, but I was branded a heretic and fool because an 's' wouldn't fit on the page.
Was it worth making an enemy?