7 types of Southern Baptists

In his book, Southern Baptist Consensus and Renewal, author David Dockery lists seven different groups of conservative Southern Baptists:

  1. Fundamentalists: hard-lined people who often have more in common with “independent” Baptists than with the SBC heritage.
  2. Revivalists: true heirs of the Sandy Creek tradition, including their suspicion of education.
  3. Traditionalists: heirs of the Sandy Creek theology, including the strong commitment to evangelism and revivalism, but affirming of education.
  4. Orthodox Evangelicals: an irenic group that looked to Carl F. H. Henry and Billy Graham as models. This group wanted a theological course correction, a commitment to the full truthfulness of the Bible, serious intellectual and cultural engagement, while interacting with all who would claim to great orthodox Christian tradition.
  5. Calvinists: a group that wanted to reclaim aspects of the “Charleston” theological tradition. They have much in common with the “Evangelical” group above. Sub-groups include “Nine Marks,” “Sovereign Grace,” “Founders,” and others. Most among this group no longer tend toward isolation as in years past.
  6. Contemporary church practitioners: a group of pastors who wanted to find new ways to connect with the culture, resulting in new models for doing church, including “Willow Creek Models,” “Saddleback Models,” “Missional,” and even some “emergent church types.”
  7. Culture Warriors: another group of conservatives who desire to engage the issues of culture and society. This group includes a variety of approaches including “church over culture,” “church transforming culture,” as well as “church and culture / social justice types.”

You can see more of a run-down and description here…

I would love to see a couple of percentages for this list:

1.  The percentage of churches that fit each criteria; and

2.  The percentage of attendance for each criteria.

My guess is that while the number of churches of a certain criteria may be more, attendance from another criteria will be higher (that, some types of SBC churches are actually larger in size than some of the other types).

What do YOU think?

If you’re a Southern Baptist, which type are you?

And do you agree with the 7 different groups, or are there more (or less)?



  • Faye Bryant May 21, 2013 Reply

    In our little community of less than 1500, there are 6 Southern Baptist churches. I think they may all fit in this list somewhere as far as their leadership thinks. What the church does, however, is something else altogether.

  • Trapper May 21, 2013 Reply

    I’m the kind of Southern Baptist who’s completely left Southern Baptists because of the ongoing violent takeover by the likes of the book’s author and group #5 and don’t see that returning to an SBC church will be an option in my lifetime. The author doesn’t seem to note such a category.

    My church was made a victim of these folks in a time of crisis, and I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t recognize it in time. Now, though, I could probably write the book on spotting it and trying to protect your people and your church. Alas…..

    Here’s a free hint — NEVER believe, on the surface, claims that “God is blessing” when a flood of new people come in in a time (*especially* a crisis) when you’re just trying to stop people from flooding out…..normal people without hidden agendas don’t do that!

    Todd’s guess about percentages is, of course, correct. The horribly unfortunate situation is that one of the tiny ones (in terms of numbers of churches, attendance, and pastors / people who hold those beliefs) is in complete control of the politics, infrastructure, institutions (minus a couple), and purse strings.

    May God rescue the SBC from those who’ve used and are using “Rules For Radicals” as a manual for their vision for the SBC! But, for now (and maybe forever), I’m in category 8: “Former/Out — would be but CANNOT.”

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