Baptists May Erase 'Jesus' from Purpose Statement

The revision would replace wording the specifically reference the spreading of the “Gospel of Jesus Christ” with “glad obedience to the Great Commission.”

According to a July 20 press release by the denomination, the revision was made to better reflect the Fellowship’s mission statement – serving Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.

"The intent of the change in the constitution's purpose statement was to make the language consistent with CBF’s mission," said Joy Yee, incoming CBF national moderator. "It is in Jesus Christ that CBF lives, moves and has its being.

The revision was initially proposed when the CBF held its annual meeting in July 1. The participants at the General Assembly adopted the revision, but Fellowship leaders were hesitant to immediately implement the change because of ongoing concerns.

“Concerns that we remain clear about this fact in our documentation have been heard,” explained Yee.

Most concerns surround the possibility for others to misunderstand the fellowship if it were to remove references to Jesus and evangelism, according to the press release.

Outside the fellowship, Baptist leaders were already criticizing the proposed revision, saying the statement reveals the Fellowship’s liberal face.

“This represents the eclipse of Christ in the moderate Baptist movement," said Russell Moore, dean of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, according to the Associated Baptist Press.

The CBF has long been criticized by conservatives in the Southern Baptist Convention, many who view the fellowship as a liberal offshoot that sprang out of the Convention a decade ago.

Meanwhile, Fellowship Coordinator Daniel Vestal, responded to criticism by saying “There was never intent in the changes to diminish our commitment to the lordship of Jesus Christ or to the Great Commission."

"I am saddened that anyone would interpret the actions by the council and assembly otherwise, but I do understand the questions that have been raised. One simply can’t read our mission statement, attend our gatherings or participate in our ministries without realizing the centrality of Jesus Christ in all we believe and do,” said Vestal.

The Coordinating Council, a 69-member representative body that oversees much of the Fellowship’s business, will meet in Oct 13-14 to discuss the change.