CJ Rhodes DMin
Introducing the Word and Spirit Baptist Alliance
Several years ago, I served on a panel at our state Baptist convention annual session. The panelists were discussing “Bapticostalism” during our Congress of Christian Education meeting within the annual session. I recall one of the panelists being adamantly against the term, another seemed neutral, and I affirmed it, though not as passionately as I do now. The Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International was the unspoken subject of this cordial debate. Though we were more than a decade removed from its founding, several Baptist pastors still felt the fellowship threatened the historic Black Baptist Church and confused gifts with the Gospel, as one notable pastor stated around that time.
Honestly, it seemed at that time that my position was not only outnumbered, but also untenable in the convention. That was, of course, what some would have us believe. My experience during and after that session was that there were several pastors and delegates who secretly celebrated the fullness of the Spirit in their lives, or wanted to experience it. They didn’t believe their understanding of the Gospel was incomplete, but did feel strongly that they were missing out on all God had for them. I soon thereafter felt I wasn’t alone in this awareness that Baptist polity and theology needn’t be in contradiction to a spiritual gifts affirming identity.
As Pastor Dwight McKissic recently noted, cessationism isn’t an article of faith to which all Baptists must subscribe.
In prayers and dialog with pastors and preachers from around the nation and right here in Mississippi, we came to know that God was calling us to a reform movement within the historic Black Baptist tradition. Personally, I have a fondness for Full Gospel and other Bapticostal movements, and have gleaned more from them more than I necessarily disagree with. But I find it odd that so many churches, associations, and conventions have restrained the revival so many of know is just around the corner. In this sense, Word and Spirit Baptists emerged as a Facebook group to dialog about these matters, but was from its very inception seen as a reforming element among those of us who still hold Baptist identity and polity in esteem. We don’t see ourselves starting a splinter convention, but rather as a cross-denominational alliance of baptized believers who do not see biblical warrant to segregate Calvary from Pentecost.
This website, an outgrowth of the Facebook group, will highlight this “Bapticostal” thinking among thoughtful pastors, professors, and lay leaders all dedicated to seeing revival and reform within our traditions. I believe that we are simply making public what many whisper about, like Nicodemus visiting Jesus in the veil of night. It is my hope and prayer that this site will encourage each of you to go deeper!