Negrut: SBC should withdraw from BWA
By Allen Palmeri
March 2, 2004
JEFFERSON CITY – When the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) voted to recommend the SBC withdraw from the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), it was the right decision, according to Paul Negrut, president of the Romanian Baptist Union.
Negrut has been monitoring liberalism in the BWA for more than a decade. He was serving as vice president of his country’s convention when the president, Vasile Talos, had to take steps to counter growing liberalism.
“The Romanian Baptist convention is conservative to the marrow of its bone," Negrut said in the midst of his week-long tour (Feb. 18-24) of Missouri to promote the partnership between Romanian Baptists and Missouri Baptists. “For a long time, the Romanian Baptist convention did not endorse the European Baptist Federation or the Baptist World Alliance doctrines or practices.
“More precisely, in the 1990s, when the European Baptist Federation appointed a lady pastor from Sweden as its president, the Romanian Baptists pulled out for that entire mandate."
Negrut hopes that conservative BWA leaders will come toward the SBC position before all ties become severed.
“I look at what is happening and there is sadness in my heart that we have arrived at this point," Negrut said. “I would have expected the Baptist World Alliance to make a different turn in its history. For a number of years, various Baptist bodies in Europe have embarked on a more liberal theology, and the Baptist witness in Europe has suffered a lot. What was once the continent of the Protestant Reformation and the great revival has become one of the most secular and dark continents in the world.
“Churches that are committed to the Bible as the inerrant, infallible Word of God are the churches that are growing. They are committed to missions, and they stand at the cutting edge of biblical truth."
The BWA is responsible to help clarify Baptist doctrines and identity, Negrut said. The question, he said, between the SBC and BWA is posed in Amos 3:3: “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?" Negrut does not accept the moderate line of “let’s just do evangelism and not discuss doctrines." Doctrines are important, he said.
“When some people say ‘let’s not discuss theology,’ that’s a very subtle way of saying, ‘I’m not interested in your theology.’"
Spending a week among Missouri Baptists reinforced Negrut’s belief that Romanian Baptists and Missouri Baptists are speaking the same language. He cannot say the same for the SBC and the BWA.
“In Romania, we are straightforward," he said. “If you say you are Baptist, you believe the Word of God, you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and only Savior, you believe that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the blessed Trinity, and the work of the Holy Spirit is to bring new birth, and to fill us and to guide us and to give us the strength to serve, you mean what you say," Negrut said. “We are not in this post-modern talking where words mean what I want them to mean. Words mean what they always meant."
Missouri Baptists define doctrines just like Romanian Baptists.
“Being here for a whole week, the words were clearly embodied in deeds, in facts," Negrut said. “I’ve been blessed to see it’s a very conservative Baptist convention. Doctrinally, theologically, what the Missouri Baptists believe and preach is what the Romanian Baptists believe and preach."