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Southern Baptists also known as “Southern Baptist Convention”, “Great Commission Baptists” Moats, Nathaniel A.


The Southern Baptist Convention is an American Protestant Evangelical Christian Tradition formed in 1845. It is currently the largest Protestant denomination in the United States with a membership of 14 million adherents. It has historically emphasized evangelism, personal salvation, the authority of the Bible as the Word of God, and the autonomy of local churches. The Southern Baptist Convention was originally formed in Augusta, GA in an effort to defend slavery (a view which has since been vehemently and retroactively condemned by the Southern Baptist Convention). In the 1980s, conservative Southern Baptists implement the “conservative resurgence” (alternatively called the conservative takeover by its detractors) in which they sought to return to a more traditional understanding of Christian beliefs and practices in response to a perceived drift towards mainline/liberal thinking. This resulted in liberal and moderate Baptists disassociating themselves and forming their own associations. Throughout their history, the Southern Baptist Convention have sought converts to Christianity domestically and abroad through missionary endeavors. In 2010, Southern Baptists voted to be alternatively referred to as “Great Commission Baptists” due to their evangelistic emphasis and international presence. The most well-known Southern Baptist was Billy Graham (1918-2018) who was known for leading mass evangelism events around the world. The Southern Baptist Convention describes itself as “a body of like-minded local churches cooperating together to reach the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ” (sbc.net). A central component of the Southern Baptist Convention’s mission is to “proclaim and minister the Gospel because the love of Christ compels us to do so. God’s call to us is to present the Gospel of Jesus to every person and to make disciples in every town, every city, every state, and every nation. The SBC is committed to sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with the whole world” (sbc.net). The foundation for contemporary Southern Baptists beliefs is the depiction of the Bible as the Word of God, which is also seen as the authoritative source for Christian beliefs and practices. Southern Baptists have also constructed a summary of their beliefs in a document called “The Baptist Faith and Message”, which represents a broad perspective on 18 topics dealing with theological, ethical, and cultural issues. Southern Baptist churches are not required to affirm or adopt this document, but it does represent a perspective that is widely held among Southern Baptists. Southern Baptist entities include: SBC Executive Committee, International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, Lifeway Christian Resources, GuideStone Financial Resources, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, six Seminaries, and the Woman’s Missionary Union.

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