Well, the folks at SBCToday have already started using the new Lifeway study to support the IMB baptism policy. I have posted a response on their blog and am re-posting my thoughts on my own blog as well. In response to Tim Rogers, and anyone else who supports the IMB policy, I would argue three things here in response to the Lifeway study as it relates to the IMB policy:
One, I would argue that the 74% figure (i.e. those who would re-baptize someone previously baptized in a church that did not affirm eternal security) shows that the majority of Baptist pastors have an insufficient view of baptism or a misinformed understanding of Arminian theology or both (see my previous posts on this). On what basis, other than Baptist tradition, do we require rebaptism? If baptism means what we say that it means in the Baptist Faith and Message, then there is no grounds to rebaptize a born-again believer who has been immersed after conversion to Christ.
Two, 26% is a significant enough minority to demonstrate that the IMB personnel guidelines are a excessive. The guidelines go well beyond the BFM2000. Our statement of faith allows for this minority view. To restrict missionary service in this way goes against the practice of 1/4 of our SBC churches. That is no small minority. Thus, the personnel policy concerning baptism should be reversed.
Finally, the fact that a majority hold a particular doctrinal opinion, does not mean that those who hold that position wish to restrict missionary service to only those who agree with them. Lifeway studies have shown that 90% of SBC pastors are not Calvinist and 63% are “concerned” with the rise of Calvinism in the Convention. If one reasons that the Baptism policy is appropriate because it reflects the majority opinion, the IMB should hurry up and add Calvinists to the list of faithful Southern Baptists who cannot serve on the mission field.
Contrary to the folks at SBC Today, the new Lifeway study shows not that the IMB policy should be upheld, but rather that it should be reversed.