Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

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The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) is a Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 fellowship of Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

 churches formed in 1991. Theologically moderate, the CBF withdrew from the Southern Baptist Convention
Southern Baptist Convention
The Southern Baptist Convention is a United States-based Christian denomination. It is the world's largest Baptist denomination and the largest Protestant body in the United States, with over 16 million members...

 (SBC) over philosophical and theological differences, such as the SBC prohibition of women serving as pastors. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship claims approximately 1,900 partner churches. The CBF is involved with the Baptist Center for Ethics, Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty, and the Baptist World Alliance
Baptist World Alliance
The Baptist World Alliance is a worldwide alliance of Baptist churches and organizations, formed in 1905 at Exeter Hall in London during the first Baptist World Congress.-History:...

. Its headquarters are located in Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is the capital and most populous city in the U.S. state of Georgia. According to the 2010 census, Atlanta's population is 420,003. Atlanta is the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is home to 5,268,860 people and is the ninth largest metropolitan area in...



The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship began in August 1990 as a reaction to the successful effort by conservatives to capture the denominational institutions of the Southern Baptist Convention after more than 10 years of public controversy between conservative and moderate/liberal factions of the Convention. The leaders of the conservative resurgence considered biblical inerrancy
Biblical inerrancy
Biblical inerrancy is the doctrinal position that the Bible is accurate and totally free of error, that "Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact." Some equate inerrancy with infallibility; others do not.Conservative Christians generally believe that...

 and a perceived liberal drift at Southern Baptist seminaries as the primary issues in their struggle against moderates and liberals in the SBC. The conservative strategy was to elect the SBC president a sufficient number of times to gain a conservative majority on the boards and agencies of the Convention. This was accomplished through the president's power to make appointments. Conservative leaders have elected all presidents of the SBC from 1979 to the present.

The liberal faction started the Alliance of Baptists
Alliance of Baptists
The Alliance of Baptists is a fellowship of Baptist churches and individuals in the United States. In its theology and social stances, the Alliance is characterized as a progressive or liberal Christian fellowship...

 in 1987. Frustrated moderates, following suit, met in 1990 in Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is the capital and most populous city in the U.S. state of Georgia. According to the 2010 census, Atlanta's population is 420,003. Atlanta is the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is home to 5,268,860 people and is the ninth largest metropolitan area in...

, and organized the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. It was the opinion of the moderates that the conservatives had departed from Baptist distinctives.

Core Values

The core values maintained by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship begin with four items the CBF considers Baptist principles of faith and practice.
  • Soul freedom
    Soul competency
    Soul competency is a Christian theological perspective on the accountability of each person before God. According to this view, neither one's family relationships, church membership, or ecclesiastical or religious authorities can effect salvation of one's soul from damnation...

     is the ability of all people to relate directly with God
    God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

    . The belief in the priesthood of all believers
    Priesthood of all believers
    The universal priesthood or the priesthood of all believers, as it would come to be known in the present day, is a Christian doctrine believed to be derived from several passages of the New Testament...

     is an important basis for this principle.
  • Bible
    The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

     freedom is the principle of recognizing the authority of Scripture and the right of every Christian to interpret it as the Holy Spirit
    Holy Spirit
    Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

  • Church freedom is the idea that every local church is autonomous and empowered to choose its own leaders and direct its own affairs.
  • Religious freedom is the principle of separation of church and state
    Separation of church and state
    The concept of the separation of church and state refers to the distance in the relationship between organized religion and the nation state....

    . CBF supports this principle through affiliation with the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty
    Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty
    The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty is an education and advocacy association in the United States with a number of Baptist denominations. It states that it seeks to promote religious liberty for all and to uphold the principle of church-state separation...


CBF members agree that the Bible teaches that there is one triune
Triune may refer to:*Trinity, the Godhead in Christianity, or another of the triple deities*Triune brain theory, proposed by Dr. Paul D. MacLean that evolution has given humans three distinct brains...

 God who created all people. Because of sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

, humanity is separated from God but can be saved
Within religion salvation is the phenomenon of being saved from the undesirable condition of bondage or suffering experienced by the psyche or soul that has arisen as a result of unskillful or immoral actions generically referred to as sins. Salvation may also be called "deliverance" or...

 and redeemed through Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit convicts and converts those who believe in Christ and empowers the Church to fulfill its mission. CBF members agree that every Christian and every church is called to fulfill the Great Commission
Great Commission
The Great Commission, in Christian tradition, is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples, that they spread his teachings to all the nations of the world. It has become a tenet in Christian theology emphasizing missionary work, evangelism, and baptism...

, share the gospel of Jesus Christ, and minister to the spiritual, physical, and social needs of people and communities.

Affirmation of women in ministry was one of the founding principles of the Fellowship. Most CBF members agree that both men and women may be ordained as ministers or deacons and serve as pastors of churches. On social issues, the CBF does not issue position statements. CBF members agree that as it is a fellowship of autonomous churches, issuing statements would be beyond its purpose. However, it does have an organizational policy on homosexual behaviour. This policy expresses the belief of many CBF members "that the foundation of a Christian sexual ethic is faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman and celibacy in singleness." However, CBF policies are not binding on individual congregations which make their own decisions regarding any issue; neither can a congregation be excluded from the CBF for disagreeing with core values or policies.


A free newsletter named fellowship! is published seven times a year. CBF also publishes an E-newsletter, Fellowship Weekly, distributed every other Friday. The Associated Baptist Press
Associated Baptist Press
The Associated Baptist Press was founded in 1990 as an independent Baptist news agency. ABP has no headquarters office; its staff is located in various locations in four states with an office in Washington, DC housing the organization's Washington Bureau. ABP is a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship...

is a partner of the CBF.