A Practical Reason For A New Label?

by Greg Linscott

As many of my readers know, I have tended to be a staunch defender of labels that define in the context of American Evangelical Christianity. I willingly identify myself (and congregations I am involved with) with terms such as “Baptist,” “Fundamentalist,” “Separatist,” and so on. For that matter, I have also tended to invest myself in organizations that have brought like-minded individuals (at least to some degree) together. With that being said, I am beginning to wonder if the time hasn’t come for some new kind of identifying label. And no, I am not now intending to eagerly embrace the term “Libruhl Compromiser.”

I have had several opportunities lately to try to assist people who were relocating (or at least considering it) with finding a congregation in their new locale. Most of the time, the places they have been considering have been unfamiliar to me. Like most people today, one of the ways I have begun to search out options has been to enter my search criteria on a site like Google. However, I have found, as perhaps many of you have, that using terms like “baptist church” or even “Fundamental Baptist Church” can produce many returns that I would not end up feeling comfortable recommending.

Perhaps it is an idle thought, but I have begun to wonder if there might not be some better means of identifying congregations- if not to replace terms that are already “out there,” then at least to aid in the distinguishing process? On the one hand, there are already so many labels floating around- yet, for example, if one were inclined to search for a “Reformed Baptist” congregation, if indeed such a congregation existed in a particular locality, the results that would come in such a query would require far less refining than would, say, a comparable search for a “Fundamentalist Baptist.”

I am interested to hear feedback on this. What criteria might you enter in an internet search? Do you have ideas as to how a new identifying mark might be arrived at? Does it seem to you as if we are discussing something that requires no fixing ’cause it ain’t broke? If a new term or label was suggested, how would you work to insure that it would be useful in a context outside your local church?