Baptist moderates typically see themselves as orthodox Christians who hold firmly to an evangelical understanding of the Gospel. Some of them emphasize social aspects of the faith more than some of their more conservative brethren do (in their opinion). Others want to encourage members of the progressive left to keep up their doctrinal and practical explorations in the hope that we can learn something of value from them. What truly distinguishes the moderate is the commitment to freedom. They often proclaim, in Voltaire-like echoes, that they will defend to the death your right to be wrong, whether you are to the left or the right of them. Against the left and the right, they oppose the "fundamentalist" spirit of exclusive claims to truth and the frequently expressed desire to exclude or marginalize one's opponents.
Instead, they want everyone to be present at the table in the hopes that we can all exhibit the humility and openness necessary to learn from one another in a spirit of Christian comity. From the right we can learn the value of "conserving" what has proven important and valuable in our tradition; from the left we can learn from a progressive "openness" to the Spirit of the Living God who still moves among the churches.
They aver that what made Baptists Baptists traces to the idea of freedom. Indeed, their reading of Baptist history celebrates as the central genius a commitment to freedom. For moderates freedom is the big idea that brought Baptists out of the British/European theological morass. They see emphasis upon boundaries as contrary to the Baptist ethos.
IMHO, the error of the moderates derives from their misunderstanding of history, both Christian and Baptist. All basic forms of church polity (Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Congregational) have the advantage of being rooted in the Biblical record and operating with common-sense checks and balances. Trying to absolutize one value (e.g., freedom) without the counterbalance of agreed upon boundaries and the comprehension of other truths risks the entire enterprise.
With respect to Baptist history, which of our original Baptist forbearers would they have us emulate? The ones behind the First London Confession of Faith ( 1644), Second London Confession of Faith (1677), Philadelphia Confession of Faith & Catechism (1742), or maybe the 1858 Abstract of Principles with its Calvinistic emphases and insistence upon very strict boundaries for fellowship? These freedom loving Baptists did not seem to shrink from insisting on fairly specific doctrinal affirmations for Baptist clergy and congregations in order to remain in fellowship with the larger association.
Only in our "have it your way" era of "Burger King" theology has it been seen as unbaptistic to draw such boundaries. It simply will not do to proclaim the Baptist value of “freedom” without also affirming some boundaries of agreed upon beliefs and practices. Such an attempt is fundamentally “unbaptistic” and contrary to the spirit and the practice animating our Baptist founders. Without a balance of values, all we have left is the sad plea of a Rodney King “theology”: “Can’t we just get along.”