Archive for the ‘SBC Issues’ Category

Why the Dust-Up?

Posted: July 6, 2011 in Dr. Al Mohler, Humor, SBC Issues

When Southern Baptists left Phoenix, Arizona they left a delayed “dust-up” with the response of Dr. Al Mohler.  Well we now see the results of this dust storm. I pray the dust cloud doesn’t cover the SBC as it did Phoenix, Arizona. :)

Dr. Al Mohler

In order to keep from appearing pedantic, this is my last post on Dr. Mohler’s response.  I was fully prepared to not write anything further the last time I said this but Dr. Mohler responded in two different venues since that time.  Thus, unless he responds again with anything other than an apology to Southern Baptists I will drop this issue.

albertmohler@albertmohler Same-sex marriage approved by 33-29 vote in New York senate. Sad day for marriage…and for us all.

The tweet above was tweeted by Dr. Al Mohler from his twitter account late at night on June 24.  Dr. Mohler’s tweet was retweeted by over 100 others which included many younger Southern Baptist pastors and leaders.  What is confusing with all of this?

First, I am saddened by the vote of New York.  I believe if we ever give up the fight against making same-sex marriage normal, our children’s children will accept it as normal.

Second, Dr. Mohler seems to have surrendered, not the Biblical position against same-sex marriage as normal, but the cultural fight concerning the nature of homosexuality. I submit to you that as a result of the laying down of this epistemological position concerning homosexuality, same-sex marriage will be the norm within the next 10 years. Dr. Mohler is a leading conservative voice in the culture battle and his statement “we have lied concerning the nature of homosexuality” is a huge step.

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This is my last article concerning the question asked of Dr. Al Mohler by Peter Lumpkins.  Unless there are future developments I will, after this article, stop speaking of this matter.  I have presented, what I believe to be, a well reasoned approach that neither takes unfair shots at Dr. Mohler nor allows his statements to go unquestioned.  I do pray that Dr. Mohler will respond to clarify how he sees Southern Baptists practicing a form of homophobia, and to give evidence of past lies concerning the nature of homosexuality.

With all of that said a sad by-line of this matter lies in the coverage, or lack thereof, of our denominational news organization.  When one views the article concerning the seminary reports one will notice something conspicuously missing.  (more…)

A Motion and a Meeting

Posted: June 10, 2011 in Announcement, SBC Issues

There will be a motion that is forthcoming on Tuesday concerning the various aspects of the Great Commission Resurgence vote at last year’s convention.  The Pathway in Missouri has run this article and did not mentioned in the story the person making the motion.  You can read the article here.

Also, there will be an information meeting concerning the items messengers can expect at the convention on Tuesday and Wednesday.  This meeting will be taking place on Monday evening.  There will be new voices heard from as well as some older voices we have heard in the past.  If you desire to attend you can see the announcement concerning this meeting here.

This is my last post until Phoenix.  Probably will just tweet and FB only while I am there.  Looking forward to spending Saturday with Wes Kenney at the Grand Canyon.  Maybe he will not push me over the edge. :)

As I look at my life in the future I challenged myself to assess the future, not only in the SBC, but in my personal life and church life.  Therefore, I want to examine, from my personal point of view, what I believe the SBC will look like in the year 2025.  Mind you this is not an academically researched piece and it does not involve any trends seen in any current factual statistics.  It is merely the musings of a pastor who has seen, and been in the background of, the SBC’s transition over the past 20 years. A disclaimer that I must make is a recent wrong assumption concerning the republican nomination race.  I predicted, after Huckabee announced he would not seek to run for POTUS, that he was positioning himself for a vice-presidential ticket with Donald Trump.  Of course Trump killed that prediction for me just two days later. Thus, I have been wrong before and I could be wrong with this outlook.  However, in this first part of a two part opinion, there is no conspiracy theory just the notation of some odd alignments. One of our leaders may even term these notations mere myths.

Seminaries

It seems that a trend is beginning to develop across the land of the SBC that merging groups make them more effective.  One can see it in the trend of church planting.  It seems that many churches are beginning to “take over” other smaller traditional churches and calling it “reviving traditional churches.”  Problem is there is nothing reviving about it other than a mere decision on the part of a mega-church pastor to “help” the smaller church only to end up sending people over there to vote for merging with the mega-church.  Do not get me wrong.  Smaller churches that have needed to merge due to economic necessity does not a trend make.  However at a recent conference here in North Carolina an independent group had a session on restoring dying churches.  While that is a great undertaking, there is only one question that begs an answer.  Who determines if a church is dying?

Well there seems to be a trend that will call our seminaries to either merge together making them regional in their reach or for the purposes of the economy some will merge.  We see the seminaries already expanding their campuses to other major cities and this will continue.  In a time we read about seminaries laying off staff and becoming leaner due to the down turn of the economy we still seem some opening new campuses.  As a result the question has to be raised concerning the economic value of laying off professors and staff in one area but extending the footprint of the seminary. Thus, hiring new professors and staff to man the satellite campus.

Therefore, I envision that by 2025 we will have only three of our six seminaries.  Why?  Each seminary will have such a large footprint with the various cities it will reach absurdity as seminaries will be walking on each other in these major cities.  For example, already there is a seminary extension of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Jacksonville, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia.  New Orleans also enjoys a similar extension in Jacksonville, and also Atlanta.  Before someone asks, I have not included the other seminaries because I have not researched their satellite campuses.  The question will eventually be raised concerning the use of CP funds by these seminaries to have footprints in the same metro area.

ERLC and Executive Committee

This will eventually become a no-brainer.  Why do we have two entities when we could be served as well by one?  Look for Dr. Land to retire and when that happens it will open this discussion.  The discussion will bring this to the point of questioning the ERLC as an individual entity.  Could it better serve Southern Baptist to move the ERLC under the auspices of the Executive Committee?  I do not know.

Also, look for the name to no longer be “Southern Baptist Convention.”  Who knows what the name will be in the future, but there is one thing I have serious concerns over when it comes to this debate.  If the name change for the convention goes the way of other name changes, “Baptist” will become memory of a by-gone era.  Something the convention, as a whole, will look back on with only a fond memory. Already we have a leading evangelical advocating that “Christendom” is in the past.  Not only are we now living in a post-modern era but we are now in the post-Christendom era. Thus, we will see “Baptist” left out completely of the new name.  Many may cry foul here but their voices will be nothing more than a muffled gurgle. The argument will be that we changed the name of “Baptist Book Store” to “Lifeway Christian Bookstores.”   Remember the purpose we did this?  It was in order to reach out with our doctrine into a much more diverse evangelical world.  This same argument will be used when it comes to the name change of the SBC.  One will hear that people cannot witness to people because they are from a Southern Baptist church.  However, we need to remember what has happened with Lifeway?  Walk into any Lifeway Christian Bookstore and you will note the evangelical world has their diversity splattered on the eye-level shelves. Instead of making an impact in the evangelical world with solid biblical baptistic doctrine we will have evangelical ecumenism change us from Baptist by conviction to Baptist for convenience. When all of this takes place one will better understand the concern of Dr. Morris Chapman in last years debate about the GCR.  Look for many of the younger, restless and reformed to be leading in these changes and combined entities

Doctrine

The Doctrine of the SBC in 2025 will have moved to a point that leaders will once again include, if not fully embrace, the Moderate views.  We will have to endure another Conservative Resurgence due to the inclusiveness of any view regardless of its doctrinal weakness.  Evangelical apologist, Dr. Norman Giesler, has said that all institutions veer to the left and one must maintain a constant resolve to conservative doctrine to maintain a conservative course. Thus, SBC Conservatives must clearly understand the definition of a Moderate and Conservative in Southern Baptist life.

The late Dr. Adrian Rogers left us with a warning in the book finished by his wife, Joyce.  The book Love Worth Finding tells us about the life and preaching philosophy of Dr. Rogers.  On page 165, Dr. Rogers was asked the question; “What is the impact of the inerrancy of the Word of God upon preaching?” Dr. Rogers launches into a clearly enunciated response that gives great insight into who he was and also who we are as Southern Baptist.  In this answer Dr. Rogers deals with the need for a preacher to be able to preach something he has a heart conviction about.  The preacher needs to give a sure word not one that expresses doubt concerning his subject matter.  In this answer Dr. Rogers expresses the difference in a Liberal Southern Baptist, a Moderate Southern Baptist, and a Conservative.

“A preacher cannot declare to a congregation “this may be true” and engender any real zeal.  Without an infallible word from God, we have nothing but a holy hunch, and that will not do.

Liberalism is a relative term, dependent upon where one draws the center line of this thing called Christendom.  I’d define “true inspiration” as being convinced that all Scripture is inspired by God.

That said, I’d define a liberal Southern Baptist as a person who does not believe in the veracity, the exactitude, the integrity,the infallibility and inerrancy of the Scripture.  Even if he believed that the Word was inspired in its purpose but not in its entirety, he may be right of the center in regard to Christendom but left of the center line in Southern Baptist circles.

The moderate is a person who may believe the Bible to be without error, but who also believes in inclusivism.  He is a person who maintains the position of accommodating the liberal view. I believe the moderate to be more inclined to opinions than convictions.” {Bold emphasis mine}

With that said, one can certainly see this shift slowly moving back toward the Moderate view.  I believe, we are seeing these steps already revealing themselves in the Southern Baptist Convention.  This recent silent announcement slipped under the radar screen of many people within the SBC.  The reason I say “silent” has to do with the title of the news release from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS).  To Baptist Press’ credit they did present a clear title concerning the article when they picked it up.  However, SBTS’s title was innocuous to say the least.  Upon reading the article one will find that a chair has been endowed at SBTS in the name of Dr. Duke McCall.  Dr. Duke McCall was the moderate leader of the SBC during the Conservative Resurgence.  Dr. McCall ran the SBC from the helm of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary during the time Moderates were leading the SBC.  This endowed chair of Leadership has with it a required series of Lectures to be given in chapel each year.  SBTS establishing an endowed chair in Christian Leadership, complete with lectures, would be akin to Baylor University establishing the Paige Patterson chair in Biblical Hermeneutics along with an annual Lecture Series on Moderate Biblical Interpretation and Why That Dog Will Not Hunt.

While endowing a chair at SBTS in Dr. McCall’s name does not make it moderate it does mean there is an inclusiveness attitude beginning to emerge.  Do not get me wrong.  Dr. Mohler is a very loud and strong proponent for Biblical inerrancy and  I do not see him in any way shape or form allowing anything less than inerrancy to prevail at SBTS.  However, with this step in 2011, by 2025 if it is not corrected we will have wholesale Moderates allowing for convoluted views of the Scripture.  Southern is the very seminary where neo-orthodoxy entered the SBC.  This type of inclusiveness, mind you, is the definition that Dr. Adrian Rogers established in recognizing who were and were not Moderates within the SBC. Am I saying that Dr. Mohler is a moderate?  No, I am not!!  Am I saying that his inclusiveness of this type of leader will lead the next generation into allowing for the full blown Moderate position?  That is exactly what I am saying.

In our next installment this writer will deal with the Mission Boards, Local Associations, and the Cooperative Program in 2025.

In many a comment trying to berate and call Dr. Brad Whitt into submission, one facet used was the “dress code.”  In an article by Dr. Ed Stetzer trying to invoke an apologetic argument for the Pastors Conference he said, concerning his assessment of past pastor’s conferences; “it has not been unusual that I have heard contemporary church pastors besmirched in these events (i.e., critical references to “Hawaiian shirt-wearing pastors.”  Dr. Whitt, in his article, merely referenced that he wore a suit and tie and from this Dr. Stetzer responds with his apologetic argument.

We have been told that “Traditionalists” need to loosen up the ties and allow others to dress as they desire.  I honestly have never been told by anyone the type of dress that is required of me. I have asked concerning various events what the planners of the event is wearing, but I have never been told I was supposed to wear certain attire.  If one desires to wear a suit and tie then one should have that freedom.  If one feels comfortable to wear casual dress then one should wear golf shirts and khaki pants.  Thus we are able to dress accordingly but, we are told,  “traditionalists” do not allow others to dress as they desire.  Let me first say that I would be classified a traditionalist by many in the SBC.  That is ok because I am comfortable being known as a “traditionalist”.  However, I have never told, or even suggested, to anyone what they wear at a meeting.  If we are having a special event we will express to the platform personalities that we desire them to wear a suit and tie.  Even then we express that I will be in a suit and tie and if others do not dress accordingly that will be fine.  We leave it to the individual to make that determination.

Well, you can no longer lay blame on the “traditionalists” for requiring/strongly suggesting a dress code.  It seems that our Executive Committee President, through his Executive Assistant has sent a notice to all Executive Committee Trustees. This notice is a reminder of Dr. Bryant Wright’s request that all Executive Committee Trustees wear casual attire to the convention.  It seems that everyone, except ladies, will be dressed in “business casual” attire.  When we enter the arena we will notice that our platform personnel will be dressed in open collar shirts, and maybe sport coats.

I could not believe this when it was told me.  I would not have said anything about this had it merely been a suggestion by Dr. Wright.  However, when it was placed in writing to remind people this would be the “official dress” I was stunned.   Feel free to read the email for yourself below.

Dear EC Members,

I just want to make sure you are aware that SBC President Bryant Wright has requested the official dress at the Annual Meeting this year in Phoenix be business casual.  Dr. Page and the executive staff here at the Executive Committee plan to wear a sport coat and shirt with no tie during the meetings, including the Executive Committee meetings on Monday.  Ladies, you’re on your own!

See you soon in Phoenix!

SBC Executive Committee

901 Commerce Street, Nashville, TN 37203

Well, it appears it is not the “traditionalists” that are requiring that people dress a certain way.  It is now revealed that our new leadership is requiring not only changes in the methods but also the dress.

In 1988 I felt my future was nothing.  I was on a one way street straight to Hell.  It was on September 11, 1988 that my life was changed by an encounter with the living Lord Jesus Christ. My future was changed that day because of that event.  After this event of Salvation I willingly entered into a discipleship journey with one who was in the ministry.  Through this relationship I studied how our Lord allowed us to make decisions that really were not His best but He still used those decisions to bring glory to Himself.  Through that time I have seen how various decisions, were not really God’s best, affected different aspects of my future.  It is that very thing that I want to look at and see what exactly the future may hold for the SBC.  I believe that we will see an increased movement to a Calvinistic doctrinal exclusivity and we will see an SBC future where denominational employees will be very well compensated but void of committed leaders.

A Subtle Consistent Move toward Calvinistic Doctrinal Purity with an Evangelical Ecumenical Approach

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In a recent blog article concerning how to stop the splintering of the SBC I entered a discussion when I saw the following comment.

There seems to be two issues.

1. Many – not all but certainly more than a few – Calvinists are more committed to promoting Calvinism (or should I say their own brand of Calvinism) within the SBC than they are to promoting the SBC, or for that matter Jesus Christ. The best evidence of this is their tendencies to rally around and defend Calvinists who exhibit serious error in their doctrines and practices no matter what effect it has on the non-Calvinist Southern Baptists. If these folks truly believed in the SBC, they’d countenance and take seriously legitimate, Biblical criticisms from their non-Calvinist peers, and if they were putting Jesus Christ ahead of their Calvinism, they would have noticed – and spoken out against – these errors themselves.

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In Part 1 of the concluding article posted here, I pointed out how we had Strong Theological Speech but Weak Doctrinal Practices.  Many of our leaders give excellent theological analysis and press us on thinking about the way our actions reveal our theology.  However, when it comes to doctrinal practice our leaders seem to have a discrepancy that veers from their talk.  I also expressed a concern that Covenants are Being Treated as Contracts.  In other words, we have people signing papers promising to do something they really do not believe in their hearts.  I want to conclude today with two more practices that need to change if we are going to see sacrificial giving to the Cooperative Program return.  Also, these four practices must cease if we are ever to see the return of some semblance of unity within our ranks.

Directing as Hierarchical Overseer

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This is the first part of a concluding article for a four part series.  The series I presented laments the differences seen in the Southern Baptist Convention since 1990.  In Part 1 I expressed my dismay in the responses I received concerning the alcohol motion I presented at the NC Baptist State Convention. Part 2 reviews my theological journey and how that shaped my convictions throughout my pastoral ministry. In Part 3 I spoke of the leaders I saw taking stands and the way those stands strengthened the convictions that were shaping within my theological system.   In this concluding post I lament three activities that has become standard practices of our leaders that must cease.  Do not misunderstand, our leaders certainly hold solid biblical standards in their personal private lives.  These standards must become more than just words spoken publicly to rally the troops.  Our leaders must insist on those following them to hold these same standards as convictions for them to be convictions lived out in all areas of Southern Baptist entities. If entities do not begin returning to these standards as convictions and not some covenant signed like a contract there will be a continual decline in giving and participation by those sacrificially supporting the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).  What is seen within SBC entity leadership that causes these standards to become mere guidelines and will cause those who are sacrificially giving cease their sacrificial gifts?

In this two-part conclusion I want to describe four areas that need our attention as Southern Baptist.  In the first concluding article I will examine the strong theological speech coming from many within our leadership but the less than stellar doctrinal practice.  I will also point out how covenants are being treated as contracts and how that is causing a disconnect within the practices we as Southern Baptist have come to expect.

Strong Theological Speech But Weak Doctrinal Practice

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