December 11, 2005

What Do We Do With These Swords???

Isaiah 2:4 ESV He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore.

I appreciate what Wade Burleson wrote today on his blog.
I am glad and I rejoice over the conservative resurgance. I am a conservative. I love my convention.

But sadly, a new war has begun. It is a war initiated by fellow conservatives; conservatives who have forgotten how to put their swords in their respective sheaths. It is a war that technically may not have just begun, but one that simply never ended.

Conservatives who loved the battles of decades past have fallen victim to a crusading mentality of bloodthirst. Since all the liberals are gone, conservative cruasaders are now killing fellow conservatives.

Burleson has plenty of conservative "street cred." He's not some namby-pamby moderate, nor is he a crypto-liberal trying to undermine the resurgence. He's a genuine man with a genuine concern about the future of the Southern Baptist Convention.

We have to ask ourselves the question: What do we do with all these swords? We spent almost an entire generation fighting for the soul of the SBC. We are going in a direction that Southern Baptists thirty years ago could not have envisioned -- a direction that many Southern Baptists despaired that we'd ever go in again. We've won.

So now we've declared war on ourselves. We've gone from fighting the good fight on inerrancy to fighting over fine points of theology. We are majoring on the minors in a way that I haven't seen since I left the Independant Fundamental church I was baptized in. And we cannot let that happen.

more...

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December 08, 2005

Baptism and the IMB Update

An update on this issue -- one of my concerns has been answered.

Marty Duren posted about this a couple days ago -- the vote numbers and the number of trustees present for the votes aren't as bad as I thought they were. From an email Marty received from the Assistant Recording Secretary: "There were 78 trustees present at the Huntsville meeting. The actual votes were not counted except to indicate that the recommendations made by the Personnel Committee were approved by a majority of those voting."

I'm still not quite sure where the numbers came from in the initial report, but that clarifies things (and makes me feel better about the attendance). It doesn't make me much happier about the actual outcome, though.

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December 02, 2005

Perspective

From the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper.

And
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons.
Emphasis added in each, of course.

Now, from the IMB

Regarding a candidateÂ’s baptism, trustees voted two to one to establish a guideline that specifies (1) believerÂ’s baptism by immersion; (2) baptism follows salvation; (3) baptism is symbolic, picturing the experience of the believerÂ’s death to sin and resurrection to a new life in Christ; (4) baptism does not regenerate; and (5) baptism is a church ordinance.

The guideline establishes that candidates must have been baptized in a Southern Baptist church or in a church of another denomination that practices believerÂ’s baptism by immersion alone. Also, the baptism must not be viewed as sacramental or regenerative, and the church must embrace the doctrine of the security of the believer.

Emphasis, again, added. The IMB has gone beyond what the BF&M says about baptism in defining specific doctrines that a local, autonomous church must adhere to for baptisms to be considered Scriptural.

I believe that baptism is not regenerative. I believe in the doctrine of eternal security. I would have to have the term 'sacrament' defined, but as I think it's being used, I would probably agree with the IMB there as well. My issue is not that I disagree with the doctrines being affirmed -- my problem is that the IMB has taken it upon itself to decide what Southern Baptists consider Scriptural baptism. That is the role of the local church, since baptism is an ordinance of the local church.

Regarding the 'private prayer language' issue, I have to agree with Marty Duren:

It seems that this had less to do with missionary guidelines and more to do with insulting Jerry Rankin. If you truly believe that this is an unbiblical practice, you should have fired him ...
Dr. Rankin let everyone know that he used a private prayer language when he became IMB President. Suddenly, the IMB trustees have created a rule that effectively eliminates their president from consideration for a missionary position. I'm sure that Dr. Rankin is insulted, and I'm disappointed in the trustees who were there that this "guideline" was adopted.

I'm still disturbed that barely half of the trustees actually voted in this election. It's telling that the vote numbers are no longer present in the IMB article about the vote. I think that we, as Southern Baptists, deserve some answers from the trustees concerning this vote.

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