June 10, 2008
Especially when I read of a proposed resolution like this one (hat tip to Wes Kenney at SBC Today): "A motion to forbid the use of the Holman Christian Standard Bible on the platform of the convention, as it asserts that the Bible contains verses that should not be there."
I have questions about this resolution (and I'm not sure if the actual resolution is available anywhere online, since it wasn't proposed beforehand). Are they saying that the HCSB has extra verses, or are they saying that the HCSB is saying that some verses in the Bible shouldn't be there? If the latter, is this aproblem with the footnotes? My NKJV often says that "Older manuscripts do not include this verse" or something similar in the footnotes -- is the NKJV out as well??
I DO, however, like the resolution to charge online students the same as residence students at SBC seminaries.
April 26, 2008
One of the things I noticed about the Building Bridges conference is that the speakers represented a broad range of opinions, and not all of them were Calvinists or favorable to Calvinism. Non-Calvinists presented on reasons that they were concerned with the increase in Calvinism in the SBC; Calvinists presented on why they thought that was a good thing. Theology was discussed, alternate viewpoints were presented, and a healthy debate was encouraged. Above all, cooperation was emphasized -- the last two sessions were on "Working Together To Make Christ Known." AND each session is available (for free) on the internet, to encourage the discussion to continue.
The John 3:16 Conference looks to be a fisking of the five points of Calvinism. I don't see any Calvinists listed as speakers, just the assertion that "This conference is not going to be a "Let's bash the Calvinists" conference. This conference is going to be a biblical and theological assessment of and response to 5-point Calvinism." It appears pretty one-sided in it's scope. And "There will be no live or archived audio or video of this conference via the Internet."
That is disappointing. It shows me that discussion and debate is not going to be encouraged in this conference - it's going to be a lot of "Here's what we say, you'd better learn it and learn to repeat it, because we're smarter than you are." It reminds me of the problems with the Ascol-White/Caner debate that was scheduled last year, that fell through at the very last minute.
People on both sides of the debate were encouraged by the Patterson/Mohler discussion at the Pastor's Conference at the SBC in Greensboro. There was potential there that both sides could learn to work together, and stop vilifying and misrepresenting each other. It looks to me like the John 3:16 Conference represents a giant step backwards.
January 30, 2008
There is a resolution that has been forwarded to the SBC Executive Committee that would call for a vote on Burleson's continued service. That vote promised to be a pretty divisive and potentially rowdy vote, and at least now that controversy will not happen.
I am disappointed that Pastor Burleson's apology was not accepted. Having read the text at his blog, I think that it demonstrates his willingness to work within the system to effect any change he feels is needed. It looks to me like the Executive Committee of the IMB felt that anything short of apologizing for his disagreement with the IMB policies was not a sufficient apology, and that is unfortunate. I also think that this decision has the potential of making Burleson a sort of martyr to many of his supporters in the SBC -- though not as much potential as the resolution that sought to remove him as trustee.
Ironically, I had just told my wife about that resolution, and told her that Indianapolis would be interesting. We're looking forward to getting to go to the convention this year -- it will be our first since Atlanta. Maybe it will be quieter after all.
December 17, 2007
First up is Ed Stetzer's brief post concerning the use of Lifeway's research in the program. Swain Miller makes the statement that "LifeWayÂ… this past summer... did a surveyÂ… and they reported that 51% of Southern Baptist pastors believe in speaking in tongues as one of the giftsÂ… The truth is that there are more than half, I believe, of Southern Baptist pastors, anonymously surveyedÂ… said they practice a private prayer language... but they were anonymous about it." If you read Lifeway's research, it doesn't make any assertion of personal practice on the part of anyone who participated. Only the beliefs of the people surveyed are mentioned. I think this is important because while someone may feel that tongues is a valid gift for today, they may or may not speak in tongues themselves. It's a distinction that is missing, I think, from the broadcast.
The second post I noted today is from Tim Rodgers at SBCToday. I think both of his illustrations are important for us to keep in mind -- especially the second, involving a fight between brothers.
Family fights can be very painful. It gets even more painful when the fight is brought out into public, and is even encouraged by people outside the family (who won't ever BE members of the family). And that's what happened on TBN last week. There has been a family squabble in the SBC over private prayer languages and tongues. We're dealing with it as a family. But now some members of the family have brought in folks from outside to try to end the fight -- and end it in their favor. The people they're bringing in aren't Southern Baptists, and don't 'have a dog in the fight.' But, to quote Richard Hogue at the very beginning of the segment, "I love a good controversy, don't you?" The purpose of the entire segment is to feed off controversy.
I have to confess, I enjoy heated debate and discussion. And as I've mentioned before, I have in the past sought out controversy for its own sake. So I can relate to Hogue's perspective on the issue. But one thing that I learned long ago is that when you seek out controversy for its own sake, or for the sake of your own enjoyment of controversy, nothing is resolved -- in fact, resolution is the exact opposite of what you want. You want the controversy, the conflict -- it's an adrenaline rush to be involved in something controversial.
That's why many people blog -- for the controversy. For the rush, the feedback, the attention (measured in trackbacks and comments, of course). But that attitude doesn't solve anything. Hogue's statement at the outset of the program set the tone, and it was clear from the beginning that the controversy would continue.
It was also clear that only one side of the debate would ever be presented. It's TBN, after all -- why would they bring on some cessationists to defend their position? Instead, the SBC is painted as a group that is trying to silence the voice of God in our generation, which is far from the truth. That kind of sentiment doesn't solve the problems that he SBC does have -- it simply sensationalizes a minor divide for others' entertainment and amusement.
It must be pleasant for the folks at TBN to have no controversies or conflicts of their own to deal with, that they have to entertain themselves by capitalizing on the disagreements of other Christians.
December 13, 2007
At the time, I was one of the people upset with the trustees. I really had more of a problem with the idea of "alien baptism" than with the prayer language issue -- I wasn't baptized in a Southern Baptist church (it was FAR more conservative than any SBC church I've ever been in, actually), and I really thought that the trustees were trying to pass judgment on the validity of someone's conversion. I didn't view private prayer language as a really serious issue in the SBC, and I really still don't.
I do, however, have a philosophical and theological problem with the modern charismatic movement. Their tendency to place priority on personal experience over Biblical truth concerns me greatly -- there is so much potential for drastic theological error in a system where there is no accountability. How can anyone pass judgment on the validity of someone else's experience if those experiences aren't subject to Scriptural standards? I'm not a hardcore advocate of the Regulatory Principle, but I think that Scripture has to be the norm in our worship and practice. If I'm doing something in worship that is not Scriptural, I expect that my fellow believers will rebuke me and let me know the problem. They can't do that if my experience is the ultimate point of reference for my own spiritual life. more...
December 03, 2007
James Forbes, pastor emeritus of the Riverside Church in New York, is among those who will preach at the event. Riverside is jointly affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA and the United Church of Christ. It was founded in the 1920s by John Rockefeller as a monument to liberal Protestantism in New York City and has remained prominent in the nationÂ’s theological and political affairs ever since.
The SBC has finally rid itself of liberalism, though there are still some left-leaning moderate elements. Why would we want to revisit all the turmoil and controversy of the past 25 years? The NBF numbers among it's leadership notable Baptists such as former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, both of whom have made clear their position on the SBC as it currently stands. Neither are friends of the resurgence, so why should the SBC be anything but wary of a group they are leading?
August 27, 2007
One of my problems is that in this area, public schools offer the best educational opportunities around. There are a couple church-run Christian schools, but from what I've heard about them, I'm not impressed. Home schooling is not an option yet -- we're trying to get rid of some of our old debt, so we can't home school right now, though that may be an option in the future. We are working with our daughter at home, which we always have done and will continue to do.
My other problem is more nation-wide. There is a lack of good, high-quality, affordable Christian education in many parts of the country. And I've called on the SBC to work on this problem -- we've got a national infrastructure in place for disaster relief, global missions, etc. We can set up something to help our local associations and state conventions to set up Christian schools throughout their area. These schools should be inexpensive, and academically rigorous. We've got the ability to set up a school "system" similar to the Catholic church's parochial school system. We can make a difference, if we try. We owe it to our kids.
Southeastern Seminary is starting something that I hope spreads throughout the SBC. They've had a masters in education administration for 10 years now, though it's probably one of the least popular programs, I'm sure. The rest of our seminaries need to follow suit, and we need to tell people what we're doing, and why. If we are serious about the need to reform education, then we need to step up to the plate.
Parents should never have to make the choice between a Christian education and a quality academic education.
August 17, 2006
June 23, 2006
Resolved: Baptism is necessary in the life of the believer for the sake of the believerÂ’s spiritual growth; it is a result of the Holy SpiritÂ’s work in the second birth, not a cause. When we make Baptism into anything else Â– like a measure of the effectiveness of our evangelism, or a repeated ritual from which we derive pleasure or reassurance Â– we make baptism into a fraud and dishonor God.
June 13, 2006
Day One saw an historic presidential election. Three men, all conservative, committed to Biblical inerrancy, ran a good race. One man, supported by many outside of the normal "sphere of influence" won over 50% of the votes on the first ballot, which many doubted would happen. Frank Page defeated "establishment" candidate Ronnie Floyd and Jerry Sutton, who many thought was intended to draw votes away from Page. Sutton and Floyd split half the vote, and Page went on to win.
It's refreshing for me as a Southern Baptist to have an election where there is more than one option -- and more than one option that I would have been happy with. The days of "conservaitve candidate vs. moderate candidate" are gone, for now at least. We can fine-tune the direction we want the SBC to go in, and that is a very healthy thing.
One vote that didn't get a lot of blogging attention today was the WMU issue. The Executive Committee, as I understand it, wanted the WMU to become a Southern Baptist entity, similar to Lifeway and Guidestone, rather than an auxiliary as it is now. I'm not sure why that was brought forward -- the WMU is doing wonderful things for the SBC as it is, and there would be no real benefit to it becoming an official entity. It would also have caused some problems internally with the WMU, as they would have had to drastically change the way they operate. I'm not sure that anyone at the convention outside of the Executive Committee was in favor of the motion, and it went down in flames pretty quickly. If anyone understands the rational behind the motion, please leave a comment, or email me (address is on the right sidebar).
This promises to be an exciting year for the SBC. I'm hoping that after Greensboro we can all unite and purpose to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
But I've been interested in this race, just because one of the candidates is someone who I'd love to have seen run for president, but who chose not to. I really think Mark Dever would have made an outstanding president.
But he's not going to be Veep, either. Dever and pastor Jimmy Jackson advanced to a second ballot, where Jackson edged Dever by just a few votes (1107-1030).
Tip o' the hat to Thoughts and Adventures for the update on this vote. I'll be referencing them a lot during the convention, as they seem to be pretty reliably live-blogging, and their posts are coming through the RSS feed. For some reason, I'm not getting Marty Duren's blog in my RSS reader -- have to check on that one.
Bobby Welch reminded everyone present that Dr. Page is the president of the entire convention, not just his 50.48%, and that we are striving for unity among Southern Baptists even as we celebrate our diversity.
I'll have more about the blogging reaction to Dr. Page's election later this evening. I head out in about twenty minutes and will be out with my pastor on visitation this evening until probably 8 or so.
Congratulations to Dr. Page.
June 12, 2006
The one breakout session that has garnered the most blogging attention so far has been (duh!) the Mohler/Patterson "debate" on Calvinism. Agent Tim has a really good outline, as does Scott Lamb. Dr. Mohler participated just one day after emergency surgery on his eyes -- he told us in Systematic Theology that he has an eye disorder that requires him to wear two contacts in each eye, so I'm sure that the surgery was somehow related to that. Word from Ryan DeBarr (who isn't blogging the convention, but called me to fill me in on the Pastor's Conference) is that Dr. Mohler arrived wearing dark sunglasses which the doctors told him he had to wear all the time. He removed them on the platform. Someone needs to tell Dr. Mohler to take care of himself, and listen to the doctors!
Others who are blogging the convention are Wade Burleson (of course), Joe Thorn, Steve Weaver, Marty Duren, and Steve McCoy. As I find others, I'll post 'em here. If you find some I missed, let me know!
June 10, 2006
And I'm stuck at home.
I'd planned on going this year, because I think that there are going to be some important votes come up. I really wanted to go to the Pastor's Conference this year, because there are some outstanding sessions being held (including the Mohler/Patterson discussion on Calvinism and Arminianism). But finances won't allow me -- we can't afford to miss work to go down, especially with a baby on the way.
There are plenty of Southern Baptist bloggers headed down that way, though not all of them will be blogging the convention. I'll have links to what they have to say, and as I have a chance to watch the streaming video of the convention, I'll have my own comments, too.
I think it's a great reflection on the SBC that we've got three men running for president this year, each supported by some very distinguished SBC members. This year's election will be more than just rubber-stamping a candidate that "everyone knows will win." I think that's one thing that has always bothered me with the SBC elections -- it never seemed like there was a real choice.
The fact is, Southern Baptists are pretty unified in their basic theology. We have disagreements about peripheral issues, but we all start with the basic premise of the inerrancy and infalibility of the Bible, the sovereignty of God, and the sufficiency of Christ's atonement. We agree on (dare I say it?) the "fundamentals." But that doesn't mean we agree on everything. Our biggest problem right now is making sure that we don't make the peripherals into hills on which to stand (or die). We can agree to disagree, and still work together.
April 17, 2006
April 11, 2006
There's a valuable resource over at 12 Witnesses (note to self -- get this one added to the aggregator). Just check out the side links (right sidebar) and look at the SBC Primer posts he's got listed.
These posts are also good primers for anyone who is interested or curious. The SBC is a huge "denomination," and it might be a good idea for people to know how things are (and aren't) done.
God willing, I'll be blogging the convention this year. It will be my second national convention (I was at the Atlanta convention in 1999, after being a Southern Baptist for only about a year).
March 29, 2006
Â“We really got started on this two years ago, way before Wade Burleson or anything like that,Â” Smith told the Southern Baptist TEXAN in a phone interview March 23, referring to the Oklahoma trustee whose board status was in question until the boardÂ’s vote March 22 to rescind an earlier action requesting his removal. Â“We ourselves said we need something (drafted) in a concise way for being accountable when attending meetings and being faithful (as trustees).Â”So this has been sitting for two years, and RIGHT NOW, just after the whole controversy, it's passed and implimented immediately -- even though many trustees expressed concern about voting for or against a document that they had only received the night before.
Why the rush? It's obvious to everyone watching what the rush was -- "we have a problem we need to take care of ASAP, before it gets out of hand."
Later in the article, Smith says that "we just do not want continuous open criticism." I think that a measure that effectively turns the trustee board into a group of yes men will certainly ensure that trustees don't criticise. It also means that nobody will pay any attention to what the trustees say publically about a decision ever again. It means that we're going to have to look at things for ourselves.
An new SBC, full of people who take an interest in what is going on at the national convention level? Who are involved and vocal? Who knows what we might be able to accomplish when we ALL are involved in the process. I'm starting to think that the IMB trustees have done us a favor.
March 23, 2006
His 'Ten Terrific Things'has encouraged me, especially this point:
(3). Bloggers other than trustees are now going to do all they can to be at the important meetings of the IMB.
(4). I met 20 young people for the first time who attended the IMB meeting simply to ATTEND. Not to be appointed, not to see family, but to simply ATTEND. When is the last time that many young adults attended the IMB meeting for no official reason but to participate in missions at the grass roots level.
(5). This participation of young adults in the Southern Baptist Convention is exciting. The SBC has long needed involvement from the generation of evanglical, missional minded young peole from our convention.
A message has been sent to the "power brokers" at the IMB: we're watching you. You cruised along below the radar for a long time, but that time is over. You've muzzled Wade Burleson with this new policy, but it doesn't matter. The things he would have talked about on his blog will be talked about anyway, by folks like Marty Duren and many others. The action by the board has sparked action by people who may otherwise have simply cruised along, paying no attention to the politics in the convention.
The light is on. We're watching.
March 22, 2006
I wish I had never heard about the IMB trustees' efforts to silence Wade Burleson, to the point of actually seeking his removal from the board of trustees.
I wish .... but I did hear. And what I found out today grieves me even more.
A proposed new conduct guide for IMB trustees. A proposed manual that would state " ... trustees are to speak in positive and supportive terms as they interpret and report on actions by the Board, regardless of whether they personally support the action."
In other words, the average Southern Baptist shouldn't know that there are people who disagree with "established policy." And the rest of the world shouldn't think that there are Southern Baptists who would actually disagree with said established policy.
Well, guess what? The rest of the world holds a pretty low opinion of Southern Baptists already -- something about us being a bunch of Jesus freaks or something. And the average Southern Baptist needs to know what is going on where their money is being spent. Without Bro. Burleson's dissent, nobody would have known what was going on -- maybe that's the intention. Keep the proles in the dark.
This is a gag order. It's no secret who this is designed to silence, and Wade Burleson is a man of enough integrity that he will abide by the board's decision, to the extent that he won't air his disagreements if the new manual is adopted.
I've seen groups run by 'yes men' before. Growing up in IFB land, I saw men of integrity, but I also saw men who were afraid to condemn the actions of certain "Men of God" when they were wrong. They didn't want to be kicked out of the camp -- one thing you'll find out quickly is that the I in IFB may stand for Independent, but it doesn't always mean independent. There are camps and cliques, and you don't want to be in the wrong one. So you put up a front, and deny that there are any problems -- at least in public.
We need principled dissent. Baptists have historically been the voices of principled dissent. And now we are going to lose that. We are going to stifle that voice so we can shore up a facade of unity that everybody knows isn't there to begin with.
Who are we trying to kid? We are not fooling anybody, not even ourselves. Vacating the Board of Trustees of the IMB now seems like a reasonable solution.
March 02, 2006
The Most Excellent Way is a blog by IMB trustee Jerry Corbaley. According to Marty Duren, he was the person who sent the trustees into Executive Session shortly before the motion to remove Wade Burleson was made, so he should bring the other side of the story to the blogosphere at last.
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