Re: On the Effectiveness of Reforming from Within

My previous post inspired Smooth to comment in his own blog post. Now I’m inspired to comment on his blog post (not him eating his own toenail, either – crazy youth pastor stuff). No, his post On the Effectiveness of Reforming from Within.

Smooth quotes Baptist21 (a group of young supporters/reformers of the SBC):

We at Baptist21, along with several “older-40” pastors and leaders in our denomination highly disagree with this inaccurate portrait of Mark Driscoll and ask that you stay in our denomination and let your voice be heard. We desire to affect change in our denomination and the world by remaining focused on what matters…

and responds with

People like myself who have gotten the shaft time and time again find ourselves wondering whether there are many more than just the guys at Baptist21 and “several other ‘older-40’ pastors and leaders.”

Well, you have one working for you, man. I still have some hope for the SBC and haven’t “jumped off the ledge” of leaving the SBC yet. I’m currently attending SEBTS and am extremely encouraged by what President Danny Akin has done there and throughout the convention to further the “Great Commission Resurgence.” You can read more about it on Between the Times, a blog maintained by he and a number of other Southeastern faculty.

I think of Erasmus of Rotterdam. He lived during the reformation and even offered his own scathing reviews of the Roman Catholic Church in works such as In Praise of Folly. But he was committed to reforming from within. Erasmus, of course, has his place in history, but he essentially failed at his efforts in reforming the church. Martin Luther, likewise had thoughts of reformation from within. He finally realized, however, that if reformation was going to happen it was going to happen from without rather than from within. Much of what we have as protestants today, we owe to Martin Luther. Where would we be if he never decided to step outside the Convention… um.. I mean Catholic Church?

Erasmus didn’t succeed in reforming the Catholic Church. That is true. Luther also tried and failed to reform it. However, the SBC has been reformed recently (as Smooth alluded to) from liberal theology. There is hope. It is possible to reform it.

As my wife pointed out, Jesus came as a Jew who came for mankind. He didn’t ditch the Jews to do it, either. He used Jewish disciples to spread news about him to the rest of the world. Even though the Pharisees and Sadducees were sectarians (people not in or of the world) and syncretists (people in and of the world), and that’s all the Jews knew of religion, Jesus used those people to bring his truth to the world.

Personally, I think Erasmus was scared. Sometimes I wonder if determination to save the convention is bred not out of conviction but fear. Staying within the SBC is safe and familiar.

He may very well have been scared. And I agree; that is a bad reason not to step out. The reason I stay with the SBC is because of why they were founded – to reach the lost. The sole purpose for the founding of the SBC is to form a sending agency for foreign missionaries to which multiple churches could give (now a part of the SBC called the International Mission Board – IMB). It eventually grew to home missions (now the North American Mission Board – NAMB), higher education (now six seminaries – SBTS, SEBTS, SWBTS, MWBTS, & GGBTS), and education of everyone (now Lifeway and Baptist Press). These are categories off the top of my head, but you get my point. All these entities together do a ton of good for the kingdom. Should we just abandon them and set out a different way? Or should we guard them with the truth of Scripture and the power of the Holy Spirit and let God use the insanely powerful infrastructure that He’s been using for over 150 years? (When we release control to Him, that is.)

Brothers and sisters, the SBC is not evil. It is not beyond saving. Young people are jumping ship by the thousands. Here’s exactly what the SBC stands for (summary from wikipedia of SBC’s position statements) :

  • Priesthood of all believers—Laypersons have the same right as ordained ministers to communicate with God, interpret Scripture, and minister in Christ’s name
  • Soul competency—the accountability of each person before God
  • Creeds and confessions—Statements of belief are revisable in light of Scripture. The Bible is the final word.
  • Women in ministry—Women participate equally with men in the priesthood of all believers. Their role is crucial, their wisdom, grace and commitment exemplary. Women are an integral part of Southern Baptist boards, faculties, mission teams, writer pools, and professional staffs. The role of pastor, however, is specifically reserved for men.
  • Church and state—a free church in a free state. Neither one should control the affairs of the other.
  • Missions—We honor the indigenous principle in missions. We cannot, however, compromise doctrine or give up who we are to win the favor of those we try to reach or those with whom we desire to work.
  • Autonomy of local church—We affirm the autonomy of the local church.
  • Cooperation—The Cooperative Program of missions is integral to the Southern Baptist genius.
  • Sexuality—We affirm God’s plan for marriage and sexual intimacy—one man and one woman, for life. Homosexuality is not a valid alternative lifestyle.
  • Sanctity of life—At the moment of conception, a new being enters the universe, a human being, a being created in God’s image.

I agree with these 100%. A convention that supports these things is a great thing. That’s why I’m looking forward to the day that the convention applies the same effort to contextualizing the gospel to America as it’s working on doing contextualizing the gospel to the ends of the earth. That will truly be a wonderful day!

Humility

I recently was talking with Smooth about humility and I got to thinking. You see, recently, there was some crazy political stuff within the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention). Now, you might read this and think “Isn’t that all the SBC does, period?” And you have a point. But this particular thing was as great interest to me personally. See, recently at Southeastern (one of the six SBC seminaries), we had Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle speak in chapel and at our 20/20 Conference. Less than a week later, Baptist Press (another SBC entity) wrote a harsh and unbalanced article on Driscoll. The guys at Baptist21 have a great critique of it.

But that’s not what I’m blogging about. Regarding all this, I read this article by a former prof at Southeastern is was amazing. Dr. Alvin Reid (whom everybody calls Doc) wrote that he has a problem, and I’m going to repost all of it here. Enjoy. Continue reading

Mars Hill Church in Seattle

This article I posted on my old blog regarding a sermon series done at the beginning of 2008. I really enjoyed it.

Mark Driscoll is quickly becoming one of my favorite preachers. Recently he’s done something really interesting by creating http://askanything.marshillchurch.org/ and giving anyone in the world the ability to get a whole sermon from Mark Driscoll to answer the question. The trick is, your question then had to be voted for and be in the top nine. There were 893 questions asked, 5,524 comments made, 343,203 votes cast in the end. And now Driscoll’s preaching on this. Sort of reminiscent of Paul’s letters when he addresses concerns that were raised to him. In case you were wondering, here are the final nine questions.

  1. Do you believe that the Scripture not only regulates our theology but also our methodology? In other words, do you believe in the regulative principle? If so, to what degree? If not, why not? ( 310 comments and 25,181 votes)
  2. What can traditional/established churches learn from “emerging” churches? (168 comments and 24,642 votes)
  3. How does a Christian date righteously; and what are the physical, emotional, and mentally connecting boundaries a Christian must set while developing an intimate relationship prior to marriage? (222 comments and 21,373 votes)
  4. If salvation is by faith alone (Romans 3:28), then why are there so many verses that say or imply the opposite, namely that salvation is by works (James 2:24, Matthew 6:15 & Matthew 7:21, Galatians 5:19-21) (105 comments and 21,337 votes)
  5. How should Christian men and women go about breaking free from the bondage of sexual sin? (100 comments and 21,311 votes)
  6. Of all the things you teach, what parts of Christianity do you still wrestle with? What’s hardest for you to believe? (38 comments and 21,285 votes)
  7. Why does an all loving, all knowing, and all sovereign God will into creation people He foreknows will suffer eternal condemnation? Why does Romans 9:20 feel like a cop-out answer? (98 comments and 21,218 votes)
  8. Why do you make jokes about mormon missionaries, homosexuals, trenchcoats wearers, single men, vegans, emo kids and then expect these groups to come to know God in the same sermon? (346 comments and 21,101 votes)
  9. There’s no doubt the Bible says children are a blessing, but the Bible doesn’t seem to address the specific topic of birth control. Is this a black and white topic, or does it fall under liberties? (120 comments and 21,008 votes)

To listen or watch these messages online (or download podcasts), check out on Mars Hill Church’s website for the sermon series.