My Own Clarification

This might as well be considered a series. Don’t usually do that. However, Smooth posted a wrap-up to his posts that I’ve previously mentioned. I just want to respond to one point of his wrap-up.

Clarification #3: When I say that I’m done with the SBC, I mean that I’m done fighting for it and identifying with it. I don’t hate the convention. I don’t harbor any resentment towards the churches, church members, committee members, and Directors of Ph.D. studies, etc. who have intentionally marginalized me, belittled me, or treated me unfairly. Contrary to what Rev. Palmer may think, I can say with some certainty that you will never find me holding a position within the SBC. I don’t mean that I am against the SBC or think that they are evil as my good buddy John seems to think I mean. It may, however, be beyond saving. History will tell.

I think I wasn’t clear. I don’t think Smooth is against the SBC or thinks it’s evil. I meant he’s through with it (as he said) and many who say that they are through with it are counting it off as useless and others are evil. Smooth never has said that, but I’ve read it in quite a few blogs of people who have “jumped off the ledge” of leaving the SBC.

Journey still gives money to the Cooperative Program. As the senior leadership team here at Journey we decided to give to the Cooperative Program as a means of contributing to missions and supporting conservative theological training. We do not, however, identify ourselves as Southern Baptists, and you will not find any of us serving on this or that committee or going to this or that convention fighting for a voice. We just don’t care.

I am very glad Journey gives to the Cooperative Program. This finances my seminary education in two ways: first, a portion of CP funds goes to SBC seminaries, including Southeastern. Second, since I am a member of Journey – a church giving to the CP, I get a 50% tuition reduction. That’s stinkin’ awesome. While it saddens me that “We just don’t care” about having a voice in the convention, I know that’s not the case of all members of Journey, as I am a member of Journey who cares about turning the SBC around. I may be the only one, but that’s OK.

Why bother? Because of the missional impact the convention can have, you say? Again, I’m responsible for me. Maybe others are called to “save” the convention. But the reason that “young people are jumping ship by the thousands” and that Dr. Reid has to talk “good younger men off the ledge from leaving the SBC” is because saving the convention is not our calling.

I totally agree that we are responsible for ourselves. But one thing that I’ve learned at Journey is we are part of something bigger than ourselves. And while I also agree that the convention is not our calling, the convention, when course-corrected occasionally to line up better with God’s calling, could be used by God to help many people in many nations to know Him.

While Smooth and I may disagree regarding whether or not to have hope in the SBC, we are co-laborers in the Gospel at Journey and still somehow manage to get along. Heck, we’re even in the same small group!

And finally, lest you think this blog has become a blog about all things SBC and nothing else, I guarantee that my next post will mention absolutely nothing about that. It will probably be something theological or technical, since I love talking about that stuff. Politics? Not so much.

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