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

Religion

I heard something interesting tonight in my philosophy class. Like you probably have, I’ve heard that Christianity is not a religion, its a relationship. Those who say that are right to distinguish Christianity from other belief systems. I always thought of religion as something you do “religiously,” ie. pray five times a day or the like. I never looked up the word, though. Here’s what the dictionary says:

Religion (re – li – gion)    noun

the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods

ORIGIN Middle English (originally in the sense [life under monastic vows]): from Old French, or from Latin religio(n-) ‘obligation, bond, reverence,’ perhaps based on Latin religare ‘to bind.’

To build on what my philosophy professor said tonight (Dr. Evans), if you’re a Christian and not bound, you better get bound! Further, I don’t think you can be a Christian if you are not bound to Christ. That’s kind of the definition.

Now, I do agree with distinguishing the dichotomy between religious ritual and, as Pastor Jimmy says, “a relationship with the God of the universe.” That is the difference between Christianity and all other belief systems in the world.

What is Counseling?

Since I am pursuing a Master of Divinity with Biblical Counseling, I figured I should write on counseling a little. Almost everyone goes to counselors / psychologists / psychiatrists now days. Why is this? Why do people go to these particular people with their problems? Because they tell us that they can fix us. Why don’t people take their problems to churches? Because when they do, many times the pastors themselves send them to these self-proclaimed specialists. Shouldn’t the pastors provide counsel from the Bible, instead of trusting in man-made advice that doesn’t even take into account the dichotomy (inner man and outer man) or trichotomy (body, soul, and spirit) of man and is instead anthropologically monistic. If all there is to man is man, and no spiritual side, then psychotherapy is fine. But, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. (II Corinthians 5:17) Just remember, all Scripture is God-breathed. (II Timothy 3:16-17)

You may think I’m crazy writing about how pastors should be counseling their people, since I’m majoring in counseling. Actually, I write this precisely for this reason. Counseling, when done in a biblical context, takes place in the local church and in a body of believers – it is not a separate entity. It employs accountability in the body and will utilize church discipline in the case of unrepentance.

Let me flesh this out a bit. Here’s how I see counseling operating within the context of the local body: 90% of the counseling is done as one-another ministry. If you have something with which you need help, you first go to your brother or sister (same sex) in Christ, and they will help you from the God’s Word. 90% of counseling would end there, as we have the Bible from which to counsel.

If there is a problem that seems too large for one-another ministry, the “another” should bring in an elder in the church. If the elder feels unqualified for a certain problem, they should bring in a counselor trained in that specific problem – from a biblical perspective. This progression is similar to church discipline. We are called to help one another and that is the method I proclaim. As 1 Thessalonians 5:14 says: “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle (or disorderly, or undisciplined), encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”