For Your Edification (6.29.12)

THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION

Highlights from the SBC 2012.  Here are a few highlights from the convention.

  • Electing Fred Luter president.  Pastor Luter (Franklin Avenue BC in New Orleans) is a gifted preacher, a faithful denominational leader, and a man of great character and passion for the gospel.  He was unanimously selected, to a room full of cheering and crying.  Here are his comments after being elected
  • Hearing excellent sermons by David Platt, Josh Smith, and Fred Luter–to name only a few.  Platt’s sermon preempted the discussion on the Sinner’s Prayer and needs to be heard in order to understand that issue–which he helped instigate earlier this year.  See his comments about why he voted for the sinner’s prayer: Sinner’s Prayer and the SBC and his entire sermon which gives us a rousing challenge to easy-believism and deceptive uses of the sinner’s prayer. Danny Akin provides a helpful follow up on the matter: The Sinner’s Prayer, David Platt, and the SBC.
  • Discussing the doctrine of salvation with charity and conviction  In the end, Frank Page, president of the executive committee, sought to lead the SBC towards consensus and put feet to his words by suggesting the that he would form a task force to research the subject.  Here is what he said about the doctrinal issues Calvinism, evangelism, and Great Commission unity.
“Calvinism is an issue amongst us,” he said. “You may or may not like that, but it is a real issue. I don’t want to shock anyone in this room, but I am not a Calvinist. I am not. I know that shocks you. But I want to tell you this: A lot of our people are.”According to a recent LifeWay Research poll, more than 60 percent of Southern Baptists said they were concerned about Calvinism in the convention, Page noted.

“Friends, I’m concerned because there seems to be some non-Calvinists who are more concerned about rooting out Calvinists than they are about winning the lost for Christ,” he said. “Did I tell you I’m not a Calvinist? But I am not among that number.”

Some Calvinists, Page said, “seem to think that if we do not believe the same thing about soteriology that they believe then somehow we are less intelligent or ignorant at best.”

“I simply say to you today that it’s time to realize that a Great Commission Advance needs everyone. A Great Commission Advance needs everyone,” he reiterated. “Calvinists and non-Calvinists have worked together for decade upon decade upon decade in this convention.”

Page confirmed again that he plans to assemble a group of advisers to help chart a way through the division surrounding Calvinism. That will not include revising the Baptist Faith and Message, Southern Baptists’ statement of beliefs, he said. 

“I do believe we can find some ways to work together better, and I believe that the leaders of both of these groups can come together to say, ‘Here’s how we can return to working together like once we did,'” Page said.

  • Hearing a compelling message from Tom Nettles on the history of the Southern Baptist Convention at the Founder’s Breakfast.
  • Listening to three seminary presidents (Patterson, Mohler, and Akin) discuss the history and future of the SBC at the Baptist 21 Lunch.
  • Seeing friends, eating beignets, and being with my family were all great parts of the SBC experience in New Orleans.
All in all, the SBC was well worth the miles logged to travel there and back.  I am encouraged about the kind of discussions that were had there.  They are serious and sometimes heated but they engage the most important aspects of salvation and evangelism.  May God be pleased to continue to use Southern Baptists to dig into the Bible and reach the lost for Christ.

BIBLE & THEOLOGY

New Birth Portraits. In an attempt to explain what the “new birth” is to a culture that wrongly understood the idea of “born-again,” Redeemer Presybterian Church has come up with an “art gallery” of well-done testimonies of men and woman who have experienced the New Birth.  If you are wondering what it means to be born again, I encourage you to check them out; or if you are a pastor who is looking to explain the new birth, this would be a very helpful model of good “new birth” testimonies.

A Conversation with Fred Sanders.  Four years ago, I was given the task of selecting one book on the trinity to read and review.  Without knowing who Fred Sanders was, I selected his book, The Image of the Immanent Trinitywhich was the published version of his dissertation.  It was thoughtful, faithful, and expositional treatment of the biblical doctrine of the Trinity, as it related to Rahner’s Rule, “the economic trinity is the immanent trinity, and vice versa.”

More recently, Fred Sanders who blogs regularly at Scriptorium Daily has written a popular-level work, The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything, that I have not read, but have hear good things about.  Long story short, Dr. Sanders is a well-read, well-respected theologian who contests Calvinism’s five strips of bacon.  Recently, John Starke interviewed Fred about his theological beliefs, and why he is not a Calvinist.  The discussion is friendly, humor-filled, and warm.  It models conversation across this doctrinal divide; and it shows Calvinists who doubt the biblical faithfulness and God-centeredness of Wesleyan theologians that there are such pastor-theologians out there. Sanders is one of them.  Though, I might disagree with his reading of Romans 9, I encourage you to read Sanders works and this interview.

FAMILY, LIFE, & MINISTRY

Vote as Though You are Not Voting. In 2008, John Piper wrote thoughtful and wise piece on voting.  Taking his cues from 1 Corinthians 7:29-31, he encourages Christians to vote with seriousness but not with ultimate seriousness. Since Americans participate in the governmental process–i.e. we corporately hold the sword given to the state (Rom 13:1-7), we ought to labor to govern well.  However, since the world is passing away and the most important things are unseen, we must hold our marriages, our goods, our joys, our possessions, and our ballots with a loose grip.  Most of us care too much or too little about politics, so Piper’s meditation is a helpful corrective.

For Your Edification and mine, dss

One thought on “For Your Edification (6.29.12)

  1. If I may at the risk of being ‘labeled’ as we are so prone to do in the SBC – – it matters very little whether you agree with me or I agree with you. For 42 years God has graced my life with the glorious privilege of immersing myself in the study of the original languages and using these and other tools the study of Scripture which is His word to man. He has taken me to 27 countries training national leaders in Burma, Nepal, Mongolia, Haiti, Russia, Mexico, Argentina, China, etc. etc.

    What really matters is does what we claim to believe, and might I add practice, – – does what I embrace agree with what the text says. I am grieved when I hear some characterize this effort as “fighting”. What? Paul commanded Titus (1:9 & 2:1) to teach sound doctrine and refute those who contradict it. That is not fighting, that is doing what Jesus commanded. I realize that there may be some whose attitudes and methodology are less than irenic and gracious but please do not label everyone who appeals for precision as fighting.

    Example – There is no such word in John 3:16 correctly translated ‘whosoever’. Just saying that in some circles makes me a candidate for execution. John 3:16 does not teach that God loved the world so much. The first word in the text is ‘outos. This is an adverb of manner and it points the reader back to verses 14&15 – – in this manner God loved the world etc. etc. We claim to embrace the full inspiration and authority of Scripture yet comprise that conviction by sloppy exegesis which distorts and corrupts God’s message. Further, those who do appeal for precise exegesis are charged with being unconcerned for evangelism etc.

    When we always do what we have always done we will always get what we have always got! When will the SBC measure Transformation instead of numbers. What an organization measures is a clear and unambiguous reflection of what they value. What does the SBC measure? Numbers – Attendance, Offerings & Baptisms. The GC’s singular command is to MAKE DISCIPLES. What you do not define you cannot measure. When will the ACP measure Transformed Disciples? When will we stop pretending we have 16 million members. We and the whole world knows that is not true. God loves integrity and humility (Isa. 66:1-2) Perhaps if we collectively humble ourselves, tell the truth about who and where we are our gracious merciful God will visit us with His Presence and Power. Praying and laboring to that end.

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