The SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) met this week in Louisville for the annual gathering. When I was a pastor, I attended these meetings with the last one being in 1995. Since they were meeting in Louisville and I now live in Louisville, I followed the events a little closer. Due to my work schedule, I was not able to attend any of the sessions (except for the final 10 minutes of the convention). I have caught up by watching the streaming videos of the business sessions.
Here are some thoughts on this convention.
1. I enjoying spending some time with Dr. Tim Hight and his wife, Dawn.
Tim is the pastor of Main Street Baptist Church in Christiansburg, VA. He is also serving as President of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia.
Tim and I first connected while at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. We were fellow pastors in Arkansas for awhile and traveled together to a few of the SBC annual meetings.
Tim is one of the few guys that knew me when I was a pastor and provided gracious aid after my fall. He has promised to write a guest post for Pulpit 2 Pew. I look forward to that. I could say much more about Tim and Dawn, but for now just know that Suzie and I really enjoyed sharing a meal with them.
2. This convention met in Louisville to coincide with the 150th Anniversary of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From J.P Boyce to Al Mohler, Southern has had an interesting and important history. I am looking forward to reading the newly released history by Greg Wills.
3. The GCR (Great Commission Resurgence) document drew most of the attention for this convention. I added my signature to the document a few weeks prior to the convention. Primarily this document affirmed basic but important theological truths such as the Lordship of Jesus over all we do. The point that drew the most focus and opposition was Article IX which is basically a call to evaluate the relationships and functions of all SBC entitities so that work and money might be more efficiently focused on the primary tasks of the Great Commission.
4. I was surprised at the vocal opposition to the evaluation process. I just could not buy into the reasons given for opposing this. In the end the vote carried by a large margin.
5. I was very disappointed by Morris Chapman‘s opposition to Article IX as well as his attack on Calvinism. Others also attacked Calvinism during the introduction of motions and business sessions. The shoddy history by one gentleman in denouncing Calvinism by linking it to primitive Baptists was atrocious.
Chapman repeatedly set up straw men and then knocked them down. His false dichotomies included:
- Learning theology versus doing evangelism.
- Loving theology versus loving Jesus.
- Lottie Moon’s mission activity versus debating theology.
What I found most interesting and inconsistent was that he belabored the point about discussing and debating theology instead of doing evangelism. His solution: discuss and debate with Johnny Hunt about Article IX and to spend a hefty amount of time debating Calvinism. I expected better from Chapman.
6. I am saddened at the rising insistence that holiness is equated with demanding everybody totally abstain from any alcoholic beverage. That is not the biblical teaching.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.
— Ephesians 5:18
This is an issue that should be treated like the meat that was offered to idols issue of the New Testament days. The Bible grants freedom to either eat or to abstain from eating depending on one’s conscience. Remember that eating this meat was allowed, but for the sake of weakness abstinance was also allowable.
7. Mark Driscoll has become the whipping boy for some in baptist life. This is unfortunate. I have benefitted greatly from Driscoll’s ministry. I don’t usually agree with most preachers on every point, but that is no need to discard the entire ministry.
Let me give you an example of Driscoll’s “cussing” that causes such alarm. I heard him answer the question of a young lady who asked what to say to a boyfriend that continued to pressure her for sex prior to a marriage commitment. Driscoll said to tell him to “go to hell.” He went on to explain that his actions were indicative of one heading in that direction. I thought it was an appropriate response to a serious issue.
I am glad to be a Southern Baptist. I hope the days ahead for the denomination and churches are strong. That hope sometimes is tempered by the legalism against which we must guard ourselves. Legalism is just as deadly as is theological liberalism. My prayer is that Baptists will be defined by more than what we are against.