Reflections on the “Generational Issues and the SBC”

I recently watched the “Generational Issues and the SBC” Panel Q&A conducted at Southeastern Seminary and found it to be most helpful for my own thinking about the future and the present of the SBC. I will treat the four speakers alphabetically and have included the approximate starting times (according the media player at the website) of the comments I quote.

Daniel Akin: (website)

“Bottom line: if you do that [violating a signed covenant],… your issue is integrity. Basically, you’re a liar, basically you’re dishonest, basically you are disqualified for ministry…. If you give your word to do something, then keep your word.” (63:00)

How appropriate in a day when we have a young man who chose:

  1. to attend a fundamentalist school
  2. to violate the covenant of that school to take his girlfriend to the prom

…and yet wants to whine and complain about their treatment (expulsion for violating the covenant he chose to sign and violate) of him!

“I am not a fundamentalist. I am an evangelical who affirms the fundamentals.” (16:15)

I have always found Dr. Akin to be a unfiying voice in the Convention in recent years. Yet again, I would like to thank him for encouraging me to move forward with a resolution to the 2007 Convention on soteriology.

Nathan Finn: (contributor at Between the Times)

“If your Calvinism precludes you from cooperating with non-Calvinists, then you would probably be happier somewhere else. But if your Calvinism is not the primary issue for you, but maybe an important issue, but you’re willing to work with other evangelical Baptist Christians who disagree with you on the doctrines of grace, then the Southern Baptist Convention is a great place to be.” (46:00)

I appreciate your emphasis on cooperation over Calvinism. I hope that others will agree to share a unified front against the powers of Satan and not let the friendly fire of theological discussions to weaken our ranks!

JD Greear: (blog)

“Good parachurchism…exists to assist the local church in her ministry…. Bad parachurchism tries to take local ministry from the local church,…thus separating it from the context God intended to move forward…. The Southern Baptist Convention was conceived in good parachurchism and over time, many parts of it have devolved into bad parachurchism.” (18:00)

I am glad that he has made a statement, recently reinforced by the Great Commission Resurgence statement (of which he is a signatory), that the Convention may need to be tweaked to be more effective. I’m sorry, state and national entities, but the years of programmatic and redundant ministry have passed. Just as we as a denomination need to trim our personal fat, we may need to reconsider if, for instance, each state convention really needs their own retirement homes system or not.

Greear later states: Take the lead (in doing ministry) and take what you’re doing to the institutions. See how fast they get onboard and those that don’t, “will probably get left behind.” (16:45)

David Nelson: (SEBTS article)

“I don’t think the major issue facing the Southern Baptist Convention is intergenerational. I think there are two issues. I think that there are competing visions for the Convention…. I think that we don’t all agree about what the gospel is. Those are two pretty big issues that divide us.” (22:30)

Nelson goes on to describe them:

Two visions:
1) those that enjoyed the CR and would like for things to be just like it was when the CR occurred:

  • separatist stance: “Baptists have the way to do things”
  • “Christian” subculture that isn’t and distance us from those we are trying to reach with the gospel

2) more ecumenical, willing to work with like-minded groups that are not Southern Baptist

  • focused on cultural transformation or engagement
  • interested in breaking out of the subcultures we have created

Two views of the gospel
“pray a prayer and get a better life” vs. “no life apart from Christ and maybe a life of suffering in this age”

Personally, I am in the second category on both terms (and I’m pretty sure the Bible is too!). I hope that the years ahead for the SBC will be a second Resurgence and not a second Baptist Civil War. I may blog on this issue in the coming weeks, depending on the ruling of my church’s elders about my plans.

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