Entries Tagged as ''

Is the Southern Baptist Convention Coming to an End?

If you're reading this, then you probably read blogs regurlarly. And if you have been reading the blogs out there, you know that Southern Baptist life is experiencing some growing pains. If you aren't familiar with what's happening in SBC life, here is a short summary.

The first area of controversy is over spiritual gifts. What's this mean? Well some believe that all of the gifts that the Holy Spirit gave to the 1st century believers are still being given to believers in the 21st century. The main gift being discussed is referred to as a private prayer language. They base their belief on Romans 8:26. Others believe that this gift is no longer being given to believers. And many in this second group believe that the idea of a "private prayer language" was not even present in the 1st century church. They would say that the former group is misinterpreting Romans 8:26 and other passages.

The controversy has intensified through events involving the trustees of the International Mission Board and a trustee of Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary. About a year ago, the trustees of the IMB moved to make it impossible for a believer who practices a "private prayer language" to go onto the mission field through the IMB. The problem came about when one of the IMB trustees, Wade Burleson, voiced his disagreement to this line of action on his blog, thereby betraying a confidentiality agreement he had made. Since then, he has apologized and continued to voice his disagreement through his blog. The other event took place when pastor Dwight McKissic, a trustee of SWBTS, spoke about his support for "private prayer languages" in SWBTS's chapel. His message was censored by SWBTS because they did not want to provide a message that was advocating something that they believe to be errant. They did not want people to think that they supported McKissic's position.

Recently, the Criswell Theological Review, a publication of Criswell College, devoted a whole issue of their journal to this topic. Along with this, across the blogosphere, there has been much discussion over the issue and the actions taken surrounding the issue.

The second main area of controversy has to do with a view of salvation called Calvinism. Calvinism is a set of beliefs that looks at Scripture and concludes that God chose certain people to trust Jesus before the foundation of the world without looking at anyone's actions, that man is unable to believe in Christ without God's help because of his sin, that the death of Christ was intended only for those whom God chose to save by faith through Christ, that man cannot ultimately resist the work of the Spirit when the Spirit wants to regenerate him, and that those who truly believe have a salvation that is secured by God so that they are unable to turn from him ultimately. Those who hold these beliefs are called Calvinists. Their beliefs are not at odds with evangelism and missions. In fact, some of the most missions minded Southern Baptists have been Calvinists. Then there are those who reject some of these beliefs. Usually, Southern Baptists who reject these beliefs only reject to one, two, or three of them. Next, there are the Hyper-Calvinists. This is a group that rejects evangelistic and missionary efforts because they believe that they conflict with God's work in the world. Finally, there is a group called Arminians. They reject all five of the points put forth by Calvinists. For them, the believer's salvation is never secure and man does not need any help believing in Christ.

Most of the people caught in this controversy find themselves in one of the first two groups mentioned. And even though this is true, many times people from both groups will accuse the other group of holding to the non-biblical views of Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism. This, of course, makes neither party very happy.

Finally, there is the controversy surrounding the blogosphere. While it is not inherently wrong to keep a weblog, many "bloggers" use their blogs for wrong. And so you'll find many bloggers slandering their brothers in Christ on their blogs. Along with this, you'll find ranting, bitterness, and anger on these blogs. One such example comes from Memphis, TN. At one of the most prominent churches in the SBC, Bellevue Baptist Church, which has 30,000 members, a deacon has used his blog and many other venues to voice his problems with the pastor of the church, Steve Gaines. So, like many other bloggers, he ignores Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians 6:7, 8, and shames the church in the world's eyes. Why? In disagreement with Paul, he'd rather make the church of Christ look like a bunch of lost people than suffer wrong.

And because of all of this, many are throwing their hands up and leaving the SBC. This has left many scared about the future of the SBC. Many are worried about what the future looks like like for the SBC. Are you? Are you thinking about leaving?

Let me just say that I am not. I'm not scared and I'm not leaving. And, no, I'm not saying this because I come from a family that is Southern Baptist. I'm not saying this because I think the SBC is perfect. I'm saying this because I believe that the Southern Baptist Convention is the best thing going. It is the most biblical thing going. The missions effort is not the best possible effort there could be, but it is the best thing around. The seminary effort is not the best possible soluation for theological education, but it is the best around. And while many will continue to scream and complain, I know that they will continue to go and study at Southern Baptist seminaries. I know that they will continue to send their children to Southern Baptist seminaries.

And I also think it is important to point out that most Southern Baptists, young and old, aren't going anywhere. You don't hear about these guys and girls. They just wake up each morning and go out and do their best to point people towards Christ. You won't hear about their faithfulness on most blogs. You won't read their every decision on the news. But one day, as we stand with our Christ on a new creation, it will be clear that no disagreement, no controversy, could stop God from bringing about his promises in Christ. And we'll know who these brothers and sisters are. 

Am I saying we shouldn't engage thoughtfully in these controversies? No, of course not. But I am saying that as do engage, we should do so remembering that our ruling king Jesus has his eye on every word we write on our blogs. He has his eye on every step we take. And at the end of the day, because of Christ everything will be alright. Put your alarm away. Put your bitterness away. And let's seek to lift up the name of Jesus in our neighborhoods and our villages. The Southern Baptist Convention has seen something like this before. Unfortunately, I'm sure it'll see it again. But somehow, out of God's grace, the SBC continues to be a means by which God is saving the world. and that's worth blogging about.       

Georgia Elisabeth Finn has Arrived!

Georgia was finally born in the early hours of Saturday morning, at about 4:18 AM. She weighed 7 pounds, 5 ounces, and was 20.5 inches long. She is also drop-dead gorgeous. We appreciate all the prayers over these past several months. Parenting is an awesome responsibility, and we look very forward to leaning on God's grace in the coming years as we seek to raise little Georgia in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. I will try to post a picture or two in a few days.