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Dr. Rainer (pt. 2)

LogoDr. Rainer addresses some of the issues facing the SBC, offers advice to young ministers, and weighs in on the new look Crimson Tide.


SBW: What is the most pressing issue facing the Southern Baptist Convention?


Simply stated, the SBC is in danger of dying. Our baptisms have not increased appreciably since 1950, even though we have more than twice as many members today. We must have a passion for doctrine. We must be relevant. And we must repent of our sins of evangelistic apathy. I am praying that God will break my heart for the lostness of humanity, and that I will be "unable to stop speaking about what [I] have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20).

SBW: What is your opinion about controversial issues like Calvinism,"emerging churches," and the role of the BF&M (Garner Resolution)?

Rather than re-enter the debate about each issue individually, my desire is for Southern Baptists to discuss these issues, even disagree about these issues, without being caustic and disagreeable. It seems like much of our debate is often more focused on castigating others than having a disagreement in a spirit of Christ-like love. I have a long way to go with my walk with the Lord, but I pray regularly that the words I write and the words I speak will be edifying and wholesome, even if I disagree with someone.

SBW: LifeWay Research recently published a study on tongues and PPL. That got a good deal of press. Why was that topic chosen? Were you surprised at the stir that it caused?

The survey on tongues was a part of an annual omnibus study that LifeWay has conducted for several years. Each year LifeWay has selected five or six key issues or items of current interest in the SBC and then formed a survey to determine attitudes, beliefs, practices, etc. related to these "hot topics". In the planning of the 2007 omnibus study, the issue of private prayer language was determined to be one of the top six issues of major interest and dialogue in the SBC. While I was not surprised at the stir it caused, I was surprised that the tone of the responses were pretty heated. I really expected our Calvinism study to create a greater stir, but the results did not seem to bother most Southern Baptists. I do regret the timing of the release, right before the Southern Baptist Convention. When we finally got the results, the convention was right upon us. I knew that I would be questioned if I released them at that point, right before the convention, or if I made the decision to hold them until after the SBC met. I am grieved at the divisiveness the study caused, and I take full responsibility for that.

SBW: What are some practical tips for encouraging church members to embrace sharing the gospel? What is THE most important factor in seeing this happen?

We say that we believe in the power of prayer. We say that we believe the Bible teaches us to share our faith. Why don't we then pray for opportunities to share the gospel with the lost and the unchurched? I have seen churches where the members truly take that challenge, and the church is revolutionized evangelistically.

SBW:What advice would you offer to seminarians and young pastors?

Be men of prayer. Practice humility. Love and tend to your family. Love the church. Initiate change in the church in a way that does not destroy the church. Preach the Word. Practice evangelism before you preach evangelism. Listen to others; you may be surprised at where you find true wisdom.

SBW: Does the Crimson Tide have a hope this fall? Favorite type of BBQ?

My favorite BBQ is pulled pork. And there is a vicious rumor circulating that I don't like anything green on my plate, That's not true. I like lime sherbet. The Saban-led Crimson Tide will improve in 2007, but it will be two or three years before the Tide is truly back. But . . . I do believe! Roll Tide!