Entries Tagged as 'SBC'

David Dockery Reflects on the Life and Ministry of L. Russ Bush

L. Russ Bush: In Piam Memoriam

On Jan. 22, L. Russ Bush III (1944-2008), was ushered into glory. After an intense two-year battle with cancer, the Lord has called Russ home.

Russ Bush was a man who deeply loved Christ and honored His Word. I will always remember the young, dedicated philosophy professor who constantly challenged his students to do their very best.

For those who looked on from a distance, Russ Bush often seemed aloof and overly concerned with the minutia of philosophical arguments. Some thought of him as more interested in his subject matter than in his students. But for those who knew him well, this was hardly the case. His friends knew him as a soft spoken, genuinely kind, Southern gentleman, but most of all, we thought of Russ Bush as a committed Christ-follower.

Russ Bush was a faithful friend to many, a dedicated husband to Cindy and a person who deeply loved the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. His life and work were deeply rooted in "the faith, once for all delivered to all the saints" (Jude 3). He understood his calling in light of the apostolic exhortation to always be ready to provide a reason for the hope that shaped his life (1 Pet 3:15).

His lasting contribution will be the significant work on “Baptists and the Bible.” His commitment to the truthfulness and the authority of God's Word was a hallmark of all that he was and all that he did. He served as an editor over the past 20 years for the “New American Commentary.” Russ was honored by his colleagues across the evangelical world by electing him as president of Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Moreover, the administration and board of trustees at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary have provided a lasting tribute with the naming of the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture at the seminary.

No one will ever fully know all that Russ Bush did to keep the doors of Southeastern Seminary open during the turbulent years of transition in the late 1980s and early 1990s in his capacity as chief academic officer of the seminary. Southern Baptists will always owe him a great debt for his service in this key role.

I was privileged to sit in his philosophy of religion class during my first year at Southwestern Seminary. It was there that I was introduced to one of the truly fine Southern Baptist thinkers for this generation.

For the past 30 years it has been an honor to call him my friend. We have worked together on various projects through the years. Russ was a constant source of encouragement for me and countless others.

For years I always looked forward to sharing a meal with him at the Southern Baptist Convention each year. While his life has seemingly ended before we were ready, we trust God's providence and rejoice that Russ's suffering has ceased. Moreover, we give thanks that he has entered the presence of our Lord, where I am sure that he heard the words "well done, good and faithful servant." My life, along with hundreds of others, has been blessed by knowing and learning from our dear friend. On this day, we give thanks for the life and work of L. Russ Bush III.

David S. Dockery, president
Union University

Ezell Above Board on Financial Issues

The question of the SBC presidency always brings about other questions. One of the key questions has to do with the percentage that a church gives to Great Commission causes, with a particular emphasis on Cooperative Program giving. Since pastor Robert Jeffress declared his intention to nominate Dr. R. Albert Mohler for SBC president at the 'O8 convention, this question has surfaced. Fortunately for us, Pastor Kevin Ezell is the type of man who leads the type of church that is comfortable showing the SBC how they allocate their money. Let me just say how thankful I am for the generous, strategic pattern of giving that this statement reveals. 

Also, if you are new to this discussion, you might check Bart Barber's recent piece on it. It touches on some of the complexities present.  

Why Dr. Mohler for SBC President?

In case you couldn't think of any, Tony Kummer has put together a nice list of reasons why Dr. Mohler would make a great SBC president. Can you think of anymore reasons for Mohler '08? 

Mohler for President… of the SBC

Tammi Reed Ledbetter, who writes for the Southern Baptist Texan, writes about pastor Robert Jeffress' plans to nominate Dr. R. Albert Mohler for SBC president at the '08 convention. You can find the story here.

The Mission of Today’s Church

We at SBC Witness try to keep readers updated on new books related to Southern Baptists, but I have to confess we are a tad behind recently. Some interesting works have been published in the last few months, and some more are on the way. I hope to post about some of them in the next few days.

This post is dedicated to another great "newish" book from B&H Academic. The Mission of Today's Church: Baptist Leaders Look at Modern Faith Issues (B&H, 2007) is a collection of essays edited by theologian Stan Norman. The chapters include the following contributions:

"Ten Mandates for Southern Baptists" – Daniel L. Akin 

"Between Scylla and Charybdis: Reflections on the Baptist Way" – Charles S. Kelley

"The Church, Worship, and the Lord’s Supper" – David S. Dockery

"Three Views of the Church’s Mission in the Black Community" – James Jenkins

"Explaining the Gospel to Kids" – Charles L. Quarles

"The Missional Nature of the Church and the Future of Southern Baptist Convention Churches" – Ed Stetzer

"Together We Grow: Congregational Polity as a Means of Corporate Sanctification" – R. Stanton Norman

"Congregational Polity and Its Strategic Limitations" – Jerry Sutton

"Being Salt and Light in a Post-Christian Culture" – Barret Duke

"Cooperation among Southern Baptist Churches as Set Forth in Article 14 of the Baptist Faith and Message" - Jim Richards

"Toward a Theology of Cooperation" – Chad Owen Brand

"Salvation and the Sovereignty of God: The Great Commission a the Expression of the Divine Will" – Kenneth D. Keathley

This one is well worth taking a look at. I would also heartily recommend Norman's books More than Just a Name and The Baptist Way, both of which are also published by B&H (I have used the latter in my Baptist History and Identity classes).

Another One Bites the Dust…

Belmont UniversityIn case you missed it, another Baptist institution has been lost. Tim Ellsworth reports that Belmont University and the Tennessee Baptist Convention reached an $11 million settlement, which is better than the original $5 million that was offered. I think it is sad to see another university born and raised by Baptists wind up in the hands of another.

You can find the story here. 

Millennials, the SBC, and a Pastor’s Insight

Dr. YorkDr. Hershael York, pastor and professor, just posted an insightful piece concerning the current tensions in the SBC. A lot of it has to do, of all things, with the year SBCer's were born. Dr. York observes: 

Last night CBC's 60 Minutes ran a fascinating piece about Millennials, the generation born between 1980 and 1995. Though geared toward their impact on corporate America, I could not help but notice parallels to the current tensions and lines that have been drawn in the SBC. Guys like me, who grew up admiring and emulating the Adrian Rogers and Jerry Vines generation, are stunned by what we often perceive as the disrespect and demands of members of a younger generation who haven't really accomplished much yet. Our jaws drop in disbelief when a guy who failed at a church plant and unabashedly advertises on his blog that he is now looking for a pastorate also feels entitled to publicly criticize successful pastors and denominational leaders and demands a place at the table of leadership. We don't get it when the very ones who are so quick to criticize are themselves so whiny–and sometimes vindictive–about accepting it. Several times I have heard megachurch pastors express shock that though they have been used of God to build great churches, they suddenly feel marginalized and irrelevant in SBC life.

Clearly, this is not your father's SBC.

You can find it here. 


IMB Trustee Censured

If you weren't praying for the IMB trustees, I hope this news will  get you started. Controversial IMB Trustee and pastor Wade Burleson has been censured by the other IMB trustees. Everyone involved in this needs wisdom, courage, and humility. The story can be found here. More to follow I'm sure.

Chuck Lawless on his Love and Concern for Southern Baptists

Chuck Lawless is the dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a former pastor and has authored a number of books, including Membership Matters, Discipled Warriors, Serving in Your Church Prayer Ministry, and Eating the Elephant. Today Baptist Press has published an outstanding "First Person" by Dr. Lawless titled "Why I Love Southern Baptists … and Why I am Concerned." I think he is spot on. My prayer is that the SBC would enjoy a "gospel resurgence" in the next few years, which I am convinced will result in a renewed commitment to the Great Commission, a rediscovered biblical Baptist identity, an increase in the number of new converts we are baptizing, and a recovery of a disciplined regenerate church membership. 

One Sacred Effort

According to our banner, SBC Witness exists for the purpose of "encouraging Southern Baptist cooperation and faithfulness." Each of our contributors, though we serve in diverse ministry positions, live in different states, and disagree on any number of secondary matters, are committed to the SBC and are hopeful for the future of the convention. And we all like SEC football.

One way that we can encourage Southern Baptist cooperation and faithfulness is by educating Southern Baptists about our Cooperative Program (CP), the unified giving plan at the heart of the convention. As Jon Akin and Jedidiah Coppenger so helpfully demonstrated this summer, the CP is not without its faults. Jon, Jedidiah, and many, many others (including me) are convinced that the CP has room for improvement, and that it is critical for Southern Baptists to be willing to revisit and tweak the CP to make it a more effective means of funding our cooperative endeavors.

Despite its weaknesses, the CP is still the best thing going. Unfortunately, many–perhaps most–Southern Baptists have no clue what the CP is. Not a few SBC pastors are virtually unfamiliar with the Cooperative Program. But there is a remedy.

In 2005, B&H published an important work titled One Sacred Effort: The Cooperative Program of Southern Baptists. The book is co-authored by Southern Seminary theology professor Chad Owen Brand and Louisiana Baptist Convention executive director (and former SBC Executive Committee vice president) David E. Hankins. It is a very good book.

All of our seminaries make educating students about the CP a component of our respective curricula. For example, at Southeastern all students are required to take what amounts to an independent study course on the CP. Students read One Sacred Effort (which B&H graciously provides free of charge) and take a number of quizzes on the content of the book, administered online. Of course the CP is also emphasized in Baptist History and Identity classes at both the college and seminary levels, though the book is not required in those classes because of the aforementioned independent study course. No student goes through our seminary–or our sister seminaries–without being introduced to the CP and the Southern Baptist "way" to do cooperative missions.

But One Sacred Effort was not written for the sole purpose of being used as a textbook in college and seminary classes. Brand and Hankins wrote the book to educate all Southern Baptists, especially pastors and other church staff. To that end, let me highly encourage those of you engaged in local church work to purchase a copy of One Sacred Effort. It is the best short treatment of general SBC history, Baptist identity, and the in's and out's of how the SBC works and how we fund the many things we do.