Posted tagged ‘Cooperation’

Charles Finney, Cooperation, and the GCR

November 17, 2009

Over at Between the Times, Drs. Danny Akin and Bruce Ashford have continued their excellent series on “Seven Crucial Aspects of Our Mission” (which is broken down in true Puritan style of multiple sub-points and cases) with an article focusing on cooperation between Calvinists and non-Calvinists.  As you know, this issue has been with us for a very long time, and during the more heated moments in recent SBC life, I was documenting all the events, articles, and commentary that was taking place.

Having been involved in Southern Baptist discourse for the past 6-7 years (I know, I’m young), I would argue that the relations between Calvinists and non-Calvinists is the best that it has been.  The rhetoric and caricatures are rare, and the conversation between those with soteriological differences has increased, especially with the advent of Twitter.  I know it’s crazy, but Twitter as a social-networking platform has interconnected Southern Baptists in a form of internet community that would otherwise not exist in real life.  I’m not sure as to why or how this has happened, but perhaps “following” each other has allowed us to see that those with whom we disagree are not as bad as we think they are.  They love Jesus, desire to honor Him in faithfully preaching His Word, and are genuinely seeking to make a difference for the glory of God.  Having the opportunity to see glimpses into the lives of people who otherwise would be a faceless name or distant interlocutor makes you think twice before lobbing bombs at one another.  We are not enemies.  We are brothers in the trenches seeking to advance the kingdom against our common enemy, the devil.

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Nathan Finn on Calvinism and Cooperation

December 9, 2008

Over recent years, there have been a number of attempts at labeling Calvinists and non-Calvinists in the SBC. I have referred to Calvinists and those who are Calvinistic (not five-point Calvinists), and on the other side to non-Calvinists and anti-Calvinists. My last post revealed some of the results from continued anti-Calvinism, and in the article prior to that I made the case that their latest agenda includes a redefinition of terms along with false labeling.

In light of this, I am happy to see that Nathan Finn has resurrected and slightly adapted an article he wrote earlier this year entitled “Some Thoughts on Calvinism and Cooperation.” In his article, Finn accurately notes four kinds of Baptists (with excerpts):

1. Non-cooperative non-Calvinists

“Non-cooperative non-Calvinists tend to misrepresent the convictions of Calvinists (Calvinists aren’t evangelistic) and use incorrect labels when discussing Calvinism (”hyper-Calvinism,” “militant Calvinism”). Though there are some well-known Southern Baptists that probably fit into this category, I suspect it is a minority position among well-read non-Calvinists. Non-cooperative non-Calvinism is an extreme position and is a threat to the future of the SBC itself, not just Calvinism within the Convention.”

2. Cooperative non-Calvinists

“Calvinism is not a threat to the convention, but plays a prophetic role in speaking out against much of the silliness and shallowness in the SBC, even if Calvinism does not always provide the best solution for those problems. . . . This is a reasonable position that will aid the Convention in building upon the foundation of the Conservative Resurgence as we move toward a Great Commission Resurgence.”

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The Gospel and the SBC

April 14, 2008

Nathan Finn asked the question over at SBC Witness:

What are the most pressing issues facing the Southern Baptist Convention?

I responded,

The most pressing issue facing the SBC in 2008 is the gospel.

The one thing that precludes cooperation is (unfortunately) the gospel.

Ergo, the biggest problem is also the biggest issue is also the leading cause for precluding cooperation, namely the gospel.

Now I know that may sound really simplistic, but we as Baptists have a way of complicating things and stressing peripherals and wandering from the center.

But more specifically, how the gospel relates to the way we evangelize, the way we preach, the way we structure our churches, the way we do mission work, why and with whom we cooperate, and on and on. Affinity-based cooperation that transcends denominational structures are growing because of the emphasis on the gospel, while the SBC is divided and disillusioned by controversy and “Baptist battles.”

If we are going to see a “Great Commission Resurgence” as Dr. Akin puts it, we must recover the gospel and its primacy in everything we do. It is the power of God unto salvation, and it ought to be the hub of the SBC wheel that moves us forward in this new century.

And the thing I fear the most is how easy it is to tip our hats to a sentimental appreciation of the gospel in a comment like this but not be willing to pay the price to go anywhere beyond that.

I mean,

I could talk about the $280+ million dollars fleeced each year in the SBC bureaucracy from the CP;

I could talk about the megachurches that have more “inactive members” than the entire population of most cities in the heartland;

I could talk about the arbitrary lines of “true convservatism” being promulgated around nonessentialism;

I could mention the fact that Southern Baptists are no different from the world in matters of divorce, materialism, infidelity, etc.;

I could provide for you 22+ pages of documentation of a conspiratorial, systematic assault on Reformed theology in the SBC over the past two decades (and needs to be updated still);

I could talk about the extremely small percentage of churches who participate in denominational life (as will be seen the the number of messengers this year in Indy compared to the 42,000 churches that make us SBC);

I could talk about the Southern Baptist blogs that annoy me because they would rather go tit-for-tat about lawsuits and denominational politics while won’t write a thing about the great need for our churches and pulpits needing to return to faithfulness to Christ;

I could continue this thread of one problem after another, but the truth is, we are more interested in this list than the first thing I said about the gospel–and therein lies the heart of the problem.

I love the SBC, but Iove the gospel more. There’s nothing I long to see in my lifetime than we present ourselves as a convention of churches before God in all humility and honesty that desires to take the mission and message of Christ seriously, leaving all else behind for the sake of His name. My hope is found nowhere else than this, and despite all the flaws, faults, and failures, I am ever hopeful because I believe the gospel will change and transform an undeserving sinner like me to live as a dying man with an everlasting message.

Agree or disagree?