Posted tagged ‘Fundamentalism’

MBC, Acts 29, and ‘Cultural Liberalism’

May 19, 2008

The issue of alcohol and the redefinition of conservatism has been a hot topic in the SBC for the past three years, but perhaps the consequences of such a controversy are not greater evidenced than in the Missouri Baptist Convention.  Under the direction of Roger Moran, fundamentalists have continued the fight against what they are now calling “cultural liberalism” and more specifically churches they find to espouse it. 

The churches in the MBC which Moran and Co. have found unworthy of convention support and affiliation are primarily those within the Acts 29 Network.  Since April of last year, I (along with several other bloggers) have followed the agenda to disassociate these churches from the SBC, and in December it was announced that they were being de-funded when MBC reneged on their commitments as a tribute to their continued battlecry against “cultural liberalism.”  For background to this controversy, check out:

* Acts 29 and the MBC [April 28, 2007]
* When I Am Ashamed to be a Southern Baptist [December 11, 2007)
* Let’s Talk About Accountability–Let’s Talk About You and Me [December 15, 2007]
* A More ‘Conventional’ Way of Supporting MBC Church Plants [December 16, 2007]
* Update on the Acts 29 Churches and the Missouri Baptist Convention [January 11, 2008]

Last Tuesday (May 13), the battlecry was again trumpeted at a state-wide meeting held by Moran and others to deal with a myriad of issues, not the least of which included, in their words:

NAMB-sponsored events featuring Acts 29 and Emerging church leaders as well as the recent hiring of David McAlpin (one of the 11 SOC leaders who helped the Journey in St. Louis plant an Acts 29 church in St. Charles that also had a bar-room ministry in a micro-brewery.  McAlpin’s son is an intern at the Journey).   

This is also about the downloading of “cultural liberalism” into MBC/SBC churches. 

Not only that, but Moran has included my friend Micah Fries as a topic of discussion.  Moran writes:

The pastor that spoke against the alcohol resolution at the 2007 MBC annual meeting has been named to the SBC Committee on Committees which names the SBC Nominating Committee.  This pastor, Micah Fries, is strongly supportive of Acts 29.  (SOC spokesman David Sheppard served on this committee last year.) 

For the record, I am not directly affiliated to the Acts 29 Network, and I am an abstentionist.  However, what is really troubling is that my fellow Southern Baptists are making their stance on alcohol a litmus test for conservatism and more consequently a dividing line for financial support of church plants.  It is not a matter of theological liberalism or rejecting the Baptist Faith & Message (2000); rather, it is the repackaging of fundamentalism in the quest to root out what they have called “cultural liberalism.”


Ascol Interviews Axed MBC Church Planter Kevin Larson

December 16, 2007

Over at the Founder’s blog, Tom Ascol provides an excellent interview and insight into the tragic motion the Missouri Baptist Convention made to de-fund their own church planters. Kevin Larson, pastor of Karis Community Church, answered several questions which, if anything, should help us realize that these decisions made at an executive level are affecting real people and their family, churches and their ministries.

A couple things to note from the interview. Kevin is a graduate of Southern Seminary (which I currently attend) and also checked into NETS, a great church planting program in the New England area. Kevin was a member of Clifton Baptist in Louisville under the leadership of Drs. Tom Schreiner and Bruce Ware (Schreiner ordained him). His ecclesiology is heavily influenced by Dever and IX Marks, preaches lengthy expository messages every Sunday, and has a high view of church membership. Sounds like the kind of church planter we need to be de-funding, doesn’t it?

Here’s some notable quotes:

“While at Southern, I honestly hadn’t heard anything about Acts 29, but, in my view, an abstinence only view would be unthinkable by virtue of students having sola scriptura beaten in their heads everyday.”

“We are so grateful for the support the MBC has provided. But, I do think the executive board’s decision is wrong and discouraging. Although they do have the right to make that decision, I say that the further narrowing of parameters of cooperation does not bode well for the MBC’s future.”

“In Missouri, I think this is about alcohol, yes, but it’s ultimately about power. Who will control Missouri Baptists? By the way, I have even heard rumblings that the group’s next target in Missouri will be Calvinism.”

“The average Southern student thinks Driscoll is fine, Tim Keller is amazing, and can’t understand what all the fighting is about. Why? Because Dr. Mohler and his faculty teach sola scriptura and the other four solas of the Reformation. And that makes this whole issue pretty simple.”

“Well, those mainline denominations are graying due to liberalism. Young people want something true and something worth believing and dying for. But the SBC, I’m afraid, could gray and ultimately die because of legalism. If this is allowed to persist and grow, it will push young Reformed, expositional preaching, church disciplining, and gospel cherishing guys like me out to the curb. I am convinced this is the case.”

Thank God for brothers like Kevin Larson! His response reveals that Karis Community Church is more than a just a name–it’s who they are. It’s not easy responding with such gracious and gospel-driven restraint, and if this whole deal does anything, I pray it points us to the future of SBC with men like Kevin. I am also thankful for men like Steve Tanner, Jerry Field, and Jim Shaver who have given their full support. May God turn the MBC probe light into a spotlight that offers us encouragement and hope through the churches and ministries like Karis Community Church.