Posted tagged ‘SBC’

Dr. Nettles on the Chiastic Structure of SBC History

June 24, 2012

Dr. Tom Nettles was the speaker last week at the 2012 Founders Breakfast (at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the SBC). The title of his message is “The Southern Baptist Convention: Retrospect and Prospect” and I highly recommend it, especially in light of the current discussions about “traditional” theology in the SBC. The first half of Nettles’ provides numerous facts, figures, and direct references to pastors, churches, and institutions who held Reformed doctrine prior to the new traditionalists, while the second half focuses on the chiastic structure of SBC history. It is a fascinating look at the ebb and flow of theological trajectories, and the last nine minutes of the talk gives you Nettles’ direct interaction with the current attempt to marginalize Calvinists in the SBC.

To listen or download the audio, click here.
Also, be sure to check out the new book, Whomever He Wills, edited by Dr. Nettles and Matthew Barrett.

Three Positive Points Regarding SBC 2012

June 21, 2012

I used to blog about the Southern Baptist Convention quite a bit. In recent years, I have tried to focus on practical issues of church life from a theologically driven focus. Nevertheless, given the significance of this past week, I’d like to jump into the SBC blog world again and attempt to contribute a few reflections and anticipations.

NEW LEADERSHIP

I am very glad that the election of Fred Luter as the first African American President of the SBC was not overshadowed by the theological controversies swirling around on the internet. The moment when we all stood in affirmation and celebration of his election was a powerful moment. I don’t know how anyone could have not been emotional gripped by providence and the present recognition of history being made. As I type this in my NOLA hotel room, my wife and I just returned from a tour of the city.  One of the significant and recurring points the guide made was the slave quarters and how they lived in this city. Learning how prominent slavery was in the history of this city (and our country) makes me all the more appreciative of God’s work of repentance in the SBC.

Along with Luter as President, I am very encouraged by the election of Nathan Lino as First VP and Dave Miller as Second VP. Over the past four years, I have been a part of a “young leaders” meeting where, in 2008, I first met Nathan. He is an experienced church planter, whose church just celebrated their 10th anniversary. Nathan has a wonderful, gracious spirit and evangelical commitment to work together with Southern Baptists who may not agree with him on various theological issues but nevertheless are unified in the gospel and the Great Commission. Nathan and I have discussed this week how we can work together to forward a new narrative of healthy, robust discussion as brothers who see differently on various issues but have a transcendent love and determination to not allow the differences keep us from linking arms and hearts for reaching the lost, whether they are across the street or across the world. Hopefully, you will hear more about that in the future.

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A Word to My Reformed Brothers in the SBC

June 15, 2012

When the current controversy erupted over Calvinism in the SBC erupted a couple weeks ago, I debated whether or not to enter the fray. Things have changed quite considerably since the hay day of 2005-2008 when Calvinism seemed to be the death-defying whipping boy of folks with more fight in their hands than love in their hearts. But alas, perhaps the change was merely an intermission thanks largely in part to the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) which, for a time, seemed to unite Southern Baptists on the front lines of the Great Commission.

But the SBC, since the affirmation of the GCR, have gone back to the barricks and once again are turning against one another as if the willingness to fight is a temptation of which one too many are unwilling to walk away. Needless to say, I have my thoughts on the “traditionalist” March to New Orleans, and undoubtedly sparks are going to fly about Calvinism and whether or not the Baptist Faith and Message is a sufficient confessional guide to afford meaningful and substantive cooperation for Southern Baptists. Several of my friends have taken up this discussion on the Internet, including Tom Ascol (whose series I high recommend) and Nathan Finn (whose aspirations I wholeheartedly embrace). I don’t think I have much to contribute other than what they (and others) have been able to say in ways far more reasonable and eloquent.

BUT, if I have one contribution to make to the discussion leading up to next week’s Annual Meeting of the SBC in New Orleans, it would not be critiquing a very poorly written traditionalist document, nor would it be explaining the postmodern power play of subject-defining labels like “New Calvinism” and “traditionalist”, nor would it be showing how the “majoritarian” party has failed to influence the direction of the SBC since 2006 (2006-07 Joshua Convergence; 2008-09 Baptist Identity Movement; 2010-2011 Anti-GCR Movement; 2012 Traditionalist Movement). Rather, I’d like to issue a statement to my fellow Reformed brothers in the SBC. With all that is going on next week, there’s some fundamental things that I’m preaching to myself and think it helpful to share with my Reformed brethren.  To put some order to my thoughts, here are five “Do’s” and “Don’ts” as it related to next week’s Annual Meeting.

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Inerrancy and Church Discipline – The Two Go Together

May 16, 2012

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

Nothing too profound here. Just an observation I think bears repeating. The fight over biblical inerrancy was one of the most important evangelical battles in the 20th century, and nowhere was the drama on greater display than in the Southern Baptist Convention. I am indebted to the pastors and leaders who were on the front lines of turning the denomination I grew up in from turning away from a high view of Scripture.

Of the churches that hold to biblical inerrancy (at least in the SBC), I wonder how many are committed to the functional outworking of the inerrancy as it relates to church discipline. The classic text of 2 Tim. 3:16-17 speaks to the purposeful outworking of a high view of Scripture.  Those purposes are teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.  It is worth noting that 50% of the Scripture’s profitability has to do with corrective discipline. Reproof is correcting wrong beliefs and false doctrine while correction addresses wrong behavior and sinful lifestyle.

Churches who embrace biblical inerrancy certainly want the inerrant word to have 100% profitability for each believer, but for that to take place, correction and reproof ought to be normative and expected in a “Bible-based” church. If not, then we are accepting a standard where only 50% of the Scriptures intended usefulness is evidenced in the life of the church. A church who believes in 100% biblical inerrancy and 50% biblical usefulness is sending mixed signals, and worse, failing to use the prescribed means of seeing God’s people equipped for every good work and mature in Christ.

The grounds for practicing church discipline is both in the nature of Scripture, and man.  Scripture is authoritative, prescriptive, redemptive, and corrective. We are sinful, broken, and prideful, such that we can easily be blinded in our beliefs and wandering in our behavior. Churches who practice church discipline humbly confess the need for mutual accountability, submission to Christ and one another, and hold to an uncompromising commitment to do whatever the inerrant Word of God calls them to do.

On a most basic level, there are churches who hold to biblical inerrancy but have more than half of their membership utterly uninvolved in the life of the church even to attend a Sunday morning gathering. Churches are losing the moral authority to speak on issues like the sanctity of marriage when things like homosexual marriage debate surfaces because of unchecked cohabitation and unaddressed infidelity in the ranks. The distinctives of genuine unity of faith and love for the brethren are corroded by the prevalence of gossip, slander, and bitterness, and those distinctives are replaced by superficial standards like being relevant and entertaining. We turn the lights down when Jesus has told us to be the light of the world.

Church discipline is redemptive in more ways than one. It is redemptive to the one whose beliefs or behaviors are held accountable to the authority of God’s Word. It is also redemptive to the integrity of witness in a gospel community who live together in repentance and faith so that the qualitative value of being counter-cultural is profoundly winsome and worthy of intrigue. If we lose care and concern for the ongoing work of the gospel in each others lives, and if the Gentiles blaspheme the name of Jesus because of us, then the fight for biblical inerrancy will be battle with no spoils in the here and now and no soldiers for the battles to come.

Nathan Finn on “The Gospel and Baptist Identity”

August 26, 2011

Dr. Nathan Finn has recently completed an excellent blog series entitled “The Gospel and Baptist Identity.”  I for one am glad to see the two merged together as it is my hope that the identity of Baptists would fundamentally be characterized by the functional centrality of the gospel.

Be sure to check out the blogposts in this series, listed below:

01: Introduction
02: What Is the Gospel?
03: Pondering Baptist Identity
04: Four Categories of Baptist Beliefs
05: Covenanted Gospel Membership
06: Confessor Baptism by Immersion
07: Christocentric Congregationalism
08: Cooperative Autonomy
09: Free Churches in a Free State

Dever, Platt, and Mohler on Church Planting and the SBC

August 12, 2011

IX Marks hosted a panel discussion at the 2011 SBC Annual Meeting where Mark Dever sat down with David Platt and Albert Mohler to talk about the state of the SBC, church planting, and the Cooperative Program.  Check it.

HT: IX Marks Blog

John Piper – Hallowed Be Your Name

June 16, 2011

This past Monday, John Piper preached a powerful sermon focusing on the first phrase of the Lord’s Prayer, “Hallowed be your name.” In the typical expository exultation style of Piper, you can sense the gravitas and the gladness of the text as we are brought face to face with the greatness of God. In my generation, I pray there would be many who would yearn and learn to bring God’s Word to bear upon God’s people with such weightiness.

You can read Piper’s sermon here.

A Motion to Remember

June 14, 2011

One year ago . . .

Ten Thoughts About the SBC

June 13, 2011

It’s been quite a long time since I blogged anything about the Southern Baptist Convention.  Early blog readers will remember the days when SBC issues were a regular item here.  It is not so much that I am uninterested in what is taking place in the SBC as much as it is a desire for me to be more of a contributor in what I do than simply what I say as a commentator.  Having said that, I hope the stuff I am writing now about the gospel, mission, church planting, etc. would be considered edifying to anyone, but especially to my Southern Baptist folk.

But alas, this is the week of the 2011 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, and I am unfortunately not in Phoenix, AZ where the mass of polo shirts and comb overs are converging.  Given the significance of this week in SBC life, I thought I’d post ten (random) personal thoughts about the SBC for what it’s worth.

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Consequences of Meaningless Membership

May 25, 2011

Al Jackson, one of the men I esteem highly in the SBC has written about unregenerate church membership in the May-June 2011 IX Marks e-Journal.  In particular, he spells out the consequences for meaningless membership.  Quoting Vance Havner, he says that “we are many but we are not much.” Jackson writes:

The Southern Baptist Convention is most likely far smaller than what we report. And our membership rolls most likely contain a multitude of unregenerate individuals. Our Baptist forefathers would view our present condition with shock and horror.

What are the consequences of such meaningless membership?

It Gives a False Assurance of Salvation to Multitudes

It is common for a man or woman to join a Southern Baptist church, but then to stop participating in worship and fellowship—sometimes for decades. Yet when the church says or does nothing, the individual continues to believe he or she is saved. This is the case because of our refusal to obey God in the matter of discipline.

We often say that we love inactive members too much to discipline them. Actually, our lack of discipline reveals our lack of love for these people who give little or no evidence of the new birth. Many such people are under the just condemnation of a holy God. This is the greatest and most grievous consequence of allowing them to maintain church membership without church involvement.

It Harms Our Gospel Witness

Hypocrisy within our churches is common, and Southern Baptist churches almost universally fail to practice church discipline. As a result, Christ’s bride is stained and soiled when she should be progressing toward radiance, holiness, and blamelessness.

Church history professor Tom Nettles has said that “holiness should pave the way for evangelism.” In other words, the holy lives of a congregation should undergird its gospel witness. Those who proclaim the gospel of God’s saving grace in Christ Jesus should be able to point to an assembly of believers who are new creations in Christ.

It Makes for Some Ugly Business Meetings

The typical Southern Baptist congregational meeting is characterized by routine motions and decisions. However, occasionally, when the Spirit begins to move in God-glorifying ways, unregenerate church members who haven’t been seen for years suddenly appear at business meetings. The result is not pretty. God-glorifying initiatives are halted, and godly pastors are often voted out. The occasions on which this has happened are too numerous to count.

It Hinders our Missionary Efforts

Yes, it is true that we have the largest number of missionaries worldwide of any American denomination. Our 5,000 International Mission Board missionaries span the globe. Yet this translates to one missionary for every nine Southern Baptist churches. In light of the Bible’s clear teaching on missions, is it unrealistic to think that every church should have a least one missionary serving internationally? More than 30,000 Southern Baptist churches have no missionary from their ranks. How can this be? Where is the passion to declare God’s glory among the nations?

Johnny Hunt, Calvinism, and the Past Ten Years of My Life

October 19, 2010

Before you read any further, please watch this short video clip where Dustin Neeley interviewed Johnny Hunt at the Advance the Church conference earlier this year.

This video clip is moving to me for reasons most of you are unaware I presume.  Although some of my life story is recorded in Collin Hansen’s Young, Restless, Reformed, there are many details that I have not heretofore mentioned in public (at least not to my recollection).

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“Bring It Back” – The Series

June 29, 2010

Over the past month, I have posted a 12-part series at the PLNTD Network website explaining the vision and direction of the new church planting initiative.  In the coming months, we plant to turn this series into a downloadable e-booklet, but for those who may have not seen them, I thought I’d post the links here. Starting in July, we will be developing the four narratives/threads for the blog as well as shout outs, book reviews, and developing our resource page.  Lots of developments taking place in the coming weeks and months.  If you are down with planting churches that are confessional, missional, and baptistic, then I think you’ll be interested. To stay connected, be sure to follow PLNTD on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for the e-newsletter.

The “Bring It Back” Series

1.  Forwarding Church Planting Through the Local Church
2.  A Heritage Worth Remembering and Retrieving
3.  The Great Commission and Church Planting
4.  Church Planting and Corporate Renewal
5.  Why a Baptist Church Planting Network
6.  Resourcing, Relationships, and Residency
7.  A Grassroots GCR: Church Planting for All Churches
8.  Providence and Passion: A Generational Resurgence
9.  Churches Planting Churches
10. Confessional and Missional
11. Praying for a Word-Driven, Spirit-Empowered Movement
12. I Will Build My Church

SBC Resolution on the Centrality of the Gospel

June 19, 2010

Readers of this blog will know that I have written a great deal about the centrality of the gospel.  Three years ago I stated that the greatest need in the SBC is the recovery of the gospel (see also Nathan Finn’s comments).  So needless to say, I was really encouraged to see a resolution passed this year on the centrality of the gospel.  My fellow pastor, Tom Ascol, was very instrumental in drafting this resolution.  Check it out:

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PLNTD – A Baptist Network for Church Planting Churches

June 9, 2010

Today, with my 10,000th tweet, I am happy to make known to you a project that has been in the works for several years–the PLNTD Network.

This is a new network that is singular in its purpose and simple in its design.  Its focus is the Great Commission, its passion is the local church, and its vision is seeing local churches owning the Great Commission to the point of reproducing themselves in new expressions of gospel-centered faithfulness.

The beta version of our resourcing website is live, and I have the privilege of beginning with a series called “Bring It Back” where, over a series of twelve articles, I lay out the call to bring church planting back to the local church and how PLNTD seeks to encourage, assist, and empower local churches and church planters for that specific task.  Over the next couple of months, we plan to stock the resource warehouse, develop relational communities, and share about the work of residency centers in local churches for training future church planters.  Together, we believe that resourcing, relationships, and residencies will help catalyze the vision of PLNTD and provide the kind of synergy we hope will inspire and encourage churches and planters alike in the call of the Great Commission.

There are several ways in which you can find out more information or get plugged into the PLNTD Network, not the least of which include:

* subscribe to the PLNTD feed
* follow PLNTD on Twitter
* join the PLNTD Facebook page
* sign up for the PLNTD e-newsletter

There is so much about PLNTD that has me really excited and hopeful about the future work of church planting in Baptist life.  I believe PLNTD has the potential to, on the one hand, reach out to the younger generation who are passionate about gospel-centeredness, missional living, and incarnational community, and on the other hand, reach out to the elder generation and provide opportunity to partner together for the renewal and revitalization of Baptist churches through a Great Commission resurgence.

We invite you to join us in the PLNTD Network to see church planting thrive in the church, by the church, and for the church!

Ray Ortlund on “Truly Reformed”

June 5, 2010

If you are not reading (or have not subscribed to) Ray Ortlund’s blog, you are missing some of the best devotional commentary on the Internet.  Most recently, he has taken up the issue of being “truly Reformed.” Generally, this title is attributed to fundamentalists in the Reformed camp who have a hard time with Christians who are not five-point Calvinists.  Here’s an excerpt of Ortlund’s post:

What unifies the church is the gospel.  What defines the gospel is the Bible.  What interprets the Bible correctly is a hermeneutic centered on Jesus Christ crucified, the all-sufficient Savior of sinners, who gives himself away on terms of radical grace to all alike.  What proves that that gospel hermeneutic has captured our hearts is that we are not looking down on other believers but lifting them up, not seeing ourselves as better but grateful for their contribution to the cause, not standing aloof but embracing them freely, not wishing they would become like us but serving them in love (Galatians 5:13).

My Reformed friend, can you move among other Christian groups and really enjoy them?  Do you admire them?  Even if you disagree with them in some ways, do you learn from them?  What is the emotional tilt of your heart – toward them or away from them?  If your Reformed theology has morphed functionally into Galatian sociology, the remedy is not to abandon your Reformed theology.   The remedy is to take your Reformed theology to a deeper level.  Let it reduce you to Jesus only.   Let it humble you.  Let this gracious doctrine make you a fun person to be around.  The proof that we are Reformed will be all the wonderful Christians we discover around us who are not Reformed.   Amazing people.   Heroic people.  Blood-bought people.   People with whom we are eternally one – in Christ alone.

These are excellent words, and for those of us who are Reformed and Southern Baptist, they are timely words as well.