Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Why I will probably NOT vote for the next SBC president

On June 13-14 I have the honor of representing my church, Grace Heritage, as a messenger to the Southern Baptist Convention in Greensboro, NC.

One of the most important events to occur at this convention will be the election of the next president of the SBC.

To understand why this election is so important, read the following information from Wikipedia (This information is consistent with what I learned of the SBC presidency recently in a seminar I attended, which was taught by Dr. Russell Moore, Dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary):

The SBC President... has the potential to exercise significant influence over the direction of the SBC.

The process starts with the appointment by the SBC President of the Committee on Committees, which consists of two members from each "qualified state" (which includes the District of Columbia). The President has the sole authority to nominate the members (unlike other committee members or heads of institutions, the messengers do not approve the Committee on Committees selections). The appointments must be made within 45 days prior to the next Convention session (in other words, near the end of the SBC President's first term).

The Committee on Committees, in turn, nominates the Committee on Nominations, which also consists of two members from each "qualified state". These members are voted on by messengers at the next session (again, near the end of the SBC President's first term); however, nominations to this Committee can be made from the floor.

The Committee on Nominations, in turn, nominates persons to fill vacancies on SBC institutions (a person serving cannot be removed simply due to a change in leadership). Any SBC member may nominate, and be nominated for, any position; the general criteria for approval are 1) the nominee's support of the BF&M and 2) the nominee's church's support for SBC programs. The vacancies are approved at the next Convention session (in other words, by the end of the SBC President's second term, provided he is re-elected).

During this time, the SBC President is appointing the next Committee on Committees, to begin the process again.

As outlined above, the process by which the SBC President can exert influence is a lengthy, complicated, and overlapping one, which takes cooperation from other, like-minded individuals to successfully accomplish, as the results take at least three years to complete, while the SBC President is limited to two one-year consecutive terms. However, if organized and executed properly, a faction can over time move the SBC in its desired direction. The SBC conservative faction of the late 1970's and 1980's... used the process to its advantage to move the SBC to its current conservative stance.

But, as the title of this post indicates, I will probably NOT cast a vote in this particular election. And the reason is simple: I do not believe that either of the candidates who have currently been announced for the presidency will act in the best interests of my church congregation in particular, nor in the best interest for biblical evangelism in the SBC in general.

The two candidates who have been announced so far are Ronnie Floyd and Frank Page.

Ronnie Floyd and "Fire-Truck Baptism"

Some people in the blogosphere are actually trying to argue that this is no big deal. But the church at which Ronnie Floyd is a pastor- FBC Springdale, Arkansas- has engaged in what must be considered an extreme form of substituting entertainment in place of true worship. As reported in sources such as Christianity Today, the Houston Chronicle, and the Baptist Standard (ht: Tony Kummer) FBC Springdale has had a "former Disney World designer of children's amusement rides to design two 'high tech sets' for elementary age worship areas" (quote taken from a Christianity Today article). Included in these "worship areas" is "a special baptistry which is built around a fire engine. When a child is baptized, the sirens sound and confetti is fired out of cannons" (ht: Tom Ascol). Now, if I were to write a book on how to get a myriad of false converts into the church- attracting them into cultural Christianity and giving them false assurance of salvation at a young age- I could think of nothing more effective than to do what Dr. Floyd's church has, in fact, done. At the most basic level, gimmicks such as Disney World entertainment have no place in being married to any kind of worship service for the church. These kind of methods undermine the foundational doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture. As the leadership of Grace Heritage Church consistently teaches:

Because the distance between God and His creatures is so great, the only acceptable way of approaching God in worship must be revealed to us by God Himself, and He has graciously done this in the Scriptures. Therefore, He may not be worshipped in ways invented by us. This principle protects us from idolatrous worship and focuses our energies on those activities through which God has called us to draw near.

Frank Page and Anti-Calvinism

In a recent e-mail I received, a man who had several times visited Dr. Page's former church (Warren Baptist Church) described Dr. Page as "most decidedly anti-Calvinist." The e-mail concluded, "Page, by reputation, will not be a friend to the doctrines of grace or those who hold to them." These statements seem to find additional support in the fact that Dr. Page has authored the book Trouble With The Tulip: A Closer Examination of The Five Points of Calvinism, which contains statements such as the following:

I want to very clearly state that my intention in this book is not simply to disprove the philosophical system of Calvinism, though I believe that will occur. (p. 7- ht: Big Daddy Weave)

(For why the issue of "Calvinism" is so important in the SBC at this time, please see my last post, A Defense of "Calvinism" as well as former Southern Baptist Pastor Dave Stephenson's article, On the Altar of Self-Will.)

Now, I do NOT think that a candidate for the presidency of the SBC should have to hold to "Calvinism" in order for me to vote for him. In fact, I have recently argued that if Calvinism, or Reformed soteriology, is to truly take effect in the SBC, it must be due to the commitment of individual church leaders teaching systematically through the Bible and demonstrating that the "Doctrines of Grace" come out from the biblical text itself- this kind of reformation cannot be political. And furthermore, it would be ridiculous to for me to withhold my vote from any candidate simply because he does not agree with me on all points of theology. But I believe that there is a vast difference between casting a vote for a candidate even though he is not a "5-point Calvinist" and in overlooking the fact that a candidate is actually ACTIVELY, CONSISTENTLY OPPOSING crucial points of doctrine upon which my congregation is built.

So again, unless there are other candidates offered who I believe will support the interests of my congregation in particular and the interests of biblical evangelism in the SBC in general, I cannot in good conscience cast any vote for the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention.

1 Comments:

Blogger J.R. Freiberg said...

Wow!

I just cringe at how complicated and convoluted church politics have become. Throw in bad theology and the envitably bad philosophy of ministry that flows out of it and the bride of Christ starts looking like an underage runaway who has turned to prostitution to survive on the streets.

I will be praying that God will give you and others like you in your denomination a gentle boldness that will stand up for the truth with grace and love and courage and clarity.

1:13 PM  

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