Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Change is Gonna Come?

I have a love-hate relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention.  It's 95% love, but over the past few days, several things have returned to my attention that remind me how far we have yet to go in revamping this Gospel vehicle. (Cash for clunkers?)  The following have jogged my thoughts:
  • The ever-level Timmy Brister is a baller pastor out of Cape Coral, FL.  He does a great job in carefully documenting his research.  He turns his careful eye to the official news entity of the Convention, Baptist Press.  Their hostile & biased attacks on Mark Driscoll and the Acts 29 Network are well documented and deconstructed on his blog.  As a member of an Acts 29/SBC church, these attacks grieve/infuriate me.
  • The insanely smart Al Mohler recently gave an address on why the SBC must change.  For your convenience, the audio is embedded here, but, suffice to say, he draws a good comparison between GM's plight (former success now turned to obsolescence) and that of the SBC.
While these provide good food for thought, the following link is heartbreaking.  Tom Ascol is a hero of mine.  He is the "first among equals" of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, where the aforementioned Brister is also an elder.  I've been reading his blog for years, and as a young (cough, Reformed) Southern Baptist (I refuse to abbreviate it to "SB"), I look up to him greatly.  His take on Mohler's talk is solid as usual (Ascol is a driving force behind the Great Commission Resurgence).  In the comment section, though, there is an exchange between one of the "usual Southern Baptist blog comment section suspects" and Ascol.  I've read comments from this man for years.  He finally comes out with it:

I dont understand how you and Timmy Brister and Dr. Mohler and others of your persuasion can join with those who believe in polls and surveys and in making our Churches more attractive to the lost crowd in order to reach the lost crowd? I'm puzzled, because it looks to me like yall are joining with people that yall are very much in disagreement terms of theology...people like Johnny Hunt and Ronnie Floyd and Ed Stetzer. I'm just gonna flat out ask you, Tom, are yall joining with them, because this is the way to take over the SBC? to gain control of the SBC for five point Calvinism? Are yall joining with people like Johnny Hunt and other non-Five point Calvinists, and the "Church must be culturally relevant" crowd, because this is a means to an end? I'm genuinely curious. I'm not trying to offend you, nor anyone else. I'm just thinking out loud, and trying to understand what is going on in SBC land? when Tom Ascol and Johnny Hunt and Ed Stetzer and Dr. Mohler all seem to be coming together for the GCR? I really never thought that I would hear Dr. Mohler make a speech like he did about the SBC needing to change, with the reasons that he gave. 

Ascol correctly states in reply that the thing that brings such diverse people of different convictions in many areas together is the Gospel.  I am Southern Baptist by birth, but have stayed in it by choice, a choice informed by what the Gospel demands regarding mission. 

The thing though, is that a sovereign God does not need an institution of men such as the SBC.  Jesus Christ will save his people with or without our help.  If the SBC fails, the Gospel will do just fine.  But, I so desperately want for this convention to stick around.  Will change come? I hope so, but I'm thankful above all this that my hope in Jesus is confident and sure.  His Kingdom will know no end.


At 9:04 PM , Blogger Laura said...

I wish I had something really clever to say in response to this, Paul, but I don't! You're right on all counts and I agree that it would be a terrible shame to have to watch the SBC fade into irrelevance and obscurity -- "not with a bang, but a whimper." It's guys like Mohler (never thought I'd say THAT!) and Stetzer who give me hope that there's a future for the largest missionary-sending agency on Earth.

At 9:09 PM , Blogger Laura said...

Oh, one more thing.

I'm Reformed, but I don't give a hoot in heck if the SBC becomes a Calvinist organization. I kinda hope it doesn't, for the sake of my brothers and sisters who wouldn't know Reformed theology if it bit them in the butt. I reckon there are people in the SBC who'd like to see it that way, but the thing I don't get about those BI guys is that they just can't see GCM and T4G and SBC/A29 plants (how's that for abbreviations!) as anything but part of some Vast Reformed Conspiracy.

At 9:59 PM , Blogger Paul said...

Yeah. Cleverness doesn't cut it here.
I think of Tyler Durden: "How's that working for you, being clever?"

I care about the SBC embracing the Gospel, something it's by and large forgotten. Timmy Brister tweeted to this effect during the SBC as person after person came to the microphone denouncing Driscol and Pepsi. I feel ya, though, on not wanting to force out or scare or shun the non-Reformed. Many of my early mentors in the Christian life (including my parents!) don't share my soteriology, but they do share in the Savior with me. First things first. It is tragic that volfan007 and his crowd don't get that.

At 10:05 PM , Blogger Laura said...

Denouncing Driscoll and PEPSI??!?

Yeah, that's how we advance the Gospel, we take a stand against soda. Totally.


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