Friday, June 08, 2007

Political Intrigue Permeates the Air Around Southern Baptists

June, each year, begins the final push for political factions within the Southern Baptist Convention to advance their causes. Already, I have been frustrated by the position of one admired individual on a particular subject, while dismayed by the position of another on a different subject. What am I to do? None of those presented for leadership seem to understand Biblical Theology as thoroughly as I. For should they have my understanding, it is inconceivable they would take positions on any topic contrary to my own. Is it possible that the demise of the Southern Baptist Convention is imminent?

Last year, Frank Page was not my choice for SBC President. However, enough of those delegates, who obviously lack my astuteness on theological matters, voted for him to elect him on the first ballot. Dread, gloom, and despair overshadowed my normally effusive disposition. For the first time since 1976, my candidate had not been elected. What should I do? Should I call a press conference and announce that I’m leaving the SBC? I quickly realized that not even my wife would show up for that.

In the wake of Page’s earthshattering defeat of all right thinking Southern Baptists, I decided to hunker down and try to ride out what I envisioned as a disastrous year for Southern Baptists. Now, I’m really in a quandary. In spite of Page’s obviously callous decision to refrain from availing himself of my great store of wisdom on all subjects extant, he has not affected great harm to the SBC. In fact, he might have strengthened it. Of course, that just goes to show that God’s blessings fall both on the just and the unjust.

All of this brings me to the current dilemma. What should I do? I have certainly not been shy about expressing my well thought out, and extraordinarily accurate position on the subjects at hand. Is it possible that the SBC can sustain two successive years when those elected to office do not have my seal of approval? I must make a decision. I fully realize the gravity of said decision because it will either validate or invalidate the actions of the convention as a whole. Such burdens should not be placed so squarely upon the shoulders of one man. Albeit, an incomparable man, yet one man nevertheless.

For those who wait with breath abated for some word as to which is the correct path, please be assured I do not take this responsibility lightly. Pursuant to said responsibility, my revelation-like insight will be available immediately upon receipt of such insight. In the interim, please occupy yourself with prayer, trusting that God may in His own mercy, see fit to also provide you with direction through the current political morass.

© Mike Rasberry 2007


LS said...

I agree with most of your assessments about the SBC, however for me it has always been theological and not political incentives that drove me to one candidate or the other. I think that is probably your case too, because we both have been around for a long while....
While Frank Page has not seemily done damage, his emphasis in being more inclusive in the SBC seems to resonate with those that feel it is ok to drink alcohol as pastors, it is ok to speak in tongues, it is ok not to require baptism for church membership.... and this year the list will include resolutions directed toward some of SBC Seminaries, agencies, & etc.
I have read their blogs and seen such things as slanderous statements made about godly people, how to make alcoholic drinks, and ugly insinuations being stated, because one of our seminary president's wives is teaching ladies a class on manners. I have read of their glee of lawsuits, and threats of law suits if things don't go their way. I have heard praises for the CBF, and for seminaries that are NOT Southern Baptist seminaries.
I think Dr. Paige is a very nice man, but is he being used as a pawn by others to spread their agenda which will not match up with our traditional, biblical Southern Baptist beliefs?
As for me I will continue to stand by and support my denomination, SBC, and those godly men that helped turn our Convention from being a liberal non-biblical denomination back to it's historical roots on inerrancy. I will continue stand against pastors using alcoholic beverages and tainting the testimony of Christ,and support Baptism as essential for church membership, because it is our public testimony of the living Lord Jesus residing in our hearts.
There is always room for differing opinions, but we must be careful not to compromise our values for the sake of including a few more in our tent.
My prayer is that God will raise up Godly people to serve as leaders, trustees, Bible professors, and pastors and that we will all be united though not always unanimous.
Our theology enables us to "do" ministry. People who do not possess the same theological values are very difficult with whom to "do" ministry cooperatively. We can fellowship with them, but actual ministry is difficult... For example, Can you imagine a man standing in the Pulpit of Your church and saying, "I believe that a pastor, a man of God can drink socially and not do harm to the body of Christ...In fact I drink socially, and it is ok"? Or imagine someone coming to Imanuel and saying, "I am a Baptist, but we put too much emphsis on fact it really is ok to be a member of Imanuel BC and not to be baptized."
I suspect the pastor(Ol' Bro. Mike) would become more than red I say all this to say once again... Support who you want in these elections, but as for me I will stand by those who are of a theological like-mind. :D

I am already in San Antonio, and praying for God's people to become very discerning.

LS said...

Article from Dallas Morning News:
Baptists say doctrine should guide policies

SBC's vote may bring more acceptance of speaking in tongues

10:18 PM CDT on Wednesday, June 13, 2007
By SAM HODGES / The Dallas Morning News

SAN ANTONIO – Even as the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention wrapped up here Wednesday, the talk went on about a single action taken Tuesday night.

Fifty-seven percent of the "messengers" voted to adopt an executive committee report saying that the denomination's faith statement, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, is sufficient to guide trustees of SBC agencies and seminaries as they make policies with doctrinal implications.

Also Online
DMN religion writer Sam Hodges blogs from the SBC's annual meeting
Theological conservatives won control of the SBC a generation ago, on such issues as biblical inerrancy and keeping women out of the pulpit. But lately they've split over whether the denomination's trustee boards have gone too far in spelling out acceptable doctrine.

A particular point of conflict has been the SBC's International Mission Board, whose trustees put in a policy disqualifying foreign missionary candidates who have a private prayer language, a form of speaking in tongues. The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 does not address speaking in tongues, and the president of the mission board has acknowledged that he has a private prayer language.

Reformers, including a group of young pastors who have used their blogs to communicate, called Tuesday night's vote a clear statement that the SBC rank and file doesn't want the mission board or other boards going beyond the faith statement where doctrine is involved.

"It ought to give pause to those who might think of taking those kinds of actions in the future," said Tom Ascol, a pastor from Cape Coral, Fla.

But Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky, said that while he's glad to be guided by the faith statement, he and his board can't be bound by it in policy and hiring decisions.

"There are issues that are not directly addressed in the Baptist Faith and Message," he said in remarks to messengers Wednesday.

He added that he was certain that the SBC membership did not favor hiring professors who advocate speaking in tongues. That comment brought applause.

Richard Land, who runs the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said most messengers who voted in favor of adopting the executive committee report Tuesday night did not understand the issue to be one of limiting trustee boards.

And he, like Dr. Mohler, said the Baptist Faith and Message was never intended to be a full statement of Baptist belief, capable of steering institutions on specific matters that have doctrinal implications.

"That's why you have trustees," he said.

But Wade Burleson, an Oklahoma pastor who has been outspoken about what he sees as overreaching by SBC boards – including the IMB, on which he has been a dissenting member – said the messengers knew full well what they were voting on.

And he used his blog to say that Dr. Mohler and other SBC seminary presidents "gave to our convention the proverbial finger" (Isn't that a godly statement, and they want to lead the SBC?) by resisting the idea that they need to stay within the faith statement's boundaries.