Saturday, March 1, 2008

Is It Possible?

I am wondering if what I desire for the future of the SBC is becoming impossible. My vision is for a convention that is firmly conservative: inerrantist and baptistic, but is also open within those limits. I want to be part of a convention that has the courage to take stands on those issues that matter, and the wisdom to realize that some issues aren't so important.

For years, I was growing dissatisfied with the leaders of the convention - feeling an aching sense that we were turning into an elder-ruled denomination, run by a powerful elite of former conservative leaders.

Then, the whole Wade Burleson thing broke. I was very hopeful that it would lead to good things, to the opening up of fellowship within the conservative parameters of the convention.

However, I am coming to believe that the reform movement in the SBC is moving in a direction I don't want to go. I have asked a question on Wade's site several times, and never received any answer at all. It is the fundamental question I have wanted to know since this thing broke.

"Is the reform movement attempting to reform conservatives, or to reinvolve moderates?" I had hoped and believed that the answer would be, "We are wanting to reform conservatives." However, the tone and tenor of the comment stream on Wade's site, and the blog direction of Outpost and other sites has led me to conclude that the more likely outcome is the attempt to undo the work of the conservative resurgence.

Look at those blogs. There is never a kind or encouraging word about anyone in leadership in the SBC (except Dr. Rankin - my hero), especially Dr. Patterson (not my favorite guy). But there is seldom anything but a kind and affirming word toward those who led the NBCC, regardless of the suspect theology and offensive statements many of them made. Moderates and liberals get praised. Conservatives are seen as the enemy. What is one to think?

Now, Wade is forming something called the Antioch Network. I don't know if it is a new denomination or a lobbying effort, or what. But while they have a reasonable doctrinal statement, they do not even require immersion baptism (and a SBTS prof who asked about that was given a pretty curt reply). So, whatever they are going to be, it appears it is not going to be a Baptist thing.

That is their right, if they so desire. But it is not what I want. I want to see change in the SBC, not another breakoff group like the CBF.

So, I remain where I was. I am unable to support the continued narrowing of fellowship being done by some of our leaders. But, I am increasingly disappointed with the reform movement. It seems to be in the process of becoming not a widening of the tent, but a demolition of the wall of orthodoxy. I hope I am wrong, but that is the impression I am getting.

So, I can't join the unabashed SBC cheering section that supports everything our current leaders do (and treats reformers with venom). But I no longer feel comfortable with the direction of the reform movement.

In 1979, I was at Houston to cast my vote for Dr. Adrian Rogers as President of the SBC. It was my first real act as an active Southern Baptist (I was a seminary student at the time). It was historic, and a moment I cherish.

Where is there an Adrian Rogers today, who will stand and speak out, who will say, "Let us never compromise anything that shouldn't be compromised, and let us never separate over anything silly?"

My hope and prayer is that God will raise him up!

11 comments:

Rex Ray said...

Dave,
You asked, “Is the reform movement attempting to reform conservatives, or to re-involve moderates?”

I believe there’s a simple answer to your question. Do you remember a game that was on TV a long time ago: “Will the real _________ (person) stand up?”

The question today is: ‘Will the real Conservative stand up?’ The answer will be those conservatives that were called ‘moderates’.

From day one, Moderates have argued they were the true conservatives…that their ‘name’ was stolen by fundamentalists.

You said, “…the reform movement…seems to be in the process of becoming…a demolition of the wall of orthodoxy.”

I believe the “orthodoxy” has become the accepted view of building walls to keep sin out, but in reality the walls are making prisoners within.

Your hero, Adrian Rogers, said, “Scripture cannot be set against Scripture”, and “We’ll stand if we have to stand alone.”

It’s becoming clear that standing alone will be done by fewer and fewer until the SBC no longer exist. Maybe I should say what the SBC once was; no longer exist today under the rule of fundamentalists.

Dave Miller said...

Rex, I know we don't agree on defintions and such related to the SBC, but I had professors in college (Southern/Southeastern guys) who taught what I believe you would find offensive, and would not want in the SBC.

1) Denied the concept of the blood atonement of Christ, of his sacrificial death as atonement for sins.

2) One Southern Prof, speaking at our school, said that Jesus did not intend to die, or know he was going to die. It was all sort of a giant miscalculation.

3) The existence of Satan as a real entity and enemy of Christians was ridiculed.

4) One prof stated that there is no such thing in the Bible as predictive prophecy. If the Bible contains what seems to be an accurate prophecy, it was actually written after the event and only pretends to be written beforehand.

5) And, the coup de grace - "Let's face it men. Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, they are just all different flags under which God flies his name."

That same professor once directed me to the "Oh, God" movies to correct my views of God. Not to scripture, but to John Denver.

When he left our college, he went to teach at Midwestern Seminary. Last I heard, he was at a ~Baptist school in Virginia.

We needed to erect a wall of orthodoxy. Maybe we have some disagreements where it should be, but we have to agree that there are teachings that are not appropriate for the SBC.

Eric M Schumacher said...

Dave,

Good thoughts.

As for your prayer that God will "raise him up," I think it should be changed to "raise them up." I'm not so sure we should look to one man, but to many, to speak to these issues.

Eric

Dave Miller said...

Uh-oh. Looks like I need to moderate my blog more carefully.

You guys dug out yet?

Eric M Schumacher said...

you can run, but you can't hide.

Most of last night's snow melted with today's sun. We'll be dug out by August, I expect.

Dave Miller said...

Eric, I bet you have cancelled church more this year than I did in nearly 15 years there.

Morning Worship: 0
Evening Worship: 2-3
Wednesday PM: 5ish

Funny thing is, Sioux City has been getting an inch or two here or there, but no big snows this year (1 in the 6-8 inch range). Only snow left now is where the plows piled it up. Saw the grass Saturday for the first time since December 1.

Most of the snow has bypassed us to the east and hit you guys.

Not that I am complaining...

Eric M Schumacher said...

Yes, we've had to cancel a few times. I have a whole new appreciation for school superintendents who had to make this decision almost every morning!

Luke said...

Dave,
You do not know my nor I you. I have noticed your presence on other blogs and at this time appreciate highly your attempt at evenhandedness in dealing with the ideas put forth.

I appreciate your attempt here at bringing civility through a Christ-like manner. I have not jumped into the foray yet, with both feet anyways. I blog from my own little corner of the world, have a small readership but do venture into the "shakers" of SB blogdom. I seldom comment though for the reason that much of which I would say is usually said by others. Besides that, I have my hands full pastoring the church I am at without trying to enter the politics of the SBC full-time.

May God bless you and your efforts and that call for the "next" Adrian Rogers, why can't that be you?

Luke

Eric M Schumacher said...

Luke -

More comments like that and Dave's head won't be able to fit in "this tent" anymore!!!

:)

Luke said...

Eric,

Maybe we could just raise the top a little without extending the tents borders to accommodate the "hot air"? I say that TOTALLY IN JEST! :) Just playing with your words.

But hey, if Dave fits the bill(another Adrian), let it be.

Luke

Rex Ray said...

Dave,
With all the snow being talked about, I don’t know if you’ll appreciate the latest ‘important’ decision made by the SBC. The Dallas Morning News of March 10 (my 76 birthday…more respect now. smile) wrote:

“New York — In a major shift, a group of Southern Baptist leaders said their denomination has been ‘too timid’ on environmental issues and has a biblical duty to stop global warming. The declaration…was released today. No one speaks on behalf of all Southern Baptist, who leave decision-making to local churches. Yet, signatories of today’s resolution represent some of the top figures in the convention. Among them is the denomination’s president, Frank Page…two former presidents, James Merritt… Jack Graham…and Ronnie Floyd…who helped conservatives solidify control of the denomination in the 1970s and 1980’s.”

MY, MY, does the SBC not have any more important business of the Lord’s to do?
Dave will you be enthusiastic about praying for more snow if you continue NOT seeing what the C/R was all about?