Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Call to Come Together

In a statement released today through Baptist Press, SBC president Frank Page issued a call for all Southern Baptists to seek reconciliation on "divisive issues" and focus on the very reason the SBC exists---cooperation in evangelism and missions:

“I believe that God’s people are more than tired of fighting among ourselves,” Page said. “I sense an overwhelming uprising of God’s people who say that it is time to get on with the issues of missions and evangelism. While we will not ignore our differences, we must pull together in a cause that is greater than any of our own agendas, opinions and interests.

“I believe that God’s people want to get on with Kingdom work.”
Southern Baptists have divergent views on a number of issues, including the sign gifts, ecclesiology, soteriology, eschatology, the role of women in the church, and the use of alcohol. This should not surprise us, as there is an old saying to the effect that whenever you get two Baptists together you end up with three different opinions on something. Because the Bible is not crystal clear to us on every single matter of doctrine, we are going to have differing views on some doctrines. This is OK. This may come as a shock to some, but we can disagree on some issues and still enjoy fellowship and work closely together within our convention as partners in carrying out the Great Commission.

Contrary to what some people seem to think, such cooperation does NOT inevitably result in a theological free-for-all where we end up including pedobaptists, sprinklers, Pentecostals, or even Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and/or universalists within the SBC. Cooperation does not mean that we establish no doctrinal boundaries. Cooperation does require, however, that we limit such boundaries to those issues that are clearly taught by Scripture and/or are core defining doctrines (not necessarily traditional historical beliefs) of Baptists. It is even possible to cooperate in the cause of evangelism and missions while debating our doctrinal differences.

As the various doctrinal differences within the SBC become more pronounced, we are going to have to make a decision as a convention. Are we going to follow the path of demanding doctrinal conformity on biblically unclear and/or relatively minor issues, or are we going to come together for the purpose of evangelism and missions and agree to disagree on such issues? There are many who would take us down each path. I stand with Frank Page in urging Southern Baptists to choose the latter path, for the sake of the Kingdom.

2 comments:

Alycelee said...

Tim, I hadn't read BP today and I'm thrilled to see that quote from Frank Page. He is right on! We need to get on with what we are called to do and stop trying to make clones of ourselves. I believe we are called to be "like Christ". I'm going there to read the story, thanks for posting this.
Alyce

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