Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Someone Who Gets It!

I strongly encourage those of you who are interested in the future of the Southern Baptist Convention to read Chadwick Ivester's interview with NAMB trustee chairman Bill Curtis. In reading this interview I found myself thinking, "Here's a denominational leader who really gets it!" With a clarity that is rarely seen among our convention's leaders, Curtis lays out THE issue that we as Southern Baptists must deal with [material in brackets is mine]:

As it stands, there seems to be two major groups in the SBC, and they view this situation differently. Group A fears the contemporary worship movement and the increasing number of pastors who are Reformed [or those who have a private prayer language or who believe the Bible does not require total abstinence from alcohol or who believe...]. Group B fears a further "narrowing" of the convention based upon personal preferences and generational methodologies. What you have is two different groups looking at the same issues from totally different sides. And that’s where, for Southern Baptists, a choice must be made: Are we going to make preference issues a test of fellowship within our convention? Or are we going to say, "No, we have a document which serves as a statement of our collective beliefs called the Baptist Faith & Message 2000. We’re going to let that be the document that helps us define who we are. And when there are opposing positions which can exist within the confines of that document, we’re not going to break fellowship over those issues but move ahead together to fulfill our primary mission as a convention—fulfilling the Great Commission." ...

In the long term, however, our ability to sustain that missionary effort will be dependent upon the degree to which we, as a people, can work together. My concern is with the potential fallout from a further narrowing the SBC tent. The choice to limit cooperation even further will affect our capacity to support missionaries and to fulfill the Great Commission as a convention.
I'm pretty sure that on some of the controversial doctrinal issues being debated within the SBC Bill Curtis and I have totally different views. But we both agree that on these issues of secondary importance---which are not addressed in the BFM 2000---we can hold differing views and still cooperate for the purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission. If more leaders like Bill Curtis stand up and speak out, the Southern Baptist Convention may have a bright future after all.

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