June 2012

N.C. Baptists top 2011 Annie Armstrong offering

June 19 2012 by BR staff

North Carolina is the number one state in Annie Armstrong Easter Offering giving for 2011, Kevin Ezell announced June 18, during the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) appreciation luncheon in New Orleans. The event was held as Southern Baptists gather this week for their annual meeting.
Last year, N.C. Baptists raised $5.5 million for the offering, which was just over Alabama’s Baptist convention that raised $5 million. South Carolina’s convention led the way among states with fewer than 2,500 churches. The top convention with 500 or fewer congregations was Maryland/Delaware. The state also has seen more than 30 mission church starts since the beginning of this year, according to NAMB’s progress report.
Nationally, the 2012 Annie Armstrong offering is tracking 11 percent ahead of last year’s amount. According to NAMB’s report, the 2011 offering came in at 3 percent over the 2010 offering.
“We’re very thankful for our partnerships with the conventions who have exceeded in their giving in a very positive way,” said Ezell, NAMB’s president.
“We’re extremely thankful and indebted to North Carolina Baptists for … catching the vision of what we’re wanting to accomplish,” Ezell said after the luncheon. “But I think it has a great deal to do with Milton Hollifield being a leader.
 “In a down economy when everything seems to be flat lined or below, for us to be tracking at 11 percent [above last year] this year, we’re overwhelmed by that.”
Milton A. Hollifield Jr., executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of N.C., praised Baptists in the state for their commitment to missions giving, which has also has led the way in past years among the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering as well.
“I’ve always been pleased and amazed at the giving of North Carolina Baptist churches even though we have been in the recession that we have been in,” Hollifield said.
During the lunch, Southern Baptists were also challenged to plant more churches to help see a net gain of 5,000 new churches in North America within the next 10 years. In order to accomplish that, Southern Baptists will need to plant 13,500 churches to keep up with the 880 churches that die each year.
“There is a call and a challenge – a big issue right now because of the great need we have to plant churches in North America,” Hollifield said. “I believe our churches are stepping up to the plate … rising to the occasion.
“I thank God and give him the glory, and I’m proud of what North Carolina churches are doing.”
6/19/2012 1:55:25 PM by BR staff | with 0 comments

Pastors’ Conference opens with fathers, sons

June 19 2012 by Baptist Press

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – A Father’s Day theme marked the opening session of the 2012 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Pastors’ Conference June 18, with speakers being introduced by either their fathers or their sons.

Josh Smith
Former SBC president and evangelist Bailey Smith introduced the first speaker of the conference, his son Josh. Bailey praised God for all three of his sons, each of whom are serving the Lord in Baptist institutions and churches, and gave most of the credit to his godly wife. He described his son Josh as a child as an energetic grasshopper on roller-skates, but he watched God “take his life early and really mold him into something wonderful.”

“I realized the first time I heard Josh preach that I wasn’t hearing my son, I was hearing a man of God,” Bailey Smith said. Turning to his son, he said, “Josh, I love you and I’m proud of you, not because you’re a good preacher but because you’re a man who loves the Lord and preaches His book.”

Josh Smith, pastor of MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving, Texas, preached from Jonah 3 on the proper response to God’s Word. Noting that most people want to experience the extraordinary instead of the ordinary, Smith reminded pastors, “Big doors swing on small hinges.”

The Book of Jonah, Smith said, presents an irony between the responses of God’s prophet and the pagan people. Jonah demonstrated two improper responses: He ran from God’s Word, and then he resented God’s Word. The Ninevites, however, responded in humble faith and repentance.

Photo by Van Payne

Rob Wilton, right, pastor of Vintage Church of New Orleans, prays with his father, Don Wilton, during the evening session June 17 of the two-day Pastors’ Conference at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. Don Wilton, who preached, is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, S.C. The session had a Father’s Day theme where each speaker was introduced by either his father or his son.

“Every Word of God demands a response,” Smith said. “The way we begin this relationship with Him is the way we continue this relationship with Him. Our response to the Word of God determines the direction of our lives.

“God will accomplish His plan, and He will accomplish it through someone,” Smith continued. “The only question is will it be you? And I pray that somehow by God’s grace and for His glory that as you respond properly to the Word of God that it will be.”

Don Wilton
Don Wilton, pastor of First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, S.C., described three pictures from 2 Timothy 2 of what it means to be strong in the grace of God. Pastors, he said, must fight like soldiers, run like athletes and work like farmers in their ministries.

“[God is] calling us to become fathers to our sons and to our daughters, to lead by example and to be the kind of dads in the ministry that God has called us to be,” Wilton said.

The United States is facing a battle that may be unprecedented in its history, Wilton said, and the church needs men who will fight passionately for the gospel.

“It’s not going to take somebody in the White House who will change these United States of America,” Wilton said. “It’s going to take the Lord Jesus Christ by His Spirit changing the hearts and lives of our people.”

Wilton warned of the dangers if the Southern Baptist Convention embraces a form of idolatry by following too closely after individuals rather than after Jesus Himself.

“It is only the Lord our God that we serve,” he said.

Wilton’s son Rob, pastor of Vintage Church in New Orleans, introduced his father by describing him as being personal, loving, challenging and encouraging. As he thought about the text from which his father would preach, Rob Wilton said he “couldn’t help but pause and thank God that the Paul in my life has been my dad.”

Ronnie and Nick Floyd
Father-son pastors Ronnie and Nick Floyd teamed up to preach a sermon. The two alternated turns in the pulpit, challenging pastors to develop an expanding vision for their cities.

“Have we forgotten the vision of reaching our cities, our communities, our villages and our towns?” Nick Floyd, pastor of the Fayetteville, Ark., campus of Cross Church, asked.

Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas, lamented that many pastors have forgotten that God has called them to reach the people outside the church where they live. Pastors, he said, must see their calling theologically, providentially and purposefully.

“Where you are is part of God’s plan,” Ronnie Floyd said. “[God’s] providence has guided you, has blessed you ... and has placed you to live in this time in all of human history and to let you live where you live ... with a purpose.

“God has called you to live where you live, to lead the church you lead, with the gifts you have, for one purpose: to fulfill God’s vision of reaching every person in that region with the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said. “You were made for this moment.”

Tony Evans
Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, preached the concluding sermon for the night with his son Anthony Evans, a gospel music artist and recent contestant on NBC’s “The Voice,” introducing him.

Following the pattern of Psalm 128, Tony Evans preached about the effervescent results of a man who fears God. This man, who Evans called a “Kingdom man,” takes God seriously, and because he does so, leads his family according to God’s Word. Evans used this second point as an opportunity to speak to the current debate about same-sex marriage.

“What God wants is men, partnering with their wives, who run their families according to God – because the saga of a nation is the saga of the family, in large,” he said. “Marriage is not a civil institution; marriage is a divine institution to be recognized in a civil society.”

A family that takes God seriously overflows into a church that submits to God’s rule, he said.

“God didn’t come to take sides, He came to take over,” Evans said. “It’s time for the church to wake up and go public. We don’t have time for a white church, or a black church, a Hispanic church. We need the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Reported by Keith Collier, Aaron Cline Hanbury & Tim Ellsworth.)
6/19/2012 1:47:45 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Simpson thankful for grace after winning Open

June 19 2012 by Tim Ellsworth, Baptist Press

SAN FRANCISCO – A tense finish to the U.S. Open may have been difficult on Webb Simpson’s emotions, but a boost to his prayer life.

“I probably prayed more the last three holes than I’ve ever done in my life,” Simpson said after winning the tournament [Sunday] June 17. “It helped me stay calm and get in with 2-under [on the final day of the tournament].”

Simpson finished at 1-over for the tournament and left the course without ever holding the lead. But Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell faltered in their own final rounds, leaving Simpson with his first major title. He watched from the clubhouse as McDowell missed a birdie putt on the 18th hole that would have tied Simpson.

“He knows that his hope is not in golf,” said Ryan Carson, student pastor at Forest Hill Church in Charlotte, N.C., where Webb and his wife Dowd are members. “He knows that his hope is in the Lord, and that perspective, I think, has really kept him grounded.”

Webb Simpson

Carson told Baptist Press that Simpson is not someone “who just calls himself a Christian then just attends church.”

“He’s got a passionate pursuit of Jesus going on,” Carson said. “It’s something that is really contagious. He steers conversations back to the Lord, back to Scripture, back to experiences that he’s had with the Lord or that other people have had.

“He’s passionate about it,” Carson continued. “He’s not just a nominal Christian. He’s truly got a life that wants to honor and serve Jesus.”

Last year, after his first PGA Tour victory at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., Simpson said he’d “be stupid not to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, because it was tough out there and I was nervous, and I felt his presence all day.”

On Monday, after winning the U.S. Open, Simpson took to Twitter to offer his gratitude.

“Thanks to everyone for the support and encouragement,” he wrote. “Humbled to win the US Open!! Thankful to God for His grace in my life.” A few days earlier on Twitter, Simpson notified his followers that “I’m going to tweet a lot about faith, Jesus, Bible. Also, I’m going to tweet about golf and random stuff.”

The 26-year-old Simpson trailed by four strokes going into the final round and was in 29th place after two days – making him the first golfer ever to move from that far back to win the U.S. Open.

A native of Raleigh, N.C., Simpson attended Wake Forest University where he studied religion.

“He loves the Lord,” Simpson’s brother-in-law, Graham Keith, said about him in a PGA Tour video. “He tries to do everything he can when he plays on the golf course to glorify the Lord. To him, it’s more about how he can use golf to reach other people.”

In the same video, Simpson’s wife Dowd said the love of Jesus Christ pours out of him.

“He’s so full of joy and life and energy,” she said. “I think people like being around a guy like that.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tim Ellsworth is editor of BPSports and director of news & media relations at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.)
6/19/2012 1:38:17 PM by Tim Ellsworth, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Major leaguer shares about challenges, inspiring young people

June 19 2012 by Roman Gabriel, Sports Q&A

Baseball relief pitcher Jeremy Affeldt’s journey in Major League Baseball started in 1997 as a third round pick of the Kansas City Royals. In 2007, the powerful lefthander was traded to the Colorado Rockies where he experienced his first taste of World Series baseball, losing to the Boston Red Sox. After a short stint in 2008 with the Cinncinnati Reds, he joined his current team the San Francisco Giants. Affeldt was named baseball’s 2010 “Set Up Man of the Year” after posting a 1.73 ERA as a key reliever for the Giants.
He was instrumental in helping them win the World Series defeating the Texas Rangers.

Affeldt is a strong advocate for ending child poverty. He writes a weekly blog about his Christian faith and his desire to stir a movement that helps the suffering and marginalized. Affeldt’s organization known as Generation Alive helps educate people about the world’s social justice issues. In 2010, he was the San Francisco Giants’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award for his advocacy work. 
The heart of The Jeremy Affeldt Foundation is youth ministry and providing ministries with the funds and assets they need to accomplish their goals.

S.F. Giants photo

San Franciso Giant pitcher Jeremy Affeldt writes a weekly blog about his faith. He uses his sport as a platform not only to talk about his Christianity but child poverty as well.

Biblical Recorder sports correspondent Roman Gabriel III recently interviewed Affeldt on his Sold Out Sports Talk show on American Family Radio.
Affeldt shares some of the lessons God has taught him on the importance of his platform and his personal and professional life.
Q: Tell us about the origins of Generation Alive.
A: We started this organization in 2005. I wanted to get into public and private schools, talk about child development skills and developing young minds in the correct way. We would then invite them to after school outreaches to share the gospel. [We’d] follow up by getting youth pastors involved and looking toward ongoing [opportunities] to disciple these students.
Q: What is your impression of this generation of young people?
A: This generation is impressionable. Generation Y is [an] awesome group of young people. We want to empower them in some way to understand that they have tremendous ability to make a difference in the world. Influencing these kids is a passion of mine. We have more young people in the world today than any other time. And using sports and my success is important.
I’m not sure I could have the same influence without the opportunity I have in sports. As an athlete I’ve been a part of a lot of success in my career – nine years in the big leagues, two World Series appearances, one World Series championship, and “Set Up Man of the Year.” I want to do a lot more with what I have been given.
Q: It sounds like you’re not satisfied with just being an athlete or … “today’s role model.”
A: I have had a lot of success and failure, but it all means absolutely nothing if I don’t do what I am supposed to do with those things. I do not think sitting at home, telling my kids and my wife, “look at me and look how good I am” [is it.] … If that’s all I’m here for then that’s such a shallow life. I want to do a lot more with what I have been given.
Q: A lot of people think that success comes over night. Your career has not been easy, four years in the minor leagues and a lot of physical setbacks. It was a long wait for success.
A: It was [an] awesome spiritual journey when I started in Kansas City. … I was a power pitcher, left-handed pitcher, power arm. I could see I could be a top starter.
But I had these weird injuries: oblique tear, tore my groin tendon from the bone, and a lot of finger problems. I had never been hurt before I came to the majors. I was grieving all the injuries, trying to get my career going, but God [wanted] to show me something through the pain and failure. 
But he spared my arm. It was never that, which I was thankful for, even during the bad years. I can remember being like David ... and screaming, frustrated ... asking God not to forget about me. … But [also] practicing the other end of David’s prayer of thanking God for being so faithful.
Q: What lesson did you take from that situation early in your career that helps you today?
A: I learned so much in my pain and frustration, and I learned so much, staying close to [God]. I was mad, not fulfilling my talent, but that’s where my heart was truly open ... that’s where the truth is exposed about us.
God poured his love on me. Just remember that when everything is going good we have a tendency not to [feel like we] need God.
He knew the success he wanted to give me down the road, but I didn’t. What I went through early in my career kept me on track, and has kept me humble now during my success. And I want to use being a World Series champion and my career successes. I just want to use this platform to promote the love of God.
Q: Where can people go to find out more about Generation Alive and your blog?
A: You can find my blog at generationalive.org, and on Facebook and Twitter. I am also on both Facebook and Twitter personally and do a lot of positive quotes throughout the day, along with positive articles [that] I think would be good for people to read. My weekly blog gives my thoughts and views regarding sports and Christianity.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Roman Gabriel is an evangelist and motivational speaker. His Sold Out Sports Talk Radio program on American Family Radio can be heard in 200 cities nationally or streaming live at afr.net. It’s all about faith, family and sports. Visit his website: soldouttv.com; Facebook page: Roman Gabriel III Fan Page; connect with him on Twitter: romangabriel3rd; email him: soldoutrg3@gmail.com or call 910-431-6483. For more stories from Gabriel, visit here.)
6/19/2012 1:31:09 PM by Roman Gabriel, Sports Q&A | with 0 comments

Baptists spread gospel throughout New Orleans

June 18 2012 by Mickey Noah, NAMB

NEW ORLEANS – Crossover 2012 – the evangelistic emphasis that precedes the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in the host city – covered metro New Orleans just like Saturday’s early morning showers – which ended as soon as they began – turning gray skies blue and sunny, making it a pleasant day to share Jesus in The Big Easy.
More than 1,500 Southern Baptist volunteers – from 59 local churches and many others from across the United States – shared the gospel. Their efforts stretched from the Lower Ninth Ward outward to Metairie and Kenner. Counting Saturday’s 38 Crossover block parties, special events and door-to-door community evangelism efforts for the week, 871 made decisions for Christ during Crossover 2012.

Photo by Adam Miller

Maritza, left, and Guillermo Soriano make balloon animals for children at a block party in Metairie, La. The Sorianos, from Fairview Baptist Church in Cary, N.C., came to assist Eric Gonzalez, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Hispania Emmanuel. The event was part of Crossover 2012, an evangelistic outreach throughout metro New Orleans held prior to the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting June 19-20.

Annual Crossover events are a partnership between local Southern Baptist churches, associations and the North American Mission Board (NAMB). NAMB provides funding, strategy and coordination assistance.
“We put a lot of work and preparation into it, and the churches and church planters executed the plan superbly,” said Jack Hunter, director of missions for the New Orleans Baptist Association. “God did a great work at this year’s Crossover.”
One of the 38 area churches hosting a block party was Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, pastored by Fred Luter, expected to be elected as the SBC’s first African-American president during the June 19-20 annual meeting at the Ernest Morial Convention Center downtown.
“Our block party is a great event for the community, the city and the SBC,” said Luter. “My prayer is that – using the games and the music – we’ll be able to share Christ with folks who don’t have a relationship with God so their lives can be changed.
“New Orleans is not the same place as in 2005. It’s a whole new city. That’s why I’m excited the SBC is here. Baptists came in and helped rebuild our city (after Hurricane Katrina). It’s great to see Baptists come back and see the fruits of their labor.”

Whether it was large churches like Franklin Avenue Baptist or small congregations like Evangelistic Baptist Church on Elysian Fields Avenue, local churches offered neighborhood children “bounce houses”, water slides, hamburgers and hot dogs, snow cones, cotton candy and live entertainment by Christian rap artists, praise groups and strength teams on church campuses or in parks throughout metro New Orleans.
Evangelistic Baptist lost 65 percent of its members after Katrina – down now to only 25 or so members. But those surviving members – along with some help from youth and adults from Baptist churches in Peachtree City, Ga., and DeRidder, La., hosted a block party drawing some 200 or more, said founding pastor Anthony Pierce.
“We didn’t know whether we’d ever even have church here again after Katrina,” Pierce said.  Floodwaters destroyed the sanctuary of the old church, which had to be rebuilt on the inside.
Local churches benefited from the outpouring of volunteer labor from around the state and across the convention.
Thomas Strong, the pastor of Metairie Baptist Church in Metairie, La., believes their block party represents another opportunity for the church to let the surrounding community learn more about the church. He said the Crossover volunteers played a critical role in the block party.
“We’re all working together at this block party,” said Strong. “It’s reminding our church that it’s not just us. It’s not just the churches in our city. It’s all of us as Southern Baptists coming together to accomplish God’s purpose for us in reaching out.”
Dustin Swanger, a member at First Baptist Church of Peachtree City, Ga., had the opportunity to lead a 17-year-old to faith in Jesus Christ at the block party hosted by Metairie Baptist. The boy told Swanger he hadn’t really read the Bible and had never prayed to receive Christ. Swanger then led the young man to faith in Christ.
“That hits me deep within when I think about it – to know that someone who once wasn’t saved is now saved and I was there to witness it,” Swanger said.
For Emmanuel Spanish Baptist Church in Metairie their block party culminated a weeklong Vacation Bible School with close to 30 decisions for Christ. First Spanish Baptist Church of Atlanta came to help Emmanuel with both VBS and the block party. Parents of the children who attended VBS and others in the community were invited to the party to see the children perform some of what they learned during the week.
According to Jonathan Sharp, the cross-cultural evangelism strategist at the New Orleans Baptist Association, Emmanuel had been apprehensive about holding a block party since it would be new for them. But volunteers from the Atlanta church helped teach them how to put the block party together.
“They’ve helped us do many things this week to help us better reach our community,” said Eric Gonzalez, Emmanuel’s pastor. “It also helped to encourage and motivate our people to serve more.”
Downtown, volunteers fanned out to prayerwalk the French Quarter. Starting at the Baptist Friendship House, teams learned about the surrounding community from Executive Director Kay Bennett.
Supplied with water bottles and tracts, a team from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, walked down Frenchman Street stopping to talk and pray with locals.
“The people who live here are looking for something to believe in,” said Scott Flenniken, director of Baptist Student Ministry at San Jacinto. “They want to find a friend, acceptance.”
Flenniken and his wife, Nicole, have been to New Orleans many times, but it was the first mission trip for the students with them.
Scott and I just feel a connection to this city,” Nicole said. “To see what God is doing in this city is addicting. That’s why we keep coming back. You can tell God has a heart for this city.”

Prior to Saturday, Southern Baptists in New Orleans were making door-to-door community evangelism visits and staging special youth events.
Twenty community evangelism volunteers from across the U.S. and 96 students from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., used Carrollton Avenue Baptist as their base from which to fan out across the Crescent City. 
The team of Marshall Kellett, Victor Benavides and Cameron Moore led 49 to Christ between Monday and Friday, walking the streets and neighborhoods of New Orleans’ Holly Grove community. By Friday, more than 300 were new believers.
Kicking off Crossover Weekend was an “Awaken The City” rally attended by about 500 excited and loud high school kids – from the greater New Orleans area – at East Jefferson High School in Metairie Friday night. The rally was co-hosted by Church of the King, a church plant of 400 that currently meets at the high school, the New Orleans Baptist Association and Abandon Productions.
The students were entertained by Christian rap artist Trip Lee and treated to amazing feats of strength by Andy Gavin of the Strength Team, a Christian ministry of athletes. Gavin included his testimony and the gospel in his demonstrations. His feats included breaking a baseball bat over his thigh, tearing a thick phone book and deck of cards in half, and bending rods of steel, horse shoes and frying pans.
“We just want kids to give their hearts to Jesus,” said Dean Ross, executive director of Abandon Productions and pastor of Lakeside Church in Metairie. “The theme, ‘Awaken The City,’ is literally what we want to do in New Orleans. Events like this are great, but movements are better. We want to change the fabric of this city forever.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mickey Noah writes for the North American Mission Board. With reporting by Tobin Perry and Carol Pipes.)
6/18/2012 3:54:13 PM by Mickey Noah, NAMB | with 0 comments

Two more nominees for SBC 2nd VP

June 18 2012 by Baptist Press

NEW ORLEANS, La. – South Carolina pastor Brad Atkins and Iowa pastor David Miller will be nominated for Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) second vice president during the denomination’s Tuesday-Wednesday annual meeting in New Orleans.

Atkins, 39, pastor of Powdersville First Baptist Church in Easley, S.C., and president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention (SCBC), will be nominated by Johnny Touchet, pastor of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in Piedmont, S.C.
Miller, pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Sioux City, Iowa, will be nominated by Alan Cross, pastor of Gateway Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala.
Brad Atkins
“Brad has not been a pastor of a large church or written any books, but he has a heart for the Southern Baptist Convention,” Touchet said in a news release provided to the Baptist Courier newspaper. “He desires to help lead the SBC into the future with unity among our members and focus within our leadership.

Brad Atkins

“Now is the time for the SBC to be united in our efforts to help reach the nations with the gospel as we all seek Great Commission living.”

Atkins served in successive years as second vice president and first vice president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention before being elected SCBC president in November 2011. He also served on the state convention’s Great Commission Resurgence Task Force in 2011.

Atkins has served at First Baptist Church since 2006. Since he became pastor, the church has grown from fewer than 30 to more than 350 in average attendance, adding 183 new members and baptizing 68.

The church has also increased its missions giving to 13 percent of undesignated receipts – with 7 percent going to the Cooperative Program, 3 percent to the Piedmont Baptist Association, and 1 percent to each of three church planters/missionaries. Atkins has led his church to take part in mission trips to Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida and Romania.

He earned a bachelor of arts in Christian studies from North Greenville University, attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s extension campus at Anderson University and completed a master of ministry degree at Andersonville Theological Seminary.

He is the husband of Hayley Brooks Atkins. They have two children: Annie Laurie, 13, and Will, 11.

Atkins was born in Motlow Creek, S.C., and grew up in a rural Southern Baptist church. He was saved at 17 and soon answered a call to ministry. He has served on staff at three South Carolina Baptist churches over the past 15 years.

Dave Miller
Cross announced on his blog Friday that he would nominate Miller, who also is the editor of SBCVoices.com, an SBC-centric blog.

David Miller

“Dave is fair, balanced, and generous in his role as editor,” Cross wrote. “He also has a great wit and a fantastic sense of humor as well as a sharp theological mind and love for Christ and people. Whenever I see Dave chime in, I know that I am going to hear a perspective that is well thought out, reasonable, fair, and Christ-centered.”

Miller has been pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church since 2005. He previously was pastor of Northbrook Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids for about 14 years. He also served as pastor of a church in Virginia for four years.

Miller is a native of Iowa, and his parents were Baptist missionaries in Taiwan.

“Dave is exactly the kind of guy that Baptists need in leadership right now,” Cross wrote. “... He has the background to know how the SBC functions in all respects, but he has also served outside of the South and knows where the SBC should be headed if it is going to thrive in an increasingly post-Christian America.

“In addition to Dave’s experience, his passion is to see Baptists continue to work together in ever increasing ways,” Cross added. “Dave believes strongly (as do I) that our true unity is in Christ, that the Baptist Faith & Message (BF&M) is our standard of doctrinal unity and that all who agree with it should be able to work together in Baptist life and mission. He also believes and promotes the fact that we should cooperate in the Great Commission both locally and globally and that we should do that through the Cooperative Program. Dave’s church, Southern Hills Baptist, is the leading CP church in Iowa as well as in Lottie Moon and total missions giving. Dave clearly articulates his hopes and prayers for the SBC in this post at SBCVoices.”

Cross concluded, “Dave’s heartbeat is that we would work together as Baptists according to what we already have in common to know Christ and make Him known to the ends of the earth. He provides a platform for discussion and mutual understanding every day through SBCVoices and he leads his local church in faithful mission both in Iowa and around the world. Dave is exactly the kind of leadership that Southern Baptists can hope to have to lead us forward, and for that reason, I will gladly give him my support.”

Miller graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications from Palm Beach Atlantic College and a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Also expected to be nominated for second vice president is Eric Hankins, pastor of First Baptist Church in Oxford, Miss. Hankins’ nomination was originally announced in May. He will be nominated by Clint Pressley, pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte. See story here.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Stories from Butch Blume, managing editor of the Baptist Courier, and Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press, were combined for this article.)
6/18/2012 3:02:45 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Bryant Wright reflects on SBC presidency

June 18 2012 by G. Gerald Harris, Baptist Press

Bryant Wright has traveled more than 100,000 miles to 16 states and to 10 countries on three continents since his election as president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in June 2010.

Wright, pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., had nearly 100 speaking engagements during his two-year presidency. Wright’s successor will be elected during the June 19-20 SBC annual meeting in New Orleans.

Wright was interviewed about his experiences as SBC president by Gerald Harris, editor of The Christian Index, newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention. The article which follows was published by The Index in mid-May.

Index: You have talked much during your presidency about Southern Baptists returning to their first love. How do you think it would look if we were to achieve that goal?

Wright: Obviously, it would be a hard thing to measure, but basically it comes back to every Christian. I think it will mean that the church is going to look different from the world. Our big problem now is that the church looks so much like the world in terms of materialism, heathenism, obsession with “workaholism” and busyness. We just have so little distinctiveness in our spirit, our character and our priorities. We need to be more Christ-like in our character and spirit so we will be attractive to those who are lost.

Index: You have also talked a lot about the idolatry of materialism. What would you say about the problem of materialism and the challenge of Christian stewardship?

Bryant Wright

Wright: Jesus said that we must choose between money and God. If the average Southern Baptist looked at their checkbook, many would be reminded that they love their money more than God. Our checkbook reveals where our heart is. Jesus made that very clear (Matthew 6:21, 24).

Index: You had said that changing the name of the convention would position us to maximize our effectiveness in reaching North America for Christ. Why did you think it would make us more effective?

Wright: I felt like it would help us outside the South and Southwest not to have such a regional name. It’s a barrier. For example, how would we feel if someone from Boston came to the South and said they were going to start a church for the Yankee Baptist Convention? It probably wouldn’t be a huge draw to southerners in Birmingham. It is just a barrier to reaching people for Christ.

As we got into the study, it quickly became evident at how incredibly difficult it would be to legally change the name. With the autonomy of the local church, the autonomy of the state conventions and the authority of the entities guided by their boards, we could vote overwhelmingly to change the legal name, but we couldn’t force that upon anyone because of the autonomy issue.

Twenty state conventions may vote to approve the change and 20 state conventions might not. This would create a chaotic, divisive situation. So I have had to change my viewpoint on the matter.

Index: Did the racial connotation of “Southern” in our name motivate you to want to change the name? After all, the Northern and Southern Baptist Conventions came about as a result of the slavery issue.

Wright: I did not realize how much the word “Southern” and its association with the Confederacy presented an obstacle to African Americans in our convention. I just had not realized how significant a hurdle that was for them.

We had two African-American pastors on our committee and they were very helpful to us. They have been very courageous to be Southern Baptist pastors. They have not done the popular thing in regard to their peers.

Index: There appears to be a changing of the guard in SBC life and the older leaders of the Conservative Resurgence seem to be taking a back seat in the discussions. In fact, your election may have signaled that changing of the guard because many young pastors were supportive of your presidency. With the way the young leaders are emerging, what do you see as the future of the SBC?

Wright: Well, I am pleased, because the Great Commission is front and center in the SBC today. To me this is a direct result of the Conservative Resurgence. I wasn’t that involved in the denomination in those days, but I am excited about the present health of our seminaries and the doctrinal and missional focus they have today.

The Conservative Resurgence had to happen first, but now another generation has come along with a passion to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Index: What have been your greatest challenges as the president of the convention?

Wright: First, my biggest hesitancy about doing this is that I knew it was a job with a lot of responsibility and very little authority. That is a bad combination for leadership. The president appoints the Committee on Committees, Resolutions Committee and a few other committees, but his authority is really very limited.

Because it is hard to communicate with our people due to the autonomy of the local church and state conventions, etc., I set up the monthly “Pray for SBC” video because I thought in this modern culture it would be a way to directly share my heart with Southern Baptists on a regular basis. But I have been disappointed with the number of viewers.

Index: What have been your greatest joys and accomplishments as president?

Wright: It has been a joy to see the Holy Spirit leading Tom Elliff [International Mission Board (IMB) president] and me in the same way at the same time without each other knowing – that is, challenging churches to embrace unreached and unengaged people groups. When I called Tom to share my leading to challenge the churches of the convention in Phoenix [at the 2011 SBC annual meeting] to embrace all 3,800 unengaged and unreached people groups, he told me he had been meeting with IMB leadership about the same plan.

When the Holy Spirit is working two places at once with the same leading, that is really exciting. We now have over 1,100 churches engaged in reaching unreached people groups. This is truly a movement of the Holy Spirit. We are going to build on that at this year’s convention.

Index: How do you envision the future growth of the denomination?

Wright: I won’t be surprised if we show some signs of decline in membership, baptisms and attendance in the next 10-15 years because about two-thirds of our churches are less than 100 people and overwhelming elderly in rural and small town areas. In the 20th century, there was a radical sociological population shift in America from rural to urban. But when you see all those seminary students who are passionate about planting churches in largely unreached metropolitan areas, I think eventually we will see a reversal of that downward trend.

Index: How do you feel about the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) emphasis on church planting?

Wright: There is a paradigm shift at IMB and NAMB. NAMB is going to assist the local church in planting churches. IMB is calling on the local church to embrace or adopt these unreached people groups. The focus is on the local church being in the lead. That’s a huge paradigm shift that’s happening.

Index: That paradigm shift bypasses associations and state conventions. Is that something that should concern people?

Wright: I do not think so. Churches can partner together within associations to start churches. Churches can work together within their state conventions to start churches. But I still think the local church should lead the way.

State convention leadership has been understandably concerned about the fact that I feel like a larger percentage of Cooperative Program dollars should go out of the states to missions in largely unreached areas. This is especially true in the Deep South states where Southern Baptist and so many other evangelical churches already provide a witness.

I certainly understand from their perspective, but I am trying to see the big picture. In the long run I think it will help the CP receive more dollars when a high percentage goes to domestic and international missions in largely unreached areas versus staying in the state. That is a paradigm shift that is happening.

Index: Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd is serving as a liaison for NAMB with mega-church pastors to mobilize them to become active in planting churches. How do you see that working and do you know how many churches these mega-church pastors are being asked to plant?

Wright: We just had our mega-church pastors meeting several weeks ago. Ronnie was there and he challenged our churches to become flagship churches and not only to plant churches, but recruit medium- and small-sized churches to have a church planting mentality and join in the effort.

At Johnson Ferry we have accepted the leadership role in starting churches in San Francisco, because we are already taking part as one of the sponsoring churches of a church plant in Silicon Valley. So, now our role is to get as many churches of different sizes to join us in a kind of coalition.

Index: How are you involving other churches in that effort?

Wright: We have joined 14 other churches in planting the church in Silicon Valley, but we will need many more churches to help us in a church planting movement in that area. Even small churches can send five or six people on a mission trip to help.

Others can help with financial support or assist with street festivals, prayerwalking and one-on-one evangelism. It is all so exciting. We need a lot of help because we want to plant 50 new churches in the greater San Francisco area over the next 10 years.

When Ronnie presented the need for flagship churches to lead out in the church planting effort, he shared that NAMB has identified 29 major ... cities in the United States [for the initiative]. At that meeting, pastors stepped forward to pray and explore the possibility of leading the way in 28 of the 29 cities.
6/18/2012 2:43:10 PM by G. Gerald Harris, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Mission:Dignity Sunday honors SBC ministers, widows

June 18 2012 by Judy Bates, GuideStone Financial

Ten dollars a month. That’s all Gordon and Alice Burks had left over from his salary after paying rent of $65 for their little place in Home Gardens, Calif. The small church Gordon had agreed to pastor couldn’t pay them more than $75 a month, but he followed the Lord’s calling in spite of the hardships it might entail. Ten dollars went a lot farther in the 1950s than it does today, but it still wasn’t much to buy groceries and pay other bills.
The Burks’ story is not unlike that of almost 2,000 retired Southern Baptist ministers and their widows in financial need. June 24 is Mission:Dignity Sunday across the Southern Baptist Convention. Like the Burks, many of those who depend on Mission:Dignity served small, rural churches with meager salaries and little, if any, retirement contributions. Today, they struggle to pay for food, utilities and medications.
“We didn’t have a refrigerator or a stove,” Alice Burks said. “We cooked on a little hot plate. Then, finally, one of the members gave us a stove. It didn’t have any handles on it. We turned it off and on with our pliers. But it cooked.”
Though times were hard and money scarce, Gordon and Alice never complained. Through more than 40 years Alice worked alongside Gordon as he pastored churches in California, Oklahoma and Texas. She fondly remembers Gordon’s love of preaching: “He really loved to preach. At one of the churches that he pastored, they said, ‘Gordon, if you don’t quit preaching so hard you’re going to drop dead in the pulpit.’ He said, ‘I don’t know of a better place to drop dead than preaching God’s word.’ He was always studying and reading and praying.”
After Gordon’s death in 1993, Alice started receiving $75 a month from the Mission:Dignity ministry. Through the years, as the program changed, the assistance amounts increased, and now she receives $400 each month.
“I feel especially blessed that I have been privileged to receive the Mission:Dignity grant,” she said. “It helped me pay for my first hearing aid and also to get my teeth. Receiving this money has helped me to not be a burden on anyone.”
Mission:Dignity receives no Cooperative Program gifts. Most support comes from the generous gifts of individual churches, Sunday school classes and individuals; 100 percent of contributions given to Mission:Dignity goes to help those in need, with nothing deducted for administrative expenses. One out of every four recipients is a pastor’s widow age 85 or older. Qualified recipients are eligible to receive grants of $200 to $530 each month.
“GuideStone was founded on the idea of serving those who gave sacrificially to spread the Word of God,” said O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial Resources. “It’s easy to look at GuideStone and see a broad-based financial services organization, serving more than 200,000 people worldwide. While that is an important part of the ministry, the DNA of GuideStone rests with dear soldiers of the cross who served out at the crossroads, ministering, many times in anonymity.”
Visiting MissionDignitySBC.org or call (888) 98-GUIDE (1-888-984-8433).
6/18/2012 2:29:10 PM by Judy Bates, GuideStone Financial | with 0 comments

At Friendly Avenue, ‘Our mission is missions’

June 18 2012 by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications

“Our mission is missions,” Pat Cronin says. He’s referring to Friendly Avenue Baptist Church, the 1,300-member congregation in Greensboro, where he has led as pastor for 17 years.  
Walk through the building complex and you’ll see mission trip photos and mementos lining the halls; there’s a big photo display of the Burmese congregation that meets in their building.
The design is intentional, Cronin said: “We’re creating a culture of missions. How important that is. Missions is woven into our church’s historical fabric.”
“If you’re not in the mission business, what are you in?” he asks.
Commitment to missions, as in the Great Commission at the end of Matthew 28, is basic to the church and to his calling as pastor, he says.

Mike Creswell, BSC Communications

Pat Cronin, pastor of Friendly Avenue Baptist Church in Greensboro, has encouraged his church to support the Cooperative Program, “the premier program for giving and going, as far as I’m concerned,” Cronin said. This year, the church will give 10 percent of its total receipts to CP.

“How could we not cooperate on that? Otherwise, you become an isolationist. Our people know, deep down in their faith journey, that the ministry is out there beyond the church walls,” he says.
“I’ve always felt that, as a pastor, God hasn’t chosen me to go into full-time missions, but I’m on the front lines to lead my people, to win them to Christ and disciple them. A part of that discipleship is supporting missions and those missionaries who will go,” he says, “and missions support is very much a part of who we are.”
“Loving God is obeying God. He asks us to go into the world. The majority of us don’t go into the uttermost parts of the world physically, but when there are others to go in their commitment to Jesus Christ, we must be willing to support and underwrite them,” he adds.
Commitment to missions and commitment to cooperation are the two main foundations to his support for the Cooperative Program, the unified budget system of the Baptist State Convention that allows churches across the state to support both state ministries and also those across the nation with the Southern Baptist Convention. This year Friendly Avenue is contributing 10 percent of their total receipts through the Cooperative Program.
“The Cooperative Program is the premier program for giving and going, as far as I’m concerned,” Cronin says.
He recalls how the pastor of a large, non-denominational church did a careful study into the missions support systems of many groups and concluded that the Cooperative Program of Southern Baptists was the best missions support system in the country. Though Cronin acknowledges no system is perfect, he says the Cooperative Program works much better than the independent approach.
He recalls attending an independent Bible college years ago, where he saw independent missionaries come back to solicit funds from churches:  “I remember when there was trouble at the helm, the person influencing people giving to those missionaries, there was trouble in the support of those missionaries.”
“The Cooperative Program comes down to good, wholesome stewardship. That’s why we cooperate,” he says. “There are so many offerings, you can’t always do everything, but I think there are some things you must always do, and that is the Cooperative Program and missions giving.”
Maintaining commitment to Cooperative Program support means lay members, especially finance workers, have to be constantly informed on what their giving accomplishes, he said.  
He praised the church’s Woman’s Missionary Union for their missions support through the years.
He singled out the late Sarah Parker, with her husband, Friendly Avenue pastor emeritus A.L. Parker, long-time members and strong advocates for missions support.
“She just loved the Lord and believed that the Cooperative Program and all the ministries it supports were vitally important to the Kingdom of God. It was part of her, the fiber of who she was. She didn’t say, ‘Oh, we gotta do this.’ She celebrated it,” he says.
Friendly Avenue maintains a residence for missionaries who spend time in the area on stateside assignments, which assures members rub shoulders with missionaries they support and pray for.
Members Ronald and Eveyln Hill, retired after long careers as Southern Baptist missionaries in Thailand, have also provided a constant missions leavening effect on the congregation. The Hills have played key roles in the church’s support for the congregation of Karen people from Myanmar (Burma). Bryan Presson, who served as a missionary for 19 years in Thailand, leads the church’s ministry to the Karen.
Taking members on mission trips is one of the most effective ways to teach missions and missions support, Cronin says. He has led members on a mission trip 16 of the 17 years he has served at Friendly Avenue.
In recent years teams have served in Romania, Ukraine, Argentina, Ecuador, Cuba and Thailand.
“We just got back from India,” he says. He taught church planters there; meanwhile, Friendly Avenue’s children raised enough money to dig two water wells in Bihar state, among India’s poorest. “When our kids saw the pictures they clapped and celebrated. That’s what Christianity is all about: Christ incarnating Himself through us. When you do that, it all comes down to stewardship. In Christianity, I think we have to ask ourselves, what have we done for Christ lately?”
N.C. Baptist missions and ministries in India and Cuba are coordinated by N.C. Baptist Men, whose main funding source is the N.C. Missions Offering, also supported by Friendly Avenue. Closer to home, church members are involved in dozens of local ministries, such as prison and hospital ministries, Habitat for Humanity, and several ministries to the needy. Friendly Avenue is called to support missions locally and across the state, nation and world, he said.
6/18/2012 2:20:27 PM by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Statement on Calvinism sparks blog discussion

June 15 2012 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A May 30 statement aimed at critiquing Calvinism launched a discussion within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) nearly immediately when it was posted online, and the debate has yet to slow down.

The document, “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation,” was posted at SBCToday.com and has received more than 800 comments. All total, when including other SBCToday.com stories about the statement, more than 1,800 comments have been logged.

But that’s just scratching the surface, as various Baptist-centric blogs have been dominated by dialog on the 10-point statement. Since May 30, SBCVoices.com, another Baptist blog, has seen more than 1,800 comments – about the same as SBCToday.com – on various blog posts dealing with the statement.

The statement – which affirms what the signers call the “traditional Southern Baptist” understanding of the doctrine of salvation and draws a distinction with the beliefs of “New Calvinism” – includes signatures from two entity presidents (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Paige Patterson and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s Chuck Kelley), seven state executive directors (Georgia’s Bob White, Florida’s John Sullivan, Mississippi’s Jim Futral, Louisiana’s David Hankins, Alaska’s Mike Procter, Colorado’s Mark Edlund, Indiana’s Cecil W. Seagle), and in addition to Patterson, five other former SBC presidents (Bailey Smith, Jimmy Draper, Jerry Vines, Morris Chapman and Bobby Welch).

Much of the discussion in the blogosphere has centered on a column written by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s president, R. Albert Mohler Jr., who explained why he did not sign the statement.

“I have very serious reservations and concerns about some of its assertions and denials,” Mohler wrote on his website. “I fully understand the intention of the drafters to oppose several Calvinist renderings of doctrine, but some of the language employed in the statement goes far beyond this intention. Some portions of the statement actually go beyond Arminianism and appear to affirm semi-Pelagian understandings of sin, human nature, and the human will – understandings that virtually all Southern Baptists have denied.”

Mohler continued: “I do not believe that those most problematic statements truly reflect the beliefs of many who signed this document. I know many of these men very well, and I know them to be doctrinally careful and theologically discerning.”

Semi-Pelagianism, according to the Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (IVP), maintains that “faith begins independently of God’s grace, although such grace is subsequently necessary for salvation.” Nelson’s New Christian Dictionary says that in semi-Pelagianism, “the first step toward salvation was through human will and that grace intervened only with human assent.” It gets its name from a British monk, Pelagius, who lived around A.D. 400.

Mohler was not specific in his concern, although on various blogs, those who have made the same charge have pointed to the statement’s second article, which reads, in part: “We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned. While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the gospel.” The first sentence is the one at issue. The second article also states: “We affirm that, because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin. Each person’s sin alone brings the wrath of a holy God, broken fellowship with Him, ever-worsening selfishness and destructiveness, death, and condemnation to an eternity in hell.”

Vines, on his blog, said the document is not semi-Pelagian.

“I strongly disagree with Dr. Mohler’s assertion that ‘some of the statements appear to affirm semi-Pelagian understandings.’“ wrote Vines, who emphasized that he and Mohler are friends. “I wonder if Dr. Mohler thinks some of us aren’t theologically astute enough to recognize semi-Pelagianism when we see it!”

Malcolm Yarnell, associate professor of systematic at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, was a signer of the statement, and said it was not semi-Pelagian. He quoted all of the second article and also the fourth article, which reads, in part: “We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative in providing atonement, in freely offering the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in uniting the believer to Christ through the Holy Spirit by faith.”

“A careful reading of the document,” Yarnell wrote, “thus indicates that the signatories believe that faith comes to human beings as an act of divine grace, just as the cross and the proclamation of the gospel are acts of divine grace. Personally, I have always taught my students that divine grace has the priority in salvation, from beginning to end, and I will continue to do so.”

Eric Hankins, pastor of First Baptist Church in Oxford, Miss., was one of the first signers of the statement and wrote its introduction when it was first posted. He wrote at SBCToday.com, “We will never concede the charge of Semi-Pelagianism.”

“Here is what we mean and what we will be glad to debate: We are all ruined by Adam’s sin,” Hankins wrote. “We are born with a sin nature. We all persistently, perniciously, and at every opportunity want to be Lord of our own lives. We cannot save ourselves. The power of the gospel through the initiative and drawing of the Holy Spirit is our only hope, and it alone is sufficient to pierce our spiritual darkness and rescue us. But our real response to the gospel of Christ in the power of the Spirit matters to God.”

Others, though, disagreed, and said the statement, particularly article two, is semi-Pelagian.

“The statement affirms that there is corruption (inclined toward sin), but denies that there is inability,” Chris Roberts, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Panama City, Fla., wrote at SBCVoices.com. Roberts did not sign the statement. “The statement elsewhere affirms that we need salvation through Jesus Christ alone, but repeatedly asserts that salvation is found through a free response of the human will, a will which is here claimed to be inclined toward sin but not incapacitated by sin. If that is not semi-Pelagian, what is?”

Roberts added that from his perspective, the statement seems to be saying that “while the Spirit woos and draws, our response to the Spirit originates in the individual through a will that does not need to be changed by God to overcome sin’s corruption.”

Roger Olson, professor of theology at Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary and author of “Against Calvinism” – a book that criticizes Calvinism – said the statement goes too far.

“The problem with this ... statement is its neglect of emphasis on the necessity of the prevenience of supernatural grace for the exercise of a good will toward God (including acceptance of the gospel by faith),” Olson wrote in a Patheos.com article. “If the authors believe in that cardinal biblical truth, they need to spell it out more clearly. And they need to delete the sentence that denies the incapacitation of free will due to Adam’s sin.”

The statement has been debated in Baptist state newspapers as well.

The Florida Baptist Witness ran a point-counterpoint on the statement by Bob Hadley, who signed the statement and is pastor of Westside Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Tom Ascol, who did not sign the statement and is pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, and executive director of Founders Ministries.

The discussion on blogs about the statement has not always been fruitful, wrote Dave Miller, editor at SBCVoices.com.

“Any post here on Calvinism tends to descend into mudslinging within about 50-75 comments,” Miller, senior pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Sioux City, Iowa, bemoaned. He urged readers to “demonstrate a passion for the unity of the body of Christ” that is “as great or even greater than our passion for our doctrinal systems.”

“We need to eschew the kind of knowledge that puffs up and live in love with one another,” Miller wrote.

Mohler and Vines, too, urged Southern Baptists to be charitable during the discussion.

“I love and respect the men who signed this new statement,” Mohler wrote. “I believe that they love and respect me. We have walked arm in arm for too long to abandon each other now. ... The presence of more than one tradition and stream of doctrinal influence has been healthy for Southern Baptists. We have been strengthened by both the Charleston and Sandy Creek traditions, representing Southern Baptists who rightly prize their doctrinal understandings, but eagerly work together in the gospel service.”

Vines, in a post titled, “It is Time to Discuss the Elephant in the Room,” wrote, “I have no desire that any Calvinist be unwelcome in the SBC. I do desire that we can live together as brothers, openly and lovingly affirming our theological positions without trying to force them upon others who take another view. And I pray we will be willing to join hearts and hands with those who may view theological matters somewhat differently than we do, within the framework of our BF&M [Baptist Faith & Message].

Vines said he signed the statement because “there are some, not all, new Calvinists who are hostile, militant and aggressive.”

“The time has come to admit we have a problem, seek God-honoring solutions and move forward to do our part as Southern Baptists to fulfill the Great Commission,” Vines wrote.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.)
6/15/2012 3:08:41 PM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 1 comments

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