Luter visits N.C., encourages African-American pastors
    March 5 2013 by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor

    Speaking to a group of mostly African-American pastors and church leaders, Fred Luter voiced both encouragement and concerns regarding a few issues Southern Baptists face today.
    Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans and president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), spoke Feb. 25 at a breakfast that preceded the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s 2013 State Evangelism Conference at Pleasant Garden Baptist Church in Pleasant Garden, N.C.
    The first African-American to be elected as SBC president, Luter discussed everything from Calvinism to pastors standing up against societal pressures on issues such as gay marriage. He also encouraged them to join the 1% Challenge that urges all Southern Baptist churches to increase their Cooperative Program (CP) giving by 1 percent.
    “I’ve been a part of [the Southern Baptist] convention for 26 years,” Luter said. “This is not a perfect convention, but … I would put this convention up to any in the world.”

    BR photo

    Fred Luter speaks to African-American pastors and church leaders in North Carolina. See photo gallery.

    “We’re number one when it comes to evangelism. We’re number one when it comes to discipleship, number one when it comes to disaster relief.”
    Luter recalled how the SBC’s Disaster Relief ministry reached out to Franklin Avenue Baptist Church and New Orleans residents left in wake of Hurricane Katrina.
    “This [convention] has a passion for reaching people,” Luter said.
    “I promise you this convention, bar none, is one that believes in doing the Master’s will. And that’s why I’m proud to be a part of this convention.”
    The debate over Calvinism and what some refer to as “Traditional Baptist” views on salvation, he added, is becoming more of a distraction in Southern Baptist life.
    “We have a major, major issue with Calvinism,” Luter said. “That issue can possibly, if we don’t deal with it in a Christian manner, split this convention. Every city I go to, when I [meet] with pastors, [they] will ask what’s going to happen with the Calvinism issue.”
    SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page formed a special committee last year to address the Calvinism debate. The committee is expected to report on the issue during the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in June.
    “There’s going to be a proclamation given out that hopefully will satisfy everybody,” Luter said. “We’ve got to look at this thing as spiritual warfare. … It’s an issue that has to be dealt with, and unless we deal with it in a Christian-like manner, I really believe the enemy can come and divide us.”
    Pastors and church leaders also need to take more of a stand, he said, against the pressures of today’s politically correct culture.
    “We’ve got preachers [who] are compromising the scriptures,” Luter said. “We need pastors and preachers in this convention who are going to stand on the Word of God.”
    Luter mentioned an interview he participated in the day after being elected as SBC president. During the interview a journalist asked him about his view of same-sex marriage and whether or not he agreed with President Obama’s stance on the issue.
    “On this issue I’m totally against the president,” he said. “Folks, we’re either going to be people of the Book or not. There’s just some things in scripture that we cannot compromise on.”
    “We’ve got to preach it, we’ve got to live it, and we’ve got to stand on it.”
    Another way that Southern Baptists can stand together, Luter said, is through supporting the Cooperative Program, which he described as “the engine that runs our convention.”
    “That’s what helps students in our seminaries,” he said. “That’s what helps NAMB (North American Mission Board) do what they are doing in Alpharetta. That’s what helps start churches, helps plant churches. That’s what helps IMB (International Mission Board) to put more missionaries [overseas]. … That’s how we cooperate to do ministry.”
    Luter urged fellow pastors to consider increasing their CP giving by 1 percent. It’s worth the investment, he said.
    “We can plant more churches,” he said. “We can grow more churches, and we can impact the kingdom of God.”
    Luter shared his “frustration” toward pastors who have received training or financial support from Southern Baptists, but they fail to give anything back to the Cooperative Program.
    “The [SBC has] given you funds from our local churches,” he said. “The state convention has given you funds that are helping you pay salaries … and you don’t give back? That’s wrong.
    “If the state convention [or] a local church is helping you, then as a man of God, you need to have the same conviction to give to support CP because that’s how you got started,” Luter added. “To whom much is given, much is required.”
    In regards to church planting, Luter said now is the time to get involved.
    “There is no better time in the history of this convention for church planters than right now,” he said. “Kevin Ezell, over at NAMB, he has taken on church planting as his numero uno assignment. Kevin’s passion is church planting. He just has a conviction that if we’re gong to reach America, we need to plant churches to do that.
    Luter added that providing help for existing churches is also important.
    “I told [Ezell] ‘I support you in planting churches and starting churches, but we cannot turn our backs on the churches that are already here that are struggling,’” he said.
    “We have a lot of churches that are struggling. They are living from week to week. We cannot totally put our efforts on church planting and not help those churches that are hurting.  But, there is no better time than now if you’re a church planter.”
    Luter will return to N.C. in November to speak during the Baptist State Convention’s annual meeting.

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    Filed under: Fred Luter, SBC

dr. james willingham
Ignorance is bliss, and Rev. Luter's remarks concerning Calvinism are a case in point. They are also tragic, because they are so inconsistent with the record of African Americans in their commitments to the Christian Faith. They generally know and understand the original faith better than their white counterparts. Reminds me of one of the early African American Sovereign Grace Southern Baptist missionaries, the one who had begun by trying to disrupt a service of the great Evangelist, George Whitefield. As told by Dr. Thomas Kidd of Baylor Univ. in his book on The Great Awakening, Whitefield pointed at Murrant and quoted his text. The man went flying backwards, fell to the earth, and passed out. Led to Christ by Oliver Hart after he recovered, he became a minister, evangelist, and even a missionary of the Gospel that Whitefield and Hart preached, the Gospel of Sovereign Grace or Calvinistic theology, which produced the First and Second Great Awakenings and launched the Great Missionary Movement and is coming back again so we can have a Third Great Awakening, but the folks discussed in Carroll Quigley's Tragedy and Hope and whose theology is presented there are no doubt about the business of stopping the return of the theology that almost cost them the control of the world in the period from 1740-1820.

This they seek to do by running the theology of the Awakenings and Missions into excess or by creating such an attitude of antagonism that one will not believe the hostility generated. But so what? God has given the promises recorded by Jonathan Edwards in his Humble Attempt, the same which inspired William Carey and others to pray and led to the Second Awakening and the Mission effort, and those same promises are now being pleaded daily and the hope for such a visitation is, in the words of Adoniram Judson, "as bright as the promises."
3/30/2013 10:39:59 PM

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