SBC to promote 'kingdom growth'
February 22 2002 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

SBC to promote 'kingdom growth' | Friday, Feb. 22, 2002

Friday, Feb. 22, 2002

SBC to promote 'kingdom growth'

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is preparing a new emphasis on building God's kingdom, but SBC leaders made it clear that not all Southern Baptists will be part of the effort.

The SBC Executive Committee dealt with the proposal during its Feb. 18-19 meeting in Nashville, removing language that could be seen as friendly to moderates. During the meeting, the head of the committee echoed themes conservatives used to gain control of the SBC from moderates.

The document outlining a new "Empowering Kingdom Growth" (EKG) concept was amended to remove a paragraph that addresses reasons Southern Baptists aren't promoting the kingdom of God.

"Why are we hesitant and given to distractions such as power concerns, money, doctrinal differences, gender issues, congregation size, worship styles and out-dated organizational practices?" the paragraph said in part.

Calvin R. Wittman, pastor of Applewood Baptist Church in Wheat Ridge, Colo., raised a question about the paragraph when the document was first presented to the Executive Committee on Feb. 18. He said doctrinal differences and gender issues are based in Scripture.

Wittman said those matters could be "misleading." People who don't have the same scriptural beliefs as conservatives could use them as a "smoke screen," he said.

Carlisle Driggers, the executive director of the South Carolina Baptist convention and a member of the task force that proposed the concept, said the kingdom is the most important part of the idea. He said the language in question could be removed.

"We can take that out of there," he said. "That's no problem."

The EKG concept is based heavily on work done by the South Carolina convention.

The Executive Committee initially delayed consideration of the matter overnight so committee members could read the document more closely and pray about it.

The next day, Wittman made a motion to accept the document without the paragraph and to back the EKG concept. The motion passed without opposition.

The EKG concept arose from a group studying cooperation between the SBC and state conventions. That eight-person group will continue to meet. An EKG task force will include those eight and four other people.

Driggers and SBC President James Merritt will co-chair the EKG task force.

The document says no one tells Southern Baptists what to do.

"However, we are linked by a commitment to Jesus Christ as the Living Word of God and to Scripture as the Written Word of God" and to cooperation, the document says. "We do not compromise on Jesus, and we do not compromise on the Bible."

Morris Chapman, the head of the SBC Executive Committee will continue to chair the group studying cooperation. He said in his report to the Executive Committee that the past 23 years have proven that Southern Baptists are "people of the book."

"Through the process, Southern Baptists have rediscovered their true heritage," Chapman said. "We are a people who believe the Bible to be the inspired, infallible word of God, inerrant in the original manuscripts."

Conservatives used the inerrancy of the Bible as their battle cry while winning control of the SBC. Their rise to power started in 1979.

Southern Baptists should work together for the good of the kingdom of God, first, and then the SBC, Chapman said.

"We have a responsibility of leading not only our associational, state and national organizations, but deliberately and strategically leading the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole," he said.

Chapman said Southern Baptists need a new vision. He said the SBC has "nailed down" the issue of the absolute authority of the Bible.

"We do not interpret God's word through the filter of our experiences," he said. "We interpret our experiences through the filter of God's word."

Chapman said that after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 a call went out for people of all religions to meet together and pray for the victims.

"The conservative evangelicals said, 'No,'" he said. "Why? Because many of the world's religions don't pray to our God, the living God of the universe who sent His Son to die for our sins."

Chapman said Christians are facing increasing persecution.

"The secular world is attempting to marginalize and demonize conservative, evangelical Christianity," he said. "Secularists accuse us of intolerance, while being intolerant of our beliefs."

Chapman said Southern Baptists need to hear new voices.

"These new voices must have no agenda but Jesus and His word," he said.

Chapman said Southern Baptists need new victories.

"Let all who love Him and believe the absolute authority of His word march side by side and shoulder to shoulder from victory unto victory," he said.

Chapman said Southern Baptists are "conservative, Bible-believing people" who are marching on to new victories.

"Some may choose not to go with us, but we harbor no hatred," he said. "Our prayers go with them as they seek God's will in their walk with the Lord."

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2/22/2002 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments
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