January 2001

Family Bible Study lesson for Jan. 21

January 5 2001 by William McElrath , Matthew 3:13-4:11

Family Bible Study lesson for Jan. 21 | Friday, Jan. 5, 2001
  • Where you're willing to live and what kind of work you're willing to do?
  • What kind of relationship you will have with a special person in your life?
  • Whether you should buy new clothes? A new car? A new house?
  • How much you will give to the Lord - to His church and His world mission?

    The temptations of Jesus didn't end with those three hard experiences in the desert. Day by day He still had to decide whether to arrange things for personal convenience, whether to abuse God's power, whether to follow the world's way.

    Take note: For strength in resisting temptation, Jesus turned again and again to the written word of God.

    Have you found the way to victorious living? Daily prayer and Bible study can help.

  • Friday, Jan. 5, 2001

    Family Bible Study lesson for Jan. 21

    By William McElrath Matthew 3:13-4:11 In Indonesia as in the United States, Betty and I have often seen brand-new believers who have to face particularly fierce trials right after they make a public profession of faith. It's almost as if the devil had been thinking, "This person isn't serious about following Jesus - not worth my time to tempt." But when the believer shows "I mean business" by asking for baptism, then the devil gets busy. Should this surprise us? No. Much the same thing happened to Jesus Himself.

    Affirmation of obedience (Matt. 3:13-17) Many pastors use the word "obedience" each time they baptize a new believer. Jesus not only gave us an example by being baptized but also by the reason He asked to be baptized: He did it in obedience to God the Father.

    The word "righteousness" that Jesus used in explaining to John the Baptist why He wanted to be baptized has often been misunderstood. The main meaning of "righteousness" isn't performing right deeds. Rather, it means being in a right relationship with God.

    In coming to the Jordan River for baptism, Jesus was acting out His total obedience to God and also the reason why God had sent Him to planet Earth: He was to identify completely with our sinful humanity so that He could be our Savior.

    Temptation to personal convenience (Matt. 4:1-4) Don't get hung up on the specifics of Jesus' temptations in the desert. Yes, it's a fact that those small, round, desert stones may have looked like loaves of homemade bread, but that's not the point.

    The point is the devil was suggesting that Jesus use His great power to arrange things for His own personal convenience.

    Snow on school days or Sundays can be inconvenient. Do we therefore ask God to withhold moisture that will be needed for next spring's planting?

    A change of assigned space at church can be inconvenient. Do we therefore hold on to our cherished classroom even though that deprives a new class or a mission congregation of a place to meet?

    Having an unplanned or unwanted baby can be inconvenient. Do we therefore follow the way of the world toward an abortion clinic?

    Caring for a sick, elderly relative can be inconvenient. Do we therefore imitate recent legal action taken in Holland and hasten the time of death?

    Jesus, by His example, answers "No."

    Temptation to abusing God's power (Matt. 4:5-7) What a sensation Jesus would have caused if He had given in to the devil's second suggestion! Herod's Temple in Jerusalem stood at least 135 feet high. Jumping down from there and landing unhurt in the crowded courtyard below - what a stunt to draw attention! And had not the psalmist promised that God would send His angels with a safety net?

    Jesus didn't fall for it. Do we ever fall for that kind of thing?

    Do we ever fail to take proper care of our physical or financial or emotional or spiritual health, and then expect God to rescue us just because we are His people?

    Do we ever drive our cars recklessly while praying for safety in travel?

    Yes, God is all-powerful. Should we therefore take any risk that occurs to us, expecting God to bail us out?

    Jesus, by His example, answers "No."

    Temptation to worldly methods (Matt. 4:8-11) In a way, the devil's second and third temptations were opposites. If Jesus had jumped off the Temple, He would have been presuming upon God's power. But if He had tried to get all the kingdoms and their glory by worshipping Satan, then He would have been presuming to win the world without counting on God's power at all.

    Are you ever tempted to do things the world's way? Are you tempted to leave God out of your calculations when you decide:

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    1/5/2001 12:00:00 AM by William McElrath , Matthew 3:13-4:11 | with 0 comments

    Formations lesson for Jan. 21

    January 5 2001 by Ken Vandergriff , Luke 3:15-22

    Formations lesson for Jan. 21 | Friday, Jan. 5, 2001

    Friday, Jan. 5, 2001

    Formations lesson for Jan. 21

    By Ken Vandergriff Luke 3:15-22 Just as there are many different angles from which to view a work of art or a fine diamond, each angle having its own distinctive beauty, so there are many perspectives from which to view a single biblical text. Today's text overflows with notable theological themes such as repentance, baptism, eschatological judgment and salvation, but our lesson chooses the theme of identity as an entrance into the text. The question "May I introduce you to a friend?" immediately focuses our attention on identity, the identity of the unique Jesus child now beginning His adult mission. Luke has set a tone of expectancy already in chapter 3. With John's fiery preaching about God's imminent inbreaking, his demand that repentance be evidenced in specific actions (vv. 10-14), and his baptism, it's no wonder that many suspected he might be the Messiah (v. 15). The careful reader of Luke's gospel knows that John can't be the Messiah. Already Luke has identified John as one who will be filled with the Holy Spirit and with the power of Elijah, who will turn many hearts to God and will make ready a people prepared for the Lord (1:15-17). Jesus, on the other hand, is the Son of the Most High Who will reign on David's throne in a kingdom without end (1:31-33), Who is, in fact, "a Savior, the Messiah, the Lord" (2:11).

    But John's audience did not know all that. So the speculation of the crowds led John to distinguish himself from the Messiah in three ways. First, John baptized with water, but said the Coming One would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (3:16). Interpreters have struggled to define the relationship between the Spirit and fire, with little agreement. Some believe John characterizes the Spirit's work as fire ("He will baptize with the Holy Spirit, which is like fire"); others hold that the repentant will receive the Spirit, while the unrepentant receive the fire of judgment; still others see a foreshadowing of Pentecost here. Given the ambiguity of the phrase, which is absent in Mark 1:8, and the variety of scholarly interpretations, it is wise not to press any one view; in any case, John's baptism is inferior to that of the Coming One.

    Second, John admits that the Coming One is so great that he is unworthy even to untie His sandals, a task so menial that only slaves did it. Third, the Messiah will be the eschatological judge. Verse 17 uses the imagery of the threshing floor and winnowing (separating wheat from chaff), an Old Testament metaphor for judgment (Isaiah 41:15-16; Jer. 15:7; 51:2). Although John has stridently demanded repentance, he in no way has identified himself as the judge of persons. The Coming One, on the other hand, will judge in an ultimate way.

    The first scene of this lesson's text, then, highlights the identity of the One who is greater than John. The second scene, verses 21-22, highlights the divine identity of Jesus. Luke mentions the baptism itself only in passing, and he does not explain why Jesus was baptized. Certainly it indicates that Jesus agreed with the message John preached. We are left with a sense of wonder that the Sinless One would submit to a baptism specifically "of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (v. 3; see 2 Cor. 5:21).

    What concerns Luke is the aftermath of the baptism. Only Luke among the gospels says that Jesus was praying after the baptism, foreshadowing the interest Luke will show, more than the other gospels, in prayer (6:12; 9:18, 28; 22:41-42). The voice of God quotes Psalm 2:7, a coronation psalm originally applied to the ruling Davidic king in Jerusalem, and Isaiah 42:1, a text originally identifying Israel as God's servant (see Isaiah 41:8-9). By quoting these texts, God affirms that Jesus' identity cannot be separated from the promises to David (2 Samuel 7; Psalm 2) and the mission of Israel as God's people.

    May we never lose a healthy sense of wonder over the Jesus whom we worship and proclaim.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    1/5/2001 12:00:00 AM by Ken Vandergriff , Luke 3:15-22 | with 0 comments

    Looking for Love in All the Right Places

    January 4 2001 by

    Looking for Love in All the Right Places | Thursday, Jan. 4, 2001

    Thursday, Jan. 4, 2001

    Looking for Love in All the Right Places

    By Ken Vandergriff

    One of the profound joys of parenting is recognizing those moments of dawning self-awareness in a child, when the child begins to form a sense of self-identity and make choices determining the direction of adult life. Such moments gain meaning in hindsight, as parents see their adult children and reflect on the critical turning points which shaped the children's lives. Our text is such a window into the dawning self-awareness of Jesus and His parents.

    Pilgrimage at Passover (Luke 2:41-42) The setting for the story is Joseph and Mary's annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem at Passover, following the instructions of Deut. 16:16. As a 12-year-old, Jesus was beginning the transition into adulthood. While some rabbis saw 12 as the age at which adult responsibilities could be sustained, 13 was the more usual age, and the rabbis recognized that full adulthood took several years beyond the 12th or 13th birthday.

    A lost child (Luke 2:43-45) The crisis in the story is the inability of Jesus' parents to find Him in the travel entourage. Interpreters should resist the temptation here to condemn His parents as neglectful. We should note that Luke does not condemn them and that it was common for pilgrims to travel in large caravans at festival times. In addition, condemnation of the parents diverts attention from the focus of the story, the dawning awareness of Jesus' identity.

    The dawning of understanding (Luke 2:46-52) The high point of the drama is in verses 46-50. Jesus is found in the temple, among the teachers. Here, again, the interpreter should resist the urge to claim too much. The fact that He was "sitting among the teachers" does not necessarily mean that He was teaching them; sitting was a normal posture for students as well as teachers, and Luke specifies that Jesus was "listening and asking," rather than teaching.

    Nor should interpreters allow Jesus' divinity to swallow up His humanity in this narrative. Christian faith affirms that Jesus is fully God and fully human. According to the Council of Chalcedon in 451, He is two indivisible, inseparable natures in one person. However, if Jesus was fully human, then He experienced the limitations in knowledge and power common to humans. Verse 52 implies as much, stating that He "increased" in wisdom. Jesus was perfect at each stage of life, but here he is a 12-year-old - astonishing and precocious, to be sure, but still a 12-year-old.

    Our attention should focus on verse 49, the most important statement in this narrative. Readers will note that Jesus' second question is translated either "I must be in My Father's house" (NRSV, NIV) or "I must be about My Father's business" (KJV). The Greek text is ambiguous; neither the word "house" nor "business" appears in the text (which reads, rather literally, "I must be in that of My Father").

    Of more importance than the translation, either of which would fit the context, is the dawning self-understanding of Jesus. Psychologists tell us that adolescence is a time when young people differentiate from their families of origin. They begin, for the first time, to establish their unique identities by confronting questions such as who am I, apart from my parents? What will I become? Whose rules will I follow? For Jesus, this involved recognition that He was the unique Son of God, given a mission of salvation. His continuing awareness of self-identity and mission can be seen in Luke 4:16-21, 43; 9:22; 10:22; 17:24-25; 22:29; 24:7, 26, 44.

    Often we don't recognize formative experiences at the time of their occurrence. An encounter with a new idea in a book, a chance remark by a friend about an activity, or an extraordinary teacher who fuels our imagination may spark an interest which blossoms into a life passion, indeed which sets a life course. As we reflect on this experience that showed Jesus defining His life course, can you remember some experiences from your adolescence or young adulthood that shaped who you became? How has your understanding of those experiences grown in hindsight?

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    1/4/2001 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments

    Preparation for Jesus

    January 4 2001 by

    Preparation for Jesus | Thursday, Jan. 4, 2001

    Thursday, Jan. 4, 2001

    Preparation for Jesus

    By William (Mac) McElrath

    During the holidays just past, did you hear stirring melodies from Handel's Messiah? How fitting that this great portrayal in music of the life and ministry of Jesus begins with prophetic verses from Isaiah 40. In Luke 3, the account of John's preparation for Jesus also begins with verses quoted from Isaiah 40.

    Fulfillment of prophecy (Luke 3:1-2, 4-6) Some of the world's great religions had their beginnings so far back in the mists of time that no one really knows when and where they got their start. Followers of such religions may believe that historical specifics aren't very important in matters of belief.

    Not so the Christian faith. At a precise point in time, at a specific place on planet earth, the word of God came to John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus.

    Furthermore, this time-and-place event had been predicted long before in the words of God's prophet: John the Baptist was "a voice crying in the wilderness."

    According to human kinship, John was a relative of Jesus. According to divine purpose, John was sent to prepare the way for Jesus.

    Call for repentance (Luke 3:3, 7-9) John's message echoed like thunder in the desert: "Repent! Turn from your evil ways! So you are descendants of Father Abraham? So what? God can take these desert stones and raise up new descendants of Abraham. Show the fruits of repentance, the proofs of a changed life, or you will be cut off, root and branch!"

    Religious leaders of John's time made much of outward observances. John the Baptist said that an inward turning is much more important. Such a turning involves change and reassessment of priorities. Repentance means turning from sin; faith means turning to God. No wonder "repentance and faith" have been linked in gospel proclamation for these 2,000 years!

    Demand for ethical living (Luke 3:10-14) Some sermons stop short of practical application. John the Baptist didn't make that mistake.

    Anyone who has a change of clothing or a bit of extra food might be tempted to keep it for his or her own future need, rather than giving it away (vv. 10-11). John said, "Stop doing that!"

    Tax collectors (publicans) of John's time were notorious for collecting extra money and then pocketing it (vv. 12-13). John said, "Stop doing that!"

    Through the centuries soldiers have often been tempted to gripe about their pay, and also to use their military might to gratify personal desires (v. 14). John said, "Stop doing that!"

    Announcement of the Coming One (Luke 3:15-17)> John the Baptist was such a powerful preacher of repentance that some folks thought he must be the Christ, the Messiah God had promised to send. Quickly John told them he was not.

    "Compared to the Coming One," John said, "I am no more than a servant who takes sandals off dusty feet."

    Gottlob Bruckner was a stubborn Saxon who, by a strange turn of events, became a missionary of British Baptists in the early 1800s on the island of Java, heartland of today's Indonesia. Through four decades of heartbreaking toil, he suffered the loss of five of his eight children, opposition by colonial powers, and such lack of response to the gospel that the sending agency tried again and again to move him to a more fruitful field.

    Through it all Bruckner kept on keeping on. Late in life he began to see the first flickers of light. A few dozen Javanese came to Christ as a result of his labors in putting the word of God into their own heart-language. Younger missionaries arrived from Holland to carry on his work; one of them produced a better Bible translation than Bruckner's pioneering attempt.

    On Java today there are hundreds of thousands of Christians - more than in any other place on earth where Islam is the strong majority religion. These Indonesian believers have been standing firm in recent weeks in a fiery furnace of persecution. And all of this came to be because nearly 200 years ago a stubborn Saxon was sent to prepare the way.

    Bruckner the Baptist was like John the Baptist many centuries before: Both of them prepared the way for the coming of the Lord Jesus.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    1/4/2001 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments

    All things new

    January 4 2001 by Tony Cartledge , BR Editor

    All things new | Thursday, Jan. 4, 2001

    Thursday, Jan. 4, 2001

    All things new

    By Tony Cartledge BR Editor

    The new millennium is finally here, for real - or at least, as real as something relative can be. I've chafed all year with every reference to 2000 as the first year of the new millennium. For reasons that have been explained many times, it just wasn't so. If math means anything, 2000 is the last year of the previous millennium, not the first year of the next. But, it has been hard to get worked up about either year, because the authors of the Gregorian calendar missed the year of Jesus' birth by a mile. The 2000th anniversary of the nativity passed several years ago.

    Peoples around the world have entirely different concepts of time. The commonly used Gregorian Jan. 1, 2001, parallels 5 Shawwal 1421 - give or take a few days - on the Islamic calendar; 23 Kikahk 1717 on the Coptic calendar; 12 Dey 1379 on the Persian calendar and 6 Teveth 5761 on the Hebrew calendar; and Cycle 78, year 17, month 12, day 7 on the Chinese calendar.

    Calendars begin in different places: While the Gregorian calendar begins with the reported date of Jesus' birth, the Islamic calendar is based on Mohammed's flight into exile at Medina. Hindu dates begin at the creation of the earth, Jewish time started with the birth of Adam, and the Chinese started (and started over) when a new emperor assumed his sacred position, and so on.

    How we name the days is relative, and people of different national, ethnic or religious backgrounds may do it differently. If time had feelings, it wouldn't care.

    How we use the days we have is a more practical matter. Every new year begins with a new day. Every new day offers a new opportunity for growth and life, for loving others more deeply and for walking with God more closely.

    Every new day offers a chance to pray:

    O God our help in ages past,

    our hope for years come -

    we remember what has been.

    You have been gracious to us,

    You have blessed us more than we deserve,

    and walked with us through the storms.

    You have blessed us with food to eat,

    with clothing to wear,

    with homes to enjoy

    and with money to spend.

    You have blessed our churches

    and touched us with Your presence.

    As we remember, we thank You.

    And as we recall what has been,

    we wonder what will be.

    What will this year bring forth?

    Will we grow in love or in hate?

    In unity or in division?

    In joy or in sorrow?

    In service or in selfishness?

    Our hearts are in Your hands,

    our hopes are in Your heart.

    Help us in this year

    To trust You more fully,

    To serve You more freely.

    Open our eyes to the needs that surround us,

    Let our arms show Your comfort and care.

    Help us to be makers of peace and givers of mercy,

    towers of justice and vessels of love.

    May we live for You as Christ lived for us,

    Who lived and lives and rules forever,


    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    1/4/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

    Doing the pastor shuffle

    January 4 2001 by Tony Cartledge , BR Editor

    Doing the pastor shuffle | Thursday, Jan. 4, 2001

    Thursday, Jan. 4, 2001

    Doing the pastor shuffle

    By Tony Cartledge BR Editor

    Vernon Braswell is a long-time pastor who has served Rosewood First Baptist Church for the past 12-1/2 years. Braswell retired as senior pastor Dec. 31, but he and the members at Rosewood began planning for the transition several years ago. In September of 1999, E.C. Mattocks was called to be minister of youth and associate pastor, with the stated expectation that he would become senior pastor upon Braswell's retirement.

    By his set retirement date, however, Braswell and the church were not ready for him to enter full retirement, so he and Mattocks are swapping places. As of Jan. 1, Mattocks became senior pastor, and Braswell moved to part time as associate pastor.

    It turns out that Braswell was Mattocks' pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Clinton, where Mattocks grew up. When Mattocks, at the age of 11, professed his faith in Christ, Braswell baptized him.

    Now the tables are turned and Mattocks gets to be pastor to his own former pastor.

    Many preachers would get the heebie-jeebies at the thought of such an arrangement, but Braswell and Mattocks - not to mention the folks at Rosewood - have confidence in their ability to function well in differing roles.

    The Rosewood church also recently called Steve Porter as director of youth ministries. Porter, who is working toward a Master of Divinity degree at the Campbell University Divinity School, also plans to become a pastor. With Braswell and Mattocks around, he won't lack for mentors.

    We wish God's good blessings on this ministry team and the people it serves.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    1/4/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

    BF&M reaction voted top news story

    January 4 2001 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

    BF&M reaction voted top news story | Thursday, Jan. 4, 2001

    Thursday, Jan. 4, 2001

    BF&M reaction voted top news story

    By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor Tar Heel Baptists' reaction to changes in the Southern Baptist Convention's (SBC) Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M) was voted the top story of 2000 by the Biblical Recorder editorial staff. The response to the B& revisions was the staff's unanimous pick as the top story.

    Messengers to the SBC annual meeting in June voted overwhelmingly to change the B&, which was last revised in 1963. The statement was amended in 1998 to add an article on the family which called on wives to submit graciously to their husbands.

    Critics of the 2000 revision say it turns the B& into a creed, elevates the Bible above Jesus and de-emphasizes cherished Baptist beliefs. They point to a reference added to the statement that confessions of faith are "instruments of doctrinal accountability," to the deletion of Jesus as "the criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted," and to revisions that change the understanding of church autonomy, soul competency and the priesthood of the believer.

    Supporters say the new B& cements conservatives' conviction that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. They say Southern Baptist employees should agree with the statement, that Jesus can only be known through the Scriptures and that the changes reflect current Southern Baptist beliefs.

    N.C. Baptist reaction to the revision didn't entirely follow theological and political lines. Joe B. Brown, pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte and a prominent conservative, preached a sermon against a statement that only women can be pastors.

    But much of the concern over the changes came from moderate Baptists, who have organized in North Carolina more formally than they have in years.

    The moderates' organizational effort was the second most important story in 2000, according to the survey of Recorder staff. After a few informal meetings, moderates held a series of meetings across the state to discuss the B& changes.

    Later, a Mainstream Baptist group was formed. Mainstream groups are patterned after Texas Baptist Committed, a group largely credited with preventing a conservative takeover of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

    About 600 people attended a "Laity Conference," just before the BSC annual meeting in November. For the first time since records of clergy-laity attendance were kept, the laity attending the meeting outnumbered the clergy.

    Moderates attending the BSC meeting were able to amend a resolution affirming the BSC's ties to the conservative-dominated SBC. The passage of the resolution, which also affirmed the BSC's autonomy and giving options, was voted the third most important story of 2000.

    Supporters of the amendment said the BSC is not an SBC franchise and needed to clearly state its autonomy. Critics said the SBC has not infringed on the autonomy of state conventions.

    The amendment was seen as a victory for moderates, who also won two of the three BSC offices for the first time in several years.

    The election of two moderates to the BSC vice presidencies was the fourth most important story in 2000, according to the survey.

    Buddy Corbin, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Asheville, was elected first vice president. Larry Harper, pastor of Forest Hills Baptist Church in Raleigh, won the second vice president's post.

    Mike Cummings, director of missions for Burnt Swamp Association, was re-elected president without opposition. He is a conservative but is well-liked by moderates as well.

    The three officers form a committee to nominate N.C. Baptists to the Committee on Committees, which nominates the Committee on Nominations, which nominates members of the General Board and trustees and directors of N.C. Baptist agencies and institutions. The General Board must approve nominees to the Committee on Committees.

    Other top stories for 2000, according to the survey:

    (5) N.C. Baptists purchase a leadership center at Lake Hickory.

    The BSC purchased the 31-acre center from Duke Energy for $3 million. The center was named the Wyndolyn Royster Hollifield Leadership Center after Hollifield contributed $1 million toward its purchase.

    (6) The BSC General Board adopts a statement affirming its current hiring practices.

    The move was seen as a pro-active stance against potential efforts to require General Board employees to affirm the revised B&.

    (7) The General Board adopts "Mobilizing Baptists for Ministry" as its mission statement.

    The mission statement is intended to guide the staff in its efforts to encourage and assist the 1.2 million N.C. Baptists affiliated with the BSC.

    (8-tie) Wake Forest University (WFU) remains in BSC.

    WFU kept its fraternal ties to the BSC after an amended motion to end the 166-year relationship failed at the annual meeting in November.

    The General Board had proposed changing the relationship from fraternal to "historical," but an amendment passed that would have removed the school from the BSC. The amended motion got about 60 percent of a vote but not the needed two-thirds for passage.

    (8-tie) BSC General Board works toward cooperation.

    The General Board elected Harper, a moderate, as its president, and Eugene Ridley, a conservative as vice president, during a harmonious election in February. Both were elected without opposition.

    Harper was nominated by David Horton of Jamestown, a conservative. Ridley, pastor of Long Leaf Baptist Church in Wilmington, was nominated by Carolyn Hill of Wilson, a moderate.

    (10) New International Mission Board (IMB) approach to volunteer missions surprises some N.C. Baptists.

    The IMB is implementing a new field strategy steering short-term volunteer teams away from church construction projects, the main activity during many mission trips. The IMB's new focus is the development of "church-planting movements."

    Some N.C. Baptists, who have been leaders in volunteer missions, were upset that the IMB called construction of church buildings on mission fields "well-intentioned obstacles" and "stumbling blocks."

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    1/4/2001 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

    SBC may be 'better off,' Patterson says

    January 4 2001 by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor

    SBC may be 'better off,' Patterson says | Thursday, Jan. 4, 2001

    Thursday, Jan. 4, 2001

    SBC may be 'better off,' Patterson says

    By Jimmy Allen BR Assistant Editor

    The potential cut in funding by Texas Baptists to the six Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) seminaries shouldn't hurt the SBC, according to Paige Patterson, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest. "Very possibly, the Southern Baptist Convention may be better off," Patterson told Southeastern trustees at their Oct. 9 meeting. "I firmly believe the people most hurt will be those in the BGCT (Baptist General Convention of Texas) itself."

    Patterson's remarks came during his semi-annual report to the trustees and after he had a few minutes earlier described SEBTS's expected loss of $875,000 annually from the BGCT as a "terrible hit" and "tragic."

    The BGCT executive committee is recommending that funding to the seminaries, as well as the SBC Executive Committee and Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, be reduced by $5.3 million. A final decision will be made Oct. 30-31 during the BGCT's annual convention in Corpus Cristi, Texas.

    Funding to individual seminaries would be determined by the number of Texas students attending, if the proposal is approved. Thirty-five students from Texas attend SEBTS, but not all of them are from churches that support the BGCT.

    Patterson introduced the topic to trustees by talking about the committee of Texas Baptists that visited the campus. During a 3.5-hour meeting that Patterson and trustee chairman Dwight Smith both described as intense, the committee members used 80 percent of the time to complain about what they disliked about the SBC, according to Patterson. "Most of that was me," he said.

    Of the reported 20 percent of discussion about Southeastern, most of what they said was wrong, Patterson said. For example, one professor's Baptist background was questioned, but the committee was told the professor had come to the seminary from a Southern Baptist church.

    "Essentially, they lost every issue they put on the table," Patterson said.

    In a telephone interview, Bob Campbell, who chaired the seminary study committee for Texas Baptists, disagreed with Patterson's assessment.

    "It was a very cordial meeting," Campbell said. "We did not agree. We agreed on how polite it was. ... We did ask hard questions."

    The purpose of the meeting was informational, he said. "We didn't feel triumphant. We came there for information. ... It wasn't a win-loss kind of thing."

    One of the questions was about $8,000 given to every student in the college program as detailed in the school's catalogue, according to Campbell. At first, Southeastern's officials denied that information was in the catalogue until they saw it for themselves, he said. "They said, 'That's a mistake.' Does that sound like a lot of backing down?"

    As far as the professors without Baptist educations, Patterson replied that some had married Baptists, some had joined Baptist churches and some had been raised participating in Royal Ambassador programs, according to Campbell. "They did not say that about every professor," Campbell said.

    Campbell disagreed with Patterson's time allotment to the issue of Southeastern. Instead of 20 percent of the discussion, the seminary was the focus of 60-70 percent of the dialogue, according to Campbell. About 30 percent was about the Baptist Faith and Message, the board of trustees not representing the broad spectrum of Baptists and trustees' interference with school operations.

    After Patterson described the amount of funding Southeastern would lose, he said the process with Texas had been healthy because it made the seminary officials examine themselves one more time to make sure their aim is to please God. Patterson then noted $875,000 isn't enough to buy him, and said he would stand with Jesus and the Bible even if it costs all.

    "All we need to do is please God," he said. "I'm determined to please God."

    He then informed the trustees of a letter notifying him of Cooperative Program receipts totaling $18.7 million more than budgeted. The result for Southeastern is a windfall of $691,338, an announcement generating applause by the 26 trustees attending.

    Patterson said many Texas churches are writing and saying not to worry about the BGCT because some are going to join the relatively new Southern Baptist of Texas Convention and others will send money directly to the SBC.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    1/4/2001 12:00:00 AM by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor | with 0 comments

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