About 400 gather for laity conference
November 16 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

About 400 gather for laity conference | Friday, Nov 16, 2001

Friday, Nov 16, 2001

About 400 gather for laity conference

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor WINSTON-SALEM - Speakers promoted theological centrism, political balance and Baptist freedoms at the second annual "North Carolina Baptist Laity Conference" sponsored by Mainstream Baptists of North Carolina (MBNC). Just fewer than 400 people attended the event, held at the Assembly of God in Winston-Salem on Nov. 12. Don Taft, a member of the MBNC steering committee, introduced Raymond Earp, Buddy Corbin and Larry Harper, the three candidates who were endorsed by MBNC for the top elected offices in the Baptist State Convention (BSC).

Wayne Stacy, dean of the Christopher M. White Divinity School at Gardner-Webb University, said the name "Mainstream" implies theological centrism that repudiates extremist ideas from both the left and the right. "That's where I am," Stacy said, "but that does not mean we have no core values or central theological convictions."

Stacy said he affirmed the full deity of Jesus Christ and the oneness of the triune God. "I believe everything the scripture says about Jesus," he said.

Stacy said he affirmed the essential lostness of humanity and the need for salvation by God's grace alone.

"I believe what the scripture says about itself," Stacy said, "that it is theopneustos," or "God-breathed. That means I affirm that the Bible is God's word and does not just contain God's word."

Regarding ecclesiology, Stacy said he was "Baptist to the bone," identifying doctrines of the priesthood of the believer and church autonomy as core Baptist values.

"Most Baptists could gather around these things," Stacy said.

Stacy challenged MBNC members to visualize that angels are watching and holding their breath to see what choices they will make. Believers should do the little things that make a difference, he said: "In a world where everything matters, speak truthfully, pray daily, live faithfully, love graciously."

Mike Cummings, outgoing president of the BSC and director of missions for the Burnt Swamp Association, was scheduled to bring greetings in the form of closing remarks, but appeared earlier so he could get to another engagement.

Cummings advocated the "ABC's" of agreement, balance and cooperation.

Baptists can agree on the importance of the Great Commission, the importance of preaching the gospel, and the importance of providing options to encourage all Baptists to support missions, he said.

Balance is essential, Cummings said. He said many conservatives perceive the Mainstream movement as being a moderate movement. "Unity does not depend on just finding good and cooperative people, but must include balance. Balance is an issue I hope you will look at."

Cummings said that balance should include people who support the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in N.C. Baptist life.

Cummings said BSC executive director-treasurer Jim Royston's goals for the next five years as need the cooperation of all N.C. Baptists. "I am an advocate for cooperation," he said.

Phil Lineberger, pastor of Williams Trace Baptist Church in Sugarland, Texas, and past president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, said Mainstream Baptists should maintain freedom. He cited Galatians 5, where the Apostle Paul promoted Christian freedom and opposed those who said Christians should also be subject to legal requirements of the Jewish law. Lineberger said many Mainstream supporters think their religion has been hijacked by a "radical fundamentalist creedalism" that threatens freedom.

Lineberger cautioned against the belief "that somehow we can make ourselves more secure by making ourselves less free." Mainstream Baptists must protect and promote the freedom to think critically, to live creatively and to choose freely, he said.

Jesus expected his followers to think for themselves, Lineberger said, often teaching His followers by asking questions designed to spark their own thinking. Jesus also expected followers to live creatively, knowing that the new wine of the gospels could not remain in old and inflexible wineskins.

Choosing freely is a basic freedom of Baptist life, Lineberger said. Some insist there is only one choice for doing missions and ministry, but there are multiple ways. "What excites me about Mainstream is that we understand we have freedom to choose. To maintain freedom," he said, "we must choose wisely and choose freely."

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11/16/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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