In case you haven’t found these yet, several others are blogging about the Annual Meeting. Alan Cross, Timmy Brister, SBC Outpost, Micah Fries, Ed Stetzer, Tom Ascol, and Bart Barber just to name a few. You should be able to read enough analysis of the convention to make you go blind. Even so, I continue to toss in my two cents worth.
Resolution on Regenerate Church Membership
This was an interesting plot to watch play out on the convention floor. On one hand, the resolutions that we pass are some of the most meaningless things that we do during the convention. We passed a resolution affirming the use of the term Christmas in public life. What was the point of that? Do we think Wal-Mart is going to stand up and take notice and change their displays? Did anyone really doubt if the SBC affirmed the use of the term “Christmas”? Silliness it is.
On the other hand, it is one of the only opportunities for the messengers to have any input. All of the motions were referred to committees and there was no discussion on the annual budget. (Are you kidding me? We spend hours each year in my church dissecting each dollar in the proposed budget, but there was no discussion about the proposed budget for the SBC? But, I digress…) So, the debate over the resolutions is usually more than just about the resolution itself, but if you don’t know the subplots, you might miss it.
Tom Ascol and Malcom Yarnell (and some others) both presented resolutions on regenerate membership to the Resolution Committee (RC). The RC brought a hybrid version to the floor, one which neither Yarnell or Ascol liked because they both offered amendments to it. Yarnell’s amendment was about defining a true church (one that observes believer’s baptism and the Lord’s Supper…by the way, is anyone debating that point? Don’t we all agree on that one?). Ascol’s amendment was about repenting from our false numbers and from our failure to restore wayward members or to practice regenerate church membership. When Ascol read his amendment, the hall broke out in spontaneous applause. However, many still voted against the amendment. Why? Because it had nothing to do with the amendment. Does anyone doubt that we have failed to “live up to our professed commitment to regenerate church membership and any failure to obey Jesus Christ in the practice of lovingly correcting wayward church members”?
I think it has more to do with two competing visions. There is a group within the SBC that increasingly wants to define and exclude, while there is another group that wants to exalt the glory of God. Sure, those in the first group think they are glorifying God by defining the true church, but they are beginning to strain at gnats. The other group is tired of straining at gnats and wants to focus on spreading the glory of God. The God of the Nations is much bigger than our Southern Baptist group, much bigger than just the Baptist family, and much bigger than our national boundaries. Let us focus alone on declaring the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness and into His glorious light.
All in favor, raise your ballots…
What Did Not Come to the Floor
Few may have noticed, but nothing was said from the floor, either in the form of a motion or a resolution, about the IMB’s policies on tongues and baptism. A few retired IMB missionaries made quite a stir when they posted their letter on changing the IMB policies on a website. Some have viewed the election of Johnny Hunt as a good sign because he has publicly opposed the new IMB policies. However, my perception is that Hunt is part of the CR establishment and would not go against the flood and endorse a change to the policies. However, I have been wrong many times before.