SBC: Anticipated Issues

On June 12-13 I plan to attend the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas, as a messenger from my congregation, Kosmosdale Baptist Church. (I actually plan to be there on June 11 to attend a portion of the pastor’s conference before the convention begins.) Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to do some live-blogging for Strange BaptistFire from the convention floor. In preparation for the convention, I am taking a class here at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary specifically focused on the SBC annual meeing. This class is taught by Dr. Russell Moore, Dean of the SBTS School of Theology. This past Tuesday, in a meeting for this class, Dean Moore informed us of a number of issues that will likely be addressed at this year’s SBC:

I. North American Mission Board: Institutional accountability for NAMB over unwise use of funds

A. NAMB has put strictures on spending over the past year

B. There will be calls for disclosure of NAMB salaries, probably referred to the board of trustees

II. International Mission Board

A. Dr. Rankin’s “private prayer language”

1. IMB Board of Trustees has established a guideline that no one on the field can have a private prayer language. (IMB has had a policy against promotion of charismatic practices since the 1970s.)

2. Some object to IMB going beyond the Baptist Faith and Message as to requirements for missionaries, but SBC entities go beyond the BF&M regularly, as seen in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s use of the Abstract of Principles.

3. Some will cite the Sandy Creek tradition to support charismatic practices (this tradition is known for being revivalistic and highly emotional in worship), but appeal to Sandy Creek is anachronistic and there is no evidence that they were doctrinally charismatic.

B. Baptism guidelines

1. Baptists have historically held that: a) baptism from cult groups, or: b) “paedobaptism”– are not properly called “baptism.”

2. IMB has argued that the proper biblical testimony of baptism is that we are joined into Christ in such a way that salvation cannot be lost, so baptism from a church not holding to eternal security is invalid.

3. [I’ve personally heard a member of the IMB Board of Trustees say that the baptism guidelines are being revised and that the specific revisions will be addressed in San Antonio.]

III. Regenerate Church Membership

A. Baptists have historically held to the position that only those who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit [as evidenced by lives of repentance and faith and symbolized by baptism] are properly eligible for church membership.

B. As a corollary to this, Baptists have historically practiced church discipline to the point of considering persons to forfeit church membership if such persons persist in a life of unrepentant sin.

C. Passages such as Hebrews 10:25 make it clear that continuous, willful abstaining from church congregational worship is sin.

D. Yet many churches have a great number of members on their roles that are continuously absent from all church meetings, to the point of being unable to be found by any other church member.

E. Therefore, Tom Ascol of Founders Ministries has offered a resolution calling for honesty in church reporting– others will probably offer similar resolutions at this year’s SBC.

F. Dean Moore expects that the Resolutions Committee will itself offer a resolution on this matter, and that the resolution will easily pass on the Convention floor.

IV. Calvinism

A. President Mohler will probably be asked about his Calvinistic beliefs during his report on SBTS.

B. Last year, a motion was passed that a study would be made on Calvinism in the SBC– this motion was referred to LifeWay, resulting in a report [which can be found HERE].

If anyone reading this post has further insight into any of these issues, or links that they would like to share so that I and other SBF readers can find more information, I would greatly appreciate your comments.

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: Southern Baptist Convention

21 Comments on “SBC: Anticipated Issues”

  1. Les Puryear Says:

    The sufficiency of BFM2K for doctrinal accountability of SBC boards and agencies.

    Les

  2. Sam Hughey Says:

    Baptism guidelines

    IMB has argued that the proper biblical testimony of baptism is that we are joined into Christ in such a way that salvation cannot be lost, so baptism from a church not holding to eternal security is invalid.

    Is the baptism of the individual invalid based on the church’s view of no eternal security or is the baptism of the individual invalid based on the individual’s view of no eternal security? How can one’s valid baptism be considered invalid if the individual’s view of eternal security is simply in error? In other words, I doubt one has a view of no eternal security at the moment of their baptism. This view is usually acquired from one’s peers after one is baptized.

    Furthermore, since the leadership of the SBC is anti-Calvinistic, why would they allow the baptism of an individual from a Calvinistic church which denies the core belief (unlimited atonement) of the anti-Calvinistic convention while disallowing a valid baptism of a person who is just simply in error concerning no eternal security?


  3. Les,
    ?

    Sam,
    re: Is the baptism of the individual invalid based on the church’s view of no eternal security or is the baptism of the individual invalid based on the individual’s view of no eternal security?

    It is the testimony of the church congregation that is in question here. Someone could come to faith in Christ through reading Scripture on his own, walk into the first “church” he comes to in order to obey Christ’s command to be baptized, and subsequently learn that the particular “Church of Jesus Christ” that baptized him was actually part of the Mormon cult. In which case, based upon the teaching of what “baptism” means according to those who performed and witnessed the immersion, traditional Baptist belief who not consider the LDS baptism valid. [I personally disagree with current IMB guidelines that extend this to the point of not recognizing baptisms by otherwise sound congregations that deny eternal security, however.]

    re: since the leadership of the SBC is anti-Calvinistic, why would they allow the baptism of an individual from a Calvinistic church which denies the core belief (unlimited atonement)…

    This could be an issue in the future, I suppose. In the current environment, however, eternal security is specifically addressed in the BF&M, whereas the limit of the atonement is not. [In fact, SBTS President Al Mohler was on the drafting committee for the 2000 revision of the BF&M.]

  4. Gary (aka fool4jesus) Says:

    As far as I can see (i.e. unless the list above misrepresents the reality), that baptisms from Calvinist churches are in no danger. They list only cults (into which category I have not personally heard Baptists include Calvinists); and paedobaptism (but that on the basis of definition of baptism alone). It seems to me that at does not even exclude churches that don’t teach eternal security.

  5. Sam Hughey Says:

    Andrew

    It is the testimony of the church congregation that is in question here. Someone could come to faith in Christ through reading Scripture on his own, walk into the first “church” he comes to in order to obey Christ’s command to be baptized, and subsequently learn that the particular “Church of Jesus Christ” that baptized him was actually part of the Mormon cult. In which case, based upon the teaching of what “baptism” means according to those who performed and witnessed the immersion, traditional Baptist belief who not consider the LDS baptism valid. [I personally disagree with current IMB guidelines that extend this to the point of not recognizing baptisms by otherwise sound congregations that deny eternal security, however.]

    I also disagree with their view. It appears to be without any Biblical warrant. What continues to trouble me concerning the leadership within the SBC is the fact that Biblical authority for whatever one wants to either approve or condemn seems to be diminishing into Pharisaical legalism. To say one’s valid baptism is invalid merely because of the people who performed the immersion goes far beyond the authority of Scripture to declare it to be invalid, especially since the SBC baptizes unregenerate people on most any given Sunday.

    If one is truly converted, one has a valid Biblical baptism by immersion in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit and I think it is hypocrisy to declare one’s valid baptism invalid merely on the basis that a congregation denies eternal security when the SBC accepts one’s baptism from churches which deny unlimited atonement, which is just as much a core Baptist belief as eternal security.

    I am becoming increasingly concerned with having any connection with the Southern Baptist Convention.


  6. Sam,

    re: If one is truly converted, one has a valid Biblical baptism by immersion in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit and I think it is hypocrisy to declare one’s valid baptism invalid merely on the basis that a congregation denies eternal security…

    1. I agree, but I also understand how the question was raised in the first place. From all that I’ve heard, the IMB believed themselves to be operating from a Scriptural basis, particularly drawing upon Romans 6:1-11 in developing an understanding of the meaning of baptism, and they sincerely believed this passage to present baptism in such a way as to preclude the possibility of “falling away” being consistent with a Scriptural baptism.
    2. If a congregation that holds to baptismal justification baptized a true believer in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit, then we might yet come to the conclusion that the believer needs to be re-baptized.
    3. The error here was, I think, in distinguishing between a primary and secondary issue.

    re: …unlimited atonement, which is just as much a core Baptist belief as eternal security.

    While unlimited atonement is certainly the majority opinion in our current situation, this view of the atonement is certainly NOT “a core Baptist belief,” historically speaking.

    re: I am becoming increasingly concerned with having any connection with the Southern Baptist Convention.

    I have to disagree with you here. As I said, I’ve heard from one of the IMB trustees that the guidelines for missionaries are being reviewed, so this error is most likely going to be corrected without much further debate. However, even if the Board of Trustees does not correct the issue, it can still be debated and corrected by a motion from the Convention floor. The fluidity of the Convention allows for theological debate and re-formulation of policies in a fairly easy manner. This also means that there will be some mis-steps where bad policies are in place for awhile, but that is the nature of organizations where less-than-fully sanctified people are involved.

  7. Barry Says:

    Andrew,

    Is there anything on the agenda which addresses the perception of SBC in America or how the SBC looks at other movements?

    Thx


  8. Barry,

    Not in particular, that I know of. However, my knowledge of what to expect is pretty much limited to the issues mentioned above, so hopefully another commenter can offer more insight.

    -Andrew

  9. Gordan Says:

    Some of the early Protestant confessions were explicit in saying that the value or efficacy in Baptism does not flow from the one performing it, but from the God in whose name it is done. If we are going to believe that the ordinance is the outward sign of an inward work, then it would seem to me that we focus on the wrong thing when we quibble over-much about the outward part; as was pointed out above, this is gnat-straining while the camel of unregenerate baptisms has made a home in our tent.

  10. Thomas Twitchell Says:

    Thomas Twitchell says:

    Gordon>this is gnat-straining while the camel of unregenerate baptisms has made a home in our tent.Baptism does not flow from the one performing it, but from the God in whose name it is done.

  11. Thomas Twitchell Says:

    Thomas Twitchell says:

    Gordon>this is gnat-straining while the camel of unregenerate baptisms has made a home in our tent.Baptism does not flow from the one performing it, but from the God in whose name it is done.

  12. Thomas Twitchell Says:

    Gordon>this is gnat-straining while the camel of unregenerate baptisms has made a home in our tent.Baptism does not flow from the one performing it, but from the God in whose name it is done.

  13. Thomas Twitchell Says:

    Gordon said: “this is gnat-straining while the camel of unregenerate baptisms has made a home in our tent.”

    This was in reference to Sam’s statement I take it, and I whole heartily agree. Gordon also said: “Baptism does not flow from the one performing it, but from the God in whose name it is done.” And I would agree with that too, to a point.

    The problem with both, is a form of “modal” regeneration. That is, it is not the method or the encantation. In the first the error is believing in the form as if it has super-natural power. In the second the error persists, as if there is a super-natural power in the name of the god in which it is done. It is not even correct to say that it is because a believer believes, as if believing is in some way a super-natural act that can be performed by the individual though the instrumentality of submission to baptism. Therefore, it is not the form, or the person performing, or the recipient that is the focus of Baptism. The focus is Christ. We are commanded to be Baptized to show forth his life, his death and his resurrection as imputed to us through the mediatorial office Christ was granted due to– his obedience, not ours.

    Now, I believe that in the act of obedience that grace is communicated, but it is not because of the obedience itself, nor does it inhere in any of the mechanical aspects or from man’s involvement. The efficaciousness of the ordinances, whether they are the Word, or the sacraments
    or any other obedience commanded, is in Christ.

    I am not trying to side step the issue. However, I think there is a far deeper problem with the SBC view of Baptism itself and they will strain at the gnat of spinkling, paedobaptism, “spirituallity” of the baptizer, or others false doctrines and not on what exactly baptism is in the first place. While they will uphold certain symbolic meaning they do not have it accurate themselves so as to be condemning others who hold to ecclesiastical, or soteriolocal differences.

    The real question of Baptism is two fold. There is the deepth of understanding that a “believer” should intimately be familiar with. Namely, that they are aware of thier total depravity and being condemned, and that through the final, complete and absolute sacrifice of Christ their sin
    and sins have been atoned for through Christ substitutionary attonement. They do not need to know all that is involved in all these doctrines. They must have a foundational understanding of them, however. Therefore, one would have to question whether a believer who believed they could loose
    their salvation, really was saved at all. The caution, there, is that the end of our salvation, may not be clear at the beginning of it. So, a believer may start out with unclear definitions themselves about their end state. It does not matter whether the church that they were baptized in believed in eternal security. It is not that church, but the believer who is saved. It is his entrance into the kingdom, and as we have all come to know, we grow in our understanding and our assurance.

    Which leads to the second point. Though we as SB’s believe the ordinances should be administer by the officers of the Church or under the supervision of the authority of the Church, we do not share the implicit faith of others who would make the validity of the ordinance contingent upon a priesthood outside of Christ.

    At the bottom of this then is the misunderstanding of Baptism. What it is and is not. The SBC view of it puts it at error. Still, it does not affect the individual if the individual understands the essential elements of salvation is a saving sense, both in knowledge and inward witness.

    Most SBC churches are guilty of instrumentalism. It takes the forms of decisionalism, baptismal regeneration, and self-sanctification, among others. This all falls back upon the prevailing theology of Arminianism with it attendant view of the instrumentality of man in affecting and maintaining salvation.

    I have a friend who has been baptize five times. His lower IQ aside, he does have adequate understanding about salvation. The problem was the various teachings of the different Churches he has attended. Each one, in some fashion made him feel as if the previous baptism was invalid. Now, I cannot say when this man was born-again, but what does it matter? Though there is evidence of rebaptizm in the NT, he was not rebaptized for those reasons. Neither are those of whom the SBC claims that a spinkling or any wrong doctrinal baptism is invalid.

    The heart of the individual is what is at stake. And no SB can see another man’s heart. We base our admission to baptism on confession, but as has been said here, and we know as fact, even that is questionable. There is only one preparation, the proper exposition of Scripture in their hearing. There is only one test of validation, perserverance. Unfortunately, SB’s have bitten into the same modalist error of many paedobaptist who think that by baptizing their infants, they will insure that some day they will follow the faith. We baptize with the same vain hope, that the baptized will faithfully remain in the fellowship of believers. Woefully ignorant, the
    numbers of our losses is an embarrassment.

    Finally, then we have as Sam said, a kind of Pharisaical legalism that makes the outward equivalent with the inward mixed with a traditionalism that is almost sacerdotal. Our problem is washing the outside without contending with the biblical issue of what Baptism really is on the inside.

  14. Gordan Says:

    Thomas, I don’t disagree with what you’ve written. My point was that when Baptism is done “right,” it’s really about what God does, not what we do. If it’s a sign of the inward work of regeneration, then this is all of God. And no “bad” minister or somewhat heterodox beliefs held by those watching the event, can reverse that work or nullify it.

  15. Thomas Twitchell Says:

    Gordon,

    I was not taking you to task. Sorry if it sounded like it.

    I was venting a little of my frustration and as you can see I have a lot of it.

  16. genembridges Says:

    A. I’ve written extensively on the baptism policies. It’s in my booklet that was published last year. In essence to say that a person’s baptism is invalid bec. the view of the baptizing church is in error on eternal security is in error is to declare that that church denies Sola Fide and so does that person, since we believe that baptism is the sign of the covenant for those who make a credible profession of faith. To deny them a credible profession of faith and thus their baptism is to cast them (and the baptizing church) as objects of evangelism. It’s classic neo-Gnostic hyper-Calvinism, a fact that I find highly ironic given the SBC on Calvinism. In fact, I have documentation of Landmark Hypers who believe exactly that and I quoted from them in my booklet. It’s unbiblical and without precedent in Baptist history. The first time you see this argument in SBC life, it is in the later works of J.R. Graves, I believe, and even then, by that time, he was on the fringes. John Gano did NOT see fit to rebaptize persons who had been baptized as General Baptists and gave a credible profession of faith. Ben Keach was a GB before becoming a PB. He was not rebaptized.

    Also, if you go to Ben Cole’s blog, you’ll find a resolution on gluttony. It is my understanding that this has been submitted, and, yes, it is a response to Resolution 5 from last year.


  17. Gene:

    Thanks for the heads-up on the gluttony resolution!

    Concerning baptism: I strongly tend to agree with you– I have a question, however. What would you say of a baptism performed in, for example, a church that teaches modalism? Would such a baptism be valid?

    –Andrew


  18. Gordan and Thomas,

    I agree that the God-dishonoring practice of baptizing those who are obviously (if the church bothered to practice discernment) unregenerate is a much more serious issue than the one being debated here, and so I sincerely pray that Ascol’s resolution or a similar one would be passed.

    -Andrew

  19. genembridges Says:

    Andrew,

    It has to be considered on a case by case basis.

    A. Is this just a “hick” church out in the middle of nowhere with little or no theological education in the ministry, or is it a Oneness Church? There’s a difference. You can cut some slack to the first one, the way we’d cut some slack for the second century churches.

    B. But most modalists are in the Oneness / Apostolic churches. They’ve cultivated their modalism. Further, they’ve got more issues there than modalism. The do deny Sola Fide.

    So, you’d have to evaluate each person. Did they/do they accept Oneness Pentecostal doctrine on salvation as well as their modalism? Are they correctible on their modalism? If yes to the first, then they are either a candidate for evangelism or, if they’ve made a profession of faith that is credible (eg. accept Sola Fide), they’re a candidate for baptism. However, I’d caution for the second question, because if they are impervious to correction on the Trinity, that’s a possible sign, IMO, of unregeneracy. This all points to the need for us not to baptize people too soon. The early church could do that; we can’t; because we have layers and layers of bad theology and bad practices that affect folks who come to us.

    I’d add that if we’re baptizing unchurched folks with little training, we may be baptizing our own modalists already. You can’t throw the question totally to the churches, but you can’t throw it solely to the prospect. You have to look at both.

  20. genembridges Says:

    Andrew, you may want to look @ Ben Cole’s blog here:

    http://baptistblog.wordpress.com/2007/05/31/the-propaganda-continues/#comments

    There seems to be some issues with BP and the New Baptist Covenant. This may come up for discussion @ the SBC, if not from the podium, in the halls. You should be aware of what BP reported vs. what Dr. Page actually stated.

    BP: http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=25739
    Dr. Page’s actual statement: http://www.sbc.net/presidentspage/FrankPage/PressRelease-5-25-2007Page.asp

  21. Andrew Kazinsky Says:

    Hey Guys! I was reading this and I think it is very arrogant. To rebaptize someone who comes from a church where they don’t believe in perseverance of saints (one point out of 5 in Calvinism) I live in Eastern Europe. I remember life under Soviet System. My family suffered because of our faith, were fired, not permitted in University etc. Our churches were quite Arminian. I have been to conferences where E-European leaders meet and to a large degree many still hold to Arminian persuasion. It means thousands of believers who kept the faith under extreme regime. Many suffered, some gave their life. We did believe that one who perceveres to the end will have a crown. We believew we have to hold fast (in Arminian way) And for many of us it was a “bloody” battle. Many of us suffered much and sacrificed much. If me as a baptist were to move to such a baptist church where I have to be rebaptized just because back home we were Arminian, I would feel terribly offended, as if I have never been saved, or I have never been baptized by immersion in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit as a believer. Greetings to you all from E-Europe!!! Come and visit us!!! We love you no matter Arminian or 5point Calvinist


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: