On Resolution No. 6
The complete text of Resolution No. 6 (amendment in boldface), from Baptist Press:
WHEREAS, The ideal of a regenerate church membership has long been and remains a cherished Baptist principle, with Article VI of the Baptist Faith and Message describing the church as a “local congregation of baptized believers”; and
WHEREAS, A New Testament church is composed only of those who have been born again by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Word, becoming disciples of Jesus Christ, the local church’s only Lord, by grace through faith (John 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-9), which church practices believers’ only baptism by immersion (Matthew 28:16-20), and the Lord’s supper (Matthew 26:26-30); and
WHEREAS, Local associations, state conventions, and the Southern Baptist Convention compile statistics reported by the churches to make decisions for the future; and
WHEREAS, the 2007 Southern Baptist Convention annual Church Profiles indicate that there are 16,266,920 members in Southern Baptist churches; and
WHEREAS, Those same profiles indicate that only 6,148,868 of those members attend a primary worship service of their church in a typical week; and
WHEREAS, The Scriptures admonish us to exercise church discipline as we seek to restore any professed brother or sister in Christ who has strayed from the truth and is in sin (Matthew 18:15-35; Galatians 6:1); and now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 10-11, 2008, urge churches to maintain a regenerate membership by acknowledging the necessity of spiritual regeneration and Christ’s lordship for all members; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we humbly urge our churches to maintain accurate membership rolls for the purpose of fostering ministry and accountability among all members of the congregation; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we urge the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention to repent of the failure among us 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 (Matthew 18:15-18); and be it further
RESOLVED, That we humbly encourage denominational servants to support and encourage churches that seek to recover and implement our Savior’s teachings on church discipline, even if such efforts result in the reduction in the number of members that are reported in those churches, and be it finally
RESOLVED, That we humbly urge the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and their pastors to implement a plan to minister to, counsel, and restore wayward church members based upon the commands and principles given in Scripture (Matthew 18:15-35; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20).
My friend Brian Shank and I walked into the Convention hall yesterday morning in the middle of Dr. Yarnell’s proposal to amend the resolution. Not fully understanding the purpose of the amendment (I do understand it now), but agreeing with what I heard him say, I voted in favor. Then Tom Ascol got up to amend the resolution. (I was grateful that in God’s providence I did not miss this.) I was a bit nervous, because (I think), it is rare for messengers to vote for two changes to a resolution, especially when changes are of the length as that proposed by Ascol. I do think that the amount having to be added made some messengers a bit wary; I disagree with Ascol’s assessment (via Dr. Yarnell) that his amendment passed by 2/3 majority- I think that the vote was closer than that, and I was surprised when it did not go to ballot. The vote for the amended resolution passed by what appeared to be an overwhelming majority. This, I think, speaks to the fact that awareness of this issue has been significantly raised since Ascol first proposed such a resolution for the Convention meeting in Greensboro.
I was glad to hear that Ascol, Barber, and Yarnell were able to work together in the amendment process. This was a great example of Building Bridges in action. [More on Resolution No. 6 can be read HERE.]
Dr. Mohler’s presentation concerning the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary followed. Dr. Mohler seemed elated at the result of the vote; he spent about the first third of his time speaking of the importance of the vote and the importance of commitment to regenerate church membership. Then he perfectly segued from the imposing term “regenerate church membership” to the need for theological education so that we will know what such terms mean, and he focused on SBTS.
Why did the resolutions committee resist the language of “repentance”?
The above question is most perplexing in a Convention annual meeting where so much was said about repentance, but where this case to express repentance was once again discouraged by Convention leadership. A few possible reasons occur to me- these may or may not be true for any or each member of the committee:
- I do believe that at least some on the committee were genuinely concerned about the theological ramifications of calling the Convention to repentance when there are certainly some churches that are trying to practice integrity in this area.
- Furthermore, such a call to corporate repentance may have been deemed by some to be discouraging to those who have been leading their churches in such fidelity.
- However, each one of us is prone to avoid self-examination and repentance. We want to think that we are basically OK and we want to be self-reliant, rather than to come humbly before God and to rely on Him to do His will in difficult areas.
- There is also corporate pride. We like to be able to say that we are the largest Protestant denomination- 16 million strong! But we must allow ourselves to be evaluated by God’s Word, even if we end up being more of a remnant.