GREENSBORO, N.C.–Messengers to the 2006 Southern Baptist Convention adopted resolutions on such currently controversial topics as immigration and the environment June 14, but the debate time was dominated by an issue addressed repeatedly in the convention’s 161-year history–alcohol.
A lengthy debate on a recommendation concerning the use of alcoholic beverages consumed the Resolution Committee’s report in the morning session. In a departure from recent years, the committee needed the evening session to complete its report.
When the back-and-forth on alcohol finally ended, the messengers passed with about a four-fifths majority a resolution not only opposing the manufacture and consumption of alcohol but urging the exclusion from election to the convention’s boards, committees and entities those Southern Baptists who drink. Like other resolutions, it is not binding on SBC churches and entities.
The resolution’s supporters contended the action was needed because some Christians believe they may drink based on a wrong interpretation of the believer’s “freedom in Christ.” They said abstaining from alcohol preserves a Christian’s purity and testimony, while drinking can be a “stumbling block” for others and has destructive results.
Opponents argued that the resolution promoted a position based on Southern Baptist tradition instead of Scripture, which describes the use of wine in the Old and New Testaments. Concern also was expressed that a resolution excluding those who drink alcohol could be the start of a list of sins that would disqualify people from serving in the convention.
The passage of the resolution marked the first time the SBC had approved an alcohol-related recommendation since 1991, according to the records of the convention’s Executive Committee. The 15-year gap is the longest between approved resolutions on alcohol since the convention adopted its first such recorded measure on the topic in 1886. In all, the SBC has approved 57 resolutions related to alcohol since that year.
T.C. French, chairman of the Resolutions Committee, acknowledged afterward that the panel was a “little surprised” the alcohol measure dominated debate, considering some of the other issues addressed in the 15 resolutions.
“Since we had not presented [a resolution] on alcohol in a number of years, we felt like we needed to get that done,” French told reporters.
SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards, a messenger from First Baptist Church of Fort Worth, introduced on the floor an amendment calling for abstinence among those serving SBC entities, and the Resolutions Committee endorsed his recommendation. Passed with about four-fifths of messengers in favor, the amendment stated: “Resolved, that we urge that no one be elected to serve as a trustee or a member of any entity or committee of the Southern Baptist Convention that is a user of alcoholic beverages.”
First to speak against the original motion prior to amendment was Arlington pastor Benjamin Cole of Parkview Baptist Church. While noting he does not advocate drinking, Cole said he feared the convention was in danger of “misstepping” if it adopted “a position that is contrary to what the Bible teaches in the flexibility of the scriptural admonitions as they relate to the consumption of alcoholic beverages.”
Cole said his father died at the age of 39 from a liver disease brought on by alcoholism. “My father did not die because he drank alcohol; my father died because he drank alcohol in excess,” said Cole, who said as a 13-year-old he cared for his father during the last six months of his life.
“We don’t have a single messenger here suffering from heart disease and diabetes because they eat. They’re suffering those things because they over eat and eat in excess. By adopting the resolution that speaks against the sins that this body does not commit in order to forsake resolutions that may speak to the sins that this body may commit is sounding an uncertain sound and in that circumstance, who can prepare for battle?”
In defense of the resolution, committee member Dwayne Mercer, pastor of First Baptist Church in Oviedo, Fla., said while he appreciates “the fact that people become alcoholics because they drink too much alcohol, my parents always taught me, ‘If you don’t take the first drink, you don’t have to worry about taking the last.’”
Mercer said, “We have gone from saying this is a grey area to something that you can do if you choose to do, to all the way now, among some of our younger people, you can do this, drink alcohol under the guise of freedom in Christ—whatever you feel you want to do as long as you worship God and read the Bible.” He urged support for the committee’s resolution, hoping to make Southern Baptists aware of “what’s going on across the country.”
Rising to offer his amendment, Richards said, “It is important for us as Southern Baptists to stand for holiness and purity in our walk. While there may be liberty, we cannot violate 1 Corinthians 8 and 9 where it says our liberty can become a stumbling block.” As a denomination, Richards said, holiness is needed.
“The use of alcohol as a beverage can and does impede our testimony for the Lord Jesus Christ,” he insisted, prompting strong applause from messengers. He called for the amendment’s passage so that messengers might speak to the matter and “leaders might take the high road in our walk with the Lord Jesus.”
Voicing opposition to the amendment, Tom Ascol, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Fla., and executive director of Founders Ministries, a Southern Baptist organization that advocates Reformed theology, expressed appreciation for his friend’s concern for holiness, referring to Richards. “I do not think we can be more holy than Jesus Christ and Christ turned water into wine.”
Ascol added, “I’d hate to see this convention start a list of sins so perceived that men cannot commit and then be allowed to serve this convention,” prompting scattered, yet strong applause.
Douglas Due of Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Carolton, Ga., reminded, “The Bible says we are to shun the very appearance of evil. Everything surrounding the alcohol industry is corrupt and leads to destroying lives of our children and our families.” He urged passage of the amendment, stating, “This convention needs to take a strong stand and say this is just wrong and we as a people want to do what God would have us to do and lead holy and pure lives.”
After messengers approved the amendment by what Baptist Press judged to be a four-fifths majority, Wes Pastor of Christ Memorial Church in Williston, Vermont, spoke against the amended resolution. “I want to remind the messengers in a humble way that the scriptures are very clear that the blessing of God in the Old Testament included the blessing of wine,” he said, citing Proverbs 34.
“Obviously, the Lord Jesus Christ drank wine, the apostles drank wine, Paul told Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach ailment.” Recognizing that wine was a diluted form then, Pastor added that it was still a fermented beverage, based on the concern that some might be drunk on the Day of Pentecost.
“My opposition is not because I’m a wino. It may sound that way by the way I’m seemingly endorsing it,” he said. “But I’m not. I don’t have any alcoholic beverage in my house. Occasionally, at a wedding, if a toast is offered I’ll drink wine, but I don’t ever like the taste of it.”
Pastor said the decision should be based on whether messengers are “standing on the Word of God or standing on our tradition.” He urged “that we not take a stand that says we express our total opposition to consuming alcoholic beverages” given the examples from Jesus, the apostles and Paul’s instruction to Timothy.
Jason Lupo, who identified his church as Greenlawn Baptist, said he knew the effects of alcohol and drug abuse personally, having spent two years and seven months in prison. “It all started with drinking beer when I was eight years old.”
He said, “The resolution is to take a stand against something that is destroying our world.” After being interrupted by applause, Lupo added, “The resolution states very plainly alcoholism has led to countless deaths on our nation’s highways.”
In opposing the amended resolution, Jeff Young, pastor of Corinth Baptist Church in Ravenna, Texas, said the older members of the SBC had won the battle to proclaim the Bible is “authoritative and sufficient, but when we pass extra-biblical resolutions such as this, we pull the rug out from underneath that teaching.” He urged messengers “not to pass such extrabiblical resolutions weakening the positions that have been won with such heartfelt battle over the past few decades.”
GREENSBORO, N.C.–Using her upbringing as the daughter of a Presbyterian pastor as a rapport builder, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice praised Southern Baptists for their good works at home and abroad and argued that America is a crucial moral leader in battling global injustice.
Like the children of many faithful, Southern church-goers, Rice told messengers she grew up in church. “I’m not speaking metaphorically,” said Rice of her youth in Birmingham, Ala.
A pro-choice Republican, Rice was welcomed warmly in the convention hall, with presiding SBC President Bobby Welch introducing her as a sister in Christ. Rice said she is often asked about her faith. She told messengers she prays daily to find “solace” and strength.
“In towns and villages across Africa,” Southern Baptists are digging water wells. They did the same in Banda Aceh and other areas hit by last year’s tsunami, Rice said, adding, “Few have done more than Southern Baptists…. No man, no woman, no child is beyond the reach of your compassion.”
Stressing America’s global influence, Rice told messengers the United States must remain engaged as a leader beyond its borders. Americans are blessed to be able to own property, “freedom to think as we please and worship as we wish. … Not as masters of others but as servants of freedom,” Rice said to loud applause.
Rice said the question for future Americans would be whether or not America continues to engage injustice abroad or withdraw. “If America does not rally support [for international injustice], who will?” Rice asked to a standing ovation.
President Bush, she said, is committed to expanding religious liberty in the world, making reference to the faith of Chinese Christians who worship despite intense government pressure on the nation’s Christian population. She said the president grants favor to nations that pursue and enact religious liberty.
“Religious freedom is an issue that demands moral clarity?. Government has no right to stand between the individual and the Almighty,” she said.
Noting that slavery did not end in the 19th century, Rice praised Bush for launching a “new abolitionist movement” against human trafficking.
“As long as America has anything to say about it, slavery will have no place in the modern world.”
Rice said the Bush administration also is working to achieve peace in Darfur, Sudan, and is fighting AIDS in Africa with programs aimed at prevention.
“For the sake of peace, for the sake of justice, for the sake of human dignity, we will help the people of Darfur,” Rice insisted.
Among the roles the United States plays in the world, Rice said its primary role is ensuring the survival of democracy and winning the global war on terror. “When possible, we are bringing terrorists to justice, and when necessary, we are bringing justice to the terrorists,” she said.
Rice said to the applause of messengers that the recent death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, is a positive step in the war on terror. “He will never harm, he will never murder and he will never terrorize innocent people again.”
Twice Rice mentioned the service and sacrifice of the nation’s armed services who have assisted in the liberation of 55 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq. She said the sacrifice of these individuals proves the goal of democracy in the Middle East worthwhile.
In closing, Rice said she was inspired by a letter she received from a Southern Baptist, Jeff England of Centreville Va., stating that his congregation was praying for her.
She told Southern Baptists, “Thank you for your prayers on behalf of me and the president and others during these challenging days.”
GREENSBORO, N.C.–Telling the Southern Baptist Convention Pastor’s Conference, “I don’t think I’ve ever done anything this hard before,” Houston pastor Ed Young said the SBC must remember it is a Great Commission denomination and desert the “side streets” it is on–or risk becoming a footnote in history.
The former SBC president spoke during the second night of the Pastor’s Conference, preaching from Mark 10:13 on the story of Jesus welcoming the children who had flocked near him and proclaiming, “for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Calling on Southern Baptists to again reach children and youth with the gospel and to leave the “side streets” of non-essential doctrinal issues, Young said Southern Baptists “have forgotten who they are and because of this, we do not know where we are going.”
Young noted how Russian priests were arguing about components of the liturgy in a church building when just six blocks away, the first shot was fired in what became known as the Bolshevik Revolution.
Like those priests, Southern Baptists “are on way, way too many side streets at this moment in time.” Young charged.
“We are in a moment of crisis in the Southern Baptist Convention–an absolute moment of historical crisis,” Young said, noting that his message weighed so heavily on him he thought of changing it. His wife, he said, told him to speak what God laid on his heart.
The SBC has settled that it believes “every bit” of Scripture, in the virgin birth; in the sinless life of Christ; in the substitutionary atonement of the crucified Christ; that he was three days in the grave; that he resurrected bodily; that he ascended bodily; and that he will return soon.
“Our theology is biblical,” Young said. “It is not systematic. Therefore, we as Baptists, we are not Calvinists and we are not Arminian, we are Baptists. That’s who we are. And we’ve always come down somewhere in the middle because that is where we believe the Baptist comes down in our faith and in our doctrine.”
Young stated, “Our mission statement is the Great Commission,” the SBC market strategy is Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the world, the product is the gospel, and the profit is changed lives.
“That is who we are functionally. We are a Great Commission denomination. Now this is my thesis: we have forgotten who we are.”
Young said he sees no side streets in the International Mission Board’s work, stating that through IMB missionaries 459,000 new believers were baptized last year and 17,000 new churches started.
“By the same token, we who pastor in the United States of America, there is clear evidence, clear evidence, tragic evidence that the churches in America are on many, many, many side streets.”
Southern Baptists in the U.S. last year–counting church closures and new churches–netted only 234 churches and baptized 86,000 fewer people than the IMB did internationally.
The IMB reports 7 to 8 million church attenders weekly; the SBC reports 16.3 million members in the U.S., with “about 10 million Southern Baptists the FBI can’t find,” Young said. Furthermore, Young said, quoting LifeWay President Thom Rainer’s research, about half of those who are inactive have never been converted.
Young said that beginning around 2000, SBC baptisms among those 18 and under began dropping an average of 4,400 baptisms annually. Almost 40 percent of SBC churches–around 17,000?reported zero baptisms among those 18 and under.
Pointing to a group of cardboard cutouts representing young people, Young said, “If that is not tragic enough, I have on our platform … eight young people who were born in Southern Baptist homes, who attended Southern Baptist churches, and with two separate, intensive studies as to what happened to our kids born and raised in our churches … the kids brought up in your church and my church, six out of every eight when they are 19 have not been won to Christ, and as far as we know and [from] any studies we can give, they are gone from the kingdom of God.”
If Houston evangelist Voddie Baucham’s prediction is accurate that in four generations Southern Baptists will number about 250,000, Young stated “the Southern Baptist Convention will be a footnote in kingdom history if Jesus tarries—because we’re on side streets.”
If SBC churches are to survive, Young said, “Number one, we need to get back in the youth business with our kids.” Every church can do one thing that “will change your church evangelistically. …You know what that is?”
“It’s simply to have a family of faith that genuinely loves kids. …To do that a lot of our churches will have to turn everything they do upside down” and place the best people in ministry to youth and children, Young said.
“It is the genius, it is the basic methodology of evangelism. Show me any evangelistic, growing church and they may have contemporary worship, they may have a seeker-friendly congregation, they may be addressing the boomers and the busters and tweeners, they may be talking about all the New Age movement and postmodernism. Listen, that is a secondary target in our churches. Two-thirds of all people in our churches who come to faith in Jesus Christ come to faith before they’re 18 years of age.”
“How many of you became a Christian before you were 18? Would you lift your hand up high?” Young asked as the majority of the crowd raised their hands. “I rest my case.”
Young said Southern Baptist must experience supernatural unity, noting the ancient plea for unity in essentials, liberty in non-essentials and in all things charity.
James 3, which speaks of the tongue as a fire, must not only be preached but also practiced, Young stated, adding that 15 words would solve many divisions: “I was wrong. I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. I need you.”
He recalled the recent words of a “liberal” who left the SBC during the battle for the Bible saying that he knew eventually “all the tire slashers would begin to slash one other. We know that’s what’s taking place now,” the man said.
You say, “But I’m right.”
“I can be right and wrong by my attitude and my spirit and how I communicate that. And we have seen way too much of that. There must be a supernatural healing among the fellowship.”
Young said Southern Baptists must get back to “the kid business” and pour resources into missions, then “we will remember who we are, we will see where we are going and we will repent in tears. And we will be back in the Great Commission business, and the Southern Baptist Convention will no longer be on side streets.”
GREENSBORO, N.C.–Frank Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention during their annual meeting June 13-14 in Greensboro, was the first of five men to complete the slate of officers to lead the 16.2 million-member denomination for the next year.
In a three-candidate race for president, of the 8,961 votes cast, Page, with 4,546 votes, or 50.48 percent on the first ballot, defeated Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church in Springdale, Ark., who was second with 2,247 votes or 24.95 percent, and Jerry Sutton, pastor of Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn., who had 2,168 votes or 24.08 percent of the votes.
The presidential election was the first highly contested presidential race at an SBC annual meeting since 1994 in Orlando, when Jim Henry, now retired as pastor of First Baptist Church there, defeated Fred Wolfe, now of Canton, Ga.
Page succeeds Bobby Welch, pastor of First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach, Fla., who served two terms as president.
Jimmy Jackson, pastor of Whitesburg Baptist Church in Huntsville, Ala., won the election for first vice president in a runoff. He received 51.44 percent (1,107 votes) of the vote, edging Mark Dever (47.86 percent, 1,030 votes), pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.
On the first ballot, Dever received a plurality of the votes, with 29.72 percent (1,090 votes) to Jackson’s 27.48 percent (1,008 votes). Convention rules state that the top two vote-getters advance to a runoff. On the first ballot Kelly J. Burris, senior pastor of Kempsville Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, Va., received 22.76 percent (835) while Keith Fordham, an evangelist from Fayetteville, Ga., and a member of Harp’s Crossing Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ga., received 19.79 percent (726 votes).
Wiley Drake, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif., was elected to the post of second vice president. Drake received 50.37 percent of the vote (2,408 votes) on the first ballot over three other nominees?J.D. Greear (1,508 votes), pastor of the Summit Church in Durham, N.C.; Bob Bender (635 votes), pastor of First Baptist Church of Black Forest in Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Jay Adkins (207 votes), pastor of First Baptist Church in Westwego, La.
By acclamation, messengers re-elected Texas native John Yeats, director of communications for the Louisiana Baptist Convention and a member of Calvary Baptist Church in Alexandria, La., as recording secretary and Jim Wells, director of missions for Tri County Baptist Association in Nixa, Mo., as registration secretary.
Messengers chose Rob Zinn, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Highland, Calif., to preach the convention sermon at next year’s annual meeting in San Antonio.
Pat Pajak, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Decatur, Ill., was selected as the convention sermon alternate, while Scott White, minister of music and worship at First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., will serve as the meeting’s music director.
Forrest Pollock, pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla., nominated Page for president.
Pollock described Page as a man who will “not only love the Word of God?the inerrant Bible?but also will support the Cooperative Program.”
Page’s church gives 12.4 percent of undesignated receipts to the Cooperative Program, Pollock said.
“We’ve got to work together if we’re going to accomplish the Great Commission,” Pollock said. “That’s the reason that we started the Cooperative Program in the first place?so that granddaddy’s church could work with your church and my church to reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Pollock said Page is “not a high flying preacher, just a soul-winner.”
GREENSBORO, N.C.–“How’s your church’s evangelism going? How’s the harvest?” Mark Dever asked the approximately 1,000 pastors and church leaders attending an SBC Pastors’ Conference breakout session titled “Church Discipline? Are You Kidding?”
The pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., said because it takes God’s Word seriously, a disciplined church would also be evangelistic.
Dever began by telling the audience that discipline in its simplest form comes from the word “disciple” and describes the obedient practices of the believer.
“Much of church discipline is positive discipline, formative discipline,” Dever said. Strictly speaking, teaching is church discipline, “so do not think this is only a negative matter.”
In most church contexts, however, the meaning is taken from Matthew 18 and other passages that prescribe remedies for unrepentant sin among believers in the church. Dever acknowledged that some may ask, “Aren’t we supposed to be drawing people into church and not throwing them out?”
He stated that Jesus in Matthew 7 describes false prophets as wolves in sheep’s clothing and warns believer to be wary. Further, in 1 Corinthians 6, Paul exhorts the church to mediate between striving brothers.
“That passage clearly shows that the church is to exercise judgment within itself.”
The biblical requirement to deal with unrepentant sin in the church is a message all pastors and church members need to hear, Dever said.
However, he warned that churches practicing church discipline must guard against self-righteousness. Don’t go home and implement church discipline if you haven’t been doing it, Dever pleaded. Instead, spend adequate time preaching on the necessity of biblical church discipline, he said.
“Make it hard to get in and throw people out for unrepentant sin,” Dever said. “Then we’ll see the church grow and people saved.”
One safeguard that churches often overlook is the importance of baptizing only regenerate people who have a testimony of their saving faith.
“As best we can, we are to baptize believers,” he said, adding that it is difficult in some cases to properly judge one’s testimony.
It is important for church members to understand that they are “covenanted to each other and for each other,” Dever said, and to cast off besetting sins as mentioned in Hebrews 12:1-2 and fix their eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith.
Dever built his case by citing numerous scriptures, including 1 Corinthians 5, the longest passage on church discipline; Galatians 6:1 (restoration); 2 Thessalonians 3:6 (avoid the irresponsible brother); 1 Timothy 1:20 (deliverance to Satan for learning); and Titus 3:10 (reject a divisive person after two warnings).
In answering the question of why practice church discipline, Dever warned, “We do not practice church discipline to be vindictive.” Vengeance belongs to God alone; church discipline must be done “out of love for the offending party.”
“Pastor … you must not abuse authority. And you help Satan if you abuse your authority. Be extremely careful of your authority.”
Rather, church discipline is to be temporary and redemptive, he said, and should be done:
>For the glory of God.
“Don’t take that to mean that the church is all about church discipline,” Dever said. Rather, “like medicine, it is not what life is about, but it sustains it.”
Dever said pastors who claim belief in the inerrant Bible but don’t practice church discipline are hypocritical. Conversely, disciplined churches must avoid pride.
Finally, the church that lacks discipline bears God’s name in vain, Dever said.
“We are to be conspicuously holy, not for our namesake, but for God’s glory.
GREENSBORO, N.C.–Saying they hope to serve as models for the rest of the Southern Baptist Convention, seminary presidents R. Albert Mohler Jr. and Paige Patterson June 12 discussed their differences over the doctrine of election, stressing that believers can disagree on the topic while remaining friends and unified in the goal of evangelism and missions.
“I do hope … we will provide at least an example on that point, if on no other,” Patterson said.
Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and Patterson, president of Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, discussed Calvinism during two one-hour-long breakout sessions of the SBC Pastors’ Conference.
Mohler affirms all five points of Calvinism, while Patterson affirms at least one–eternal security. The sessions, titled, “Reaching Today’s World Through Differing Views of Election,” drew standing room only crowds.
Each man spoke for 20 minutes before fielding questions submitted prior to the session. Saying that Patterson is a “friend in the gospel,” Mohler pointed to former great men of faith–such as John Wesley and George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon and D.L. Moody–who had disagreements over election but nonetheless considered one another Christian brothers and “cooperated together in evangelism.”
“This is a conversation among close friends,” Mohler said.
Patterson began his segment by saying, to laughter, “The real question we are here to discuss today is whether or not you are here on your own free will.”
He listed six areas in which he and Calvinists agree–areas for which he said he has great appreciation. Calvinists, Patterson said: “usually lead very pious lives”; believe theology is important; generally are “very clear about the dangers involved in the charismatic movement; “understand the purpose of everything is to glorify God”; “never question the inerrancy of Scripture or the substitutionary atonement of Christ”; and “are crystal clear about the fact that salvation is by grace alone.”
But Patterson also said there are several areas of concern he has with “some Calvinists,” including:
> the notion that if “you are not a Calvinist then you must be an Arminian.” He said he is neither.
> the argument that “if you are not a Calvinist then you do not accept the doctrines of grace.” Patterson said, “I believe that salvation is by grace alone, and I’m not a Calvinist.”
> the assertion that those who are not Calvinists don’t believe in the sovereignty of God. “I just happen to believe that God is sovereign enough that he can make a man totally free if he wishes to do so,” Patterson said.
Patterson said he views the doctrine of election through the “foreknowledge of God.” He also said he sees no biblical evidence for “irresistible grace”–one of the tenets of Calvinism.
During his segment Mohler said it was “good and healthy” for Southern Baptists to discuss theology.
“It’s a sign of a mature denomination,” said Mohler, who was speaking one day after undergoing eye cornea surgery, and obviously was bothered by the bright lights. “? We may be the last people alive who can have an honest disagreement.”
Southern Baptists, Mohler said, affirm God’s sovereignty in salvation even if they don’t call themselves Calvinists.
“In your local church, when you send out an evangelism team, you don’t say, ‘Good luck,’” he said. “You pray that God will open hearts and open minds. When we listen to ourselves pray, we really do hear a strong confidence in the sovereignty of God.
“ … The doctrine of election explains why we go with confidence to share the gospel—because God does call sinners to himself, through the blood of Jesus Christ.
“As the parable of the sower of the soil makes clear, we cannot read the human heart. We do not know who is the fertile heart and who is the resistant heart. … We just know there are sinners who need to hear the gospel, and thus we preach the gospel to all persons, knowing that God does save.”
All Christians, Mohler said, are called to spread the gospel.
“Why do we go?” he asked. “We go because we honestly believe that whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. … God always blesses the preaching of the gospel. And he does so because he is not a spectator, but he is the God who saves through the means of the gospel.”
Answering a point posed by Patterson—that if Calvinism is true then a person could be drawn against his will, Mohler said, “I do not believe that such a person exists.
“Rather, I believe the doctrine of effectual calling, that Scripture says once that work is begun, and that person is drawn unto Christ, then that person will come to faith in Christ and will be authentically saved,” he said. “I do not believe in the fictitious person who is drawn to faith in Christ against his will. I do not believe that that is possible.”
Human will, Mohler said, is not “contravened by God.”
“The Lord’s will—as the initiating will—wills the human will to will what the Father sills,” he said. “…When Dr. Patterson shares the gospel and when I share the gospel, we do so honestly and urgently believing that if that person to whom we shared the gospel of Christ responds in faith, she or he will be saved.”
“Whosoever will call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved—I believe that emphatically,” he said.
Order forms for CDs and tapes of the Mohler-Patterson discussion and other breakout sessions during the SBC Pastors’ Conference can be downloaded at www.SBCTapes.com. SBC Tapes can be reached at 817-65 6-1258.
GREENSBORO, N.C.?Addressing Southern Baptists for the last time as convention president, Bobby Welch, croaking frog in hand, called on Southern Baptists to regain confidence in the gospel’s power to save souls and to set high the bar because “Christ wants more.”
Preaching from John 6 about the feeding of the 5,000, Welch focused much of his message on the “lad” who offered his five loaves and two fish as an answer to the multitude’s need.
In a sermon that also touched on the importance of the SBC’s Cooperative Program missions funding channel, Welch told messengers that if it dies it would take three generations before anything like it could emerge. Regardless of the cost, “We have to do more going, and we have to do more giving.”
Noting the five loaves and two fish offered by the boy in John 6, Welch emphasized that the boy saw himself as an answer to the need, and Christ “wants more because he sees more in the crowd.”
“[A]nd there’s still more coming,” Welch said. Southern Baptists must recognize where God is calling for more and must meet the need,” he said. “Christ wants more. Christ wants more because he sees more.”
Southern Baptists must do more than just invite people to churches or conferences and give people Christian books. Such methods are fine, but, “We must rediscover our confidence in the power of God’s gospel” to change people anytime, any place, Welch said.
Citing Paul’s profession in Romans 1:16 that he is not ashamed of the gospel, Welch told the messengers, “No wonder, listen to what it will do for you.”?it is the power of God to salvation for all believers, Welch explained.
“You don’t have to just invite them [to church],” Welch said. “You can win them on the spot.” A verbal witness is critical “because they might die before they get to the kool-aid stand or finish the book,” Welch said.
Calling on messengers to pray for the North American Mission Board’s search committee, Welch said the mission board “is in a position to identify and articulate what Southern Baptists believe about their theology of evangelism” and how to apply it. If Southern Baptists lose their commitment to evangelize, many souls will perish, Welch charged.
He was reminded of the power of CP giving, he said, while watching Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers after last year’s hurricanes. “I thought, ‘hallelujah’ ? That was us on that truck ? because we were there through the Cooperative Program giving.”
He also related the story of talking to an International Mission Board regional leader who lamented the millions who would not hear the gospel this year because the need exceeds missionaries and funding.
Welch said, “Whatever it takes in our going and our giving, we must do it. Whatever it takes.
“With the Cooperative Program everyone can, because your dollars work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year” across the world.
Welch said of the many discussions messengers had at the annual meeting about CP giving, everyone said SBC churches ought to give more, not less.
“The Lord has to get more from the Christian before he can get more for the crowd,” Welch explained.
In John 6, “Christ is calling for a lot” and the disciples are emphasizing what little they have?a danger of churches who undervalue their significance by thinking they are in a small town in a small church with small pews, a small Bible and small print.
“[A]nd all the whil
GREENSBORO, N.C.–Messengers to the 2006 Southern Baptist Convention overwhelmingly approved 15 resolutions June 14, including one that sought to balance faithful enforcement of the United States’ immigration laws with compassionate outreach to all immigrants.
Unlike recent years, the convention required both the morning and evening sessions to act on all the recommendations of the Resolutions Committee.
The committee might have completed its work in the morning had it not been for a lengthy debate on a resolution regarding the use of alcoholic beverages. The messengers eventually passed a recommendation by about a four-fifths majority not only opposing the production and consumption of alcohol but urging the exclusion of Southern Baptists who drink from the convention’s boards, committees and entities.
The resolution on the “crisis of illegal immigration” urged the federal government to secure the country’s borders and enforce its laws, including those that penalize employers who “knowingly hire” illegal immigrants or treat them unjustly. It is estimated about 12 million illegal immigrants are in the United States.
The measure, which was adopted in a nearly unanimous vote, also encouraged Southern Baptists and other Christians and their churches to reach out to immigrants regardless of their race, ethnicity, nationality or “legal status” through sharing the gospel; implementing need-meeting ministries; starting English classes “on a massive scale”; and encouraging the achievement of citizenship or legal status.
Though the resolution called for Congress to act swiftly on immigration reform, it did not endorse a specific piece of legislation. The Senate and House of Representatives have passed widely divergent bills that will have to be reconciled in order for a measure to go to President Bush.
“Obviously, this is a complex problem, and there are a number of opinions among Southern Baptists at this time,” Kenyn Cureton, the SBC Executive Committee’s vice president for convention relations and liaison to the committee, said at a news conference after the resolutions report was completed. “I don’t think there’s a consensus about the specificity of the action that is needed to solve these problems.”
In addition to the resolutions on immigration and alcohol use, the messengers approved in unanimous or nearly unanimous votes measures:
> expressing displeasure with U.S. senators who recently failed to support a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman and calling on the House to approve the proposal.
> affirming Christian teachers in the public schools and encouraging Southern Baptists to provide a godly influence on school systems through such means as election to school boards.
> renewing Southern Baptists’ commitment to stewardship of God’s creation while opposing solutions dependent on “questionable science.”
> condemning all human species-altering technologies, including the creation of human-animal hybrids.
> urging all school systems to accommodate off-campus Bible instruction during educational hours.
> voicing gratitude for the confirmation of federal judges and justices who respect the Constitution and encouraging the continued nomination and confirmation of such judges.
> calling on China to accord refugee status to North Koreans who have fled their country’s tyrannical regime and encouraging the United States and other countries to accept North Koreans as refugees.
> urging the disbanding of the government-supported militias in the Darfur region of Sudan, international trials for “perpetrators of the atrocities” in the area and multi-national aid to the area.
> affirming the service of bivocational, volunteer and part-time pastors and other gospel ministers.
> encouraging Southern Baptists to pray for the president and all members of the U.S. military.
> thanking Southern Baptists and other volunteers who served in disaster relief efforts in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
> expressing gratitude for the ministry at Lifeway Ridgecrest Conference Center on its 100th anniversary.
> thanking Southern Baptists in the Greensboro region and others who helped make this year’s convention possible.
All resolutions express the views of the messengers meeting at a particular convention but are not binding on churches and the entities of the SBC.
Members of the committee were Chairman T.C. French, pastor of Jefferson Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La.; Robin Hadaway, member of Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, Kansas City, Mo., and associate professor of missions at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Gerald Harris, member of Ephesus Baptist Church in Atlanta and editor of The Christian Index, newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention; Martha Lawley, member of First Southern Baptist Church, Worland, Wyo.; Dwayne Mercer, pastor, First Baptist Church, Oviedo, Fla.; Darrell Orman, pastor, First Baptist Church, Stuart, Fla.; Frank Page, pastor, First Baptist Church, Taylors, S.C., and newly elected SBC president; Forrest Pollock, pastor, Bell Shoals Baptist Church, Brandon, Fla.; Ida South, member, First Baptist Church, Mathiston, Miss., and Mike Stone, pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Blackshere, Ga.
MONTGOMERY, Ala.?Rick Evans, pastor of Dalraida Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., has stated his intent to nominate Jerry Sutton, pastor of Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville for president of the Southern Baptist Convention during the denomination’s June 13-14 meeting in Greensboro, N.C., the Southern Baptist Texan learned June 7.
“Jerry Sutton is an example to us all. He is a consistent leader and a convictional conservative,” Evans said in an interview with the Texan. “In times of uncertainty, we need a man with a proven track record. Jerry has not sought the position and has made no effort to attain it. He also knows the history of the SBC, especially the recent history of the convention,” he added, referring to “The Baptist Reformation,” Sutton’s history of the SBC Conservative Resurgence between 1979 and 1995.
Tennessee pastor Jerry Sutton confirmed June 6 he would allow his name to be placed in nomination for president of the Southern Baptist Convention at its June 13-14 annual meeting in Greensboro, N.C.
Sutton joins two other pastors?Ronnie Floyd of First Baptist Church in Springdale, Ark., and Frank Page of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C.?who will be nominated for the post.
“For the last month I have been receiving calls from people throughout the convention who say they are not completely at peace over the upcoming presidential election,” Sutton said. “I kept putting them off. I prayed all night Sunday night into Monday, asking the Lord for guidance and He told me I’m supposed to run.”
Sutton said he believes he can strengthen the bonds that hold Southern Baptists together.
“I can relate to a lot of different segments of the SBC. Right now there is a lot of confusion, and I think I can help bring clarity.”