Resolutions: Baptist divorce to Gulf disaster

ORLANDO, Fla.?Messengers to the 2010 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting passed, with little discussion, six resolutions on topics ranging from “the scandal of Southern Baptist divorce,” to the proposed lifting of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, to the Gulf oil disaster.

“What the committee tried to do this year was speak clearly and convictionally but speak as forgiven sinners and not as outraged partisans on any issue,” Resolutions Committee chairman Russell Moore told reporters after the adoption of the resolutions. “We wanted to make clear we were speaking from the point of view of the gospel as those who deserve only condemnation ourselves, with every word of prophetic warning also extending a word of grace and mercy in Christ. Also, to make sure we are speaking first to ourselves.”

Moore, dean of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, said the resolution on Southern Baptist divorce is one example of that. To his knowledge, he said, no resolution since 1904 has spoken directly to the divorce issue even though it has been mentioned in other resolutions.

“We have to speak just as clearly and with just as much force and alarm?indeed, with more so to the sins that are rampant among ourselves?as we do to the things that are on the outside,” Moore said.

?The first resolution, titled “On the Centrality of the Gospel,” not only acknowledges biblical teaching on the nature of the gospel but also encourages pastors “to keep the gospel foremost in every sermon they preach,” that churches “display the gospel by transcending ethnic, racial, economic, and social barriers due to our unity in Christ,” and that “we commit to speak to the outside world as those who are forgiven sinners, who have received mercy as a free gift, and not as those who are morally or ethically superior to anyone.”

Moore said the committee “wanted to make a very clear statement at the very beginning that we believe the gospel is central not only in our evangelism, although that is certainly true, but in every aspect of the Christian life.” He said the committee tried to reflect the gospel message in every resolution.

?A resolution “on family worship” called it “integral to laying a foundation for multi-generational faithfulness to the gospel (Psalm 145:4) and a necessary complement for the strengthening of the local church to fulfill its commission (Matthew 28:18-20).”

The resolution further called parents “to consider times of family worship to be an opportunity to introduce their children to the gospel, to train their children to seek the salvation of their friends and neighbors, and to pray for the nations. ?”

?The resolution “On the Scandal of Southern Baptist Divorce” laments that churches have tended to speak only in “therapeutic terms rather than in terms of both repentance and forgiveness.” It calls on churches and pastors to hold biblical standards for marrying couples and to proclaim the “Word of God on the permanence of marriage.” It resolves to pray “the next generation will see the gospel not only in the counter-cultural nature of our verbal witness but also in the counter-cultural love and fidelity of our marriages.”

?The resolution “On the Gulf of Mexico Catastrophe” acknowledges the ecological and economic havoc and mourns the 11 people killed in the April 20 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. Further, it notes “the symbiotic relationship between the Gulf of Mexico and the hardworking residents of the Gulf Coast,” and that “Our God-given dominion over the creation is not unlimited, as though we were gods and not creatures ? accountable to a higher standard than profit alone.”

The resolution calls on Southern Baptists to pray for an end to the disaster and to aid those affected, for “governing authorities to act determinatively” to end the crisis, and for “full corporate accountability” for damages and cleanup. The final paragraph anticipates “a fully restored creation in which the reign of God is seen ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:10).”

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