Morris H. Chapman
SBC Executive Committee Presidential Report
June 23, 2009
The Southern Baptist Convention and the Great Commission of the Lord Jesus Christ have never been strangers to one another, and so long as the convention and her agencies and institutions stay anchored upon the inerrant Word of God and focused on the unconquerable Cross of Christ, she will stand against every wind of doctrine that blows across the great theological divide, against every ecclesiastic fad that promises innovation at the expense of confessional fidelity, against every subtle temptation toward uncooperative narrowness and unorthodox ecumenism.
While Southern Baptists pursue the fresh wind of the Spirit and contemplate new approaches to send our missionaries to the farthest, darkest corners of the earth, we must maintain a careful balance between cultural adaptation and Gospel proclamation.
We must NEVER subvert the changeless Gospel to an inordinate fascination with changing cultural forms and sociological trends. To hide the lamp of the Gospel under the bushel of cultural compromise is a grievous sin against the Spirit. Some of the church-growth methodologies that masquerade under the guise of Bible exposition are increasingly known for the crude themes and the vulgar language of their strongest advocates. The sacred desk is no place for the carnal, the sensual, and the sensational. Ministers of the Gospel must exercise great caution when rushing in where angels dare not tread, and churches and pastors of the Southern Baptist Convention must avoid even the appearance of evil in this regard.
We should never speak ABOUT the Lord and his work in a way that we would not speak TO the Lord. We all stumble in many ways ? it is true ? but we must not encourage, commend, or reward a careless, carnal tongue. Christ must be Lord of our lives AND our lips.
There is a new call to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives, in our churches and in our convention. “What would it look like if Jesus were truly Lord of our convention?” How might things be different? I propose that we can get a clearer picture of ourselves when we look at the mirror of Scripture than when we look at each other. Like the apostles whom Jesus called as his first ambassadors, we are frail and fragile — often selfish and scattered.
Too often, we are jealous of how the Lord is blessing one of the brethren. We look at the enrollment of the other seminary, the endowment of the other institution, the building or the budget of the other church. We count the numbers and we wonder why God is doing more for them than he is for us.
To those of us who are always pressing for a higher profile in convention life or climbing the ladder of ambition, the LORD would tell us that the greatest place is the place of service. It is the lowly floor of the basin and the towel, not the throne of power and authority. We must prefer to kneel at another’s feet in service, than to stand in the synagogues and street corners. And when God chooses to bless one of his servants for their faithfulness, we must avoid watching with benign interest ? and often a critical spirit. We must follow the example of Christ himself, and seek to be the servant of all.
A jealous, critical spirit is the death of cooperation.