Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Reflections on SBC Annual Meeting #2

I was sitting here this evening following the conclusion of the SBC's meeting in San Antonio and decided to go back and listen to Morris Chapman's address. I'll have to confess I haven't gotten to the point yet where he speaks to the issues of narrowing parameters as has been reported that he does. I would welcome that emphasis, but my attention was drawn to his remarks about the BWA and the fact that the SBC is not an isolationist body. That was greeted with a round of applause. He went on to argue that an illustration of this was the EC's naming Bobby Welch as a global ambassador to seek to establish relationships with like-minded conservative evangelicals in other countries. I heard the reference that my friend Brian Kaylor has alluded to on his blog about Welch's plans to evangelize Antarctica (Chapman says he will visit all 7 continents) and got a good chuckle out of that. What wasn't so funny to me was the implication once again that some 200 Baptist conventions and unions comprising a membership of more than 36 million baptized believers and a community of over 110 million Baptists worldwide aren't conservative evangelicals and thus not candidates for partnering together in missions. Oh yeah, I forgot, they're part of the liberal, America-hating BWA.

For all the efforts of the young conservatives (and I do consider them such) who are opposed to the efforts of the Old Guard Fundamentalists who continue narrowing the parameters for cooperation within the SBC, and though I strongly support the efforts of the former group, I fear that they don't grasp the determination of the fundamentalists to retain control at all costs. The language of holy war that was utilized during the Conservative Resurgence to marshal the troops can still be trotted out as Paige Patterson did to accuse the dissidents of being liberals. That language still appeals to many.

I'm not sure what to make of the low numbers of messengers and the even smaller number of them who actually cast a vote in the "big issues" that were of concern to so many in the blogosphere--the election for 1st VP of the SBC, and the resolution of the EC regarding the BF&M 2000. Only 8500 messengers in the state of Texas, and fewer than 4000 of them who actually voted? Do we chalk it up to apathy, the disenchantment and disenfranchisement of younger Baptists with the political machinery of the SBC, or have many chosen to focus their attention on Kingdom issues rather than Convention politics?

I don't have a clear answer for the last series of questions, but as I've read the conflicting opinions and arguments of bloggers the last couple of days on the significance of the votes cast and the wording of the EC resolution on the BF&M, I couldn't help but think about Paul's words to Timothy in 2 Tim. 2:14 where he urges him to instruct those he is discipling not to wrangle about words. In 2:16 he goes on to instruct him to avoid worldy and empty chatter, and in 2:23 to refuse foolish and ignorant speculations that produce quarrels, because the Lord's bond-servant is not to be quarrelsome (2:24). I suppose some could accuse me of being hypocritical in pointing out these passages in a post that some might consider to be argumentative.

I probably will not completely avoid SBC politics in future posts, as I continue to have a certain fascination with where the denomination of my youth is heading, but as I suspect some fellow bloggers will be doing after the SBC, I think I'll focus more on the things our church and the BGCM are doing in the area of missions and outreach. I'll also post occasionally on the New Baptist Covenant which I'm very excited about.

5 comments:

Dr. Danny Chisholm said...

Gary,

Glad to find my way to your site, and was curious to see your remarks about the SBC. I take it you went to the meeting, and appreciated your remarks. I don't follow it except for curiousity every now and then. It's really amazing that only 8500 showed and 4K voted as you said.

Fundamentalism always needs an enemy, and I guess the SBC still isn't narrow enough. Glad to be out of it and in a more ecumenical stream of thought.

I too am interested in the NBC and the gathering early next year. I'm attending the CBF/ABC meeting in a few weeks and am really excited about it.

Thanks for the welcome.

Gary Snowden said...

Danny,

Thanks for the comments. Actually I can see how you interpreted my post to imply I was at the SBC meeting in San Antonio. In truth I was watching it on my laptop from right here in Lee's Summit.

Our senior pastor, Dr. Scott Harrison, will also be at the CBF annual meeting in D.C. I'm getting ready for another trip to Guatemala later in July so I won't be participating in the CBF gathering, but have many friends who will attend.

GuyMuse said...

I too was shocked at the low turn out for the SBC. However, this year has been a record year in giving to missions both LMCO and CP are up. What this says to me is that SB are not into all the political stuff, but are still interested in the one thing that continues to unite us: missions.

Gary Snowden said...

I too am encouraged by the good giving for missions and pray that this trend will continue. I appreciate the outstanding work that folks like you and others are doing. Your latest post about New Testament churches is right on target.

Paul said...

Gary,

I'm no longer in the "younger" category being 42, but not all of us are all that hopeful regarding our future. In fact, my brother Todd said that he believes Frank Page will be an anomaly.

Blessings on your trip to Guatemala!