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By Jonathan Akin
In preparation for the discussion of Christ-centered preaching that will be held on June 11 from 630-8AM in Houston at the SBC, I wanted to re-post a summary of my defense of Christ-centered exposition. I hope all of you will join Eric Hankins, Trevin Wax, Ed Stetzer and myself in Houston for beneficial discussion and free books!
I am committed to the Christ-centered exposition of the entire Bible because textually the Bible argues for this kind of interpretation, and practically I don’t want to preach in a way that could produce moralism.
Christ-centered interpretation was the method of Jesus and the Apostles
Jesus and the Apostles interpreted the Bible as all about Jesus. In Luke 24, Jesus says that each division of the OT was about him, and he rebukes the 2 disciples on the way to Emmaus for not seeing this. Also, Jesus tells his opponents that Moses wrote about Him (John 5:46). These men were experts in the OT, and yet they didn’t read it rightly because they didn’t see that it was all about Jesus. The apostles followed Jesus’ teaching. Each sermon in the NT is a Christ-centered proclamation of the OT, whether evangelistic ones like in Acts or the “exhortation” of the book of Hebrews. And Paul says that the purpose of the OT is to bring you to saving faith in Jesus (2 Tim 3:15).
Written by Jon Akin. You can view part 1 of this post here.
What are we to make of all this? Let me make three observations:
1. People will continue to lose faith in the Baptist process
In all three cases, we have seen a process play out where these situations were reviewed, and in all three cases it seems that very little has changed, if anything. KBC leadership sat down with CU leadership to discuss some of the allegations floating around about liberalism. No change took place other than a tepid joint statement that all CU profs are Christians, believe God created the world, that those who believe the Bible is literally true are welcomed on the faculty, and that CU and the KBC are committed to good relations. This could be true of any number of explicitly liberal-leaning Christian colleges where evolution is affirmed and the Bible is not deemed inerrant. We see a similar theological situation at CN.
Specifically in the cases of CN and LC, we saw a process of investigation and accountability take place with no real or significant change. In the case of LC, the trustees hired an independent firm to investigate, they found the President acted inappropriately, and the board still exonerated him.
This has created the impression for some that those in key positions in the Baptist process lack the wherewithal to hold institutions and entities accountable. The Baptist system will only work if men and women with the courage of their convictions actually initiate change when it needs to take place. If people believe that the process will not change things when they need to be changed, then they will be jaded and lose confidence in the system.
Written by Jon Akin
In the last year, there have been disturbing events surrounding three Baptist state colleges/universities:
Exonerated moderate theology at Carson Newman (CN)
A subcommittee of the Tennessee Baptist Convention (TBC) exonerated CN as accountable to Baptist convictions in October of 2012 after a yearlong investigation. This is disturbing for 3 reasons:
First, the report gives the impression that evolutionary theory is taught without being critiqued as incompatible with Baptist convictions. Not one of the professors or students interviewed mentions evolution being critiqued as unbiblical. One might say, “It is being critiqued but that wasn’t mentioned in the report.” That would be a pretty big oversight when communicating with concerned Tennessee Baptists.
Second, the liberal historical-critical method of biblical interpretation, which has been overwhelmingly rejected by Southern Baptists convention-wide, is being taught as one acceptable method among others. One student said, “The professors never pushed liberal theories in class nor did they push conservative theories either. They just presented theories and allowed the student to make their own decision.” This isn’t good enough at a school funded by Cooperative Program (CP) dollars!
Third, this is part of a trend to not hold Tennessee Baptist institutions accountable. A similar investigation in 2005 of both CN and Belmont led to both schools being exonerated, and of Belmont it was said that students were being equipped for service for the Kingdom of God. This is troubling because it is obvious now that Belmont had no desire to be held accountable to Baptist convictions or practices, and yet the appropriate boards did not act. Belmont and the TBC severed ties in 2007 due to Belmont wanting to elect a self-perpetuating trustee board instead of a TBC-elected Board. Belmont will pay the TBC $11 million over the next 40 years. Since that separation, Belmont has publicly and quickly moved away from its Baptist heritage and roots. For example, in 2011 they added “sexual orientation” to the school’s nondiscrimination policy, and this was troubling because President Fisher said this “new policy simply reflects the school’s ‘long-standing practice,’” a long-standing practice that had not been called to account.
Written by Jon Akin
I sat down recently with Steve Timmis and asked him how to move a traditional church towards biblical community. Here are some helpful insights from him on leading in a revitalization effort, but I think they are applicable to culture making in a church plant as well.
Timmis argues that culture triumphs over strategy. So, a revitalizing leader needs to be a culture creator before a strategist. Here are 5 ways to create a culture of gospel, community and mission in your church:
1. Preach it & Teach it
Preach and teach methodically and deliberately through the Bible from a gospel, community, & mission framework. The Bible is a coherent narrative about God redeeming a people (a community) for Himself, so we should teach and preach every passage within that framework. Your people should get gospel, community, & mission week-by-week.
I was raised in a loving Christian home where my parents taught me the grace and love of Christ at an early age. However, that did not keep me from being surrounded by the trappings of fundamentalism in the Bible-belt. While my parents and pastors taught me that we are all sinners (“bad guys”) in need of the death and resurrection of Jesus to save us and forgive us of our sins, I was surrounded by those who adhered to a form of Christianity that seemed to say Christians are the “good guys” and non-Christians are the “bad guys.” There were those who seemed to think God was impressed with them because of what they did and didn’t do, and God was mad at anyone who was different than them. Regrettably, I would find myself from time-to-time adopting this way of thinking. I would be harsh and judgmental towards those who didn’t “act like Christians.”
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