Mark DeVine–Emergent or Emerging: Qsts for Southern Baptists and North American Evangelicals
(See trevinwax.com or micahfries.com)
Danny Akin–The Future of the Southern Baptist Convention
The Southern Baptist Convention is at a crossroad. This is clear in light of the appointing of the GCR Task Force, Geoff Hammond’s resignation, Jerry Rankin’s retirement, and Morris Chapman’s retirement.
Regarding the future of the SBC, “I’m not optimistic, but am hopeful.”
The question for the SBC is will we join God in His mission or will we sit on the sidelines.
8 pts of observation:
1. Southern Baptists have a hopeful future if we return to our first love, Jesus Christ.
2. Southern Baptists have a hopeful future if we continue to uphold the Bible as inerrant and sufficient in all matters.
3. Southern Baptists have a hopeful future if we will pursue a genuinely Word-based ministry that is theological in content and on fire in delivery.
4. Southern Baptists have a hopeful future if we can unite around and affirm the BFM2000 as a healthy guide for consensus that avoids both liberalism and sectarianism.
5. Southern Baptists have a hopeful future if our denomination at all levels begins to reflect the demographic and ethnic make-up of our nation and all nations.
6. We must have the courage to rethink our Convention structure at every level, clarify our mission, and provide a compelling vision that inspires our people to do something great for God.
7. We must have pastors who see themselves as a gospel missions agency, equipping people to see themselves as missionaries for Jesus, regardless of location or vocation.
8. We must devote ourselves to cooperation that is gospel-centered around a theological core, not methodological agreement.
Michael Lindsay–Denominationalism and the Changing Religious Landscape in North America
Chief divider between believers and non-believers, not conservatives and liberals. Since Constantine there has been a tacit endorsement of Christianity from civilization.
5 Different numbers -
6-6-16 - 6% with no religious affiliation in the 50s and beyond. 16% with no religious affiliation today. This is a drastic shift.
56-16 – 56% of religiously affiliated said religion is very important in their lives, but so did 16% of non-religiously affiliated.
3 Things Institutions Do:
1. Institutions provide accountability…
2. Denominations matter b/c they excercise convening power
3. The instiutional bravitas provided by denominations is helpful due to the difficulty of “getting things done”
Contrary to the data the Americans don’t really believe in institutions, they get things done. “We will not survive unless we think institutionally.”
“The amazing thing about institutions is that they outlive individuals.”
The challenges of denominations is that society is changing. We must be faithful to God’s call for a better and just society, and institutions are the best way to do this.
Jerry Tidwell–”Missions and Evangelism: Awakenings and Their Influence on Southern Baptists and Evangelicals”
Myth #1: The exact dates of the awakenings are without debate
Myth #2: Removing barriers of offense to unbelievers will lead to a larger church membership
- Along with the awakenings came a higher standard of church membership…
Myth #3: The awakenings was a push back against Calvinism
- If Edwards and Whitefield can partner with others in the awakenings, surely Southern Baptists can find enough common ground with one another to move forward for the Great Commission.
Myth #4: Prayer meetings were the catalyst for the awakenings
Results that i
1. The Awakenings certainly led to a fervency for missions and evangelism.
2. The Awakenings led Baptists to cooperate with other “evangelical” types of the day.
3. The Awakenings let to a greater desire for education for all.
4. The Awakenings led to anti-slavery views and love for slaves and Indians grew during this time.
5. The Awakenings wained not from secular society but from the religious institutions of the day.
Whatever else we may say about our own desire for an awakening, it is clear that during the Great Awakenings God visited His people in a special way as a result of the “Isaiah 6″ factor–”woe is me” because he saw God, then clearly saw himself. A fresh vision of God’s holiness and sovereignty seems to accompany awakenings. Hopefully, this will be our cry that the “life of Christ flows not just to us, but through us.”
David Dockery–”So Many Denominations: The Rise and Decline of Denominationalism…And the Shaping of a Global Evangelicalism”
I. Introduction: An In-House Conversation
- The history of Christianity is best understood as a chain of memory.
- Following C.S Lewis’ comment, the “denomination” discussion should be kept for those who already believe in Christ.
2. History of Denominationalism
- Three major brances: Roman Cath, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant
- From Luther, denominations began to proliferate. Luther and Zwingli hoped to bring together two major movements, but were unable to reconcile their view of the Lord’s Supper and remained separate.
- 17th Cent; Baptists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Quakers
- 18th Cent; Awakenings
- 19th Cent; Revivalism-Restorationists and Holiness Movements
- 20th Cent; The Holy Spirit and Sign Gifts-Holiness and Pentecostals
– Today over 1,000 denominations around the country.
- Theological Differences
– Polity, Liturgical Practices, Sociological Perspectives
- Denominationalism in America
– In the Colonies, there were three major denominations
3. The Birth of American Evangelicalism
- The Rise of Liberalism
- Characteristics; adapt substance of faith to changing times, naturalistic perspectives, skepticism, reason over revelation, experience over tradition.
- Great response to liberalism by J. Gresham Machen…basically Machen argued that liberalism was empty.
- New Movements: splits in several denominations, presbyterian splits, new missions groups and Bible colleges
- Soon came leaders such as Carl F.H. Henry and Billy Graham
- New Affinity Groups: Transdenominational Evangelical Networks, eventually these groups became more important than denominations.
- The evangelical movement is largely understood as a grassroots type of ecumenism.
- In 2009 approx 60% of church persons will make a denominational change.
4. Denominationalism and Evangelicalism: Qsts about the Future
- Perhaps the most significant part of the future of denominations will be working together with networks.
- By 2025 it is estimated that there will be more than 360million Christians.
- Greatest changes are coming from Latin, Asian and African Christians.
- “The look of Southern Baptist Churches must change.” “What is at stake is a loss of a missional focus in the church.”
- What Do We Do With Denominations and Denominational Distinctives?
– Recognize that denominations still help give guidance.
– A model of dynamic orthodoxy must be reclaimed.
– Do denominations still matter? Yes, if and only if they stay connected to Scripture and mindful of tradition.
“Let us move from handwringing to hopefulness. May God grant to us a genuine renewal and a renewed spirit of cooperation for the good of the Church and for the glory of God.”
Day 2 of “Southern Baptists Evangelicals and the Future of Denominationalism” at Union University
Hal Poe–”The Gospel and Its Meaning: Implications for Southern Baptists and Evangelicals”
Concerning evangelism in the 20th cent, ‘American evangelicals reduced the Gospel to a ‘presentation’…as many in American culture began to ask questions, however, many of the answers went beyond the standard answers of the presentation…’ Various presentations/plans include Crusade’s 4 Spiritual Laws, Evangelism Explosion, and the Roman Road. These essentially follow John Stott’s outline in Basic Christianity.
What happens when this way of Evangelism ceases to answer questions the culture asks?
“The Gospel answers the issues of every culture/person, but a Gospel presentation answers very particular issues and questions of a person at that time…A presentation that works well in America may not work well in China.”
“Maybe 2 out of 100 ‘Christians’ really know the Gospel.”
“Fulfillment of Scripture is a vital aspect of the Gospel!”
“…Paul always rooted his teaching in the Gospel. The Gospel is not only the message of how to be saved, it is also the message of how to be saved…Christian practices and beliefs that are not rooted in the Gospel are not Christian.”
“The judgment is part of the good news…He’s going to bring the story to an end, and it’s good news.”
“Peter, Paul, and John had the same Gospel. Where did Paul get his Gospel?” Paul is clear that he received his Gospel through a revelation from Jesus Christ; eight fundamental components to the Gospel.
“Brothers and sisters, I think we have a real challenge in recovering the Gospel…there is an American problem of reductionism, and I encourage you to do something about it.”
Timothy George–”Baptists and Their Relations with Other Christians”
Jude begins by stating that he wanted to write about “our common salvation” but God has impressed upon him to write something else; namely, fides qua.
“The Faith” is the essential content of the common kerygma.
In our “no creed but the Bible” context, what we really mean is “no creedalism.” “I say, God give us creeds, but no creedalism.”
The confessions of faith are like guard rails on a mountain road. The road is Jesus Christ, but you need guard rails as we are tempted this way and that.
My Faith, there is an objective content, a deposit that is given by God but there is an aspect of the faith that must become “mine.”
The Faith, and My Faith taken in isolation from one another has caused real problems. The Faith w/o My Faith results in a dead orthodoxy. Contrarily, My Faith w/o The Faith ends up in a sloppy sentimentalism.
The Church’s Faith—what is the church?, it is local, congregational, particular and covenantal. But it is also universal, ecumenical, one, Holy and Apostolic. So the church has both a local and universal dimension.
The Church’s Faith is a public Faith, one that we cannot keep to ourselves.
Conclusion: We need a Faith that is The Faith, Our Faith, and the Church’s Faith.
Duane Litfin–”The Future of American Evangelicalism”
“It almost appears to me that the diaspora of Evangelicalism may be a useful metaphor for the movement itself.” (This follows Litfin’s comments that Wheaton, IL was at one time a sort of “Mecca” for Evangelicalism, but has begun to disperse.)
Evangelicalism is increasingly difficult to define. Therefore, the movement is impossible to control b/c of it’s natural “sprawl” due to the lack of formal structure. Denominations are able to make clear who they are/are not, but evangelicalism simply cannot do this.
Thinks Evangelicalism is still a helpful term, but fears the future of evangelicalism will continue to “sprawl” and spread with a difficutly defined identity.
Three Implications for the SBC:
1. Baptist Polity is well positioned for the decline of denominationalism—perhaps a good strategy would be to maintain the strengths of the denomination while avoiding the pitfalls of denominationalism
2. Due to developments in Evangelicalism, the SBC will probably become less insular
3. Don’t depend upon Evangelicalism as a movement–encouraged SBC to embrace being Evangelical, but not to depend on “Evangelicalism” to define them. Rather, be certain to remain Christ-centered, Gospel-centered, and Word-centered.
Ray Van Neste–The Oversight of Souls: Pastoral Ministry in Southern Baptist and Evangelical Life
‘If pastoral ministry is going to thrive in our churches, we must regain an understanding that pastoral minsitry is an oversight of souls.’
Preaching is not the primary task of pastoral ministry, rather we preach as an outflow of oversight.
Good preaching is essential, it’s just not all that is needed.
“Careful oversight may not make us famous since people cannot download our oversight on their ipods”…but it is essential for our preaching to be heard.
What is meant by “watching over souls”?
- It means more than the pulpit. It is public and private.
-”I fear most those ministers who preach well, and who are unsuited to the private nurture of their members.”(Richard Baxter)
‘I’ve heard many advise young pastors not to get too close to their members; rather, keep a professional relationship so that if rebuke is needed it is easier. This advice is not only unbibilcal it is downright ungodly! Faithful are the wounds of a friend.’
(Many quotes throughout history from pastors concerning shepherding the flock)
The oversight of souls is central to pastoral ministry. We have been entrusted with a people who are feeble and frail like us. Our goal is to shepherd them well.
Two Faulty Assumptions about Demoninationalism:
1. Denominations are necessary or even an integral part of the mission of God
2. Mistake to attemp to interpret the role of denominationalism in the life of the local church apart from the Missio Dei
Denominations may not be necessary, but are valuable. They are good tools to be used in the mission of the church.
“Being consumed with the machine of the denomination can and does distract from the mission of the church.”
Why Denominations have a future:
1. Denominations are inevitable…like-minded ways will always find a way to cooperate.
- “Networks are proto-denominations…”
2. New Mindsets–Younger Evangelicas are looking for a sense of rootedness in a fragmented society
3. Churches that belong to denominations have confessional have confessional systems and accountability that ground them in orthodoxy
- “Today, denominations often are bastions of orthodoxy, while independent congregations more easily shift in their theology.”
What Kind of Denominationalism is Desirable?
- “So I am not for denominations in the sense that I think they are God’s answer for the world. No, only the local church is charged by Christ to storm the gates of hell. Christ builds his church upon the rock of Peter’s confession. He does not build a denomination.”
1. We want to see denominations that are missional as opposed to tribal.
- “Denominations should value self-sacrifice above self-preservation.”
2. We want to see denominations based on confessional consensus.
3. We want to see denominations that value methodological diversity.
- “Denominations that are effective for the kingdom of God unite in doctrine and diversify in methods. We are to seek a confessional consensus, not a methodological one.”
- “If an SBC leader says that he cannot be in the same denomination with Rick Warren because of his personal convictions, then he or she needs to leave the Convention. Why? Because he or has established a more narrow standard than the BFM 2000 states.”
4. We want to see denominations that assist local churches, not vice versa.
- “…the denomination exists to help churches carry out the Great Commission.”
- “An urban spiritual legend persists that says denominations exist to plant churches and call out missionaries. It is wholly untrue. Local churches are responsible for church planting and missionary-sending. The denomination exists to assist the local church in her task.”
“I’m remaining a Southern Baptist for these reasons: I Believe what we believe, Churches that belong to denominations are the primary agenst of global evangelization, Diverse leadership environments stretch me, Because God led me to, Demoninational affiliation is not just about me.”
“In His wisdom, God has allowed for the cooperation of churches in networks and denominations so that the greatest number of people in our darkened world can be most effectively reached with the one thing that brings true unity: the Gospel., I believe we can do more together than we can apart.”
“Reflections on 400 Yrs of the Baptist Movement: Who We Are. What We Beleive”–Dr. Jim Patterson
Began with an incredible rap through 40o yrs of Baptist History, hillarious!
Thesis–History is messy–in particular, Baptist history is messy.
Key 17th Cent Developments:
1. General/Particular Differences
2. Confessional Statements to set doctrinal parameters
3. Associations to strengthen denominational life and identity
4. Focus on vital Christian experience in John Bunyan’s writings
5. Debates over music
- “In the 17th cent, fights over Calvinism and fights over music!”
18th Cent Growth:
1. Background of General and Particular Baptist decline in England
2. Education–Bristol Baptist College
3. Transatlantic Revivals
4. Birth of International Missions
19th Cent Controversies:
1. Missions and Anit-missions
2. Alexander Campbell and Restorationism
3. Slavery and Division in America (SBC begins in 1845)
4. J.R. Graves and Landmarkism
5. C.H. Spurgeon and teh Downgrade Controversy in the UK
Trends Since late 19th Cent:
1. Increasing Theological Diversity:
- historical orthodoxy
- emphasis on religious experience
- social gospel/social justice themes-Rauschenbusch and ML King
2. Continuing Revival Trad-Billy Graham
3. Insitutional Matters-various SBC developments
4. Increasing Pragmatism in Baptist Life
Full paper and concluding thoughts will be in print at a later date.
This is the opening blog in a vision series entitled “SBC21: The Duties and Dangers of This Present Hour” that baptist21 will post over the coming months. The introduction, direction, and explanation for this series has been laid out in two previous posts. Here are Part one and Part two of the introduction to this series.
In a recent interview with Christianity Today, Rob Bell was asked to tweet the Gospel (i.e. define the Gospel in less than 140 characters). His response was, “I would say that history is headed somewhere. The thousands of little ways in which you are tempted to believe that hope might actually be a legitimate response to the insanity of the world actually can be trusted. And the Christian story is that a tomb is empty, and a movement has actually begun that has been present in a sense all along in creation. And all those times when your cynicism was at odds with an impulse within you that said that this little thing might be about something bigger—those tiny little slivers may in fact be connected to something really, really big.” For many this explanation is lacking. For one thing it lacks a clear tenant of the Gospel message from the New Testament (NT), the cross! But, this begs the question, “What is the Gospel?”
For some it may seem unnecessary to begin a vision series discussing what the Gospel is. For many it is simply assumed that Christians know what the Gospel is because the Gospel is the beginning of the Christian life. Should not the Gospel be elementary to the Christian life? However, there is actually great debate over what the Gospel is. People come at this question from different perspectives. In current debates there seem to be at least two “competing” views among theologians (I put competing in quotations because to some it seems that instead of two different definitions on what the gospel is there are really two different questions being answered. See article by Greg Gilbert). The first position answers the question about the gospel in a kind of systematic summary way: (something like) the Gospel is the perfect life, substitutionary death on the cross, and victorious resurrection from the dead of Jesus of Nazareth to save repentant, believing sinners (cf. 1 Cor. 15). The second position answers the question about the gospel more in terms of the grand meta-narrative of Scripture with God remaking as good what was pronounced good at creation, namely the cosmos, through the work of Jesus bringing about the Kingdom of God. A third position can be added to these first two. This third position is not argued among scholars but it is widely held among laity and many pastors in evangelical churches. This position defines the Gospel as the “plan of salvation,” by which one means this is the message you have to hear and receive (asking Jesus into your heart) in order to become a Christian, have your sins forgiven, and go to heaven when you die. This third position sees the gospel as merely the entrance to the Christian life.
The Gospel is the central message of the Christian faith. Getting the gospel wrong is disastrous. I believe that each of the positions stated above can be wrongly emphasized and cause us to lose what the Gospel is! I will take the positions in reverse order. The most disastrous position is the one that sees the Gospel as the door or hoop that gets you into the Christian life but does not see the Gospel as central to ALL of the Christian life, something you both continually believe and live. In theological terms this view sees the importance of the Gospel for justification but not for sanctification. This leads some to not preach the gospel weekly because they believe the Gospel is ONLY for unbelievers and not for believers (or they just tack on an evangelistic appeal at the end of a message for the unbelievers in the crowd). This view sees the Christian life as the praying of a prayer to get in (“accepting the Gospel”), and then “discipleship” is following a list of rules or principles laid down in the Bible after that. This leads to a new form of legalism that is not gospel-centered and can block our lost friends, neighbors, and the nations from hearing the clear message of the Gospel. It tends to put the emphasis of the Christian life primarily on what individual believers “do,” and this lends itself to works-based self-righteousness (or sin-based guilt) rather than gospel-driven, continual repentance. This approach leads to divorcing the imperatives of the Bible from the indicatives of the Gospel. In this we train our children to be Pharisees who pray like Daniel, love their in-laws like Ruth, are brave like David, etc. They see the Christian life as a set of rules (or principles) to follow instead of a person who has acted to rescue a people (For further examination of this check out an earlier baptist21 blog entitled “Preaching the Gospel Every Week”). The Christian life, in this view, is still mainly seen as obeying in order to be accepted rather than acceptance that leads to obedience. This muddying of the Gospel has caused many SBC churches to lose a generation.
The second position can be a good way to explain the Gospel (see below). Yet, some who would espouse this position can tell the meta-narrative in a Christ-less fashion, as if the Kingdom can be ushered in without the king, or as if the king is just a bit character. This de-emphasis was seen clearly in the answer of Rob Bell to the question to tweet the Gospel. Was his response merely that history is headed somewhere and you can trust your instincts to hope that things will get better than they are now, and this is somehow connected to an empty tomb? Where is the cross? Where is sin? Some in this camp, on occasion, seem to explain the Gospel as living as Jesus lived in the world to make the world a better place. Some in this camp flirt with inclusivism (or universalism), elevate social issues (maybe a social gospel), downplay proclamation and avoid speaking of sin. From the more liberal wing of this position would be someone like Brian McLaren who is intentionally vague on whether or not he affirms the exclusivity of the Gospel and consciously dodges the question. McLaren writes, “I can imagine some impassioned critic of this book concluding a review with a statement something like this: ‘It’s bad enough that McLaren has undermined conventional understandings of hell, but in its place what has he offered? No clear alternative. One cannot even tell for sure, after a careful reading of this book, whether McLaren is an inclusivist, conditionalist, or universalist. All one can say is that he is clearly not an orthodox exclusivist.’ In response, I might offer…that clarity is good, but sometimes intrigue may be even more precious; clarity tends to put an end to further thinking, whereas intrigue makes one think more intensely, broadly, and deeply. Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom of God is a case in point; his parables don’t score too well on clarity, but they excel in intrigue.” The problem with McLaren’s view is that Jesus’ words on exclusivity are clear (and intriguing), and they end further discussion (John 14:6) (link: http://www.opensourcetheology.net/node/626)
However, the first position can be overemphasized as well so that personal regeneration is the only thing Jesus accomplished in his passion, or at least the only thing we focus on. This can lead some to not see the holistic implications of the Gospel (i.e. that Christ’s death does NOT merely secure an eternity for bodiless souls in heaven but resurrection from the dead in glorified bodies). This can also lead some to not see the cosmic dimension of the Gospel, new creation. It also leads to the Gospel being about me and Jesus, rather than Jesus rescuing and creating a people, the church. This explanation often emphasizes an individualistic Gospel, not a corporate and cosmic one. Jesus is rescuing a people, a family made up of all nations, and he is remaking the world.
Recently Baptist 21 contributor Jon Akin was on the “Calling for Truth” radio broadcast to discuss his recent post “The Gospel and Culture: Taken” (link: http://www.baptisttwentyone.com/?p=2725). In this interview host Paul Dean and Jon discuss the fact that there are themes in every culture, but specifically American pop culture, that mimic the Gospel. These “Gospel themes” in cultural expressions like art and literature are not shocking because God is summing up all things in Christ (Eph. 1:10).
The conversation in the interview centers on practical implications for Christians in engaging culture since there are gospel themes in pop culture. Dr. Dean asks Jon to answer the question, “So what?” Why does it matter that there are parallels between the Gospel narrative and the movie “Taken”? Jon discusses the parallels, and then he gives reasons why it is important to understand these things in culture. Some of the reasons discussed are:
You can listen to the interview in its entirety here: http://www.callingfortruth.org/cft/content/view/969/10/
“Calling for Truth” is a live, call-in radio broadcast that airs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 1:00 pm. You can live stream it on the net at: http://www.callingfortruth.org.
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