Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Irony of the Southern Baptist Convention's Resolutions

I have mixed feelings about my Southern Baptist Convention today. That's not unusual, I have had mixed feelings about us for some time now. But the results of the votes on the Resolutions this year serve to highlight some of the consternation that I feel about us right now.

For example, one of the resolutions that was voted on was a Resolution Against Alcohol Use. That is, the resolution basically stated that if you are a Trustee of the Southern Baptist Convtion, you must abstain from drinking any alcohol. After much debate, the Resolution passed. Here is the text of that resolution. (You can skip it, if you wish):

On Alcohol Use In America

Whereas, Years of research confirm biblical warnings that alcohol use leads to physical, mental, and emotional damages (e.g., Proverbs 23:29-35); and

Whereas, Alcohol use has led to countless injuries and deaths on our nation's highways; and

Whereas, The breakup of families and homes can be directly and indirectly attributed to alcohol use by one or more members of a family; and

Whereas, The use of alcohol as a recreational beverage has been shown to lead individuals down a path of addiction to alcohol and toward the use of other kinds of drugs, both legal and illegal; and

Whereas, There are some religious leaders who are now advocating consumption of alcoholic beverages based on a misinterpretatio of the doctrine of "our freedom in Christ"; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-24, 2006, express ur total opposition to the manufacturing, advertising, distributing, and consuming of alcoholic beverages; and be it further

Resolved, [insert amendment from floor urging that potential Trustees and Entity Heads who don't adhere to this resolution not be chosen for service]; and be it further

Resolved, That we urge Southern Baptists to take an active role in supporting legislation that is intended to curb alcohol use in our commuities and nation; and be it further

Resolved, That we urge Southern Baptists to be actively involved in educating students and adults concerning the destructive nature of alcohoic beverages; and be it finally

Resolved, That we commend organizations and ministries that treat alcohol-related problems from a biblical perspective and promote abstinence and encourage local churces to begin and/or support such biblically-based ministries.

Another Resolution, a resolution offered by Dr. Tom Ascol, was not considered worthy by the Resolution Committee to come to the floor for discussion or vote. As a point of order, Dr. Ascol asked that it be considered for discussion by the Convention at large, it would have required a 2/3 vote to make it happen. It failed. Dr. Ascol's Resolution was for Southern Baptists to demonstrate Integrity in Church Membership. That is, it encouraged Church discipline in Churches. It failed. Here is the text:

Resolution on Integrity in Church Membership
Submitted by Thomas Ascol

Whereas this 148th annual session of the Southern Baptist Convention marks the 26th anniversary of the conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention; and

Whereas at the heart of this resurgence has been a determination to return to an unashamed commitment to the inerrancy and infallibilty of the Bible as the written Word of God; and

Whereas the Baptist Faith and Message states that the Scriptures are "the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried" (Article 1); and

Whereas the inerrant, infallible Word of God instructs us not to bear false witness (Exodus 20:16), but to put away lying and to speak truthfully to his neighbor (Ephesians 4:25); and

Whereas in 2004 the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Church Profiles indicated that there are 16,267,494 members in Southern Baptist churches; and

Whereas well over one half of those members never attend or participate meaningfully in the life of any local Southern Baptist church and are thus no different than non-members; and
Whereas the ideal of a regenerate church membership has long been and remains a cherished Baptist principle; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED that the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-14, 2006, urge Southern Baptists to repent of our failure to maintain responsible church membership, and be it further

RESOLVED that we urge the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention to repent of the widespread failure among us to obey Jesus Christ in the practice of church discipline (Matthew 18:15-18), and be it further

RESOLVED that we plead with pastors and church leaders to lead their churches to study and implement our Lord̢۪s teachings on this essential church practice, and be it further

RESOLVED that we encourage denominational servants to support and encourage churches that seek to recover and implement our Savior̢۪s teachings on church discipline, especially when such efforts result in the reduction in the number of members that are reported in those churches, and be it finally

RESOLVED that we commit to pray for our churches as they seek to honor the Lord Jesus Christ through reestablishing integrity to church membership and to the reporting of statistics in the Annual Church Profile.

The irony here is thick. Apparently, a Southern Bpatist can be disciplined from being a Trustee if he sips a glass of wine, but that same person should face no reprecussions at his church for such behavior! Indeed, he could be a frothing drunkard for that matter, and we should not dare remove him from membership. Nay, not even if he is an adulterous, theiving, drunkard. And why should he be left on the Mebership roll...because he is a "prospect for evangelism." WHAT??!!! Yes, that was part of the explanation the Committee Chair gave for not considering this resolution. We would ruin opportunities for evangelsim.

Let me tell you why I am incensed at this ridiculousness. For one, we, as baptists, are supposed to believe in a regenerate church membership. That is, you cannot be a member unless you are a Christian. Church members should not be "prospects" for evangelism. Such thinking is so preposterous it nearly drives me to drink.

Seriously, are we having trouble with a bunch of Trustees who have turned out to be lushes? Are we having trouble keeping them out of the bars? Are they dragging young men down to the pub for shots and drinking games? Did we need this Resolution? Yes, drunkenness is sin. Shame on you if you get drunk. Shame! Shame! Shame! But is the drinking of wine itself actually sinful? Good luck proving that Scripturally. To me, this is as inane as a resolution against obese Trustees or slacker Trustees. Is it wrong to take a break? No. Is it wrong to be a lazy oaf? Yes.

On the other hand, can we demonstrate that Church discipline is necessary for the health of the Church? To all but the most obstinate, I believe that we can. So, I am dismayed, but I am happy that these things are coming up. May the voice of the Reformation grow louder every year until we are purged of our cultural legalistic tendencies. Who will drink to that?


Even So... said...

Ironic indeed.

Brad, whatever happened to the church discipline paper you drafted; did you put it in place?

Anonymous said...

You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. What goes into a man's mouth does not defile him, but what comes out of his mouth, that is what defiles him.

Nothing that enters a man's mouth can defile the man. Nothing.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Matt Brown said...

Perhaps some of the trustees like to hang out at the BHT and drink, so this resolution was made.

julie said...

Good Blog! We just had to do church discilpine in our church and our church seems to be doing much better. It was a hard thing to do but God's word is clear on it. Some left the church mad but our attendance is up and so is the tithes. The ones that were brought before the church are better. The church seems to have more confidence in following God's word. Everyone's faith has grown.

Gummby said...

Legalism is so much easier than holiness, my friend. Nice post.

Gene P. said...

"...These things, indeed, have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh..." Thank you, my brother, for your insight.

St. Lee said...

I completely agree with your post, but the real nugget was in the comment by Matt Gumm. "Legalism is so much easier than holiness" Amen to that! I am going to write that down so I won't forget it!

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Brother Brad,

I laughed when you said this issue almost drove you to drink-great line!

I have gone over Dr. French's remark in my mind and with close friends at church. It is so crazy! If he believes these people are in need of evangelism, then that means he considers them unsaved, which means he considers them unqualified for membership, but he wants to keep them as members---arrrgggg!

Love in Christ,