I received the following e-mail from Malcolm Yarnell, which he has graciously given me permission to copy here (I include my response at the end):
I read your recent blog post concerning the "Conservative Resurgence" and the "Baptist Renaissance." It is highly disconcerting to read that you could perceive that our emphasis on our common Baptist heritage is an attempt to somehow exclude you or others.
Of course, I do not know you or your specific theological positions very well, but I assume they are close to your father's heart, whose powerful preaching of God's Word so formed my own convictions. However, it is quite clear that you are a man sold out to following the Great Commission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and that is highly laudable. Indeed, that commitment is what holds us together as Baptists: passionate obedience to the Great Commission.
Personally, I would hope that you would remain at home within the Southern Baptist Convention. Indeed, I would beg of you not to let the issues that make us differ with one another overpower our common commitment in Christ.
Please do not assume that a renaissance in Baptist identity is a veiled attempt to isolate any Southern Baptist. The renewed focus on Baptist doctrine is a deliberate attempt, however, to remind us of whence we came so that we may form a common vision of whither we will go. The diverging foci on those things which make us different in recent years without a constant renewal of our common foundation is exactly what has brought us to a near crisis.
We need to plant a flag in the center and say, "Let us unite here, as disciples totally yielded in obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit march forward together to proclaim the good news to a lost world so that our Father might be glorified." The other issues should not be our primary focus. Amen?
Peace to you, my brother in Christ.
Thank you very much for your acknowledgement of what I have written, and for your response. I appreciate your desire to dialogue about these issues, and to attempt to come to a common understanding.
Regarding my own theological positions, it would be unwieldy to go into much depth here, though I believe the salient matters have been treated a bit more fully at one place or another on this blog throughout the course of the past months. In summary, I am in full agreement with the Baptist Faith & Message 2,000, with the exception of one statement in the section on baptism which would seem to advocate "closed communion." I am also convinced that the Scripture teaches a "continualist" approach to spiritual gifts, which includes the possibility of what many call a "private prayer language." While I certainly believe in the local church, I also see an emphasis on the Universal Church in the New Testament in places that I understand many Baptists see more of an emphasis on the local church. I also see no need to consider as invalid the immersion of a sincere believer due to concerns over the doctrinal position of the administrator of the baptism or the administrating church.
I can easily see how any perceived "attempt to exclude" may indeed be unintentional. I myself would not want to impose my views on these particular issues on anyone else. At the same time, the views I take on these issues I take as a result of my honest understanding of the authoritative teaching of Holy Scripture. I am open to being shown where I may be mistaken. But, in the meantime, my convictions on these matters hold firm. It is my sincere hope that the views I have expressed above might not prove to be an impediment to full participation in Southern Baptist life, fleshed out in such important and practical matters as missionary appointments and opportunities for leadership within our various institutions, in order that "as disciples totally yielded in obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ" we may indeed be able "in the power of the Holy Spirit" to "march forward together to proclaim the good news to a lost world so that our Father might be glorified." I look forward to continuing to seek the Lord in prayer and to dialogue with you and others, so that this may indeed be a established reality for the years ahead.
May the Lord bless you richly,