Questions: Do you think the convention is headed in the direction your father had in mind? Or do you think it has strayed? If so, in what way? Could you provide examples? I'd like to know what kind of steps you think the SBC should take to both remain true to mission and grow in number.
Answer: Let me start off by saying that I am extremely proud of my father and his legacy as a leader in the SBC and the Conservative Resurgence, and would never ever want to do anything to undermine or diminish his accomplishments. I believe the Conservative Resurgence in the SBC was a monumental step forward in the advance of the
. A good many of the doctrinal problems that threatened the SBC before the Conservative Resurgence are now a “non-issue.” Southern Baptists are united on the inerrancy of Scripture, and other key evangelical doctrines such as substitutionary atonement, the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection and second coming of Christ, etc. On the whole, because of this, I believe we are in much better shape now than before the Resurgence. Kingdomof God
I am not saying, however, that everything that happened during the Resurgence nor that is happening today in the SBC is without blemish. As the biblical writer James states, “We all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2). Some have been misunderstood, and others mischaracterized. At times, in the midst of the fervor to make necessary corrections, the actions of some have been carried to a degree beyond what was originally intended. In the long run, I believe this serves more to undermine the cause that was moved forward through the Conservative Resurgence than to help it.
A specific example of this, in my opinion, have been the new guidelines passed by the International
MissionBoard excluding new missionary candidates on the basis of a so-called “private prayer language” or baptism that was not administered according to standard Baptist practice. At the same time, it would appear a certain sector within Southern Baptist life has taken on the mission to accentuate everything that distinguishes Baptists from other evangelical Christians to such a degree that our essential unity and spiritual communion with the wider Body of Christ has been downplayed or even resisted.
In my opinion, now that the weightier issues of first-level doctrine among us have pretty much been resolved, we need to shift our focus more and more to those things that unite us rather than those that divide. And, traditionally, what has united Southern Baptists has been our common commitment to evangelism and missions.
We live in a culture today that is vastly different from that of our forefathers. In order to continue to make an impact for the cause of Christ in the world around us, we will need to learn how to communicate the unchanging principles of the gospel in a more relevant manner that seeks to understand the worldview of the hearers, and demonstrates the love of God to people in a way that connects with the issues they deal with in their everyday life. In order to break through the pervasive skepticism and distrust in contemporary society, all of this must also be couched, as much as possible, in a context of unquestionable authenticity, sincerity, and personal integrity.