Monday, June 25, 2007

Rogers-Yarnell Dialogue on the Great Commission, Letter #2

A Steward must be Found Faithful, by David Rogers

Dear Malcolm,

I very much appreciate the spirit of your first letter. I think that if we are going to move ahead and make some good progress on the matter at hand, it will be necessary to recognize the good intentions of each other, and identify the foundational matters in which we are in essential agreement. In what you have to say in your first letter, I am indeed in complete agreement.

One of the main paradigms, or descriptive models, of the purpose of life on this earth that guides me as a believer in Jesus Christ is that of stewardship. Just as in the parable of the talents, each one of us has been given a task to fulfill and a certain amount of varied resources with which to work towards its fulfillment. One day we will be held to account for the degree to which we have been faithful in the fulfillment of the task, and the wise use of the resources that have been entrusted to us. Knowing this to be the case, I want to do the very best I know how to be pleasing to my Lord, and to act in such a way as to hear him say to me, when that day comes, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!”

Another paradigm that guides me, both in a general sense, as a disciple of the Lord Jesus and a member of the Body of Christ, and in a more specific sense, as a Southern Baptist, is the principle of teamwork. In our efforts to work towards the fulfillment of the task that has been commended to us, we are not in competition with one another. We are all essentially members of the same team, who have the same goal in mind, and know, that as we work together, in cooperation and unity one with another, we will each be more effective in our efforts toward the fulfillment of the task that has been given to us as individuals.

In regard to the matters before us, I believe the old adage is true: “It is better to work smarter than to work harder.” I am convinced we are both in essential agreement on the importance of the Great Commission as the task that joins us together. However, it is possible, that as teammates, if we have different understandings of the task that joins us together, instead of mutually contributing to move us closer to the goal, we are actually allowing ourselves to get sidetracked, and in some cases, perhaps even setting up barriers towards our eventual fulfillment of the goal.

On a team, if the different team members are in disagreement regarding the goal to be achieved and the best means to work towards that goal, the most productive use of team efforts and time can actually be sitting down, and hashing out each others’ perspectives, and seeing if it is possible to come to a better mutual understanding of the path ahead. However, if this strategic interchange were to break down into unfruitful criticism and ungenerous characterizations of the divergent points of view of fellow team members, instead of contributing positively toward the advance of the cause, there would be a significant risk of undermining and putting up obstacles in the face of the actual accomplishment of the end goal on which all are in essential agreement.

It is my profound and sincere hope that our interchange of perspectives in these letters may be the productive type that is actually a good use of our time, and never degenerate into something that may cause more problems than those it solves. For my part, I pledge to do my best to help this to be the case. From what I read in your letter to me, I understand this to be your intention as well. As a result of this, I am optimistic regarding this interchange and where it may lead us.

At the same time, in order for us to make any significant progress forward, I realize we will each need to give our best effort to truly understand the perspective of the other, and to start with the premise that, in some aspect or another, we may need to adjust our thinking, and be prepared to receive the suggestions and opinions of the other with an open mind.

Lord, we come to you, recognizing that you are the only one who has a perfectly correct perspective of the matters before us. We sincerely ask that you give us the grace to listen to each other with charity in our hearts, and the discernment to hear what your “Spirit is saying to the churches.”


Letter #1, Two Requirements for a Universal Fulfillment of the Great Commission, by Malcolm Yarnell

Letter #2, A Steward must be Found Faithful, by David Rogers

Letter #3, Centripetal and Centrifugal, by Malcolm Yarnell

Letter #4, To Whom is the Great Commission Given?, by David Rogers

Letter #5, The Great Commission is Given to the Gathered Church, by Malcolm Yarnell

Letter #6, The End-Vision of the Great Commission, by David Rogers

Letter #7, Both the End and the Means are Established by the Lord, by Malcolm Yarnell

Letter #8, A Matter of Emphasis?, by David Rogers

Letter #9, Complete Obedience versus Hesitant Discipleship, by Malcolm Yarnell

Letter #10, The Universal Scope of the Great Commission, by David Rogers

Letter #11, Freedom, Power and Authority in the Great Commission, by Malcolm Yarnell

Letter #12, Enduring Submission to the Great Commission, by Malcolm Yarnell

Letter #13, Obeying the Commands of Jesus, by David Rogers

Letter #14, John Gill on Romans 14 and 15:1-7, by David Rogers

Letter #15, The Illustration of the Hypothetical "Common Loaf Denomination", by David Rogers

Letter #16, A Condensed Response to Your Last Three Letters, by Malcolm Yarnell

Letter #17, Further Discussion on Cooperation and Obedience, by David Rogers

Letter #18 (Part I), Faith and Faithfulness: Truth, Love, and the Limits of Fellowship, by Malcolm Yarnell

Letter #18 (Part II), Faith and Faithfulness: Truth, Love, and the Limits of Fellowship, by Malcolm Yarnell

Letter #18 (Part III), Faith and Faithfulness: Truth, Love, and the Limits of Fellowship, by Malcolm Yarnell

Letter #19, A Deep Division?, by David Rogers


Strider said...

I say Amen to your prayer at the end.

Todd Nelson said...


I've hesitated to intrude on your conversation with Malcolm, and yet I'm wondering why there are so few comments. Maybe we're all just waiting for the conversation to develop further.

Even so, I would like to affirm your stated values of faithful stewardship and effective teamwork and your desire to work toward mutual understanding.

I would also like to be as positive as you are about the eventual outcome of your conversation, but I think that, given the present climate and blog comments heretofore, it may end up a "draw." As so often happens, people with competing visions and different core values end up agreeing to disagree and working separately.

The division can play out amicably or acrimoniously. Time will tell.

I realize that I'm prejudging, and I admit, I'm less invested than I used to be in the SBC. But I am also free of the politics and constrictions of serving according to a majority view of trustees on secondary and tertiary doctrines. For this fact, I am grateful. Still, because of my long and cherished heritage as a Southern Baptist and the potential impact on the effectiveness of SB missions efforts, I am praying for God's intervention and greater cooperation with all Great Commission Christians.

I wish you and Malcolm a fruitful and edifying conversation. God bless you both with wisdom from above that is pure and peace-loving. “Those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness.” --James 3:18

And I join in with Strider's "amen" to your prayer as well.

Bart Barber said...

I believe this will turn out to be a worthwhile and important exchange.