Monday, April 17, 2006
Friday, March 17, 2006
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Friday, March 03, 2006
Divine Sovereignty and Human Repsonsibility
“Coming to Christ shows the voluntariness of the soul in its motion to Christ. True, there is no coming without the Father’s drawing; but that drawing has nothing of compulsion in it; it does not destroy, but powerfully and with an overcoming sweetness persuades the will. It is not forced or driven, but it comes; being made willing in the day of God’s power. Psalm 110:3.” [The Method of Grace (New York: American Tract Society, n.d.), 201].This makes me want to read Flavel for myself. Which, I am sure, is exactly what Haykin intends.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Is There Room to Differ?
MAKING EVANGELISM GOOD NEWS AGAIN I write about good news. I talk about good news. I share good news. I seek with all my heart to be good news to all those around me. That's why this will be the most difficult article I have written in this wonderful year since I became Vice-President of the North American Mission Board, leading Evangelization. Today I will write about bad news. I will speak up loud and clear about bad news that threatens to destroy or at least render irrelevant, the largest and most wonderful tool of good news in the world today - the people called Southern Baptists. And then I will make an unapologetic appeal and challenge to every Southern Baptist to turn away from the destructive course we seem to be on. For years I have been deeply concerned about the critical spirit among Southern Baptists. It seems that we must have something to fight about and someone to oppose. Now those of you who know me are aware that I was an open part of the Conservative Resurgence. There are some things that are so vital that they are worth a fight. The Bible is one of those things. Without its full truth, there is no assurance that I have any good news to tell. But I believed that when the issue was settled, we would move forward together like a mighty army against the real enemy - the one who keeps this world in darkness. I believed that we would see a sweeping movement of evangelism that would result in the greatest spiritual awakening we have ever imagined. So far, we have chosen a different course. We have turned on each other like a pack of dogs fighting over a bone. We divide over reformed theology. We split our churches over music style. We insist on uniformity on issues that go far beyond the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. We push away our best and brightest young leaders because they don't preach or worship or function the way we have in the past. Never mind if they baptize thousands. We are so busy gossiping incessantly about each other, we don't have much time to talk about Jesus anyway. If you listen to talk in Southern Baptist circles, I'm sure you will notice something that I have picked up on - every one of our leaders is an incompetent idiot! At least, that's the appearance from the way we talk about each other. I am struggling to think of one key Southern Baptist leader that has not been the victim of these constant barrages of criticism. I know most of these men. They are good men. They are God's men. They are gifted leaders, gracious servants who long to see God move among Southern Baptists in power. But they are not perfect men. And if we continue this course of action, this prideful, disgraceful slandering of each other, we should not be surprised at all by the lack of God's favor on us. God is doing just fine, by the way! His kingdom will advance with or without us. In my last article I wrote about the fresh movement of God on college campuses. Just after I submitted the article, a renewal reminiscent of the Jesus Movement days began on the campus of Asbury College. It started as a normal chapel and transitioned into a powerful multi-day season of prayer, testimony, repentance, and best of all, evangelism! Now the students are determined, as the campus chaplain told me, "to take Jesus to the world!" Why is it, do you think that God is choosing to move among college students like this? Could it be because they are utterly unconcerned about our foolish rantings against each other and are simply determined to follow Jesus? What a thought! I have been sending reports of campus outbreaks and fresh movements of evangelism to everyone I can, all across the continent. What a time it is for us to focus on what God is doing in the world. But I find most Southern Baptist talk these days does not center on what God is doing but on what we are doing to each other. And that is both tragic and wrong. But it is not surprising. It is who, for the moment, we have chosen to be. But I have a growing hope in me. Even in this bad news, I see good news! I have been speaking all across the country for a year. I have been calling Southern Baptists to stop this cycle of self-destructive gossip and attack. And the response I am getting has been overwhelming. I think the vast majority of Southern Baptists are tired of this. Sick of it in fact. I think we are ready for change. So allow me to humbly suggest a course of action: 1. Personally place a moratorium in your own life on criticism and gossip. Let's just stop it. Try this. Determine that before you criticize anyone, you will take a break to go and witness. After you have shared Christ, you will probably have neither the time nor the desire to criticize. Since we are a people who believe the Bible, wouldn't it be helpful if we actually practiced Matthew 18? 2. Let every pastor, every Southern Baptist leader, and every member commit for the rest of this year to focus our energies on loving and sharing with those who don't know Christ, rather than seeking to solve all the internal problems of your church and your convention. I really wonder how many internal problems we would have left if every Southern Baptist just shared the good news once a day. Why don't we actually try it? 3. I hesitate to say this, but it might be time for a new Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention. The vast majority of Southern Baptists may have to rise up and begin to speak up clearly, even with your votes. Perhaps the message should be, "Make the main thing the main thing. Quit bashing each other. Quit attacking others in your sermons who do things differently. We won't applaud anymore. Stop being distracted by lesser things. Lead us to bring the good news to the world." 4. Let each of us repent, both to God, and to each other, for our behavior. If we don't stop this, it will be no wonder why lost people will stay away from our churches. Let's cry out to God to help us love Him and each other again. Then we can love the world He sent His Son to die for. It looks to me like we have two clear directions we can choose as Southern Baptists. We can advance together against the real enemy and become the kind of contagious, bold good news Christ-followers we read about in the book of Acts. Or we can keep gnawing on each other while the world goes to hell. Either way, our problem in the SBC will be solved. We will either be so overwhelmed with the passion and love of the power of God that the petty voices of personal attack will fade away like a distant whine. Or, we will keep up the present course until the few Southern Baptists left can find a small room somewhere, where no one will pay any attention, and fight it out together until the end. As for me, I am full of hope! God is on the move. And I really believe that God has assigned you and me today to be a missionary of the King of the universe! Someone is waiting for me to love them, to share Christ with them, to see their whole world changed. That's what Southern Baptists are about. And I have spent enough time sitting at this computer criticizing the criticizers! I'm getting out of this office and out into the world to make evangelism good news again. I bet you are ready to join me.I still believe there is the need for Southern Baptists (and all Christians) to discuss differing understanding of doctrine and practice. Some differences are non-trivial, and we need to talk about them in a spirit of love. And it won't do simply to say, "let's forget about all of that and just go witnessing door-to-door." But Avants is certainly right to point out that we are going to destroy ourselves if we insist on imposing conformity on all but the most trivial matters.
Monday, February 20, 2006
Is Landmarkism rearing its head at IMB?
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Fabulous Resource at Covenant Worldwide
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Thoughts on End of the Spear, Part 2
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Thoughts on End of the Spear, Part 1
Friday, January 13, 2006
Thoughts on the new IMB guidelines
But there is another question that has to be answered: what is the purpose of baptism? Some argue that baptism is a "gatekeeper" to church membership as well as the opportunity to publically profess faith in Jesus Christ. And while I agree that a minister should examine a candidate for baptism to see if they understand the gospel and have made a credible professon of faith, I have to wonder if baptism is being loaded with more functions than is intended in Scripture. Thus, as to being baptized in a church that teaches the security of the believer, I don’t see what that has to do with baptism. I think Tad Thompson’s blog Total Truth: The IMB, Baptism, Prayer Languages, and Reformed Theology II makes a good point that there are differences over what that means—I hold the same view of perseverance that Thompson does. Many Southern Baptists understand it somewhat differently. b. A candidate who has not been baptized in a Southern Baptist church or in a church which meets the standards listed above is expected to request baptism in his/her Southern Baptist church as a testimony of identification with the system of belief held by Southern Baptist hurches. If we grant the previous points this simply follows. Except, just how do we know what a person understood about baptism when they were baptized in a SBC church? 3. The Candidate The candidate is responsible for meeting this doctrinal commitment to the above points 4. The Consultant While the candidate consultant should have a working knowledge of many denominational groups, he is not expected to investigate every church. APPLICATION 1. This guideline is not retroactive. 2. Any exception to the above guideline must be reviewed by the staff and the Process Review Committee. According to the application section, these guidelines are not retroactive, nobody currently appointed as an IMB missionary should be affected. Point 2 of the application section seems to indicate that they would consider individual exceptions. There may be room for candidates to explain what they believed at the time of their baptisms. Also, I wonder just how many candidates this really affects? I know, there is a “principle” involved. Some candidates may be willing to be re-baptized. So I do have some concerns with new policy, but I also share some of the concerns that led to the new policy. Clear as mud?