SBC Wednesday morning:
The highlight was the resolution report. Before that though, with the convention running ahead (!) Bobby Welch took a moment to "preach" on Matthew 13:24-30 on the Wheat and the Tares (an anticipation of any discussion on church discipline?). After intoning that we should not attack our "enemies" in the SBC, he proceeded to attack Calvinists by saying that if Calvinists are really as hot-hearted about evangelism as they claim and "they know who the elect are" (something no Calvinist says) then they should "put up or shut up" by boldly evangelizing.
In the resolutions discussion, Tom Ascol failed to get his church discipline resolution back on the floor. Resolution chairman T. C. French’s response that (a) we do not know that churches are misrepresenting their numbers and (b) inactive members make a good prospect for "evangelism" was astounding. So, we are now "evangelizing" church members? Whatever happened to regenerate church membership?
Most debate was on Resolution 5 "On Alcohol Use in America." It held a veiled jibe at "antinomian" Calvinists. Several reformed men took the bait and fought it as opposed to inerrancy. Though I agree with them, I do not think it was wise to fight this on the floor. In fact, it was amended to make it even tighter urging the SBC to appoint only tee-totalers to offices. By the way, I do not drink alcohol at all and have seen its sinful abuse as a pastor in my people. Still, I like our JPBC covenant that simply says that we will not "abuse ourselves through addiction or excess."
One of the high points of the whole SBC was Secretary of State Condi Rice’s address c. 10 am. She regally entered to thundering applause and delivered a dignified and powerful speech on America’s moral obligation to protect religious liberty and fight injustice. Most poignant moment: In discussing America’s opposition to international sex-slave traffic, she stated that slavery is not over in the world and America will stand against it. This was met with the most thunderous standing ovation. Wow! The convention begun in 1845 to allow slave owners to be missionaries, standing to applaud an African American woman secretary of state as she denounces slavery. We see God’s gracious providential hand in history.
The South African Donald J. Wilton, Pastor of FBC Spartanburg, SC, preached the most powerful message of the convention on God’s second visitation to Solomon in 1 Kings 9. Though I am not sure we would see eye to eye on all things theological, I liked his statements of love for his local church and for his wife and his bold call for Southern Baptists not to make an idol of our convention.
At the lunch break I attended the Southern Seminary luncheon. It was packed with nearly 900 attendees. Mohler gave a good talk. SBTS is so different than when I was there from 1987-90. It is truly hard to believe.
I left for home after the SBTS lunch, so I missed the evening session and the unveiling of the Graham statue (or as my friend Rob Stovall called it, "the graven image" and "the golden calf"). Got to join my JPBC brothers back home for our Wednesday Bible study to report our SBC observations to our members. It was good to go to the meeting but better to be home.
In my report to our church I listed five key issues in this meeting:
1. Transition in leadership in the post-conservative resurgence era.
2. Stress on need for Cooperative Program support and resentment against churches that give little in percentage.
3. The need to be bold in evangelism.
4. The need for better work and cooperation among trustees.
5. The emergence of doctrinal dialogue. Battle for Bible has been won—we agree on inerrancy. Now the issue is what the Bible says. Among issues: Calvinism (soteriology); Church Discipline; Missiology (emerging church).