By Wes Kenney, currently a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
A proper understanding of the role of the individual Christian in the fulfillment of the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ is absolutely necessary to the well being of the church and to the faithful fulfillment of that commission. Essential to this understanding is the recognition of the church’s place within the biblical witness as the guardian of truth. With this understanding in place, this paper will argue that the Great Commission is not given for individuals to fulfill, but to the church. This distinction is an important one, and much error is avoided when it is understood and embraced.
“These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:14–15, NKJV). The Apostle Paul’s words make it clear that the church itself is the guardian of the revealed truth of God’s Word. The repeated Pauline commands to churches to guard against error strengthen this idea. The church has a responsibility to guard the truth, and the authority to speak definitively concerning what is true. A true church, seeking the will of God and the mind of Christ, will never lack an understanding of the truth, and cannot shirk its responsibility to defend it. This especially is true with regard to the Great Commission.
Is it unbiblical to encourage someone to pray to “receive” or “accept” Christ as their Lord and Savior? Is it unbiblical to speak of inviting Christ into your heart or life? Dr. Steve Gaines (Pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in the Memphis suburb of Cordova, Tennessee, and a member of the committee that framed the Baptist Faith and Message 2000), speaking from John 1:12 and numerous other scriptural texts, provides a biblical perspective on these questions in this YouTube video entitled, “What the Bible Says about Accepting Jesus into Your Heart” –
Dr. Malcolm Yarnell (Professor of Systematic Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Director of the Center for Theological Research, and Editor of the Southwestern Journal of Theology), provides a further discussion of these issues in this blog post about “Is It Biblical to Ask Jesus into Your Heart?” –
Both of these respected theologians and preachers find plenty of biblical evidence that praying to “receive” Christ is not only allowed in Scripture, but is commanded in Scripture. What does your Bible say?
The BioLogos-Southern Baptist Theologian Dialogue:
Is Darwinism Theologically Neutral?
How should Twenty-first Century Christians interpret the creation accounts in the book of Genesis? How can these biblical creation accounts be reconciled with contemporary scientific accounts? Is theistic evolution tenable, or should we believe in creationism or intelligent design?
We posted an announcement earlier about a dialogue addressing these questions, an ongoing dialogue between some Southern Baptist scholars and some Christian scientists from the BioLogos organization. The BioLogos Foundation is a group of Christians who see “evolution as the means by which God created life, in contrast to Atheistic Evolutionism, Intelligent Design, and Creationism.” In essence they are looking to prove that the findings in science are compatible with the Christian faith. BioLogos was founded by Francis Collins, the former head of the Human Genome Project and currently head of the National Institutes for Health.
Each dialogue in this “Southern Baptist Voices” series on the biologos.org website features an article or two articles from a Southern Baptist scholar, with a response from a BioLogos scholar.The series arose from a discussion between Dr. Ken Keathley, Senior Vice President for Academic Administration of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Darrell Falk, President of BioLogos.
In the first pair of articles, Dr. Keathley submitted a two part article that we referenced on March 14, 2012 (click here). From this original discussion, BioLogos is building series, in which the BioLogos staff will dialogue with such invited noteable Southern Baptist scholars as: Dr. John D. Laing, Dr. Bruce Little, Dr. John Hammet, Dr. Steve Lemke, Dr. William Dembski, and Dr. James K. Dew.
The next Baptist guest in the series is Dr. William Dembski, Research Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and well-known advocate of the intelligent design movement, who is addressing the question “Is Darwinism Theologically Neutral.”
In part 1, Dembski compares the “non-negotiables” of Christianity with the “non-negotiables of Darwinism (click here). And in part 2 (click here) he continues his analysis of the comparison of the non-negotiable tenets, concluding that the evidence for Darwinism is the real crux of the matter, not whether it is or is not theologically neutral.
As with other internet discussions, BioLogos has included an arena for comments and responses. We, at SBC Today, would like to invite Southern Baptists to join in this scholarly dialogue as it unfolds over the next few weeks.
Vanderbilt University’s Discriminatory Policies
Against Campus Religious Organizations:
In February 2012, SBC Today published a series of articles warning about the impact of Vanderbilt University’s “all comers” policies on Christian student organizations on campus (see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4). The so-called “non-discrimination policy,” which in fact discriminates against Christian groups, insists that the campus Christian organizations cannot limit their leadership positions to Christians. The university is not applying these “all comers” rules to other campus organizations such as fraternities (except for a Christian fraternity) or sororities. The Tennessee legislature has passed a bill that would pressure Vanderbilt to reverse this egregious policy, but Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has announced he will veto it (see story in the National Review). These actions have been opposed by scores of Christian groups and national leaders (many of these are cited in Part 4 noted above, along with ways you can voice your opinion).
In all, fourteen Christian organizations have refused to submit to the “all comers” policy. Eleven Christian campus organizations, including Vanderbilt Catholic, have formed a group called “Vanderbilt Solidarity” to oppose the religious discrimination being instituted by the policy (see the Washington Post story, The Foundry blog of the Network story, the Nashville National Public Radio story, and the Vanderbilt InterVarsity Christian Fellowship blog story).
The most recent happening in this story is that the Vanderbilt Baptist Campus Ministry has also declined to receive recognized student organization status, because they could not in good conscience sign the required Vanderbilt policies (see the Baptist and Reflector article and the Associated Baptist Press article).
Already, several other private and public universities have quietly enacted the Vanderbilt “all comers” policy themselves. If this policy is followed nationwide, it will severely hamper access of Christian campus ministries to college students at this key time in their lives.
As you come to New Orleans for the 2012 SBC Convention, you might want to download the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary iPhone app, which was released this Spring. The NOBTS app has many of the features can help you while you’re in town, and others that you may find helpful at any time:
However, the NOBTS app has a feature you may find helpful wherever you are. Bored standing in a line? Whip out the Greek and Hebrew vocabulary flash cards feature! You can brush up on your Biblical language skills while you have some free time!
The NOBTS iPhone app can be downloaded for free from the Apple iTunes store. Search for NOBTS on the store or go to NOBTS on iTunes.