Author Archive

Advice for New Pastors / Randy White

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Study the text word by word, not verse by verse. Doing so will keep you in the ministry for – See more at: http://www.randywhiteministries.org/2014/05/29/advice-young-pastors/#sthash.K7bAFcif.dpuf

 

by Dr. Randy White, pastor
FBC, Katy, Texas

Originally posted May 29, 2014 at Dr. White’s blog

I recently took a moment to write a note to some of my young preacher friends, and closed with a bullet list of advice for “Preacher boys.” I decided I’d share it with all of you. Perhaps this advice for young pastors will be a blessing to someone.

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Adoniram Judson: A Profound Calling / Keith Eitel, PhD

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Originally posted Feb. 6, 2012
at “Theological Matters.”
by Dr. Keith Eitel
Dean of the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions
Professor of Missions
Director of the World Missions Center
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, Texas

Note: This article is part of a four-part series on Judson’s life and impact.

In some few lives, the temporal kisses the eternal in that their earthly life embraces the truths and calling of heaven. They pour themselves out for others. Such individuals are odd to some because this world seems not to be their home. They are sojourners. To others, they are heroic. Yet, in New Testament terms, they simply live out normal discipleship—denying self and clinging to the cause of the cross.

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Suffering / W A Criswell

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THE CUP OF SUFFERING
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Mark 10:35-39
6-16-91
10:50 a.m.

This is the pastor bringing the message entitled, The Cup of Suffering.  In our preaching through the Book of Mark, we are in chapter 10, beginning at verse 35:

“And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came unto Jesus, saying, ‘Master, we would that Thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we desire.’ He said unto them, ‘What would ye that I should do?’ They said unto Him, ‘Grant unto us that we may sit, one on Thy right hand, and the other on Thy left hand, in Thy glory.’ But Jesus said unto them, ‘Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of; and can you be baptized with which I am baptized?’ They said unto Him, ‘We can.’  And Jesus said unto them, ‘Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: —But I can’t do the other—But to sit on My right hand and on My left hand is not Mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared’” (Mark 10:35-40).

 

What a wonderful day to see that!  Who will it be on His right hand and on His left?  Maybe some sweet, humble mother that the world never knew.  Maybe a devout missionary who laid down his life.

“You know not what ye ask.  Can you drink of the cup that I drink of?” 

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The Kingdom Solution to the SBC’s Membership Decline / Alan Streett, PhD

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by Alan Streett*

Church membership has plunged for the seventh straight year in our Southern Baptist Convention. When a similar thing happened in the United Methodist Church in the 60s and 70s, we were quick to point out that liberalism was the culprit. Now it’s happening to us and there’s not a liberal in our camp!

The Methodists tried many ways to shore up their membership, but without success. Now we are the ones bleeding numerically with no apparent remedy in sight. If the SBC were a person with a seven-year illness, the doctor would diagnose a “chronic condition,” which means there is an ongoing problem.

Reactions have been swift in coming, but few solutions. To stay the present course is not an option. We all know the definition of insanity!

If you ever played organized baseball, you likely experienced a slump. You can’t get a hit for trying and your numbers decline sharply. Before long you lose your confidence, only making things worse. To reverse the trend, you need a breakthrough! After trying every solution imaginable without success—changing bats, moving up in the batter’s box, altering your stance—you come to realize in order to break out of the slump you must get back to the basics.

The SBC is in a slump.

A PLAN FOR THE FUTURE

In the days when the SBC was on the rise—before it took its steep downhill turn——a plan was conceived to keep the Convention on an upward trajectory. Here is the backstory.

In late 1999, facing a new millennium and an ever-changing postmodern culture, an historic meeting was convened that brought together state executive directors and SBC executives for the purpose of developing a long-term cooperative strategy to maintain steady growth and to reach the nations for Christ. A task force on “Cooperation” was elected —composed of four SBC entity presidents, Bill Crews (GGBTS), Jerry Rankin (IMB), Bob Reccord (NAMB), and Morris Chapman (Executive Committee); and four state executive directors, Wyndell Jones (IA), Carlisle Driggers (SC), Anthony Jordan (OK), and Bob White (GA)—and commissioned to investigate and recommend ways to achieve sustained growth. After numerous meetings that centered on spiritual and scriptural reflection, a consensus emerged that the Convention needed to get back to the basics found in Jesus’ message of the kingdom of God.

The task force examined a successful kingdom-oriented model developed and launched in the early 1990s by Carlisle Driggers, Executive Director of the South Carolina Convention that turned the nation’s oldest Baptist convention around and brought unprecedented growth to local churches. It was called Empowering Kingdom Growth (EKG).

Driggers had no doubt that the good news of the kingdom was the central theme of all first-century preaching. Consequently, he felt it should be the Convention’s focus as well. When asked in an interview, “If you could give one word of encouragement to every Baptist minister what would it be?” he responded, “Wrap your heart and mind around the Kingdom of God on this earth.”

The kingdom of God had so captured Driggers’s imagination he couldn’t get away from it. For him the kingdom of God was the most basic ingredient of Christianity. As a result he was able to convince his colleagues that the Convention should embrace a kingdom focus.

EKG Becomes the Foundation of the Future

The task force was so impressed with the SC kingdom initiative that it decided to recommend to the messengers at the upcoming annual convention that they adopt the kingdom model of ministry and adapt it for use throughout the entire Convention.

In an article describing the task force’s recommendation, Bob Terry wrote in The Alabama Baptist:

The vision is magnificent, the message clear and simple. All who cooperate with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) can and should work together with God to empower growth of His Kingdom.

Empowering Kingdom Growth is not only the goal, it is the motto or slogan recommended in the report. The abbreviation — EKG — points to the seriousness of the effort. In medicine, an EKG examines the status of the heart. The new report contends that Empowering Kingdom Growth — EKG — should be the heart of every expression of convention life from cooperating churches to joint efforts expressed through SBC entities.

Empowering Kingdom Growth will be a phrase heard and read often in Southern Baptist life in the months and years ahead.

During the 2002 SBC meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, at the recommendation of the task force, the messengers voted overwhelmingly to approve the new spiritual initiative, which called upon Southern Baptist churches and members everywhere to concentrate singularly on the kingdom of God. The vote was not simply to adopt another “program,” but to support an entirely new direction for the Convention. Henceforth, all SBC programs, boards and agencies were to commit their full energies and resources on kingdom-oriented ministry alone. Every SBC entity would be expected to realign its mission with the new EKG emphasis.

At the time of the vote, SBC president James Merritt called the decision as significant for the Southern Baptist Convention as the decision made in 1925 to launch the Cooperative Program. One cannot overstate the importance of this statement. Merritt saw the vote as a defining moment in the annals of the Convention.

A newly formed “Empowering Kingdom Growth Task Force,” co-chaired by Merritt and Driggers, wrote that the Empowering Kingdom Growth initiative “could prove to be an unprecedented turning point in American history.” Never before had such a large body of evangelicals decided to put aside secondary issues to concentrate solely on the kingdom of God.

DID SOMETHING GO WRONG?

Enthusiasm and anticipation filled the air at the start. In personal correspondence with this writer on August 18, 2003, Driggers wrote:

I can tell you for a fact that our EKG Task Force for the Southern Baptist Convention met earlier this week, and we are hearing from many persons around the country and even overseas who are also being deeply impressed to study the teachings of Christ on the Kingdom of God on this earth. There is no doubt in my mind but that God is at work bringing many believers to a fresh and new encounter with the teachings of Scripture on the theology of the Kingdom of God, especially as it implies to the here and now and not only to Heaven or the Second Coming of Jesus.

Three months later he wrote to say he looked forward to working with Ken Hemphill, the newly-chosen National Strategist Director for EKG.

But somewhere along the way, EKG lost its momentum. The initiative, upon which the Convention based its future, could not get up enough steam and devolved from being essential to the Convention’s future to just another “program.”

Additionally, for EKG to work it was assumed that everyone within the SBC sphere would put aside their theological peculiarities and embrace a kingdom agenda. But unfortunately the divide was too great.

BACK TO THE BASICS: A KINGDOM SOLUTION

Driggers and the EKG Task Force were correct in believing that the future of the Convention must be linked to the Kingdom of God. If Merritt’s assessment was accurate that the decision to adopt the EKG initiative was as significant as adopting the Cooperative Program in 1925, we should NOT abandon the kingdom agenda.

The kingdom of God is the central theme of all evangelistic proclamation in the New Testament. John the Baptist preached “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand!” (Matt. 3:2). And Jesus did likewise: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark1:14-15). According to John and Jesus, the kingdom was not some distant hope, but within the grasp of their contemporaries. Jesus defined his mission in these words: “I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent” (Luke 4:43). Everywhere he went he proclaimed the “glad tidings of the kingdom of God” (Luke 8:1). When he sent forth the Twelve, he instructed them “to preach the kingdom” (Luke 9:1-2). He then sent out seventy others to go and “heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near you’” (Luke 10:1, 9).

After his death and resurrection, Jesus spent forty days with the apostles “speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). If the glorified Jesus devoted the entirety of his time explaining the kingdom, shouldn’t we? He then commissioned the disciples to take the gospel to the ends of the world (Acts 1:8). It is not surprising to find them preaching the same message: “the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus” (Acts 8:12).

The apostle Paul, likewise, taught “concerning the things of the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8). He reminded the elders at Ephesus of his three years “preaching the kingdom of God” (Acts 20:25, 31). During house arrest in Rome, “many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God” (Acts 28:23). The book of Acts closes significantly with these words, “Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him” (Acts 28:30-31).

The Kingdom of God is the “open secret” of the NT and missed by many. In my opinion the kingdom is the essential core of Christianity. If you miss the kingdom, you end up with a truncated gospel.

The kingdom is so important that Jesus links the success of the church’s evangelistic mission to it: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14). Yet, most pastors and parishioners alike would be hard pressed to define the “gospel of the kingdom.”

We need to get back to the basics—back to the kingdom of God! How do we expect to evangelize the world in these last days if we cannot identify and explain the gospel of the kingdom?

EKG was a valiant start and should not be abandoned. But we must recapture our vision of God’s kingdom plan for the world.

A kingdom solution is needed if we ever expect to reverse the present downward direction of the Convention.

*Alan Streett, PhD
W. A. Criswell Endowed Chair of Expository Preaching
Criswell College, Dallas, Texas.
Dr. Streett is author of
Heaven on Earth: Experiencing the Kingdom of God in the Here and Now
The Effective Invitation
Subversive Meals

The Conservative Resurgence: Worth defending then and NOW! / Ronnie Rogers

Ronnie Rogers is senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Norman, Okla.

 by Ronnie Rogers, pastor

Trinity Baptist Church

Norman, Okla.

(Originally posted at Pastor Rogers’ blog in May 2007)

Recently, some of our college students visited Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Some of them will be attending there in the fall, and others are seeking the Lord’s direction with regard to going to seminary.

As a part of their excursion, they attended classes, chapel and joined Mrs. Patterson at Pecan Manor, the president’s home.

This afforded our students the opportunity to become familiar with one of our great seminaries, and it also provided a stimulus to questions and discussions about the Conservative Resurgence.

Dr. Patterson and Judge Paul Pressler led the charge to call the SBC back to fidelity to the Scripture as the Word of God without error.  Even as I write, they continue to be vilified by moderates, liberals and everyone who despises the full counsel of the inerrant Scripture.

Sadly, as in the past, there are those who personally avow their belief in the inerrancy of Scripture, all the while using one reason or another for not taking the necessary steps to actualize the restoration and continuance of biblical fidelity throughout our agencies and on the mission field.  In fact, they actually attack those who do have the spiritual courage and fortitude to initiate and maintain the necessary changes.

The reality is that merely believing the Scripture to be inerrant and concomitantly being unwilling to deal with aberrant theology in our seminaries and agencies is the core of the problem both historically and to this present hour.  The reason for this is that at some point, men who personally believed, or at least espoused such a belief, in the trustworthiness of Scripture, either through naiveté or intentionality, hired those who did not, and who believed and taught outside the parameters of the Baptist Faith and Message (BFM).  Thus, their privatized belief, regardless how honorable and faithful to Scripture, posits them in a place of complicity albeit often unwittingly with aberrant theologians.

Moreover, naive conservatives, even to this present hour, side with those who fought against the resurgence and the full application of Scripture.  They deem themselves to be doing the noble thing, yet they are doing the very thing that will ultimately, if left to run its natural course, lead back to the days when the convention was in the hands of those who questioned and undermined the full veracity of Scripture.

I read their comments about why they oppose Dr. Patterson and other supporters of perpetuating the resurgence, and they actually use the same or eerily similar wording to their moderate predecessors and supporters; for example, one busy blogger said, “True, classical liberals need to be removed from any positions of authority in the SBC, but it should be done in a proper manner, following all protocol and procedures established for such an event.”

This sounds great to those who are sympathetic to this position or who are unaware of the facts, but for those of us that were there, it is just simply more of the same semantics and euphemisms.  Let me clarify; first, the problem was never merely “classical liberalism” but rather what was far more widespread was neo-orthodoxy.  Moreover, by mentioning only “classical liberalism” as worthy of removal, am I to assume that Southern Baptist professors who boasted of having signed the Baptist Faith and Message—a testimony of their agreement with its contents—but omitted that they also noted “with reservations” were not to be placed on the list of concerns.

Second, when I read statements like the aforementioned, along with his voluminous other positions that echo those of the ones who actually fought against the resurgence, and then I see his opposition to men like Dr. Patterson who fought for the resurgence, I am inclined to believe that what I and millions more believe was a mighty work of God, is something he believes should be unraveled.

One of the fundamental problems then and now—as evidenced by these who say they are conservative but their actions potentiate returning us to the time when moderates and liberals did teach in our seminaries and run our agencies— is what I call non-functional inerrancy or conservatism.  By this I refer to those who personally believe in the full truthfulness of Scripture, but they do not believe it is a worthy requirement to hold professors and others to even though they are paid by Cooperative Funds.

This kind of talk is indistinguishable from politicians who say, “I am personally against abortion but I respect the right of others to choose.”  Of course this is like saying “I am personally against killing grandmothers, but I respect the right of others to choose.”  I assure you, those who taught outside the BFM cared little that individuals believed in the full trustworthiness—inerrancy—of Scripture as long as they did not have to do the same.  While we respect their choice not to believe in inerrancy, they must respect our choice not to provide them a salary and a classroom full of students to promulgate their aberrant theology.

Another quote attributed to this same young man is, “I believe there were about four or five people in leadership positions at our seminaries that needed to be dealt with. But the way to deal with them would be personal, loving confrontation, and dismissal if there were no repentance, but wholesale sweeping accusations of liberalism among conservative brothers was unnecessary.”

Just a couple of notes.  First, to posit that there were only about “four or five” who needed dealt with is patently false.  I served as a trustee at Midwestern Seminary, and therefore, I can speak with firsthand knowledge and experience about this—not to mention the rest of the problems throughout the convention that have been well-documented.

The reality is that there was more than five at Midwestern.  At best, these kinds of statements are made out of naiveté, credulity, or ignorance, or they are made by those who simply do not care about the truth; or worse still, maybe they are even trying to obfuscate the truth.

I do not make a judgment on motive; however, the end result is the same.  It is a dangerous misrepresentation of the depth, breadth, complexity and gravity of the situation.  I assure you that we had far better things to do than spend untold hours and dollars, as well as suffer significant risk, pain, and loss of reputation, for a handful of aberrant Southern Baptists; moreover, one should not position himself as pursuer and protector of truth and simultaneously ignore it to make a point.

Second, in all of the twenty five years of the resurgence, I am only aware of a handful of firings.  Most often we were criticized by the people in the pew for being far too patient and generous.  The protocol of truth, mercy and steadfastness were extended to most, whether that was granting them generous severance pay, a teaching position until retirement, or ample time to find another place of employment.  This also included handling trustees who either intentionally helped to create the problem or sat idly by while faithfulness to Scripture was undermined; moreover, we were concerned with demonstrating compassion toward students who went to our seminaries in good faith, and assumed that what they were being taught was biblical since the Southern Baptist back home were paying for it.  Compassion for only those who knowingly taught outside the parameters of inerrancy is a misdirected and deficient compassion.

I have personally seen professors, who taught outside the BFM; exemplify a fiery demeanor, insubordination and level of rancor that made it impossible to continue their employment.  He seems to ignore their countless breaches of Christian decorum and heresy, and yes I said heresy, or at least minimize it.  Wars, be they spiritual or physical are fought in a context of war and the actions can only be understood in that context.  I—as well as countless others—can speak firsthand about their meanness, deception, insubordination, and aberrant theology.

It has been said that “war is hell”.  This is true whether it is a physical or spiritual war.  War is not always a pretty picture, nor does everything go well and every single person behave regardless what side they are on.  It is undeniable that things were handled, said, and done incorrectly on both sides.  That is the nature of war.  I am not excusing it, nor seeking to rationalize it, but I am pleading for some sanctified common sense and for others to stop practicing demagoguery and yellow journalism akin to the secular media.

Anyone can take a twenty-five year struggle and piece a couple of things together to seek to undermine or cast it as something that it was in fact not.  This is true, whether one is speaking of the Councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon, the Reformation, Restitution by the Anabaptists, Pilgrims, or Puritans, and yes the Conservative Resurgence.  But I am thankful that God, in spite of our frailties, moved mightily in each of these to spread the truth.

Moreover, I am grateful beyond measure for those who paid the extraordinary price to lead whether it was Luther or Patterson.

Additionally, I was a student at Criswell College (1982-1985) when Dr. Patterson was the president.  Of course this was during some of the most heated days of the Resurgence. I watched this man be maligned and relentlessly and sardonically attacked in the most public way.  His response was always gracious and Christian.  We were amazed that he never downgraded his attackers as they had so wantonly disparaged him, nor did he retaliate with similar mordant and scathing accusations.

Surely, words were spoken on both sides that the speakers now regret, but that is the nature of life much less war.  However, it is the cowardly way for one to use mistakes and incidentals in order to exempt himself from battle, but nothing is right about standing by while others subvert the Scripture in spirit or truth.  Again, he seems to forget that liberals, neo-orthodox, moderates, and non-functional inerrantist unleashed some devastating verbal smart bombs as well.

For those who want to know what actually happened, what was at stake, what glorious thing God did, please do not read merely those who fail to deal with the facts in context, or those who may have a personal axe to grind with one of the leaders of the Resurgence

I recommend the following books to help young people understand the great and mighty work that God wrought through frail, sinful and inadequate men and women.  This work is known as the Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention.  Or ask me, I would love to tell you about the mighty works of God that birthed, sustained and gave victory to the Resurgence of biblical fidelity in the SBC.

The Truth in Crisis, Volumes 1-6, especially Volume 5, The Controversy in the Southern Baptist Convention, James C. Hefley, PhD, (Hannibal, MO: Hannibal Books, 1990).

The Baptist Reformation: The Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention, Jerry Sutton, (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000).

A Hill on Which to Die: One Southern Baptist’s Journey, Paul Pressler, (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999).