From 2000 to 2016, I have attended every single Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting—seventeen in a row! My impression is that the opportunity for genuine messenger involvement in such meetings is virtually nonexistent. Yes, the business of the convention appears to be open for discussion and participation, but this is really nothing more than a ruse. Virtually every initiative desired by leaders is scheduled and passed by the messengers. Virtually every initiative desired only by messengers is declined, referred, ruled out of order or defeated. This is rigged reality TV.
A Very Tight Schedule
The primary means of controlling outcomes is found within the convention schedule itself. Much of the time is devoted to music, preaching, reports, recognitions and other items in which the role of the messenger is simply to sit and listen. Given the plethora of conferences available for preaching and worship, one wonders why, if we are only going to set aside two days for a business meeting, we cannot manage more than about ninety minutes or so for motions and resolutions in which messengers have a slim chance to be recognized at a microphone in order to offer feedback to our leadership.
Sometimes, following a report, there is time for questions and answers, but here is how that always plays itself out. Once the first question is asked, the leader on the platform begins talking in response. By means of eloquence and skillful transitional sentences, the speaker may use all the remaining time in his reply. Occasionally, a second or third question may be asked. More than once, the question is so easy and clearly supportive of the speaker’s agenda that I have wondered if it was planted. When the speaker is finished answering, someone steps forward and says, “Time has expired. Thank you for your report.” And the beat goes on. Continue reading
***Editor’s Note: Dr. Cox’s book, “Not One Little Child: A Biblical Critique of Calvinism” is available for purchase HERE.
Calvinism teaches that the human will has been so utterly destroyed by the sin of Adam that it cannot choose to place faith in Christ even if it wanted to do so. It also claims that certain humans are unconditionally elected by God for salvation, while all others are left unelected and have no hope of experiencing God’s grace. It further asserts that the atoning work of Christ on the cross is absolutely limited in its extent only to the elect. It additionally declares that God’s grace is completely irresistible for the elect. Continue reading
John Leland, a Baptist preacher, “emerged a leader among the Commonwealth’s Baptists. He was instrumental in allying the Baptists with Jefferson and Madison in the bitter Virginia struggle to disestablish the Anglican Church and to secure freedom for religious dissenters.”[i] According to L.H. Butterfield, Leland “was as courageous and resourceful a champion of the rights of conscience as America has produced.”[ii] Leland, who allied with the Baptists, supported Jefferson because of his commitment to “the rights of conscience.”[iii] This did not refer to separating religious beliefs from politics, but rather allowed one to believe according to his own conscience without government interference. For example, Leland celebrated Jefferson’s election from his pulpit.[iv] By conscience, they referred to the first table of the Ten Commandments as Roger Williams did. Conscience refers to ‘opinions’ so referred to by both Jefferson and the Danbury Baptists in their correspondence. Continue reading