I would encourage all of our readers to click here to see the Frequently Asked Questions section of the GCR Declaration website. It answers many of the questions that have been bantered back and forth since this document was first posted and then changed.
This section to the declaration has cleared up a great turmoil within me from the beginning. I was asked how I could sign a document that Wade Burleson and Rick Garner signed with language about the BF&M 2000 being a sufficient guide? Let’s face it, those words sound vaguely familiar to the Garner Motion of 2007. You will likely remember that we bantered back and forth on the internet as Brother’s Burleson and Garner employed that motion to keep the BF&M 2000 as a maximal guide for our trustees in our various entities. However, I remember hearing Dr. Akin at the SEBTS alumni luncheon clearly state that the BF&M 2000 was a good summary expressing our common beliefs for working together. When I signed this declaration I was employing Dr. Akin’s understanding of that phrase and not the understanding of those who desire to see a maximal interpretation of the phrase from the motion passed in 2007.
I applaud those leading the GCR Declaration for clarifying the phrase; to look to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 as a sufficient guide by their explanation in the FAQ section:
It does not mean it is a maximal document that precludes the convention from speaking to important issues that may arise, or our agencies addressing theological and practical issues specific to their context. However, when the convention or an agency considers addressing an issue not covered in the Baptist Faith & Message, godly wisdom should be sought and we should be careful not to slide into either legalism or an abuse of our freedom in Christ.
Recently, Dr. Alvin Reid responded to a post I wrote after last year’s convention. We have since exchanged very affirming emails and I was truly honored by his generous and kind response. In the post last year, I had some questions concerning what the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) was all about because it seemed to be a new buzz term that everyone was excited over, but could not exactly explain on what it all entailed. Since that time several items have been written concerning the GCR and I am happy that Dr. Akin, Dr. Hunt and others were able to put together the new GCR 10 point document. There are several items that I affirm in this document: Lordship of Christ, Baptist Identity, gospel-centeredness, faithful Biblical preaching, and Biblical inerrancy just to name a few. But, I do have some issues in which I either desire further clarification or additional information that are discussed below.
Dr. Bart Barber over at Praisegod Barebones has presented an articulate rendering of the reasons he cannot add his signature to the Twelve Axioms of a Great Commission Resurgence. I signed this document as one that is taking this document at face value. Dr. Barber, while he takes it at face value, presents some convincing arguments for not signing the document. His most convincing argument stems from his historical discipline. The call for restructuring is an open ended call with no exact reasons other than the bloated bureaucracy. It seems that we heard that call less than 15 years ago and we still have a bloated bureaucracy.
As I said earlier, I have already added my signature to this document and I am excited about doing so. I will gladly get on the train. I certainly do not want to nor need to drive the train, but I surely desire to step up and blow the whistle. Neither does Dr. Barber desire to drive the train and I am certain he desires to blow the whistle also, but his caution is one worth noting. As we ride this Great Commission Resurgence train let’s begin defining a phrase like a sufficient guide. On what track will this phrase place this Great Commission Resurgence train? We certainly need to call for this movement to take place in the local churches. This is the only track that will take this train into the future. As the Great Commission Resurgence moves the convention forward the train must be driven by the local church. Any convention that is led by the bureaucratic servants ceases being a convention and becomes a denomination. If that happens the convention will then be defined by the leaders of the entities and not the people in the pew.
I believe that Dr. Barber has raised some valid concerns. He and I do not agree on the signing of this document as I see no problem placing my name on it. However, we do share the same concerns about the track this train is running.
In the epistle of 1 John, the apostle is fighting a heresy that is contrary to a proper understanding of Christology. The heresy was known as Gnosticism and it distorted a true apprehension of who Jesus is, what Jesus did, and how a believer should live in light of the right response to those questions. Today we are facing another heresy involving who Jesus is and what he has done. While different in some respects from Gnosticism, it still has the same root issue of epistemology: “Where do we get our information concerning a correct understanding of our Savior?” or “Whose Jesus do we follow?”