by Norm Miller
What a world. On the heels of hosting the universal “let’s-all-play-nice-together” games, Russia invades Ukraine’s Crimean region.
Not long after, a Malaysian airliner vanishes.
Continually, Christians around the world join the burgeoning ranks of martyrs.
Frequently, public officials holding various offices are arrested for child porn, embezzlement, and other nefarious deeds.
Daily, young girls and boys are drugged and kidnapped, then enslaved for profit to satisfy others’ perversions.
What a world.
by Walker Moore
founder, president of AweStar Ministries
Walker Moore has for decades trained and led thousands of teens on international missions trips, thus changing their lives as disciples and changing the eternities for others who became disciples as a result.
Walker is gifted by God in preaching and leadership. Having spoken at state Baptist conventions, local associations, major churches and missions conferences across the SBC, he remains an influential voice for missions among pastors, church staff and members, and teens.
To book Walker as a speaker in your church or conference, click HERE.
I had a thought today. I know this surprises you as much as it did me. For the most part, we are not a thinking people. Someone says, “Buy this,” and we buy it. Our society as a whole has lost the art of thinking. Since we don’t think much anymore, we now have people whose job it is to make labels for non-thinkers.
The other day, I saw one of these labels on an iron-on transfer kit to make your own T-shirt design. The label read, “Do not iron while wearing shirt.” Wouldn’t the average person know how dangerous it would be to run an iron across a heat transfer design while wearing the shirt? I guess not.
And then there’s the label on the back of a bottle of children’s cough syrups that reads, “Do not drive car or operate heavy machinery.” I don’t think children should be driving or operating heavy machinery at all. But someone wasn’t thinking.
The Bible talks a lot about the art of discernment, another term for thinking. In the process of thinking, you gather, explore, evaluate and then assign values to ideas, situations, circumstances and decisions. Scripture defines two types of thinking, that of a child and that of an adult. “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me” (1 Cor. 13:11).
What’s the difference between childish thinking and adult thinking? A true adult uses the Word of God as a part of his thinking process and makes decisions in agreement with God’s Word. So do you need a Bible to see if you should iron a decal on your shirt while wearing it? It wouldn’t hurt, but it shouldn’t be necessary, either.
I love the part in the Bible where Jesus asked His disciples two questions. The first was a non-thinking one, and the other was tremendously deep-thinking. In Mark 8:27, Jesus asked, “Who do people say I am?” His followers didn’t even have to use one brain cell to repeat what they had heard. And the answers were easy: “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets” (Mark 8:28). But Jesus, the Master of making people think, turned the question around: “But who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:29). Now that’s a question you have to think about. And the answer requires a lot of thinking, too.
Too often our churches train our children and students to know the answer to the question “Who do other people say I am?” They can quote back what their Sunday School teacher, youth pastor or senior pastor says, but when the questions comes around to “Who do you say I am?” this generation falls apart. They can’t give a reasonable defense for the faith.
I’ve spent my life taking students into cross-cultural situations where Sunday school answers won’t work. Now don’t get me wrong. I am a big proponent of Sunday school, but our teaching has to move from thinking as a child to theology and apologetics. These subjects equip us for the adult skill of speaking in defense of our faith.
If we don’t teach our children critical thinking, we are raising up the Church of Homer Simpson. I don’t know if you have ever seen the television show The Simpsons, and I honestly hope you haven’t. But when Homer, the father of the family, is put in a situation where he doesn’t know the answer or what to do, he says, “D’oh!”
I think our non-thinking culture is teaching the members of the church, when asked a serious question, to respond by saying, “D’oh!”
“How do you know that Jesus is the Son of God?”
”How do you know the Bible is true?”
“Is there such a thing as absolute truth?”
“How do you know Jesus arose from the grave?”
There’s a difference between knowing what you believe and understanding why you believe it. Too often, I have seen the Church send her students off to college, where their faith is questioned. And too often, they stand there without a reasonable answer.
If your faith is shaken and you don’t have an answer, it won’t be too long before you leave it. Your faith is only as good as your ability to defend it.
“Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise” (1 Cor. 3:18).
Lord, may we be fools to the world and wise in the things of You.
by David Hankins
Executive Director, Louisiana Baptist Convention
Father of Eric Hankins, David has served in various denominational roles, including vice president for Cooperative Program for the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Every person is savable.
This is the central claim of the first article in the Traditional Statement entitled “The Gospel.” I have been a gospel preacher for forty-five years. From my youth, shortly after my commitment to follow Christ, I have pursued the calling to proclaim to all people that God has made a way for them to find forgiveness by sending His only Son, Jesus of Nazareth, to die for their sins. This wonderful, astounding message is the gospel which literally means “good news.” There was never any lack of clarity in those who taught me or any doubt in my mind that the message was intended for everyone. This meant more than that it should be preached to everyone. It also meant that everyone—any morally responsible person who heard it—could respond to and receive the saving provision the gospel announces.
I assert that this traditional understanding of Southern Baptists about the salvation of sinners includes this proposition: God meant for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be good news for everyone; God meant for it to be bad news for no one.
by Eric Hankins, PhD
Pastor, FBC, Oxford, Miss.
Dr. Hankins is the primary author of
“A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist
Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.”
The Southern Baptist Convention was formed in 1845 and is comprised of forty-five thousand churches, sixteen million members, ten thousand home and international missionaries, and six large seminaries with ten thousand students preparing for ministry. Last year, over six hundred thousand people were baptized in Southern Baptists churches and ministries in the United States and around the world. The SBC has survived and thrived in a kaleidoscopic and increasingly secular American culture. While mainline denominations are collapsing under the weight of modernism’s flight from biblical authority, Southern Baptists’ unique identity, polity, and theology have seen us through difficult days in unparalleled fashion. All of these reasons and more provide a sufficient warrant for the articulation of a theological perspective that is uniquely our own. Not a Baptist theology, for we do not speak for all Baptists, but a Southern Baptist theology. This needs to be done not for the purposes of separating ourselves from others or demonstrating our superiority. Rather, it is right for us to codify and contribute to the wider Christian world what we understand to be the basis for the sustained cooperative kingdom reach that is unique to us. Moreover, because the SBC is being challenged by the threats of fragmentation and decline, it is needful to understand clearly what it is about our identity that should be maintained as we seek to make our message meaningful in an ever-changing world. Finally, because no theological paradigm is perfect or eternal, ours needs to be publicly articulated so that it may be evaluated, improved, and retooled for future generations.
The Current SBC Calvinism Debate:
Observations, Clarifications, and Suggestions*
by David L. Allen
Dean of the School of Theology
Professor of Preaching
George W. Truett Chair of Ministry at
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
The release of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s
Plan of Salvation” in the summer of 2012 engendered a Convention-wide discussion and
made nation-wide news. Tongues wagged and fingers pecked computer keyboards ceaselessly in
subsequent weeks. The Traditional Statement (TS) has received both acclaim and criticism. In
reflecting on the tsunami of words, and as a conversation partner along with my fellow brothers
and sisters in Christ, I have asked the Lord to help me be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove.
I hope the following thoughts will be helpful as we continue the conversation in the days ahead.
By way of brief personal background, I served in the local church for twenty-six years; twenty-one
of those years as a senior pastor of two churches. I have served two theological institutions
in the classroom since 1985. In addition, I served on the Board of Trustees at one of our SBC
Seminaries for 12 years. In my current role, I preach regularly in Southern Baptist churches.