I, Tim Rogers, would like to begin this post by saying that if my words and disagreements with others had anything to do with contributing in the attacks toward Dr. Yarnell, I am sorry. I also would like to acknowledge my sorrow concerning my statements describing Dr. Tom Ascoll as uncooperative. Where I wrote that Dr. Ascoll was asked to affirm the SBTC resolution, he affirmed my words, but his decision not to affirm the resolution does not mean he is being uncooperative.
Dr. Malcolm Yarnell has called us back to the true heart of the resolution. I will say that we must remember that the SBC has a process in place once the resolutions are released. That process is known as the Resolution Committee. They can view the resolutions and make one of three decisions. 1.) They can choose between the two resolutions and send one to the floor. 2.) They can take both resolutions and combine them and then send them to the floor. 3.) They can refuse to allow any resolution out of committee concerning this subject. I, and I think Dr. Yarnell would affirm, agree that if either resolution or a combination of these resolutions come out of committee it will probably receive my vote.
Dr. Yarnell, your words before us today certainly brings us back to the heart of the matter.
My heart is broken for us and our people. Even our leaders cannot come together and promote a revival without cross-accusations, etc. We need not say more about it, need we? Call me a mystic, but I see no way for us as Southern Baptists but broken prayer. After reading various comments from Southern Baptist friends of all persuasions at SBC Today, it became apparent that we have reached a crisis.
We live in a world corrupted by evil and filled with evil people, including ourselves. It is by grace that those of us who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord have been born again. And, it is by grace that we can even try to live sanctified lives. And, it is by grace that our salvation will be brought to a successful conclusion by God.
The issue before us, ultimately, is not whether Tom’s resolution is superior or whether the SBTC resolution is superior, nor is it about how the events transpired in both resolutions coming to be. The issue, ultimately, is about whether our churches will truly resolve together to recover Regenerate Church Membership. This is our hope and is the reason that ties Bart and I so closely together, and what makes our hearts believe in what Tom is doing. Our hope is that all Baptists will keep our eyes on Christ’s will for us and our churches, as our forefathers did, when they were at their best.
My friends, we are all sinners and subject to divine wrath, an eternity in hell – that is the bad news. The Father, however, sent his only begotten Son to atone for our sins on a cross, and he offers salvation to us freely through faith – now that is good news. What all of us are arguing is that the Gospel is free, but that it has implications for our lives.
Those who have been born again (i.e. regenerated) must live as born again people. This includes both our individual lives as Christians and our corporate lives as churches. What we all detect is that we have perhaps been striving to do so as individuals, but we have not been so successful as churches. This is where the rubber hits the road. The resolution is intended to serve as a summons for us to change our ways and seek to implement the Gospel in our corporate lives just as we seek to implement it in our personal lives.
I pray that this will not get lost in all of the supposition about who said what when and where, and what were their motivations. I cannot speak to the motivations of others, and, like Paul, I cannot even judge myself adequately in this regard. What I do know is that my heart has a burning passion to glorify my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the churches that led me to him are not always evidencing that passion. This breaks my heart. This makes me weep. This is why we want our convention to pass a resolution on Regenerate Church Membership, and then begin living it out.
Although I love being a Baptist, it is not really about being a Baptist. Although I am a non-Calvinist by conviction, it is not really about being a non-Calvinist. What it is about is Jesus. He is my Savior and has forgiven this worm for all of his sin. And He is my Lord and calls me to a full life in him.
When I look around, I see imperfect people who have been saved by grace through faith. I see people whom I respect highly because God works so magnificently through them upon me as they mine and speak God’s Word. And I see people whom I have difficulty with because it is obvious that they are resisting and not implementing what God has for us. What is really disconcerting is that the people I respect and the people with whom I have difficulty are the exact same people, and that includes me.
Today we have the privilege of sharing with you an essay written by Shannon Johnson concerning the differing views of evangelism between classical theology and the emergent conversation. She is a student at the University of Tennessee and daughter of Chris Johnson – Chris is pastor of Grace Church at Hermitage and has been a guest contributor and frequent commenter.
In her essay, Miss Johnson contrasts the views of evangelism held by Classical Theology and the Emergent Conversation by writing,
On the surface, the churches seem to agree on what they believe to be fundamental doctrine. However, when further studied, there are major differences between the two. The funny fact is that you might not see the major divisions by listening to their sermons or by reading what each church believes off of their church sites, but you can find the major divisions by listening to their individual interpretations of various parts of Christianity through interviews. I thought that this was kind of odd. I would have thought that the differences would have been much more near the surface. Through studying, I found that there is a way to decipher the truth, and to my surprise, I found the truth to be very interesting and disturbing all at the same time.
She further delineates her argument by writing
The primary reason for the division of the beliefs between the two churches is due to their interpretation of why Jesus came to earth. Classical Evangels believe that Jesus came to earth to save sinners, to provide atonement, and to fulfill prophecy…However, the Emergent Church believes that the reason for Jesus coming to Earth is not contingent on providing a way for people to understand salvation and the path to Heaven; rather, it is contingent on changing people’s view of life from conversions to conversations in the community.
You may link to Miss Johnson’s complete essay here. Enjoy!
The Money Facts
…and so we continue. When one deals with the structure of the flow of money one cannot get away from the two hot topics that we mentioned in the previous section.
What percentage should a church give to the CP?
What percentage should the state conventions keep?
A church is referred to in scripture as the storehouse. It is the place that the tithes and offerings are to be brought. No where can we find the Bible advocating that the church tithe. We Southern Baptists through the years have tried to make that connection and to some degree sold the idea to those who are considered Senior Adults today. I challenge the worth of that approach and I also challenge the idea that it will make a big difference in total money.
While showering early this morning before coming to work I realized something major. I was the unofficial chaperone on the trip to Sunnyvale, Texas to see and hear my first ever Missionary Appointment Service. I was the elder in the van. The van should have made me feel younger since it rattled as much as the yellow bird that took me to school a few years ago. I sat on the back seat again, defying anyone who thought I could not crawl over the wheel hump and through the narrow space to get there. Actually, there was room for three of us to have seats to ourselves and I knew it would be good to stretch out on the way home. Stretching out was good but the van noise and lack of insulation in the flooring and asphalt on the highway did not allow any real sleep. Pastor’s children were spending the night with substitute grandparents so I hollered out, “Are we there yet?” frequently so he and his wife would not miss them too much.
Sunnyvale First Baptist is a very beautiful church. It has everything you would need to make a bunch of Southern Baptists happy; plenty of clean restrooms, comfortable seating, visual aids and because of its arrangement, there were lots of back row seats. A friend of our pastor saved us seats on row nine in the center aisle (that never has happened to me at a Paul McCartney concert). There was a huge choir loft hanging above the lower band level. Flags of the nations where we have missionaries were hung or stood all around the pulpit area. Just pondering that was an awesome thing.
The Money Trail
Anyone who has been around Baptists long enough knows that Baptists get real funny when one discusses money. Let a preacher start off a sermon with money and the pews or chairs start rocking. This is also true when one discusses the Cooperative Program and the giving plan of the SBC. A quick read of several discussions in the blog world also reveals that current giving levels are being spun in multiple directions to prove a point of one’s perspective.
* The percentage of money given by a church is noted as being lower now than in years past. The emphasis of this point usually goes with the discussion that “reform” is needed and the money shows the need.
This point however leaves out a clear point. It is one sided. It is not the whole picture.
* The total amount of money given to the CP is higher and at record levels.
Realize that more money is being given than ever before. Thus, there are two points that are separate in the information they provide. They are two points that should not be spun nor do they reveal a motive for political banner waving.
Here are my thoughts on these two points:
* I thank God for what He has provided.
* I am not concerned about the percentage given.
* I am more concerned about other issues in the money trail.
What issues? How about the amount that the state conventions are keeping? I like the approach that the Southern Baptist of Texas have taken. They send more on to the SBC – thus missions. I have never liked telling our people that we are supporting missions when we know that just 40% gets out of the state and then a percentage of that is all that gets to the mission field. This is the issue that troubles me the most. It is the issue that we as Southern Baptist need to evaluate as we deal with the next topic – Our Structure. These two go together and cannot be separated.
There is a real fact that we as Pastors need to address. Looking to the future, it will get more difficult to sell the CP to our people with the current approach and breakdown. In fact, I am hearing in my church and many others as I travel that it is not just the young crowd concerned about this, the older generation was not fully aware of the breakdown and they too are not happy with it. The fact is that the bulk of the money in the SBC is tied up in our state conventions. And when we look at the effectiveness of our state conventions, we must ask if this is good stewardship?
The month of March showed me a strange development in the money issue. I received 5 requests for “special offerings” while we were receiving Annie Armstrong. Now I will admit that I did not dwell on those requests for long. In fact, I enjoyed the throwing of such in the special file. But I did realize that we have lost our way in the money factor of the SBC. Surely there is some tweaking that can be done in this area.
To Be Continued…