Charles Kettering said, “A problem well-stated is half-solved.” Now that Southern Baptists are talking about the proverbial elephant in the room, it seems helpful to define that elephant as clearly as possible. Thus, I write this article not to foster division among us, but to more clearly define that division which already exists. The tension between Calvinism and Traditionalism in Southern Baptist life will never make sense to anyone who views this struggle merely as a dispute over minor doctrinal concerns. Rather, our present fault lines stem from three specific components: a theological debate, an institutional struggle and an intrinsically adversarial agenda. Unless we look at this elephant from all three sides, we will fail to comprehend the scope of our conflict resolution challenge.
By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort
Looking Beyond the Bucket List
Ecclesiastes (Selected Scriptures)
“What do you want to do before you die?” Someone posed this question on The Today Show (03/26/12) followed by a segment on a group of men who were checking off things on their bucket list. After viewing this segment, it occurred to me that the movie became a movement. The phrase “kick the bucket” means to die. Therefore, the bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you die. Dr. Ray Pritchard notes, “John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, used to say about his people, ‘Our people die well.’” [I wonder if he could say that today about Christians in general.] Dr. Pritchard observes, “In earlier generations Christians talked about death a lot more than we do now. The Puritans actually wrote books to help one another learn how to die well. Dying well was considered to be a Christian virtue.”
Peggy Noonan states, “Our ancestors believed in two worlds, and understood this to be the solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short one. We are the first generation of man that actually expected to find happiness here on earth and our search for it has caused such unhappiness.” If Solomon could read Peggy’s statement he would likely say, “Tell me about it.” Remember, Solomon wrote a book about this very thing called Ecclesiastes. In it, he reveals the findings of his grand experiment.
The editors of SBC Today would like to take this opportunity thank all of those who have supported “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” with their signatures. Your willingness to publicly affirm the Statement in this way greatly assisted in communicating to the SBC that there is a soteriological point-of-view that needs to be heard and engaged, and this is exactly what has happened. A robust discussion of these matters has ensued, culminating in Dr. Frank Page’s commitment to create a special committee to study these issues and bring back a report to the Convention.
As the time of the Memphis Convention (1929) drew near, Dr. Truett was greatly troubled. He knew that above all else it was important that his people be summoned to earnest prayer and to renewed spiritual emphasis. The following prayer of his for the approaching Memphis Convention was printed by the magazine, Home and Foreign Fields, some days before the Convention.
Grant, O God, the consciousness of thine overshadowing power and presence as we meet to seek thy will and to do thy will. Without thee we can do nothing. Except thou be with us all our plans and deliberations will be in vain. With thy help we can do all things.
Help us to gather in such spirit, Our Christ, that thou canst honor thy promise to be in our midst. May all that we say and do be so truly in thy name that thou wilt give to us whatsoever we ask. Take from us all selfishness, all littleness, all pettiness, all self-seeking, all querulousness, all suspicion, all narrowness, all prejudice, all timidity, all faithlessness, all guile. Enable us to come with holy boldness to do business with and for thee, that thy Kingdom may come and thy will be done among men.
Come to our side, O Holy Spirit, to do thine office work –– to comfort us in our distresses, to guide us into the truth, teach us how to pray, to reveal Christ more perfectly to us and in us, to intercede for us with unutterable yearning before the Father’s presence. We know that thou art more willing to give us thine enduement than we are to receive it, and we pray that thou wilt so brood over us during these momentous days that our hearts will open to thee as the flowers to the summer sun.
May we put first things first. May we abide in the shadow of the cross. May the sigh and sob, the heartache and heart-break, of a lost world come to our ears with more insistence than the hum of machinery and the clink of money. May no program devised by men take precedence over the purpose proposed by Christ. May no jangling discords of needless debates drown out the quiet voice of the Master as he says to us afresh, “All authority hath been given unto me. . . . Go ye therefore and make disciples.”
Help us to walk worthily of our Christian calling, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love, giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Make us to realize that we are the light of the world, the salt of the earth, ambassadors of Christ, living epistles known and read of all men. God grant that our light shall not be darkness, that our salt shall not lose its savor, that we shall not be found false witnesses of thee!
Let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O Jehovah, our Rock and our Redeemer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Today’s post continues a series of articles concerning the ministry of deacons in the local church. To see the earlier articles in this series by Dr. McKeever, click on the following links to access Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
What should deacons do?
If Acts 6:1-7 is to be our example and guide, the work of deacons may be defined as: whatever the congregation decides it needs, as prompted by the leadership, as chosen by the congregation, as solves the situation, and as will enhance the proclamation of the gospel.
We would appreciate additional scriptural examples defining deacons’ activity in the early church; but without such we must follow the few principles we do have, and the leading of the Holy Spirit as best we can perceive it.