We need a Great Commission Resurgence no doubt. The $250,000.00 question seems to scream; What do we need to do in order to see this resurgence become a reality?
We have had a Great Commission Resurgence Task Force chosen and meeting together since last August. They have presented a progress report and have now issued a statement concerning the report. I believe the quote that should raise everyone's eyebrows is;
Additionally, our final report and recommendations are a commitment towards a future vision. While a future vision will contain matters that are occurring presently, there is no need for a future vision if all we do is replicate our present.
It seems that the report was merely a shot across the SBC Zion bow in order to see how much turn the convention could take. It seems that the convention has seen a response that the GCR Task Force did not anticipate. Thus, the purpose behind the issuing of a statement that the report was not a final word.
We have seen an unprecedented move by a task force to present items to the convention concerning changes at entities without even consulting the entities that were being recommended for change. Of course some have asked about seminaries and with two seminary presidents sitting on the task force, it would have been very difficult to merge seminaries. Though there is rumor that was something discussed. There seems to be a burning question as to the purpose of NAMB being the only entity that is recommended for change. Does one believe that the IMB is operating at is best potential? As we move forward we see another unprecedented action has emerged.
Never have I seen presidents of entities openly and publicly shooting at each other. Certainly we had the President of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary place a charge against the President of the International Mission Board. However, two things I need to remind our readers. First, Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary is not a Southern Baptist Seminary. While the Thomas Road Baptist Church is part of the Southern Baptist Convention, the seminary is not supported and funded by the SBC Cooperative Program. Second, Dr. Caner issued both a public and private apology to Dr. Rankin concerning his comments.
The situation we now find ourselves is an open squabble between the President of the IMB and the President of the Executive Committee. We have seen differences between entity Presidents before. As recently as 2003 we witnessed Dr. Chuck Kelley and Dr. Morris Chapman disagree over sole membership. However, neither of the good Drs. publicly issued an appeal to the SBC constituency that the other was being dishonest in their reporting. And neither of the two ever questioned the others commitment to winning the lost. But, we have that now.
Dr. Rankin has charged Dr. Chapman with being more concerned about cooperation than he is with the Great Commission. This is like saying that Dr. Chapman will accept any and everything as long as we cooperate. Of course this charge comes after Dr. Rankin publicly charged that leaders were living in denial and then calls into question the 45,000 churches with the 16 million members. The churches that support the IMB, the lions share of the CP, as being disengenious in their reporting. This comes from the head of the IMB, an entity that reported 500,000 baptisms, without any direct correspondence with Missionaries that planted these churches. But, I digress.
What we have seen now is a response from Dr. Chapman, he said; ""I am saddened that Jerry so blatantly misrepresented my comments." Dr. Chapman calls it a 'blatant misrepresentation'. That brings to mind a question. What exactly is Dr. Chapman accusing Dr. Rankin of? I do not know, but Dr. Chapman goes on in his statement to summarize his comments with the following:
It grieves me that Jerry used this open forum to question my allegiance to my Lord and the mandate He has given me, to us as Southern Baptists, and to all who call on His Name. I pray he will retract his unjustified remarks. They do not befit a man of his position and stature.
It seems we are living in a time that we need to be united going into this years convention and vote. We saw last year's convention produce a 95% vote to form the GCRTF. They have issued a report, that could be changed completely by May 3, 2010. However, we have been told that when that report is presented it will be the final report. For us to be united we need our leaders united. It seems that if the council of presidents have this type of bickering going on between them publicly then there will be no Great Commission Resurgence. One cannot call into question the motives of another, especially in public and expect the SBC constituency to be united.
I have a suggestion. If our leaders do not resolve their differences by the time the convention begins in June, then I suggest a recommendation for the very first order of business. I recommend that we authorize the Teller Committee to locate a room and direct the Committee on the Order of Business to corral the Council of Presidents into the located room. I further recommend that these two committees be authorized to guard the doors and not allow anyone to leave that room until everyone in that room can work out their differences to the point that each one passes a polygraph that each would entrust their child's spiritual development to anyone in that room. No one would leave until all could pass such a test.
If the Southern Baptist Convention ever sees a Great Commission Resurgence, then the leaders are going to have to sit down and work through their differences. People follow the leadership of those God has entrusted to those positions. Leaders, we need you to lead!
Dr. Rankin has issued a public statement regarding this issue. Praise God that he has seen his need in doing this. He is as firmly committed to his position as before, but he no longer calls Dr. Chapman's personal motives into question.