The former President of the Southern Baptist Convention, Bobby Welch, was quoted in this month's Southern Baptist Life as saying his greatest surprise at the Southern Baptist Convention was "that several Southern Baptist pastors actually came to a microphone and publicly promoted the drinking of alcoholic beverages and wanted the SBC to do the same! Actually, I never thought I would see that take place, and it is not only a surprise but an outrage! My father was addicted to alcohol, which contributed to his early death. He advised me that if I would never take the first drink I would never end up like he did. I did not, and he was correct!"
Bobby must have been having a sidebar conversation with Parliamentarian Barry McCarty during the resolutions debate because I sat through all the microphone speeches by the pastors who were against the alcohol resolution and did not hear what Dr. Welch alleges was said. In addition, Bobby adds this . . .
"I understand one pastor's blog site indicates he believes his drinking assists him in soul-winning! What a pathetic joke! These blogging Baptist pastors just blew their collective cork!"
I can only assume Bobby is referring to my blog entry entitled Conversion to Christ Over a Glass of Wine. I can also only assume Dr. Welch has never read this post, because I find it hard to believe that he would have read it and intentionally misrepresented what was said.
The SBC LIFE article brings clearly into focus five things:
(1). Southern Baptists need to start talking to each other instead of at each other --- we would really move far along in our work and our ministry if we showed a better Christian spirit than what we seem to be willing to display.
(2). Southern Baptist leaders of the past need to realize that if the battle for the Bible was really as critical as they said it was, then everyone in the current SBC better get used to Southern Baptist pastors who actually believe and teach what the Bible says. In other words, you can't fight for the inerrancy of Scripture unless you are willing to hold to the sufficiency of Scripture. The Bible is authoritative when it speaks to Christian faith and practice. Your traditions are fine, but if you can't support them from Scripture then you better not get angry with those in your convention who don't hold to your traditions --- you taught us to believe the Bible.
(3). The old fable "The Emperor's New Clothes" teaches the moral principle that the common man is afraid to say things contrary to established authority, and sometimes it takes someone, like a child, who is unimpressed with the power of the king in order to reveal the truth. There is a generation of men and women in the Southern Baptist Convention who are not necessarily children, but they are not impressed by denominational positions and authority. They are also not afraid to call a spade a spade. In the end our convention will be better when we realize that the blowing of horns, slogans and banners are no substitute for the Spirit, the Word and living life to its fullest in the power of Christ --- without pretense.
(4). The Southern Baptist Convention is changing. It is changing for the better. We are beginning to realize that the kingdom of God is much bigger than our denominational kingdom. Southern Baptists are becoming known for what we are for, more than what we are against. The Southern Baptist Convention is poised to become a true gospel denomination.
(5). We are going to have to learn to love each other when we possess different interpretations of the sacred text. I don't care if you agree with me on eschatology (premillenialism or amillenialism), ecclesiology (closed communion or open communion) or even soteriology (arminianism or calvinism), but when you tell me I must agree with you before I can serve with you then we are in big trouble as a convention. I think we are beginning to learn that lesson.
In His Grace,