I am an inerrantist.
I believe the Bible to be the authoritative, sufficient, and infallible Word of God. It is without error and unable to deceive.
I am a Southern Baptist in heritage and by personal choice.
I believe in the fundamentals of the faith (the deity of Christ, substitutionary atonement, salvation by grace through faith, the final judgment, etc . . . ).
I love the Southern Baptist Convention.
I have been a two term President of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, a two term Chairman of the Denominational Calendar Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, a member of the Nominating Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, and currently serve as a trustee of the International Mission Board.
But more than just loving the SBC, I love the people of the SBC. I love Dr. Paige Patterson. I love Judge Paul Pressler. I love Dr. Jerry Rankin. I love Dr. Morris Chapman. I love Dr. Al Mohler. I love these men and the Christ who has made them all my brothers.
I also love the men and women of the Southern Baptist Convention that are not in the limelight.
I love the Southern Baptist waitress I met last week in Spartanburg who is the President of her local WMU. I love the Southern Baptist taxi cab driver I met in Tampa Bay, a man who patiently listened to me share the gospel, and when I asked why he didn't tell me he was a Southern Baptist deacon at his local church before I shared the gospel with him he just grinned and said he enjoyed hearing 'the good news' as often as possible.
I love our missionaries. I will do anything to help them. I love my family members who served decades in Santiago, Chile with the IMB and my family members who currently serve in Hong Kong with the IMB. I love missionaries live David Rogers, Ron West, and others who unashamedly, and with erudite passion, help us think critically about the way we do missions. I love the security three zone missionary who joined our church by proxy this past Sunday, making it nearly a dozen IMB units that are affiliated with our church in some form or fashion.
I love our SBC leadership. I have enjoyed getting to know Bobby Welch and Frank Page. They both bring different gifts to the table and each was the man God anointed for the particular hour. I particularly love Frank's openness, honesty, graciousness, and vision.
I'm excited about the future of our SBC. I am optimistic by nature, but my optimism about the SBC is more than just inherent in me. If God is good, and He is, and if He has promised to build His church, and He has, I can't help but get excited when Southern Baptist get serious about the gospel --- really serious.
I have tried in the last year to draw attention to what I believe to be a problem within the SBC that has escaped the attention of most. I believe that we have begun to narrow the parameters of cooperation within the SBC to exclude good, conservative evangelical Southern Baptists because they disagree on third tier doctrines that, at least historically, Southern Baptists have refused to divide over. As a result, we are losing sight of the main thing (the gospel) and fracturing over lesser doctrines.
The interesting thing is I probably agree with the majority of Southern Baptists on their interpretation regarding these lesser doctrines, but I am increasingly concerned that we are excluding the minority of Southern Baptists from the joy of participating in service for the cause of Christ through the Southern Baptist Convention.
Now here is my two-fold question:
Why are some in the Southern Baptist Convention so angry toward me? And, why is it that a very vocal few now insist on calling me a liberal?
Early last year I told my wife and my father that I would covenant with them not to become angry or bitter, or seek to retaliate against those who sought to ruin my ministry or career by character assassination, theological labeling, or outright slander. For nearly eight months, I have kept my vow.
I sure want to continue keeping it. It might help me if someone out there could give me an idea on why there is such a reaction against one small effort to stop the narrowing of the parameters of cooperation in the SBC. I need some wisdom on why it is that some Christians treat their brothers so poorly.
In His Grace,