"The Baptist Faith and Message is neither a creed, nor a complete statement of our faith, nor final and infallible; nevertheless, we further acknowledge that it is the only consensus statement of doctrinal beliefs approved by the Southern Baptist Convention and such is sufficient in its current form to guide trustees in their establishment of policies and practices of entities of the Convention."
His excellent motion should be debated sometime this evening, and if passed, will be an authoritative action of our convention that should be applied to each of our SBC entities.
My motion on preventing sexual abuse by ministers in the SBC was read into the record, as well as a motion from Les Puryear asking every entity to record the names and votes of trustees on each and every action taken by our SBC entities during the course of their business sessions. I am in favor of Les's recommendation, believing that trustees ought to be accountable to the convention as a whole.
Morris Chapman's Address
All I can say is -- get the tape.
I believe his message this morning will go down in SBC history as the greatest Executive Director address given to an assembly of convention messengers. I am serious when I say I have never been more proud of any leader in the SBC than I am of Morris Chapman today.
He led us this morning with courage, conviction and vision.
Dr. Frank Page's Leadership
The convention so far has been well run, with a great deal of leadership exhibited from the platform in our President, Dr. Frank Page. His annual message this morning was also a wonderful exhortation on Southern Baptists being a people of love and truth. One quality without the other leads to dysfunction - either legalism or liberalism.
I believe our convention will conduct business in a godly fashion because of Frank's leadership.
Other Morning Observations
The Southern Baptist Texan 'Special Edition' was being passed out by people outside the convention hall. The Texan is the newspaper of the Southern Baptist Convention of Texas, and I find it striking that the headlines of the articles seem to say the very opposite of what both the President and Executive Director have said in their addresses this morning.
One particular article in 'The Texan' caught my attention. It was written by 'journalist' and 'editor' of the Florida Baptist Witness, Jim Smith, but it was nowhere near the standards of reporting of professional journalism. It was not highlighted as a guest editorial, but presented as a news article. Several items in the article are misleading, but I would like to close out this morning's review of business at the SBC with just a couple of quotes from the pen of Jim Smith:
Critics of the baptism and tongues/private prayer language guidelines have insisted that it's wrong for the International Mission Board to establish doctrinal qualifications that are not explicitly addressed in Southern Baptist Covnention's confessional statement, the Baptist Faith and Message. But these critics - and I have interviewed the leading ones - have no answer for their own inconsistent application of this criticism. Although they claim that it is wrong to stipulate a doctrinal position on the matteer of private prayer langauge since the BF&M is silent on this matter, they have all told me that it's appropriate for the IMB to decline missionary candidates who bleieve in and practice public tongues. And yet, the BFM is also silent on that matter - as it is on many doctrinal issues raised by charismatic theology.
I hesitate to say Mr. Smith is intentionally misleading anyone, but the above statement is easily contradicted. I have given answers over and over again about Jim's alleged 'apparant inconsistencies.' Maybe he just chooses not to hear them.
Speaking publicly in tongues should be restricted only to the extent the Bible restricts it and no further -- and the Bible does restrict it severely, including statements that God's people should desire to speak publicly five words in a known language than ten thousand in an unknown tongue. Also, it is always to be done decently and in order, and with interpretation.
BUT THE MORE IMPORTANT ISSUE IS THIS: 'Why did this conflict arise? We are in this confict NOT BECAUSE anyone wanted to 'remove' an old policy --but because someone, somewhere decided to implement a brand new policy that is far more restrictive than the old policy.'
Jim is arguing for narrowing the BFM post de facto by new agency policies and guidelines by saying -- "Look, there are other things that are already guidelines -- what can't we go further? If you oppose our narrow interpretations we wish to add you are inconsistent."
That makes no sense. You are arguing for doing something we believe to be wrong (narrowing the parameters of cooperating in missions and evangelism ministry by demanding conformity and acceptance on the interpretation of tertiary doctrines) by saying, "We've done it in the past, and we will continue to do it in the future!"
I've got a sneaking suspicion the narrowing will be stopped by this convention.
In His Grace,