"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

A Horrible Proposed Constitutional Amendment to the Georgia Baptist Convention's Governing Documents


Michael Ruffin, Pastor of Fitsgerald, Georgia, and owner of the blog On the Jericho Road, recently brought my attention to a constitutional amendment being brought before Georgia Baptists for vote during November's Georgia Baptist Convention (GBC) at First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Georgia. The proposed amendment (bold) reads as follows:

Article II. Membership.

Section 1. This body shall be composed of messengers from cooperating Baptist Churches. A cooperating church is one that gives evidence of its belief in Holy Scripture as its authority in matters of faith and practice and is in harmony and cooperation with the work and purpose of this Convention. A cooperating church does not include a church which knowingly takes, or has taken, any action to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior.

Pastor Ruffin wrote a letter to the Georgia Baptist Convention expressing his concerns over the proposed amendment. Pastor Ruffin asks ten questions.

(1). What is the nature of the "evidence" that is going to be required?

(2). Will it be good enough for a church to say, "Why yes, we believe in Holy Scripture as our authority in matters of faith and practice"?

(3). Will each local Georgia Baptist church that desires to continue as a cooperating GBC church be required by the GBC to adopt a confessional statement that affirms its commitment to biblical authority?

(4). If such an adoption is to be required, will a church be expected or allowed to compose its own statement or will it be permitted--or maybe even required--to adopt the Baptist Faith & Message Statement (rev. 2000) article on Scripture--or perhaps the entire statement--in order to be seen as providing sufficient "evidence"?

(5). If the forced adoption of a confession is not to be required, then who is going to determine what constitutes "evidence" of a local Georgia Baptist church's "belief in Holy Scripture as its authority in matters of faith and practice"?

(6). Is the GBC going to set up an "evidence of belief in Scripture" watchdog committee that will examine each GBC church?

(7). Perhaps the intention is only to deal with churches that present the GBC with some kind of "problem" in the kind of "evidence" it presents in its "faith and practice." The problem still remains--who is going to be "Big Brother"; who is going to decide which churches are and are not "in cooperation" with the GBC under the terms of this proposed amendment?

(8). If each local GBC church is not going to be required to adopt an acceptable statement regarding its fidelity to Scripture as its way of providing "evidence," then what are the standards going to be by which the adequacy of a church's "evidence" is evaluated?

(9). Is the GBC going to investigate each local church's "faith and practice" to see if it offers "evidence of its belief in Holy Scripture as its authority"?

(10). Will the Christian Index publish a list of standards to which each church must live up if it is to be welcomed as a "cooperating" church?

Pastor Ruffin has done all Baptists a service with his letter. Let's hope the powers that be in Georgia publish the letter and answer his questions for all to read.

We are all in trouble when those in denominational office and those few who hold convention power are handed the authority to determine who is--and who isn't--a true and faithful Southern Baptist.

All men have an inherent temptation to demand everyone else look like them.

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

91 comments:

Blake said...

I thought you said after the annual meeting that you weren't going to write on denominational politics for a year. I actually like it when you write on that stuff because your blog is one of the few that breaks the hard stories in the convention that I wouldn't find out unless I lived in that state. Nonetheless, my aim in asking is not to say it isn't appreciated but to make sure you're not going back on your word. So what's the deal? Do you think this isn't political?

Chris Ryan said...

In other words, are they going to use this statement to say, "You have a woman preacher so you obviously don't use the Bible as the basis for faith and practice and we are kicking you out of the convention."?

But Pastor Ruffin's questions are right on. Either the adoption of this amendment is completely meaningless (they say it, but have no means of enforcing it or verifying that churches believe it), arbitrary (they'll try to enforce it, but what "belief in the Bible" looks like will be determined by a set of paramaters the validity of which can most likely be questioned and which leave out many other just as important concerns), or creedal (it's a method to go on the attack against any church that does not conform to a pre-determined dogma of scriptural interpretations).

RRR said...

Sounds like Pharisees to me.

I think the “evidence of belief” would be that if a church does not baptize at least 50 new believers in Christ each year it would not be a cooperating church. No, if a church has any members in the congregation that have had an abortion in the past year it will be disqualified. No, if a church has any divorced people in its membership it is not in harmony and cooperation with the work and purpose of the Convention. No! I got it! If a church has any Calvinists in its membership it will be disqualified!!! Yeah!

Which also brings to mind the last sentence in the amendment. We know that homosexual behavior is a terrible sin. We know that anyone practicing this sinful lifestyle should not be considered for any leadership position in a church and if they are members and practicing this sinful lifestyle they should receive church discipline.

But neither should someone living in a sexual relationship outside of marriage be considered acceptable by the church. Why not mention that? What about pedophilias? What about church members who are spouse abusers? What about drunks?

To begin singling out particular sinful lifestyles as disqualifiers in a Convention’s Constitution is to begin a process of having a hierarchy of sin not based upon Scripture but based upon the opinions and sensibilities of mankind and its current culture.

To single out particular sinful lifestyles also places a stigma upon the sinner that conveys that their sin is unforgivable and the most detestable of all sin in God’s eyes and the eyes of God’s church.

Actually, I believe that THE most detestable sin in the eyes of God is PRIDE. Now, I might be able to live with that being stated as a disqualifier.

But, hey, that's just me.

Jeff said...

I suppose you get to define what pride is---perhaps a look in the mirror would help.

There is a huge log in your own eye.

Tom Parker said...

Jeff:

You are not being nice this morning. Do you agree with the proposed ammendment?

Joe White... said...

Wade,

What keeps these questions from being asked and these actions from being taken now? It seems to me that if "those in denominational office and those few who hold convention power" wished to do what you and Pastor Ruffin suggest; they could do so now under the existing clause which states... "A cooperating church is one that is in harmony and cooperation with the work and purpose of this Convention."

What exactly does it mean to be in "harmony" with the work and purpose of the Convention?

Could it be that the proposed addition... "gives evidence of its belief in Holy Scripture as its authority in matters of faith and practice"... actually serves to clarify the existing "harmony" phrase?

Nah, I am sure you and Pastor Ruffin are right... it must be part of some grand conspiracy. (:

Kevin M. Crowder said...

I personally believe that EVERY Southern Baptist Church should show evidence that the Bible is their basis for faith and practice. In fact from time to time we all need to be reminded of this. But using the Bible in preaching and teaching is the only external way to actually monitor this. As well it should be. I think I would simply take this proposal at face value and vote in the affirmative, as at face value it does not sound bad. But if when in the future the henchmen came-a-ridin', ignore them I would, and if persistent they be, give them evidence-a-plenty; for sure!

State Conventions are about as archaic as the KJV: Respect them, but keep them in a box on the shelf.

Chris Ryan said...

But, Kevin,

What do you do when they say, "If you really believed the Bible then you would know that drinking is always a sin. Therefore you don't believe the Bible. Therefore, goodbye."? You can give them evidence a-plenty, but as MO Baptists, you and I both know that there are some groups (ex. Project 1000) that have a very narrow range of concerns that determine if you are "truly Bible believing" whether or not those issues are central to scripture or differing interpretations can still explain the facts (or better explain the facts).

I agree that all SBC churches should have as their foundation Christ as He is revealed through scriptures. But the devil is in the details with a proposal like this. There are a great many things adopted in the MBC meetings on the "good-faith" of messengers who accept the proposal at face value. The politicos then abuse that trust.

Jeff said...

Tom, This is my last post to you because you never answer my questions. You rewrite the dialogue.

I am going to answer this question but I know you will dodge the real issue.

-1) RRR is busy pointing out the faults of others, and my question to him is what about you? It was a gentle warning.

-2) Kevin once again is allow to write things that are questionable.

-3) Wade has broke his own pledge not to get involved in politics.

-4) I am for accountable cooperation.

-5) Please don't waste your time responding to me if you will not answer the questions I asked on the last post Wade made.

The question was Where did I call you a hard head in that post?

Tom Parker said...

Joe:

Why even have this ammendment?

Tom Parker said...

Jeff:

I have figured it out. You are just funnin me. It's just a game to you and you see I'm not going to play. OK you are a funny guy.

happy gram said...

kudos, rrr.

Lydia said...

What exactly are the benefits of being a 'cooperating church' in the Convention?

It is much easier to support missionaries outside the IMB now with much more efficient groups such as Heart Cry. The teaching materials from Lifeway are shallow. We even have SBC churches taking Baptist our of their name.

So, what are the benefits?

Kevin M. Crowder said...

Kudos, Lydia!

I have the exact same questions.

Jeff said...

Heartcry with Paul Washer?

Jeff said...

Benefits?

-1) This week I called several state convention workers needing wisdom. Wade only calls to me when he doesn't like the truth.

-2) When I was in a difficult time in my life, I received free counseling.

Those are two.

Wade Burleson said...

Blake,

"I will, of course, reserve the right to write on theological issues"

This issue is a theological one that others have made political by inserting it into a constitution.

Blessings,

wade

Wade Burleson said...

Chris Ryan,

You have nailed it.

Wade Burleson said...

Joe White,

The "harmony" statement is usually defined in terms of missions giving, not agreement on minor doctrines.

Wade Burleson said...

Jeff,

You are funny. :)

Tom Parker said...

Jeff:

Wade said to you:"Jeff,

You are funny. :)"

Do you see you goal of funnin is working?

I've just got to keep reminding myself when I see your comments that they are to be taken humorously. But I've really got to work on that one.

Bill said...

The Good Ole Boy Network is slowly destroying that which they claim to love, in the name of Christ, needlessly!!

Jeff said...

Tom, We agree!!! :) Don't take me that seriously, am I trying to make a point---most of the time. But listen just roll with it baby. :)

RRR said...

Jeff said: "I suppose you get to define what pride is---perhaps a look in the mirror would help. There is a huge log in your own eye."

Thanks for the "gentle warning", Jeff. I will seek to pull that log out so I can see better.

Jeff said...

RRR, I try to look in the mirror on a daily basis. I must also say that my log is bigger than your log. :)

Lydia said...

Heartcry with Paul Washer?

Fri Sep 25, 10:37:00 AM 2009

Yep. Did that give you the vapors? Let's face it, I know the money they receive is not going to pay for pastry chef's at Pecan Manor or created 6 figure jobs for displaced seminary presidents.

Ever listened to his prayer journal message? It is a 'far cry' from what our own IMB is like. I am not promoting a man by saying that. I am focusing on God's work and He deserves the Glory.

Florence in KY said...

And on and on it goes! It appears another shoe is about to fall!

Jeff said...

Lydia, What do you think about his view on woman pastors? BTW, I enjoy his sermons too!

Bob Cleveland said...

The problem in all this is our sin nature.

We have God's inerrant, unchangeable word (add some other adjectives if you want) to guide us but, we can't even all agree on what it says (tongues, anyone?). So why would we think we'll ever agree on man's fallible words in some state constitution or by-laws?

The real question is, why change it? Apparently it's been around for some time, everyone knows what it says, but the presumption would be that someone wants to do something, under those terms, that they don't think they can get away with under the current wording. Otherwise, why change?

Gee .. Georgia .. who could have seen THIS coming, huh? Huh?

Jack said...

you guys all crack me up! While you quibble over actions proposed in ANOTHER state convention and continue your endless back and forth, the rest of us are preaching, pastoring, witnessing, planning and serving in light of the commandments of the Savior! Paul's warning concerning 'Word Wrangling" comes to mind.

Signed
A former word wrangler

Lydia said...

Lydia, What do you think about his view on woman pastors? BTW, I enjoy his sermons too!

Fri Sep 25, 12:13:00 PM 2009

Actually, to date, I have not heard him speak specifically on women pastors. I do know he has had his wife teaching men. I know some will disagree on what is 'teaching', though.

I understand his comp views and accept them as he is a brother in Christ to me. But what does that have to do with the saving Gospel message? He is one of the few out there preaching the negative truth about sin.

I just hope that being back in the states and being around all this fame, celebrity pastors and the financial security does not go to his head as it has done for so many in ministry. His message of depending on God alone has been such a blessing to so many.

I appreciate the fact he refuses to sell his sermons. I just wish his co heart, Noblitt felt the same way.

Jeff said...

I am not for certain why Jeff Noblitt sells his sermons, it might have to do with the fact that he is on the radio. I am convinced that he isn't making a profit on them. You can listen to Jeff N. for free if you download his podcast.

Christiane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christiane said...

The GOSPEL: It IS the 'Good News" of Our Lord

"The Good News"
Sometimes we forget.

You know, not all of those young teenagers with a gay or lesbian sexual orientation make it into the gay community.

Some never act on their orientation at all. Ever.

They hear the voices of those in their families and their Churches, they look to the Lord, and say to Him: 'Why did you do this to me?'

And many commit suicide.

Just teenagers and young people.
For whom family and Church provided no sanctuary of understanding and guidance and ministry. No hope.

These kids heard 'the law of God'.
What they did not hear was about His love for them 'as they were'.

And many removed themselves from His Earth in despair.

The Gospel of the Lord is by all acclaimed:
"The Good News"
God have mercy on all of us in the wider Christian Community for not helping our young who are in despair.
I believe that WE are the ones who need the Gospel of the Lord as never before.

Much love, L's

Jeff said...

L's, I don't believe people are born with an orientation toward sexuality.

The problem with homosexuality is that it has groups at work to make it appear to be normal. Other sins, don't have PAC, or other groups.

Christiane said...

Hi JEFF,

I am aware that many do not believe that people can be born with a homosexual orientation.

Someday, maybe we will know 'for sure'.

I just wonder, though, why a young person, with their whole life ahead of them, would freely choose a homosexual orientation and then cry out to God in their journals "Why?"

and then commit suicide?

Somehow, this does not make sense.
It just doesn't.

I respect your point of view, however, Jeff, and I only hope all of us can begin, at least, to listen to our young people who struggle with their identity difficulties. I think that they need for us to LISTEN to them and to care for them.

Love, L's

Jeff said...

I have the answer: SIN

The same reason people would do many of the things they do.

Romans 7.

Lydia said...

L's,

I was born with a propensity to eat too much chocolate. I am told it was the first word I uttered as a baby.

Seriously, I had the opportunity a few years back to work with some folks in the cross over ministries. Their testimony's really opened my eyes on this subject.

In both sexes, the typical progression to homosexuality was being actively recruited and accepted by that group. Many had been molested as children. Even by 'Christians' so their view of Christianity was skewed.


The stories were all similar in that many were molested as kids or teens, had problem families or that they were inclined to certain interests not accepted for their gender such as art or music for the guys and this was not accepted in the home.

Many of them (saved out of homosexuality) will tell you it is not nature but nurture that set them on that course.

But they also made it clear that the Christians who helped them the most were teh ones that stuck by them as they were coming out of that lifestyle of sin. But if the Christians had accepted that lifestyle as normal or natural, they would have had a harder time.

Christiane said...

Thank you, LYDIA,

It is good to hear about the different points of view. And I, myself, have knowledge that my own Church has struggled with the issue, and still is working towards some kind of integrity in how to deal with it.

On the one hand, we condemn the sin, without apology, in my Church.
But we have repented of neglecting 'our children' and their families who needed their Church's out-reaching care.

When people only hear the condemnation and rejection:
that is where the Church fails them, I think.

They aren't able to see the 'love' part of the 'tough love' but they most certainly have no trouble seeing rejection based on just one part of who they are: their perceived sexual identity.

As children of the Lord, they are more than that one single identity to Him. We must remember that when we minister to their needs.
And we must do this in a way that they can understand as Christian love.
If this were easy, we would have figured it all out by now.
But, instead, so many tragic suicides. So many.
We have to do better, I think.

These young people need to be shepherded with compassion. That includes firm moral instruction, yes.
It also includes our embrace of them as 'our own', our children, and His children. They are 'ours' for a reason. They belong to us, and we to them.

In any case, when a suffering young person chooses to end his/her life, we must ask ourselves what we might have done that we did not do.
We must ask that very painful question. Again. And again. Until we know the answer.
If we are willing to put our own self-righteousness aside, and ask Him in humility, the Lord Christ will show us a better way.
We need His help for sure.

Love, L's

Jeff said...

L's what do you mean by children of the Lord?

BaptistPlanet said...

Still can't help being reminded of former Biblical Recorder Editor Tony Cartledge's metaphor of Batholics and Cathists.

Tom Parker said...

L's:

Thank you so much for pointing out so many things that need to be said and you always say them in love.

I think of all the sins that SB get riled about, homosexuality is right at the top. IMO, most SB, including ministers do not know how to deal with this sin, and so it is just easier to rail against it.

There are so many other sins that need just as much attention but you will not even hear a peep about them.

May the Lord show us how to minster to those who feel cast to the side.

Ben said...

Why can't we just be good Baptists and have a church split over these issues? There could be the First Baptist Church, Straight Southern; First Baptist Church, LGBT; First Baptist Church, Egalitarian; etc. Isn't this how God intended it?

Christiane said...

Hi JEFF,

Once again, I realize that people of different denominations do not see this term the same way.

For my Church, God loves His Creation and all in it, as His.
He is the Father of all who live.
He is their Creator and no human being exists that He does not will for them to live. Were He to remove His Hand from them, they would cease to live.

Part of an ancient hymn of ours contains this prayer:
"And let us love each other well,
Whose Father is the Same."

I know that different denominations disagree. I know that, as the 'requirements' and 'laws' and 'conditions' become more rigid, fewer and fewer are deemed 'acceptable'. I know this.
It is not something that is a part of my own Church, but I am aware of it.

Remember this: all human beings with souls and spirits descend from Adam and Eve who sinned.
They were 'expelled from Eden' with an angel, guarding the entrance back in to Eden holding a flaming sword.

But, Jeff, what did God do then?

In His Mercy, He provided clothing for them in the time of their shame. He cared for them with a Loving-kindness, overflowing, unable to be quenched by the insult of their sin.
He showed love, grace, mercy, compassion, for his fallen children. And that was just the beginning of His Mercy.

We must remember this act of love, and take hope for all of our brothers and sisters who descend from them.

I don't think we are able, in our human condition, to even begin to understand the depth and breadth of God's love for each one of us. I wish we did know.
We might then be able to 'love each other well, whose Father is the Same'.
Love, L's

kehrsam said...

Where do we want homosexuals to be, if not in church? Together with the people who live in sin, the adulterers, drunkards, thieves and violent men, the prideful, gossipers, Pharisees and backbiters? If not in church, where? If not seeking God's Face, His forgiveness, his mercy, then what?

How many souls would you condemn to Hell in order to feel more comfortable on Sunday morning? "Which of these was a neighbor unto him," Jesus asked. "The one as had mercy upon him."

Bob Cleveland said...

Kehrsam,

Comfort on Sunday has never been the issue. But obedience to God's mandates, including those in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 5, is always an issue.

Christiane said...

Hi BOB CLEVELAND,

With respect, I ask, does the obedience to 1 Cor. 5
include also this:

"And it was said, “WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE”; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

(NASB) Matthew 5:31-32

Bob Cleveland said...

Christiane.

The Red Herring Department is two doors down....

:)

Christiane said...

. . . oops !

Love, L's

Lydia said...

"Where do we want homosexuals to be, if not in church? Together with the people who live in sin, the adulterers, drunkards, thieves and violent men, the prideful, gossipers, Pharisees and backbiters? If not in church, where? If not seeking God's Face, His forgiveness, his mercy, then what?"

Ker,

Well, I tell you what, there is Baptist church here in town that openly welcomes homosexual couples. I had NO idea about this and attended a wedding there of a distant cousin who attends there but is heterosexual. So, how would I know?

It was bizarre to sit in this beautiful old stone church in an older part of the city with about 20 other couples who were homosexual holding hands and acting like married folks.

So, when you say, 'should they be in church', do you mean with acceptance of that lifestyle? Or if they are trying to get out of that lifestyle? Because I can tell you that this pastor was definitely preaching that homosexuality was accepted and Biblical.

So, can you elaborate on exactly what you mean? Are you saying they should be welcome with the rest of us sinners struggling with our flesh but repenting daily and encouraging one another to Holiness?

BTW: are the adulterers at your church continually adulterating? (I made up that word) Because if they are, there is a deeper problem.

Christiane said...

You know, maybe a group of people who pray together should just go ahead and bar the door from those sinners that they don't want to associate with.
Sinners just don't need to waste their time at exclusive membership clubs anyway, where everyone is in agreement about how sleek from sin they are. No, that is not the place for a sinner seeking the healing of the Lord.


The 'rejected' need to find a Christian Church: a place of humility, where, if is said to anyone that they are a 'saint', the person will say, 'no, I'm a sinner in rehabilitation.'
There is such a great NEED in our society for there to be a real place where all sinners are allowed to go in prayer to the only One Who can heal them.

And there, in that place where they come to be with Our Lord, they will be received because, it is for their sake that He came.
In the Gospel of St. Matthew, we read the Words of the Great Physician:

‘ “11 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples,
‘Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’
12 But when he heard this, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
13 Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”
For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’

If the Church were just for the ones who were ‘righteous’', well, they wouldn't need a church, would they? A nice social club will do just fine for them, where, like Wade says, they can give in to that 'inherent temptation to demand everyone else look like them.'

There is something in the Bible about those who take ‘the lower seat’ at the table. There is something in the Bible about the humble man who stood in the back of the temple and who was so very despised by the proud Pharisee. There is something in the Bible about the man who said to Lord Christ this:
‘Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof . . . “

Christ: He only has to say the Word, and we are healed.
No wonder they call the ‘Gospel’ the Good News.

kehrsam said...

"So, when you say, 'should they be in church', do you mean with acceptance of that lifestyle? Or if they are trying to get out of that lifestyle? Because I can tell you that this pastor was definitely preaching that homosexuality was accepted and Biblical."

All of us bring a sin, "lifestyle," with us to church; some are more aware of this than others. Do I think we need to battle against the sin? Of course! But it is easier to fight that battle with the help and support of fellow Christians.

So, yes, homosexual couples should be at the altar on their knees seeking God's will in their lives. As should any other sinners who happen to find themselves in the service.

Accepting people where they are says nothing about accepting their lifestyle. Gays were created in the image of God, the same as you or I. If I am commanded to love my enemies, how, then, should I ignore a potential friend?

RM said...

Its so good to see you delving back into Baptist politics. I like the blog a whole lot more this way.

They put that amendment out there so they will have something to fight about and have a new tool to exclude people and churches. Baptists thrive on infighting.

What worries me much more than the talk about the Bible is the homophobic last sentence. Why don't they put one in their about pastors and deacons who are having affairs?

willohroots said...

I need a light into the dark depths of SBC politics. Thank you for what you do. As numbers in the SBC diminish for the first time historically, a unnecessary divisive issue is just what we don't need.
Many of the posters warm my heart. It is good to know Love is alive in the Kingdom. God Bless!

Benji Ramsaur said...

Kersham,

I think sometimes the way folks speak about a "church" can distort clear thinking on matters such as this.

Ever heard someone pray "Lord, we thank You for being in Your house, with Your people, hearing Your word..."

Well, the problem with that is the "house" and the "people" are seen as separate. The people actually are the house. The people actually are the church. "Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the church and there's the people" is bad theology.

So, in the light of this, I do not want anybody living in the sin of homosexuality, immorality, etc., being *in* the church [God's people gathered together]. However, yes, I hope they do show up to hear the word preached in a building [commonly, but not biblically called a church].

Spirit indwelt folks "struggling" with homosexual temptations? Yes--please be in the biblical church.

Blame shifting folks "living" in homosexual sin? No--look at the cross and live.

God Bless,

Benji

Christiane said...

luke 18:9-14

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax-Collector

"9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt:

10 ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector.

11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector.

12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.”

13 But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.’


No commentary needed.

Lydia said...

"All of us bring a sin, "lifestyle," with us to church; some are more aware of this than others. Do I think we need to battle against the sin? Of course! But it is easier to fight that battle with the help and support of fellow Christians."

So flaunting sinful lifestyles is not big deal. Ever read 1 Corin 5? Paul's advice was to kick them out so they could be saved.

Yes, I know the goal here is to show how hateful I am and how loving you are but you are going to love folks right into hell. No thanks.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Christiane,

Praise God there have been homosexuals, adulterers, liars, etc., who have been like that tax collector in the Scripture you just gave us.

They have trusted in Jesus and repented of their sin, been immersed in water, and have been added to the church.

They haven't looked down their noses at others they felt were worse than them. They haven't given excuses. They have been called [Romans 8:30].

I praise God for former homosexuals that fit so wonderfully in the story you provided as the ones characterized by humility and not snobbery.

Isn't grace wonderful?!

And it doesn't even stop at that. For God uses the church they have been added to in encouraging and edifying the disciple. If they fall back into their old sin, then praise the Lord for those gentle saints who restore them [Galatians 6:1].

In fact, praise the Lord that there is a struggle within them that gives evidence that they truly know the Lord and are not dead in their trespasses and sins!

I praise the Lord for the words of Jesus you provided!

Grace to both of us,

Benji

Christiane said...

Hi BENJI,

I think when people show up at a Church, some part of their being knows that they need to be there.

Some people show up like the Pharisee. Some show up like the tax-collector.
The Gospel of the Lord is healing to both, even to the one who is not able see the depth of his own sin because of pride.

Pride was the sin that led to fall of Lucifer and pride was the sin of Adam and of Eve.
The sign of a Christian person is humility before the Lord.
When Christians are given the Lord's strength to abandon their pride, they are enabled to understand that ALL are sinners before the Mercy Throne.
Imagine someone coming into a Church, where everyone has the attitude of the tax-collector and not a Pharisee in sight!
Yes, Benji, how wonderful is the healing grace of Our Lord who asked us to 'learn of Him' in His meekness and humbleness of heart. :)

Love, L's

kehrsam said...

Lydia asks: So flaunting sinful lifestyles is not big deal. Ever read 1 Corin 5? Paul's advice was to kick them out so they could be saved.

Yes, I have read it, and this is what I found:

9I wrote to you in my letter(N) not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10(O) not at all meaning(P) the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters,(Q) since then you would need to go out of the world. 11But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone(R) who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12For what have I to do with judging(S) outsiders?(T) Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13God judges[b] those outside.(U) "Purge the evil person from among you." ESV

Kind of hard to get a good Baptist potluck together with all those exclusions, ain't it?

We have a half-way house near my church to ease the shock of moving from our local medium-security prison back to the world. The residents often visit the church, and usually get directed to my sunday school class as I used to be a lawyer before I became disabled.

These (usually) young men often came to Christ while in prison. A few years earlier they thought nothing of armed robbery or burglary, but over time they begin to understand, they were already in prison, and now they are free.

They bring a passion to worship that is a wonder to behold. Should we deny them entry? They may well have repented of the lifestyle that got them into prison, but the fact is they usually go right back to the same bad patterns: They return to their same friends, same lack of an honest job, same live-in girlfriend they left behind, only now there's a baby to care for as well.

Most will relapse into sin to some degree. But they are making the struggle, and God has the answer for them, if they can only trust His strength.

I had a good friend -- now deceased -- who spent over twenty years in that prison for murder and armed robbery. After he got out, he spent another twenty there as one of the chaplains. God redeems sinners. That's His business.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Christiane,

It is possible that I am misunderstanding you, but allow me to say this anyway.

I don't think people showing up at a building [called a church] and believing their being really needs to be there--at that special building--is New Testament thinking.

It's Old Covenant thinking in the new age. It's right back to thinking of a building as a true Sanctuary. Not good.

The Sanctuary of God is the people of God who are to be holy [1 Cor. 3:17].

The gospel is *not* healing to both the tax collector and the Pharisee. The Pharisee is not healed at all.

Former homosexuals who have shown the humility of the tax collector would set a good example for others "like myself" in any church because:

1. They understand that God is holy and their sin has no excuse.

2. They don't compare themselves with others they think are worse.

It is those who don't show this kind of humility that I think can be prideful.

God Bless,

Benji

Benji Ramsaur said...

Christiane,

My position is that in order for one become a member of a local church then one must have [at some point]:

1. Repented of their sin [whether that be burglary, lying, homosexual deeds, gluttony, etc].

2. Believed in Christ.

3. Been water baptized.

Accordingly, I do not think my belief picks on anyone since it applies to all--including myself.

Benji Ramsaur said...

kehrsam,

I'm sorry I got your name wrong above.

Kerygma said...

Here's my amendment: Section 1. This body shall be composed of messengers from cooperating Baptist Churches. A cooperating church is one that gives evidence of its belief in Holy Scripture as its authority in matters of faith and practice and is in harmony and cooperation with the work and purpose of this Convention. A cooperating church does not include a church which knowingly allows women to be in any position of authority over men, including teachers, deacons, ministers, choir directors, and other related positions.

Lydia said...

Ker,

Let us make it very clear IF we are on the same page or NOT. I am NOT speaking of folks who are redeemed and struggling for a season with sanctification.

You are changing your tune now. And you are misunderstanding what the Holy Spirit inspired in 1 Corin 5.

He is talking about people who call themselves Christians who flaunt their lifestyle of sin. He says not to even eat with them.

If I am a pornographer and am saved, I cannot continue as a pornographer for my entire life and believe I have been transformed/Born Again. If I am a thief, I cannot continue to steal all my life and believe I am Born Again. Or what about the "saved" abuser who keeps on abusing yet saying sorry each time? AFter years and years of this should we not question the fruit of true salvation?

Do we not love people enough to tell them they are in danger of hell?

I grew up around innercity missions. My family even purchased a campground get them out of the city for dicipleship and growth. I am quite familiar with the people group you mention. And I am also quite familiar with those who were truly transformed by the power of the HOly Spirit. They simply do not stay in their former lifestyle forever. Did they struggle? Yes. We all do.

Some seeds fell on rocky ground and grew for a while. Some fell on good soil....etc


If we belong to HIM, He disciplines us. We cannot escape that. What you are denying is sanctification. If we are saved we WILL be sanctfied and let me say it is not always pleasant. It can look like death to the worldly. He WILL cleanse us and replace our hearts of stone. It is not 'maybe'. HE WILL DO IT. (Ez 36) It is HIS promise. And He does not just do it for US but that HIS Holy Name will be Glorified.

How is His Name Glorified when we claim to be saved but live as Hellions? We blaspheme His Holy Name when we do that.

That is how you can tell us apart from the world. I am a great sinner and HE is a great Savior. The Prostitute saved is changed. The pornographer saved is changed. The homosexual saved is changed.

Paul wrote this inspired by the Holy Spirit:

11But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone(R) who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

Now, you are telling me it does not mean what it says. (I have checked the context, the grammar and the Greek). It means not to keep company with those who call themselves a 'brother' (Christian) who live in and flaunt their continual habitual sin.

Look at these two verses and tell me what we should believe based on their context:

18We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. 1 John 5

26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? Hebrews 10

Look at verse 29 very close.

We are all sinners because our very thoughts are sinful. And we battle that daily by taking our thoughts captive to Jesus Christ. But now, you want to tell me that we should expect saved people to act out their sin in deeds, willfully and continually.

Then, How can you tell the Christians from the rest of the world? Because they have a fish on their car? Attend church? But in deed we cannot tell them apart. So, where is the power of the Holy Spirit in transforming lives?

Christiane said...

Hi BENJI,

I think our comments reflect how vastly different our beliefs are.
It is understandable that we would not see things in the same light. Love, L's

Kevin M. Crowder said...

L's,

Bless you and your ability to communicate so cordially with us Baptists.

Seeing that you disagree with Benji, could you briefly elaborate on which of his 3 points you disagree with?

Local Church membership and denominations aside, could your answer be specific to those who are members of the universal, invisible Church?

Are not faith and repentence core requirements for membership inthe Body of Christ(and trinitarian baptism in some views)?

Robert said...

Wade,
Wow it sad that you cant even affirm what Scripture teaches on this subject.
Even the liberal Calvin College board of trustees is able to take a stand that you cant affirm. So Sad.

http://tinyurl.com/y8wkzwh

From the Southern Baptist Geneva
Robert I Masters

Robert said...

Okay so the guy writes on a blog called the Moderate and he used to teach at Belmont....Is anyone surprised in his beliefs.

not me

Robert I Masters
from the Southern Baptist Geneva

Tom Parker said...

Robert:

I truly feel sorry for you. You are so quick to condemn others.

Robert said...

Tom,
Yes I condemn sin....the biblical calls all "saints" to kill sin.
You do not want to obey the Bible?

Robert I Masters
from the Southern Baptist Geneva

Tom Parker said...

Robert:

I am sure you will carry on in your mission. I've heard your type of rhetoric before. Was not this one of the strategies of the CR?

Jeff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RRR said...

WOW! This post generated a whole lot of zingers!

I'm sitting on the edge of my chair waiting to see Christiane's response to Kevin's question!

Christiane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christiane said...

GOOD SABBATH to KEVIN and RRR, and BENJI, and everyone else, too.

It's me, L's

My comment to Benji about seeing things differently was meant to emphasize that word 'understandable'.

So, sorry, no 'zingers', RRR.
It IS understandable that Benji and I both would have different 'takes' on the same Gospel Verses (St. Luke 18:9-14)
A long time ago, a Presbyterian friend told me that she thought Christians disagreed more as a matter of what they emphasized in their beliefs than the beliefs themselves.

I saw the same thing happen in the debate on health-care reform: different 'takes' on the 25th Chapter of St. Matthew where the 'final judgment' is described.

It IS understandable.

The basic difference as I see it is the attitude towards those within a Christian community and who is struggling with sin. How are they helped ? How does the faith community react to them?

In my faith, we tend to see the struggle with sin as something we all must face daily with the aid of the Lord's Grace. In our Liturgy of the Word, we make a 'corporate confession' of repentence as part of the preparation for Eucharist.
I think there is more emphasis on unity as " a community" in Christ.
Our focus 'in community' is this: we point towards the Lord Christ as 'our' Lord. We know that He will do the rest for the ones that need Him (that includes ALL of us!) We can't do that if we bar the door to 'sinners'. We would be shutting ourselves out with them. We are there to repent and confess. We travel on the Way, as a 'community' and if someone stumbles, we will take them by the hand, help them rise, and point them once again towards the Lord Christ. That is what we do for them. So, if we fall, they can do the same for us someday. Like a family.

In my Church, there is none of us who does not pray 'Domine non sum dignus . . . '
which means 'Lord, I am not worthy'. None of us, not even the clergy. It is a 'prayer of the faithful'. It is that unworthiness that reminds us of the complete grace of the Lord's Salvation. And it is that mutual acknowledgment of unworthiness that helps us to recognize the danger of arrogance when we abandon humility to pursue the judgment of others as 'different from ourselves'.

Some Protestants believe this, too.
They know about 'saved to serve, not to judge'. They understand.

In the end, it will be Christ Himself who separates His sheep from those goats who hollered loudly, 'Lord, Lord'.
Only He can see beyond our outward words and behaviors and into the depths of our hearts and souls.

We know of His humility. He was not arrogant, as we tend to be sometimes with one another.
And we can trust this: that HIS judgment is not impaired by unworthiness.
The walls of the catacombs of early Christians often picture Him in this way:
as the Good Shepherd, bearing a lost lamb safely home in His Arms.
From ancient days, it was the faith of Christians that He, Himself, will come for the one who is lost. We can be peaceful in Him and at peace with one another.:)

Blessed Sabbath,
love, L's

Thy Peace said...

Off Topic:

Spin + Internet:

CoffeeTrader News & Views [Lin & Lindon] > The Spinternet?.

Or

Suzanne's Bookshelf [Suzanne McCarthy] > Evgeny Morozov on the spinternet.

Also, some other posts from EFF.org:

What Information is "Personally Identifiable"?.

New Cookie Technologies: Harder to See and Remove, Widely Used to Track You.

How Online Tracking Companies Know Most of What You Do Online (and What Social Networks Are Doing to Help Them).

Lydia said...

"The basic difference as I see it is the attitude towards those within a Christian community and who is struggling with sin."

I did not realize we were talking about those struggling with their sin knowing it is sin.

I thought we were talking about folks living in sin, liking it, excusing it and calling it Christian.

I gave an example of this early in the thread about the church I attended for a wedding where homosexuality was promoted as a Christian lifestyle and not considered sinful.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Lydia asked...

"What exactly are the benefits of being a 'cooperating church' in the Convention?"

Jeff replied...

"Benefits?

-1) This week I called several state convention workers needing wisdom. Wade only calls to me when he doesn't like the truth.

-2) When I was in a difficult time in my life, I received free counseling.

Those are two."


No, those are perceived benefits to PASTORS, and although pastors are a part of the church, in some cases in their own minds, they constitute a special class within the church. The question was what benefit is the convention to the church, i.e. the whole body?

I suppose free counseling for pedophile "ministers" who got caught in a "moral failure" might benefit them, particularly if it allowed them to remain in the ministry. However, it's a good thing you weren't a victim of one of those "ministers" in Texas (and probably any other state) because there'd be no free counseling for you. The only words of wisdom you'd hear would be "touch not mine anointed" and "you're trying to destroy the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

Now, what I'd like to know is what benefit the conventions are to the average church member?

Christiane said...

Hi LYDIA,

With apologies to Bob Cleveland, I will raise this 'red herring' again for discussion:

consideration of the remarriage of divorced persons as a sin.

If a church believes that it is a sin, how does it respond to those who are divorced and remarried among its congregation?
How should it respond?
With the same zeal that it responds to homosexual unions?
I raise the question.

Is it important that a church deal consistently with all forms of sin behavior?

It may be a 'red herring' to change the 'type' of sexual sin being discussed, but consistency in response to the varied types of sexual sin would certainly be the goal in any church with integrity.

(I am aware that not all Christian Churches view divorce and remarriage as 'sinful', but then again, neither do all Christian churches have the same views on homosexual unions.)

Does this help get the discussion back to where you wanted it? I hope so. If not, at least I tried.
Good Sabbath, Lydia.

Love, L's

Chris Ryan said...

New BBC,

The benefits are many.

The pastor is not a special class and certainly not a ruling class. But the training of a pastor through a convention Bible College or Seminary can benefit any church member immensely. Most of the time the SS material is incredibly shallow, but it gives the SS teacher a good starting point for preparing Sunday's lesson. The convention is able to assist the "average church member" by providing witness training materials and seminars. I had a great-grandmother who was an "average church member" who benefitted greatly from the Baptist nursing home in MO. A nursing home that would not likely be possible apart from the Cooperative Program. I could go on.

Obviously in this day and age there is nothing a convention can do that cannot be done without one. Theological education, study material, medical care, and evangelism/missions opportunities are provided by groups not associated with any sort of denomination. But the benefit of a convention is that it provides all the resources and opportunities and can connect you to them. You don't have to hunt to find them.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Thanks for those examples, Chris. I must, however, take exception to this statement:

"The pastor is not a special class and certainly not a ruling class."

That certainly is the ideal, but far too often today, especially in the case of megachurch pastors, it isn't the rule. They do consider themselves a special class and they rule with an iron fist. Sad but true.

Lydia said...

Christiane,

Thanks, I get where you are coming from.

Michael Ruffin said...

Just to clarify: only the line in bold face is included in the proposed amendment--that's the line about the Bible. The line about churches that endorse homosexual behavior has been a part of the GBC Constitution for several years.

Jeff said...

BBC Open, I am really sorry that Dr. Gaines and others have hurt you. Please don't let what happen make you bitter.

The call I made was for the church. We needed resources, since I am currently the only pastor at the church I serve---I volunteered to do it. Others could have, I receive no special favors. I know for fact that in Arkansas our state workers would help anyone out.

But let me say, what helps me mature as pastor surely would help the church I serve.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Thank you, Jeff. I'm really and truly not bitter. Somewhat cynical? Absolutely. But I'll tell you, seeing and experiencing the things I have for the past 3-4 years has made my faith stronger than ever! It's forced me out of my comfort zone and opened my eyes to a lot of things I was not aware of before, and that's been a good thing. As they say, that which doesn't kill me only makes me stronger.

:-)

Jeff said...

BBC, Good for you! God is indeed faithful in our darkest hours.

Jeff

Joe Carr said...

Wade,

You do not have a "dog in this fight!" I believe this is an issue for Georgia Baptists to decide on one way or the other...not you. You are certainly free to write on whatever you wish, however, this issue is of no concern to you (no disrespect intended). You are entitled to your opinion but I do believe that most GBC messengers are able to understand what they should or should not support.

RRR said...

Michael Ruffin said...
"Just to clarify: only the line in bold face is included in the proposed amendment--that's the line about the Bible. The line about churches that endorse homosexual behavior has been a part of the GBC Constitution for several years."

Holy mackeral!!! NOW you tell me! Sure makes me feel dumb for commenting on something in which I was not well informed!

Michael Ruffin said...

RRR,

Sorry about that. I was out of town and on a computer sabbatical from Thursday-Sunday and thus was not following the comment thread.

Mike

Michael Ruffin said...

My letter, to which Wade refers in this post, has been published in the Christian Index: http://www.christianindex.org/5874.article. I appreciate editor Gerald Harris for giving me a place in the discussion.