The SBC Is Changing Because Though the Bible Is Infallible Our Interpretations Are Not
Stephen Fox pointed me to a column by Robert Parham entitled Is the SBC Pivoting Toward a New Future? Parham finds himself surprised that the SBC may be actually moderating on several fronts. His research and conclusions, in my opinion, are spot on. One of the examples given by Parham to prove the SBC may be changing is the "official" change of SBC position on the environment between 2006 and 2010.
Parham points out that this summer's 2010 SBC resolution on the environment differs sharply from the 2006 SBC resolution on the environment. The 2006 resolution was essentially an attack on environmentalists and an attempt to distance Southern Baptists from prioritizing environmental stewardship.
In a scant four years the SBC has performed a 180 turn about on its view of the environment. For example:
The 2006 Resolution on the Environment
· attacked environmentalism as a "neo-pagan religion;"
· said the "scientific community is divided on the effects of mankind's impact on the environment;"
· expressed confidence in private enterprise;
· warned against alliance with those outside the conservative evangelical community; and
· suggested that earth care would distract from evangelism.
But the 2010 SBC Resolution on the Environment
· calls for the protection of the environment;
· points out that human beings do adversely affect the environment;
· encourages everyone to work together; and
· notes that nature is an interdependent system in which human beings have a moral responsibility to guard nature and to protect resources for future generations.
Parham says it is most surprising that the 2010 SBC resolution refuses to trust blindly in private enterprise. It offers a moral critique of the free market. The resolution says "all industries are...accountable to higher standards than to profit alone," and that corporations have "full...accountability for damages, clean-up, and restoration." The resolution goes on to express a hope that "government and private industry are not again caught without planning," and "future energy policies based on prudence, conservation, accountability, and safety."
The change in the 2010 Resolution on the Environment from the 2006 Resolution on the Environment should prevent Southern Baptists from believing or acting as if our interpretations of the Word are inerrant. Southern Baptists have changed their views on slavery, the environment and other matters. What's next.? It's a guarantee that the SBC will change their "official" view on many things in the years to come. That's not a necessarily a bad thing. Particularly if our current "official" interpretations are proven faulty.
Keeping in mind our proclivity to change our "official" positions so quickly, we Southern Baptists should always be willing to listen to those with differing views. Further, we should refrain from condemning anyone who see things differently, and we should encourage open and passionate debate. Why? Because we refuse to hold to too high of a view of ourselves in always being accurate in our interpretations of the sacred text.
In His Grace,