(note: I haven't taken 'Nice Phrasing and Doublespeak 101')
On the responsibilities and identity of Baptists:
Whereas the Bible is the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried; and
Whereas certain doctrines of Scripture are hard to understand, even for an Apostle (2 Peter 3:15-16); and
Whereas perfect understanding is not necessary to preach that Christ was born, lived, died, and rose again, according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-5); and
Whereas the Holy Spirit has been given to guide us into the fullness of truth (John 16:13); and
Whereas even Paul was able to rejoice that Christ was preached, even out of selfish ambition or pretense (Philippians 1:17-18); and
Whereas we expend a great deal of time, money, and energy between various debates in Baptist life that are of lesser importance than the Gospel and the Great Commission; and
Whereas we then find our missions, ministries, and evangelism shortchanged since we expended our time, money, and energy dogpiling on another; and
Whereas we have a doctrinal statement that allows for a varied understanding of some of these debates while still being faithful to it; be it therefore:
RESOLVED: that we quit attaching more doctrinal expectations on people than Scripture and the text of the agreed on doctrinal confession of the SBC; be it further resolved
RESOLVED: that we emphasize the preaching of the Gospel, whether we understand that man has no part in his salvation or that he must believe, whether we believe Christ died for all or only for the elect; be it further
RESOLVED: that pastors and churches that can afford to send or attend conferences intended only to fortify entrenched positions be encouraged to instead send the money to the IMB, NAMB or their state convention (note: encouraged, not required. local church autonomy) for the purpose of the Gospel; be it further
RESOLVED: that we get past this and use our time, money, energy, blogs, state papers, conferences, churches, sermons, lectures, seminary time to PREACH THE GOSPEL TO PEOPLE THAT ARE GOING TO SPEND AN ETERNITY IN THE WRATH OF GOD IF THEY DO NOT ACKNOWLEDGE CHRIST AS LORD!!
That's my first thought. I know, it's rough, it's simplistic. My Calvinist brethren will tell me that the Doctrine of Grace is the Gospel, my Baptist Identity brethren will find some other fault, some will say we can't have 'tongue speakers and beer drinkers' serving as missionaries (more on cessationism elsewhere), others that we should take whomever we can get, and you can find a myriad of faults.
My point is this: the first SBC was founded over a dispute about which sins should disqualify missionaries. Honestly. That was it. Southern folks felt that slavery shouldn't disqualify you, northern folks thought it should. Northerners allowed people to serve as missionaries that had other sins in their lives, but not slavery. (note: SLAVERY IS BAD, RACISM IS BAD) Southerners didn't feel that slavery was any worse of a sin, if even a sin (Biblically, you have to deal with that: most of the Old Testament patriarchs had slaves. I think Philemon shows Christians shouldn't own other Christians, but you have to extend beyond a clear dictate of Scripture to say all slavery is unacceptable. I think it is, based on Biblical prinicples, but not a specific verse.)
So what did we do? Established missionary groups that would allow people to serve if they believed themselves called to do so by God, and were willing to undertake the hardship.
Now, 160 years later, we don't even want someone who takes a little wine for their stomach, differs from one group's definition of glossolia or other spiritual gifts, and we can't allow disagreement about people that find a differing balance between in Christ there is no male or female and women should be in submission to men. We don't know how to handle people's disagreements over whether you're born again and then are able to believe, or if you believe, and then you're born again, also known as the Calvinism-Founders vs. Baptist Identity/NonCalvinist disagreement. We aren't sure if we should meet social needs and then preach the Gospel, or just preach the Gospel, or meet social needs and then hope somebody might wonder enough to hear the Gospel. Should we let divorced people preach? We spend a great deal of time on these issues. Shoot, I've spent an afternoon writing a blog post about the fact that we seem to waste time on these issues.
I think it's time we pulled the plug on a lot of this debate. Let the messengers to the Convention vote on our doctrinal statement, and vote for the Board members that run our agencies and activities. These people should structure those entities to operate using only the SBC doctrinal statement as their guideline. If we need to expand the BF&M to narrow down and exclude some folks, we should do so. We did with the women pastors issue, although that leads to more questions: what about children's pastors? Youth pastors, worship pastors? And pastors aren't the only ones who preach.
Maybe we have too many things going on that are funded by our Cooperative Program dollars. Perhaps it's time to dial it back, and focus our cooperation on: International Missions, National Missions, and Education. Leave all questions of qualifications of workers to the organizations they work for, and let states deal with what makes a qualified, cooperating church.
In 1859, right before the nation plunged into Civil War, the SBC adopted this resolution:
Resolution On Controversies
RESOLVED, That, as members of this Convention, we express our earnest conviction that personal controversies among pastors, editors, and brethren, should, from this time forth, be more than ever studiously avoided.
That's it. May we find a way back to that simplicity. The Word of God hasn't changed, so why have we? Are our times really that different?