Thursday, April 9, 2009

Interview with Dr. Turner Part 3

Here's the conclusion of my interview with Dr. Emil Turner of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention...

Why did you decide to move from local church service as a pastor to leading the ABSC?

I refused to consider denominational responsibility, even though the Operating Committee of the ABSC Board (which functions as a personnel committee) asked me to do so. After two weeks of ignoring their requests, Mary asked me if I was at least going to pray about it. I took three days to fast and pray at a private retreat site that I used from time to time. At the end of that time, God said to me, not audibly, but unmistakably, “You can reach more people with the gospel by working with hundreds of churches than by working with one church.” I knew then that I must be available to answer to this call.

Do you think it is necessary to sort all of our debates of interpretation, such as: Calvinism; what does 'husband of one-wife mean'; should we totally abstain from alcohol; deacons & pastors or deacons, pastors, and elders; day-age or 6-days; eschatology issues(not is the Bible true issues, but how do we interpret the Bible issues) to be able to work together as Baptists?

I want to sort out what I believe in each of the areas for my own sense of spiritual direction, even though I realize in some areas, I will have to live with uncertainty. But I do not think you and I, or the entire SBC for that matter, needs to stake out a position on every issue. Some of them we do, but most of them we do not. We need to accept one another’s views in many of these areas and trust that those who disagree with us are sincere Bible believing folks whom God will choose to use.

If we had to go down to only 1 English Bible translation, which one would you choose? Why?

If I had only one translation I’d use the New American Standard Bible. As a seminary student, taking Greek and Hebrew classes, we were instructed to use the NASB to check our translation work. Though the language is sometimes stiff, and does not sound conversational, I am convinced that it is as accurate a translation as is available.

What is the single most important activity a pastor does?

I believe that relationships are the foundation of ministry. If this were not true, Jesus would not have come to earth to die for us. The pastor must be a man of the Bible, he must preach, and lead. But above all, he must maintain his relationship with God and he must maintain and service his relationships with his church members.

How well are Arkansas Baptists responding to the call to Reach Generation Now?

I am encouraged by churches response to the need to reach children and youth. We are seeing a great response to the VBS clinics that the ABSC staff members are conducting and a commitment to VBS as well from churches that are not relying on these clinics. I am hopeful we will see a great harvest of children. I am not as confident of what is happening among youth workers, however. It is much easier to conduct youth worship services than to reach and disciple lost youth. I pray that our youth will again have Sunday School teachers that will pray for them and seek their souls, that youth leaders will not be satisfied with music and testimony based worship services, but would raise up young leaders to be deacons, Sunday School teachers and preachers.

Thank you to Dr. Turner for sharing this with us.

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