Mark Twain famously said, "The report of my death was an exaggeration." So is the rumored demise of the Southern Baptist Convention! Having returned from sweltering New Orleans, I can report to you that the rumors are unfounded. I saw a convention of messengers from churches cooperating together in Great Commission partnership. There is no uniformity, nor unanimity, but there is unity. We may not agree on every minute detail, but we are unified on the major matters. Our message is solidly rooted in the Word of God, and our mission focused on the Gospel of Christ. Thank you for sending my wife and me to the meetings.
The issues that were voted on, in every case but one, found me on the dominant side. Here are the highlights:
79 missionaries were appointed at the start of the meeting. It was inspiring to see the commitment from these folks--a number of whom would not have their faces shown or names revealed due to the dangerous areas where they were being sent to serve. You can support prayerfully and financially the International Mission Board, knowing that this is the greatest mission movement in existence!
The current President, Bart Barber, was reelected. I did not vote for him--having another I favored--but, he was very capable in leading the meeting, and is a solid man.
Saddleback Church and two other churches appealed the Credentials Committee's exclusion of them as churches, "not in friendly cooperation." Two of those churches were denied messenger status because of their choice to allow women pastors, and the third permitted an accused sex offender to pastor. The messengers overwhelmingly denied those churches' appeals.
An amendment to the Constitution that spoke directly to the unbiblical nature of women serving as elders was passed. It will require a second vote next year before the amendment is ratified. Really, few disagreed with the substance of the amendment, but only questioned the wisdom of having it in the by-laws.
The music was moving. It was amazing to hear thousands of Baptists passionately singing abiding truths!
There will never be a time that we can neglect vigilance in theological matters, nor can we abandon diligence in Gospel mission. Though the SBC is solid, the infiltration of false doctrine is ever a peril. Our mission efforts, though commendable, need to increase substantially.
Yours in Serving Christ by Serving His Churches,
Dennis Thurman, Mission Strategist