Saturday, December 15, 2007

Relevance of the TBN Show

Ever since Tim Guthrie—who, I have from reliable sources, has programmed PTL into his Tivo—broke the story of the TBN interview into the Southern Baptist blogversation, a few people have asked why the program is at all relevant to Southern Baptist life (some in this forum, some in others, some offline). I reply in two parts: First, the people involved in the panel that comprised the last half of the program were all Southern Baptist pastors, capable of sending messengers to our meetings. The thesis of the entire program was that these men were part of a growing segment in the Southern Baptist Convention at the center of a current controversy in Southern Baptist life. So, the program itself asserted that it was discussing matters relevant to the future of the SBC. Second, although I am convinced that many of the current SBC dissidents do not themselves hold the theology of Camp, Miller, Hogue, and Blessitt, they have not convinced me that they would not throw the doors of the SBC wide open to such men. Indeed, some among them have labored hard for years to convince people of just the opposite. Nevertheless, the purpose of blogging is dialogue, not monologue. Therefore, if I have misunderstood our dissident brethren, I invite any of them to compose and post on their blogs an essay with the following thesis: If over the next twenty years the leadership and direction of the Southern Baptist Convention were to change such that Wade Burleson's Statement on (Southern Baptist?) Cooperation were adopted instead of the BF&M as our instrument of doctrinal accountability and the boundaries of our cooperative efforts, I would personally work to oppose the channeling of Cooperative Program dollars to fund missionaries with the beliefs and practices of Dwain Miller and Scott Camp because…

84 comments:

Greg Welty said...

Actually, if I read the proposed statement of cooperation correctly, then the convention's entities can appoint trustees and hire missionaries who (i) deny the Trinity, or (ii) deny the Second Coming, or (iii) don't practice the Lord's Supper, or (iv) affirm women in pastoral office.

Given all that, what would be the problem with a little TBN on the side? ;-)

Debbie Kaufman said...

Bart: You have got to be kidding! So we wrote all that we wrote in what we believe and why for nothing? Come on Bart. You truly know better than this. This definitely would fall in the "bearing false witness" category.When you have a total of a eight thousand, instead of eight million left in the SBC, I do want to say I told you so. And believe me I will.

Ron P. said...

Bart,

Wade's statement of cooperation most definitely would allow for such heretical teaching to enter into our SBC institutions.

Blessings,

Ron P.

Greg Welty said...

Mrs. Kaufman,

I often get confused in the dynamic ebb and flow of internet conversations. This may be yet one more instance of it on my part, so I need to ask for help:

Where in the above four paragraphs was Bart "bearing false witness" about someone?

Ron P. said...

Greg,

I think that accusation should be pointed towards Wade and his grandiose hyperbole that Southern Baptists are on the verge of becoming a "benign cult". :)

Bart,

No bearing of false witness here by you. None. Nada!

The real problem is that you asked an excellent question (thesis) with which the dissenters can not logically defend.

Ron P.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Greg: I answer your question because you may truly be confused as to what I am referring to, although to me it is obvious, it may not be to you. I quote:

Second, although I am convinced that many of the current SBC dissidents do not themselves hold the theology of Camp, Miller, Hogue, and Blessitt, they have not convinced me that they would not throw the doors of the SBC wide open to such men. Indeed, some among them have labored hard for years to convince people of just the opposite.

I know the discussion has been going on for at least two years if not longer. The same arguments have been given and dispelled so I see no need to do it here when a simple search of archives on blogs would tell the tale much better than I have the space or time to do here. There has never been nor will there ever be any writing that can be pointed to among those of us who believe PPL should not be excluded to even indicate this statement to be true. What Wade wrote could not ruin anyone as it is based on the facts of the situation. I believe that Bart as well as Wes, Tim G etc. are using something other than trying to point out a wrong decision. It can possibly destroy reputations. That is wrong. Very wrong. 3 people are not a movement. 2 people are not a movement. TBN has no vote in the SBC. As for the word cult, the definitions that I believe could fit are thus:

Followers of an exclusive system of religious beliefs and practices;A system of religious beliefs and rituals. Just what has happened in the Missouri decision would I believe qualify for this and I believe it's just the beginning. However that is not the subject of this post so I'll not pursue it further.

fishformen said...

Debbie, I agree with Greg, I find myself confused too. I thought Bart was asking what would the results be 20 years from now; not results from those who presently endorse it?

Bart, am I mistaken?
Chris Gilliam

Tim Rogers said...

Sister Debbie,

It has been a while and the last time you and I were even very civil toward each other. Soooooo? Are we able to carry on the same line in this disagreement?

Take a deep breath, as I can tell you have become very er, frustrated?

Let me ask you; Is a PPL, that you have said is something that should not be excluded, and the tongues referenced by Brother's Camp, Miller, Hogue and Blessitt, the same?

Also, over on SBC Today you have accused me of "bearing false witness" only because I will not answer a question. Here you have accused Brother Bart of the same thing because he has said that what we saw on TBN is where some want to take us. First, I cannot bear false witness if I do not say anything. Second, Brother Bart has not born false witness, he has warned of a potential outcome. That is not bearing false witness. I do pray that you would reconsider your verbiage here and over at SBC Today, and consider issuing a statement removing this "bearing false witness".
Blessings,
Tim

Debbie Kaufman said...

Chris: I believe the paragraph I object to is sufficient. I will also be the first to say that in twenty years of a scenario such as Bart has given were to happen, I would be fighting as hard against it as I am fighting hard against the things happening in our convention now. Twenty years I will be 71 so I don't know how hard I could fight. I will not write a post and offer a because, it has already been said for the last 2 year, I see no need to repeat it. Do as you say we are to do the leaders, just trust us. :)

I think we need to be in the here and now, not twenty years from now. Who knows there may not be an SBC to fight for twenty years from now the way things are going. Christ said to worry about today, tomorrow will take care of itself. I will worry about today.

Debbie Kaufman said...

I take that back. Christ also said not to worry even about today. (Matthew 6:30-34).

Greg Welty said...

Hi Mrs. Kaufman,

Thanks for the help. I think Bart's point is that, if Wade's five-point statement on cooperation were in fact our standard, there would be no reason to exclude cooperation with the men Bart has named. Do you disagree?

You say: "There has never been nor will there ever be any writing that can be pointed to among those of us who believe PPL should not be excluded to even indicate this statement to be true." But it looks like Bart has "pointed" to a "writing" that indicates that cooperation with such men would be OK, namely, Wade's five-point statement on cooperation. If you think Hogue et al would be excluded by Wade's statement, it would be interesting to hear why.

If a "cult" is comprised of "Followers of an exclusive system of religious beliefs and practices," then I'm afraid that all Christians qualify as cultists, which I'm sure you didn't intend. Christianity is "exclusive": it proclaims that only those who put their faith in Christ will be saved. It includes both "beliefs" and "practices" (such as baptism and the Lord's Supper). I think you need to narrow down your definition of a cult, as it looks like it includes all faithful Christians.

Anonymous said...

Wade,

I would oppose funding missionaries with those beliefs NOW, as would any of the dissidents that I know, if Camp and Miller are espousing second blessing theology or are claiming that everyone must speak in tongues. THAT is what pentecostal/charismatic theology is. That is not what any of us have been asking for.

As far as Wade's statement, why should that be defended? When has it ever been adopted? When will it be? It won't. I have supported the BFM and continue to. I do not support trustees who go beyond it and then force their particular view upon the rest of us. This is not about the BFM. It is about going beyond the BFM without any kind of consensus from the SBC. Apparently, that action is allowed. Some of us struggle with that because you only need to have 45 trustees on the same side of a particular hidden issue and you can do whatever you want and it is almost impossible to change it.

You seem to think that the dissidents are part of some pentecostal/charismatic takeover attempt. If not, then why give this so much attention? I really don't care what Camp and Miller say. They don't represent me. I believe that Dwight McKissic is being unfairly lumped in with them because he was being gracious to not constantly interrupt people he didn't agree with, just like you didn't interrupt others at the panel discussion at Dwight's church in April. It seems that you think that making hay out of this is beneficial to your viewpoint, but it really makes no sense.

But, Bart, we have been very clear about what we believe. Do you still not comprehend it? No one wants to see the SBC become charismatic. We just want it to remain as it has - open to people who might have a different view on a very small doctrinal point if they are not going to make a big deal about it, be divisive about it, or force it on others. Belief that PPL is legitimate IS NOT the same as belief in a second blessing, which defines pentecostal/charismatic theolgy. Either you are not able to grasp that, you are consistently mistaken, or you are calling us all liars. Which is it?

You have tagged all of these posts with "ecstatic babbling." Nice. Are we to think that that term defines the content of your posts, the comment streams, what you think of those you disagree with, or how you define PPL, something that some of us believe is a biblical spiritual gift? If it is the latter, by your very definition, you show a spiritual superiority over those that you disagree with by denigrating something that they hold to be biblical. No serious person calls it "ecstatic babbling" if they are not trying to be derogatory. In other words, you are doing the same thing that you accuse the people on TBN of doing: claiming that they are more spiritual than anyone who doesn't share their perspective.

I have generally ignored the blogs for the past several months because I grew tired of this. Congratulations on doing your part to reinvigorate the baptist blogosphere. But, these discussions grow increasingly wearisome when the words that we say are disregarded for the presuppositions that you guys hold. Maybe you feel the same way.

Again, I have no desire to see pentecostal/charismatic theology take over the SBC. A belief in a PPL DOES NOT constitute pentecostal/charismatic theology. You can fully affirm the BFM2000 and still hold a belief in an PPL. You do not have to hold to second blessing theology to believe in a PPL. The BFM2000 is a sufficient guide for the establishment of doctrinal parameters for all Southern Baptist entities. It should not be disregarded or thrown out, because it is the only consensus statement of faith for Southern Baptists. If it does not say all that you want it to say, perhaps you should try and change it directly instead of going through the back door.

I cannot be more clear. Will you accept my answers or call me a liar?

Anonymous said...

By Alan Cross,

That previous comment was mine and it should have started with Bart. I was thinking of Wade because you asked us to deal with his statement. I really need to get a google account, I guess. Sorry.

Bart Barber said...

Greg,

Good point.

Bart Barber said...

Debbie,

I am not kidding. If you'll read the post, you'll see that I'm not questioning what our SBC dissidents believe, but where they are willing to draw lines. And that very much is an open question.

Bart Barber said...

Chris,

You hear me correctly.

Greg Welty said...

Alan,

Wade proposed his statement as something "we might be able to use to help us unite around the essentials, give liberty in the non-essentials, and charity in all things." In addition, "This statement of cooperation defines the necessary essentials which must be affirmed in order to participate in the cooperative ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention."

So I guess what you're saying in your comment above is that Wade shouldn't have proposed this. He should have just stuck with the BFM 2000 as the standard for cooperation.

You say the problem is "going beyond the BFM without any kind of consensus from the SBC." But isn't that exactly what has occurred with Wade's "little BFM," or five-point statement? Broadening the parameters of cooperation to that little skeletal statement is in fact a rejection of the BFM as our convention's standard for cooperation.

This is precisely why Bart thinks that people like brother Wade "have not convinced [him] that they would not throw the doors of the SBC wide open to such men." There is simply nothing in Wade's statement to preclude it. On the contrary, that statement is part of his "specific recommendations on how we might move forward in our desire for evangelical conservatives of all stripes in the Southern Baptist Convention to cooperate with each other in missions and evangelism ministry."

You've got to at least acknowledge that his proposal is confusing at best, disconcerting at worst.

Anonymous said...

Alan Cross says,

Greg,

The problem is that Wade is just one person. If Bart wants to confront Wade and his positions, then he should write posts confronting Wade. Instead, he confronts all of the so called "dissidents" and asks them to defend Wade's statement. Why? When have any of us ever embraced Wade's statement?

Bart is trying to tie Wade's statement to what a couple of Baptist pastors said on TBN. My point is that that show does not define a "movement." One has nothing to do with the other. If Wade is advocating getting rid of the BFM, then take it up with Wade. But, that does not define the discussion over the past two years.

Speaking of Wade, I went over there after I saw this post and saw his post regarding Missouri Baptists. Can someone please tell me how we can get a Christian position if the Bible does not lay it out for us? Somehow, Missouri Baptists have. That is extra biblical revelation on par with what TBN proclaims, is it not? I'll look forward to Bart's post on that, since it actually does involve a Baptist body.

Bart Barber said...

Alan,

Yours is a pretty lengthy comment. I'll try to be concise in responding, and I'll try to keep the framework of my response clear.

Regarding the reason for incorporating Wade's proposal, I did so because (1) I take what he said seriously, (2) it purports to be ("Statement on...Cooperation") precisely what I have employed it to be in my hypothetical, (3) Wade is very influential among SBC dissidents, and (4) I wanted to forestall empty appeals to the BF&M, wanting to know about the personal beliefs of the respondents.

Regarding trustee accountability, surveyed every acre of that tract on previous expeditions. The difference between you and me has to do only with the sequence of events, not the content of them. When somebody who sees things your way "mans up" enough to put the question of PPL restrictions at the IMB clearly and squarely before the Southern Baptist people (rather than some "if you love the BF&M, raise your hand" sort of subterfuge), if you carry the day, you'll read Praisegod Barebones decrying the IMB policies if they persist (which they wouldn't).

Regarding Dwight McKissic, my four recent posts include one dealing with Dwight McKissic, one dealing with the program as a whole, and two explicitly dealing with people other than Dwight McKissic. The only person "lumping in" Dwight McKissic in this forum is Alan.

Regarding my appearance at the Conference on the Holy Spirit, if you can, with a straight face, make the case that one single person in Arlington walked out of that church with any doubts about what Bart Barber believes, then you are gifted in audacity. There is no comparison between the two. If anything, I spoke too much.

Regarding the false trichotomy that you present to me, I will not succumb to it. You confuse (a) the personal beliefs of SBC dissidents, which they have delineated clearly and repeatedly, and (b) the point at which SBC dissidents would draw lines regarding other people's theologies. I have clearly separated the two in my original post. Wade doesn't draw lines on his blog. McKissic didn't draw lines at the conference. He didn't draw lines on TBN.

Regarding my tags ("Ecstatic babbling"), I will not accord biblical terminology to unbiblical practices. One has concede the entire argument if one agrees that Scott Camp's or Arthur Blessitt's little exercise on TV genuinely is "speaking in tongues."

Regarding my attitude toward the Baptist Distinctives, I declare without apology that I believe them to be biblical; therefore, I espouse them without apology. I do believe that a person who sprinkles infants as baptism, for example, is in unrepentant sin and is, at that particular point in his theology, in an inferior position to the person who is obedient to the teachings of the Bible. I can defend this from the Bible. On the other hand, I am confident that nobody can make a biblical case that he who has not uttered "wannabuyahonda" is bereft of the Holy Spirit.

Regarding your essay, although there is a lot more there besides what I requested (and that's fine), I think you have successfully answered some portion of my question. You have stated that people who embrace second-blessing theology are unwelcome to receive Cooperative Program funding, not just because of the contents of the BF&M, but from your own personal conviction. There's one.

You didn't answer the "because." That's not necessary, but it would interest me. Why do you draw the line where you do?

Anonymous said...

Alan Cross says,

Bart, thank you for your lengthy response. I'll try to make this short. If you really expect everyone to believe that I am the only one talking about Dwight McKissic, then yes, that takes the kind of audacity that you were talking about.

As far as your participation in the conference, you answered the questions asked you. You did not interrupt others. You did the same thing that Dwight did. I listened to him on the video and I clearly understood his position just as I did yours. I am sorry that you did not.

Most of the SBC dissidents that I know want the lines to be the BFM. That seemed to work in the past, I feel that it can work in the future. Past that, there are probably other things that we can talk about, but I think that those things could be discussed on a case by case basis instead of creating sweeping policies that are based in the theological interpretations of some, but not all.

As far as your tags go, you can do what you like, I suppose. It still betrays your prejudices which are just as clear as the prejudices of Pentecostals.

Re: Baptist distinctives, I try to get mine from the BFM and the Bible and I will gladly fight for them and defend them. But, where do you get yours from? Is there a list somewhere of distinctives that says that anyone who believes that a PPL is biblical is not a Baptist? I have never seen such a list. Could you produce it?

Honestly, Bart, I don't know where you draw the line either. It appears from your silence that the actions of Missouri Baptists do not bother you, so is that a problem?

Bart Barber said...

Alan,

I said: "The only person 'lumping in' Dwight McKissic in this forum is Alan."

Do this.

1. Open this post in your browser, complete with comments.

2. Hit "Control-F" and ask your browser to search for "McKissic"

3. Tell us what you find.

Bart Barber said...

Alan,

I have all of the CDs from the conference. I did a lot more than answer the questions posed to me. Wednesday night at TBN, the questions were explicitly directed to everyone on the platform. At least one time Pastor McKissic declined to comment when he was asked to comment. He is too nice a man to interrupt anyone. Nobody expects that of him. Since you have injected him into this forum, in response to you I will simply note that he differentiated himself from the other people on the platform only regarding whether all Christians will speak in tongues. Since you have injected my participation in the Arlington conference into the conversation, I will simply note (again) that nobody left that conference confused about where I stood. I promise you, were I to appear on TBN, again nobody would walk away from the experience confused as to where I stand.

Bro. Robin said...

On a much lighter note, I hear Guthrie Tivo's T.D. Jakes so he can get his sermon for Sunday.


:-)

joerstewart said...

So far no one has answered the question completely. Alan did give an answer to most of it. Very interesting.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Joe: The question has been answered for two years in detail, no need to answer it again. I believe Bart already knows the answer, whether he will admit it or not.

Tim Rogers: I stand by what I have said. I am in no need of taking a deep breath,Just because I am a female doesn't mean my posts are reactionary. I would say more based on fact. I have read your comments in other places. I have not said this because of a question you have or have not answered(I don't even know what question you are talking about) Tim, you have commented in plenty of other places. I do read other blogs.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Greg: I would disagree that what I have written as definition for cult could describe every Christian. At least I hope not. If so we are in deep need of reformation and revival, which I believe we are.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Bart: I think Dr. McKissic did fine under the circumstances. It may not have been good enough in your view, but I had no trouble seeing where he stood. Why? He said clearly what his view was. I quoted it on Tim G's blog if you might have missed it.

sbyankee said...

Debbie, You write, " As for the word cult, the definitions that I believe could fit are thus:

Followers of an exclusive system of religious beliefs and practices;A system of religious beliefs and rituals."

With this definition, how do you say Christianity does not fit? Are you saying we are not an exclusive system of beliefs and practices? What part of "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me." is not exclusive?

Debbie Kaufman said...

sbyankee: That was not what I was referring to. I realize that you may not know what has been going on the last few years as I don't believe I have seen you post before. I don't have the space here to fill you in, but you may read archives on several SB blogs or SB periodicals that may be able to fill you in. There is more to the definition of cult than I have given here, but to be exclusive in my definition would be as in excluding a particular group of Christians because they do not see eye to eye on things not related to the gospel or first tier(if you will) doctrine.

sbyankee said...

Debbie,
This is Trish and when I posted the comment I didn't realize it wouldn't put my name there. Since I have my own blog now I signed in to here using the blog account and so it posted as sbyankee.

I still don't agree with your definition of cult and how it doesn't describe every Christian. Every Christian ought to be making an exclusive claim that Jesus is the only way to the Father. That exclusivity meets your definition of cult the way you have it posted.

What I am understanding you to say is that you want to use a different meaning of exclusive, and you expected the reader to know that you meant one thing and not another.

I think this is one of the problems we have right now. Different definitions are being used to explain what we mean and so no one really knows what is really being said.

We need to be more cautious about our word usage. It is a dangerous thing to use terms that others define differently. That's how the Mormons can claim they are Christians, because they use the same terminology we do, but when you dig into their theology, they don't mean the same things and you find they know a different Jesus than the one in the Bible.

Please, use the words as they are meant to be used or clarify your terms when you use them. It will help keep some of the misunderstandings down a little bit.

Thanks,
Trish

Debbie Kaufman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debbie Kaufman said...

Trish:I'm sorry I did not connect the name. I believe I did use the word as it was meant to be used. Exclusive country club-what does that mean-it usually means there are certain people they do not let in, certain ones they do let in. If you look up the word exclusive, the definition in the way I used it is clearly there more than once. I do agree there is usually more than one definition,but given my stance, I believe it is clear what I meant.

I am well aware of the use and definition of words. I am comfortable with what I have said.

Ron P. said...

Alan,

I believe that anyone who watches the video and did not know Dwight or his beliefs prior to his appearance on tbn, would believe that he was in general agreement with the panel, though not completely. I am only somewhat familiar with him, but prior to his statements AFTER the tbn broadcast, I did not know what his position on charismatic theology was. Watching the tbn broadcast I had a less than positive view of his theology as it pertains to charismatic beliefs, inspiration of Scripture vs. personal revelation etc... I feel much better about it since, (though still not in agreement with him on PPL).

All,

I must chime in on the definition of a cult and agree with everyone that going by Sister Debbie's definition, all evangelical, Bible believing Christians are cultists. I must reject that definition. The most basic definition of a cult I learned is: The adding to, or taking away from the Person or Work of Christ. The SBC is far from a cult or even a benign cult. I think that the word cult has been used irresponsibly and pejoratively as a vehicle of hyperbole to make aspersions and political points. How tragic the name calling has become.

Blessings,

Ron P.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Ron: I believe the definition of cult to go further than that. Cults are usually those who follow one human leader, no questions can be asked, there are a strict set of rules usually that are not deviated from and usually they all think, look and act the same. Usually in a cult, one who disagrees or deviates from the prescribed teaching is shunned and many times excommunicated from the group.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Just to clarify. Merriam's dictionary defines the word exclusive:

1 a: excluding or having power to exclude b: limiting or limited to possession, control, or use by a single individual or group2 a: excluding others from participation b: snobbishly aloof3 a: accepting or soliciting only a socially restricted patronage (as of the upper class) b: stylish, fashionable c: restricted in distribution, use, or appeal because of expense4 a: single, sole (exclusive jurisdiction) b: whole, undivided (his exclusive attention)

This is the only definition I have known and it is in this way I use the word.

From dictionary.com the word cult is defined:

a particular system of religious worship, esp. with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, esp. as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
3. the object of such devotion.
4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
5. Sociology. a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.
6. a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.
7. the members of such a religion or sect.
8. any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific.

It is number one that I refer to when I gave a synopsis to Dr. Welty. We could, if we are not careful, rely more on religious practices and traditions more than what scripture actually says. This we must be very careful of as it is doing the very thing that many are rightfully accusing Penecostals and Charismatics of doing which is adding to the Bible that which is not there and relying on conviction more than the actual words in scripture.

Grosey's Messages said...

Debbie, woe that I would ever disagree with you :).. but 1. refers to any religious group.

Grosey's Messages said...

Folks... where would SBC's be in 20 years if you don't stand your ground on the charismatic practises?
I wrote on my church website "We do not endorse their ministry in any way, as I feel that their teachings in the past (Prosperity gospel, New Apostles, and other extreme charismatic practices) have proven dangerous, and harmful to many."
this last week I have recieved 8 or 9 emails from my local Association executives:
I understand I am now under discipline by my local association for saying this. I guess that means I will soon lose my ordination for saying I don't agree with these practises, and I feel they are harmful to others.
That's where you'll be in 20 years.
Steve

Bart Barber said...

Debbie,

Stop digging.

Bart Barber said...

Steve,

The ordination may come from the Associational Execs, but the crown is awarded by the Lord, the Righteous Judge.

Ron P. said...

Debbie,

Part of the problem when two sides have a debate on these (or any other) issues is the changing of the definition of terms. It is not reasonable to change definitions in the middle of a debate. I think it is better that we stick to a classic definition of cults, not one contrived to cast aspersions. So let's agree not redefine words.

Ron P.

Debbie Kaufman said...

OK, I'll put away the dictionary and instead get out the Ron P version of the dictionary. No one has heard of the definitions, but in order to be fair.........

To say that I am redefining anything is ridiculous.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Steve: Be thankful, with me you can disagree and still be considered a Christian and a Baptist.

Ron P. said...

Debbie,

Not to spar with you... but I prefer to trust Christian sources for my definitions of terms of a theological nature. For example, Baptism, as defined in Merriam-Websters is:

" a: Christian sacrament marked by ritual use of water and admitting the recipient to the Christian community b: a non-Christian rite using water for ritual purification"

This is NOT a Biblically supported definition of Baptism as immersion, much less the significance and importance of it (and not a sacrament etc.). The same applies to the word cult, which dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster do not give an accurate classical Evangelical Christian definition.

Ron P.

Trish said...

Steve,

You have my prayers for this situation, as well, I'm sure of many others who read this post.

Keep us posted as to how things are going and how we can continue to pray or help.

God Bless you for standing up for the truth.

Trish

Debbie Kaufman said...

I don't know Ron, according to what some believe baptism is in our Southern Baptist life and how it should be performed that is exactly what I believe it is becoming, but that would be another subject for another post, not this one.

Debbie Kaufman said...

One last point and then I am done, but I do believe this worth considering. Wade did not say we were a cult, he said we could be(not are there) heading into being a benign(harmless) cult. Powerless, without the Holy Spirit's power.

I do believe strongly that we are lacking the power of the Holy Spirit. That is seen not only in baptisms being down, but in ministers who in the last 2 years have had to step down due to sex scandals, charges of molestation and just recently within the last few weeks, a minister who abused badly his wife. This is not being discussed, yet this is very serious. The direction of Missouri in dropping Acts 29 from receiving funds is in my estimation a grave error. We are in deep trouble, yet nitpicking and twisting goes on over topics like this.

gmay said...

Bart, congratulations, you now have dissidents Kaufman and Cross on record as opposing charismatic practices in appointing SBC missionaries and cooperation. You sly fox.

Anonymous said...

Alan Cross says,

gmay,

I have disavowed charismatic theology from the very beginning of all of this. That is nothing new. What I have said here I have said again and again. The only difference between myself and Bart's thinking is that I do believe that within Baptist theology there is room for believers to operate in the miraculous gifts of the Spirit and the phenomenon of PPL is biblical according to what is described in 1 Cor. 14. Obviously, many disagree with that interpretation, but up until now, there was room in Baptist life for disagreement on that minor point because our soteriology and pneumatology was the same. So, no change here. But, I am glad that you are getting what I have been saying from the beginning. I wish that others would get it as well.

Billy Edwards said...

Well, whatever we do, we sure need to keep our theology spotless and pure, unstained and untainted by anything unbaptistic, at least as we understand it. Why? Because...our perfect theology is leading God to use us in such dramatic fashion here in the good ol' US of A. Things like...our baptism "record" was 50+ years ago; at least 75% of our churches plateaud or declining; 10,000 of our churches baptize no one; almost all of the growing churches are doing so by member shuffling, not conversion. Yeah, that perfect theology is serving us well.

Lest you think I'm for aberrent theology, I am not. I'm just saying that we need to: 1) live out what we say we believe and quit arguing about it (so far, I've not seen one blogger/reader change his/her mind on any of this); and 2) get over the chicken little theology. The sky will not fall if Southern Baptists welcome PPL folks to the table.

Instead of being so stinking prideful of our heritage, why don't we concern ourselves with making our mark of missions and evangelism? And yeah, I need to follow my own counsel, thank you very much.

Greg Welty said...

Billy,

This post is not about what will happen "if Southern Baptists welcome PPL folks to the table." Rather, to use Bart's words, it's about "the theology of Camp, Miller, Hogue, and Blessitt." Those are two different things.

Although this does raise an interesting question: is there anything in the BFM that excludes "the theology of Camp, Miller, Hogue, and Blessitt"? If not, how has the SBC managed to avoid their theology so far?

:-)

Debbie Kaufman said...

gmay: It is nothing that I have not said before. I have not deleted one thing on my blog since I began writing. Anyone can check the archives where there have been several posts written that have said the very thing I have said now.

Billy Edwards said...

Greg,
This particular post may not address that, but we'd have to have our heads in the sand not to realize that the idea of allowing the PPL folks to do more than ride the bus has precisely been the point for some time now. Isn't the point of this post what would happen if Burleson et al were in charge?
And I still contend, if they were, the blogosphere would be full of folks arguing over correct theology of tertiary matters while the world yawns through another day of baptist irrelevance. But by golly, we have perfect theology.

Tim Guthrie said...

TO all,
Is no one going to defend that fact that unrelieable sources have made a huge mistake about my TiVO?

I do not even own one!

:)

Great discussion over here Bart.

Greg Welty said...

Billy,

"... the idea of allowing the PPL folks to do more than ride the bus has precisely been the point for some time now."

Indeed. As you are no doubt well aware, for the past twenty years (i.e. since 1987) NAMB has had a policy of not hiring missionaries who speak in tongues. This is an issue that goes beyond the BFM doctrinally, and yet there was no hue and cry when the Convention met the year after the policy was enacted.

Thus, far from making a radical move, it looks like the IMB was following a precedent accepted by the SBC for nearly two decades.

As for having "perfect theology," you'll have to find me the place where Bart declares or even implies that this is his standard for SBC employees or trustees.

Billy Edwards said...

Greg,
Was the NAMB decision for public tongues or PPL? I'm figuring you say, "What difference does it make?" but Paul addresses protocol for public use. In my mind, that's a big difference.

As to the IMB, consistency would be the order of the day. The trustees either need to rescind their current policy or fire Dr. Rankin. As it stands, the policy says one thing and their actions say another.

As for the idea that silence from the people after a convention decision would indicate tacit approval or an affirmation that we are correct, could the same be said for our silence in other areas for many years?

And I never indicated that I think Dr. Barber implies perfect theology as the standard for convention folks. I think it's an understood principle in today's SB life. How else can you explain the narrowing of what's doctrinally acceptable so many years AFTER the CR?

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Billy,

Not trying to get into a discussion between you and Dr. Welty, but the NAMB policy included PPL. It was much more stringent than the IMB policy on tongues prior to 2005.

Blessings,
Tim

volfan007 said...

i wonder why we didnt hear an outcry about the namb policy for 20 years?


david

Billy Edwards said...

Tim R,
Thanks for the info...makes my previous comment about the difference in tongues and PPL a moot point. Obviously, I'm not up to speed on institutional policies!

Volfan007,
Maybe there was no outcry because there may have been folk like me...20 years ago I was a hardware salesman, deacon and Sunday School teacher who didn't care about denominational happenings because I had too much else on my plate.

And...we need to be realistic - 20 years ago the mediums of communication were not even close to what we've got today. Information flows freely today - 20 years ago, the information came from very few sources, and the commentary came from even fewer.

Greg Welty said...

You might be interested in "Southern Baptists, Tongues, and Historical Policy" by Emir Caner. According to Caner, the 1987 policy "stipulates that any missionary candidate who speaks in a private prayer
language has disqualified himself from consideration" (1).

But let's say Caner is wrong here, and the 1987 policy was simply about public tongues-speaking. The fact that "Paul addresses protocol for public use" is indeed a difference from the PPL issue, but I doubt it's "a big difference," as you put it. For the 1987 policy didn't say, "If you publicly speak in tongues, make sure you follow Paul's rules and you can be a missionary candidate." Rather, it precluded tongues-speakers from candidacy, even as the newer IMB policy precludes PPLers from candidacy. (BTW, Caner addresses the public/private dichotomy in a later section of the paper.)

Of course, neither policy forbid speaking in tongues, as is misleadingly suggested by many. Southern Baptist Christians could still speak in tongues, whether publicly or privately, and still be members in good standing in their local churches, and no trustee could do a thing about this, nor should they. The local church is autonomous. They just weren't deemed qualified for missionary service in the NAMB or IMB. Likewise, the longstanding ban on divorced candidates in the NAMB and IMB doesn't forbid Christians from being divorced.

In addition, neither policy was a "doctrinal" policy. What they address are practices, not beliefs.

Finally, my point is not that silence equals approval. My point is more modest: the uproar over the later IMB policy is often attended with rhetoric that is historically naive.

Anonymous said...

Alan Cross says,

Greg,

I was 13 in 1987 and in the 8th grade. I had pimples, was really skinny, and had a crush on a girl who did not return the favor. I was also spending all my time playing basketball. I missed the NAMB decision. :)

When the IMB decision came down, I was 31 and a pastor of a church very involved in global missions. I was and am paying attention now. If there is a chance to revisit the NAMB policies, I will be the first to join in that debate. So, I understand the history but it doesn't change my desire to be involved in what is happening in 2007. As far as that decision being precedent, I don't really buy that. Just because something was accepted or overlooked 20 years ago does not mean that it was right then or right now.

Billy Edwards said...

Greg,
I realize I'm getting off point here, so I'll sasy this and move on to another topic. Or go home.

This bugs me, "neither policy was a 'doctrinal' policy. What they address are practices, not beliefs." So it's OK to believe something as long as you don't practice it? I know you don't believe that, and I'm confident that neither do the IMB or NAMB trustees. But that's what you get into when you "legislate" stuff like PPL that doesn't matter one whit. You get hypocrisy.

And of course the convention boards can't tell us what to believe. But it's a tad self-serving to take CP dollars from people who are OK with PPL in one hand while using the other hand to keep PPL folks from driving the bus - or even boarding the mission bus.

Greg Welty said...

Hi Alan,

I agree with everything you say in your comment above :-)

Billy,

"So it's OK to believe something as long as you don't practice it?"

No, that's not what I said. In fact, tongues-speakers can both believe that tongues are for today, and can practice them, and as I said, there's absolutely nothing any trustee can or should do about that. Likewise, many Christians can believe that at least some divorces are permissible, and can even get divorced, and there's nothing a body of trustees can do about that. If the prohibition on divorce doesn't 'legislate' 'hypocrisy,' why would the tongues policies do so? In each case, the trustees have made a judgment call, that a particular practice disqualifies someone from NAMB or IMB candidacy.

And believe it or not, I think you make a good point in your final paragraph. If enough churches bypass the CP because of the PPL policy, and state that this is their reason for bypassing the CP, I'm pretty sure the IMB would take notice. It might be that whatever good the IMB trustees were trying to attain on the mission field via the PPL policy is more than outweighed by the evil of a widespread draining of financial support. I would hope the IMB would take that possibility into account as they reflect on their decision in the future.

Billy Edwards said...

Thanks, Dr. Welty. Enjoyed the conversation.

ShaneOHBC said...

Bart,

Hi. My name is Shane Pruitt. I read your blog on SBCtoday, but I wanted to contact you directly. I am a little alarmed by the way TBN presented Scott Camp last Wednesday.

I am the Associate Pastor of Preaching/Teaching at Orchard Hills Baptist Church in Garland, TX. I have been serving here for 2 months.

However, before this ministry, I was the Student Pastor at Fellowship of Joy in Grand Prairie, TX. The church that Scott Camp is the Senior Pastor of. First of all, I want to say that he is a good man, and we have a great relationship. The Lord uses him, and people come to know Jesus through his ministry.

But... When I watched the TBN special (if you want to call it 'special' ha ha), I was disappointed that they were still calling Scott a Southern Baptist. I have been reading many blogs about the 'special', including yours (great! by the way), and many were decieved I think by believing that all three men are Southern Baptist Pastors.

I don't know if you are aware, but Scott led Fellowship of Joy to transition into an official Assembly of God church. In fact, Scott dropped his Southern Baptist ordination, and was licensed and ordained as an Assembly of God Pastor. Scott is not Southern Baptist anymore! (I didn't think it was honest for them to present him as though he was. Of course, he once was SBC, but he's not any longer.)

I am licensed and ordained as a Southern Baptist Pastor, so of course this affected me being the Student Pastor. (And, of course, I don't hold to the same views that Scott presented on TBN) I also do a lot of speaking engagements: D-Nows, Camps, Rallies, Revivals, etc. (99% of them in the Baptist world) So, the church officially becoming Assembly of God affected my ministry greatly.

So, of course, that was one of the main reasons I resigned from Fellowship of Joy when Orchard Hills came knocking. I am home now! Also, my Associate Student Pastor at Fellowship of Joy, also left and is serving as our Youth Pastor here, because of the same reasons.

I am in no way bashing him. I am just wanting the exact truth to be known about Scott and the church. This is going to be a hot topic. So, it needs to be known that Scott Camp is no longer a Southern Baptist trying to 'revive' the Convention. He is officially Assembly of God!

Soul'd Out to Jesus,
Shane Pruitt

Anonymous said...

Alan Cross says,

Thanks for that insight, Shane. That explains a lot. I didn't think that Camp's views sounded very familiar to me as a Southern Baptist.

This "movement" to reform the SBC and remake it in a Pentecostal/Charismatic image just got a lot smaller, it seems. :)

Greg Welty said...

Still, why not cooperate with people like Scott Camp for the sake of missions? After all, it's the gospel that unites us, and there isn't anything in the BFM that would exclude Camp's theology, is there?

:-)

Billy Edwards said...

Greg,
I know your tongue is planted firmly in your cheek, but take it out and answer your question...why can't we cooperate with people who ONLY believe the BFM? And if we can't, why not narrow the statement of faith to the point that we can cooperate? Isn't that what the trustees of the IMB, NAMB, Southwestern, et al want anyway?

Bart Barber said...

Shane,

Thanks a lot for the information, certainly we all knew that Camp was not happy with the SBC, but the actual status of his church seems to be an up-in-the-air question right now. I'm checking into it, but I think that Camp's church is still eligible for credentials to both the SBTC and the SBC. Your testimony is very helpful for us to know that Camp and his congregation do not desire to be affiliated with the SBTC and the SBC, whether they have bothered to express that desire to the denomination or not.

Bart Barber said...

Alan,

Whatever the status of Fellowship of Joy, Scott Camp is someone who:

1. Showed up at McKissic's Arlington Roundtable to try to influence Southern Baptists.

2. Showed up on TBN to try to influence Southern Baptists.

Even if he is a recently-no-longer-affiliated-with-the-SBC pastor, to assert that his affiliation status means, ipso facto, that he has absolutely no interest in promoting Charismatic theology within the SBC does not follow.

Bart Barber said...

Indeed, Greg, unless Fellowship of Joy has embraced the idea that individuals can lose their salvation (any light on that question, Shane?), there is nothing in the BF&M that would exclude Scott Camp from presiding over one of our agencies.

Anonymous said...

Alan Cross says,

Greg, Bart,

If Scott Camp believes in a second blessing theology, then he is at odds with the BFM. If he is affiliated with the Assemblies of God, he MUST believe in a second baptism of the Holy Spirit with tongues as the initial evidence. He would not be able to work with us on that basis alone. PPL would have nothing to do with it. Belief in the second baptism (blessing) of the Holy Spirit with tongues as the sign is in their 13 articles of faith and is a requirement for every ordained AoG minister. There is no danger of Scott Camp influencing Southern Baptists from that angle.

Bart,

Scott Camp had ZERO lasting influence at the Pastor's Roundtable. He was actually rebutted in that it was clearly stated that we had no desire to leave the SBC. He spoke up during the open forum time when anyone could speak up. The fact that he was there and offered an unwelcome opinion is completely meaningless in regard to your theory of a substantial movement to cause the SBC to become charismatic. He came to the first one in December and to my knowledge was not at the second one in April. I guess he didn't think that he had much influence either if he did not return.

I think that you are watching too many old Oliver Stone movies. Way too much conspiracy theorizing going on here.

Bart Barber said...

Alan,

Would you mind quoting the portion of the BF&M that excludes the idea of a subsequent "blessing" of the Holy Spirit after salvation?

Greg Welty said...

Billy,

I don't know any "people who ONLY believe the BFM."

Indeed, I don't ONLY believe the BFM.

So could you clarify your question?

Alan,

I'm afraid that Bart is right here. The BFM says that "At the moment of regeneration He [the Holy Spirit] baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ" (II.C).

Of course, Wade is already on record as allowing Southern Baptists to dissent from this statement. Presumably, then, he'd be OK if Camp were to do so :-)

But even if it is normative for Southern Baptists -- as you seem to naively assume :-) -- it doesn't seem to preclude subsequent baptisms and blessings.

In fact, for all I know Camp holds to the fourfold view of baptism articulated by Dwain Miller on the TBN show: positional (by God), personal (water), practical (filled with the Spirit), power (tongues, signs, wonders) (cf. 01:18:00).

Anonymous said...

Alan Cross says,

Article II. C. The Holy Spirit says,

"At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ."

Considering the fact that the BFM uses the traditional Pentecostal verses for a separate baptism (Acts 2:1-4,38; 8:17; 10:44; and 19:1-6) and interprets them in a way that shows that the Holy Spirit does His baptism at the moment of regeneration, I think that it is pretty clear. Pentecostals would not disagree with the Baptist statement, but they would add to it with another experience. They are very clear about that experience in their statement of faith. It doesn't say that there is not a second baptism but it also doesn't say that pigs do not fly. We would not assume the latter because of a statement regarding its absence. From the statement that IS made and the verses that are used, it is safe to assume that the BFM is against such a teaching.

Are you saying that the BFM allows for a seperate spirit baptism AFTER the salvation experience? If so, then I understand why it appears that you think that the BFM is quite inadequate on many fronts and we need further direction from trustee boards and baptist leaders. If you can't see from the BFM that a second baptism is not in view, then I guess you could split the thing to death and make it say anything you want it to. But, then again, people do that with Scripture as well, so you are no safer there.

In summary, I believe that the teaching on where the Baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs for the Christian is quite clear in the BFM. Just because it does not forbid a separate baptism does not mean that it allows for one. This is much more than an argument from silence, in my opinion, because the verses that Pentecostals use to buttress their point are clearly in view and a specific interpretation is rendered based on those verses.

Bart Barber said...

Alan,

Greg has already referenced the "four baptisms" theory. I understand your argument that the Baptist Faith & Message implies a rejection of "second blessing" theology. Yet on the TBM program Camp carefully differentiated between "[baptism] into the Body of Christ" (BF&M II.C.) and their purported baptism into the Holy Spirit. With regard to the latter, the BF&M is silent. You take the silence as explicit rejection. I don't think we can do that.

We can say that the BF&M does not teach "second blessing" theology; we cannot say that it teaches against it.

Bart Barber said...

In other words, Camp could, in his interpretation, assert that he could conscientiously affirm the BF&M (unless he has abandoned perseverance).

Anonymous said...

Alan Cross says,

Then, according to your view, the BFM is quite inadequate if it cannot even secure a Baptist view of spirit baptism. Again, I would see your point if the BFM did not reference the traditional pentecostal passages and still affirm what it affirms. There is more going on there than just silence on the possibility of a second baptism, in my opinion.

Greg Welty said...

Alan,

"Considering the fact that the BFM uses the traditional Pentecostal verses for a separate baptism (Acts 2:1-4,38; 8:17; 10:44; and 19:1-6) and interprets them in a way that shows that the Holy Spirit does His baptism at the moment of regeneration, I think that it is pretty clear."

No, it's not "pretty clear," because the verses that are listed after any paragraph of the BFM are simply listed in canonical order (unlike most other confessions, which tie specific sentences in the paragraph to specific verses). So the BFM does not tell you which doctrine is being inferred from which text. Beyond that, what the BFM infers from those texts is not something about "the Baptism of the Holy Spirit" (as you put it, with the definite article), but what happens when "He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ."

BFM II.C doesn't give us some exhaustive doctrinal definition of "The Baptism of the Holy Spirit." It simply tell us something the Spirit does, namely, that "At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ." This language neither includes nor precludes the Spirit doing other things as well. So it's open for a Pentecostal like Camp to do what Bart says above, I think.

"It doesn't say that there is not a second baptism but it also doesn't say that pigs do not fly. We would not assume the latter because of a statement regarding its absence."

Clearly, it would be erroneous to infer from the absence of BFM language about a subsequent baptism of the Spirit, that therefore the BFM teaches there is a subsequent baptism. That would be as silly as to infer from the absence of BFM language about limited atonement, that therefore the BFM teaches limited atonement. Rather, the silence of the BFM on limited atonement would seem to indicate that the BFM is compatible with those who endorse and those who reject such a view.

"From the statement that IS made and the verses that are used, it is safe to assume that the BFM is against such a teaching."

I guess I don't see where you get that. The statement that is made is the one I cited, not the paraphrase that you subsequently used :-)

"If you can't see from the BFM that a second baptism is not in view, then I guess you could split the thing to death and make it say anything you want it to."

No, it doesn't follow from saying "doctrine X is not in view in this paragraph of the BFM," that therefore the BFM says "anything you want it to." Let's be reasonable: a particular eschatological millennial option is not in view in section X. But it doesn't follow from the fact that neither premil, amil, nor postmil are in view, that therefore that section says anything we want it to say.

"In summary, I believe that the teaching on where the Baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs for the Christian is quite clear in the BFM."

Except that it isn't talking about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, is it? Look again at the wording.

I guess I don't quite understand your approach here. You clearly deem PPL as legitimate for Southern Baptists. And yet PPL "is not in view" in any paragraph of the BFM. If you don't think that the BFM excludes PPL, then why would you think it excludes a subsequent baptism of some sort, or a second blessing?

"Just because it does not forbid a separate baptism does not mean that it allows for one."

I see. And so likewise, just because the BFM does not forbid PPL does not mean that it allows for one. Do you really believe this?

"This is much more than an argument from silence, in my opinion, because the verses that Pentecostals use to buttress their point are clearly in view and a specific interpretation is rendered based on those verses."

So you say :-)

Greg Welty said...

Alan,

"Again, I would see your point if the BFM did not reference the traditional pentecostal passages and still affirm what it affirms. There is more going on there than just silence on the possibility of a second baptism, in my opinion."

Let's go with your logic for a moment. BFM II.C (the paragraph we've been talking about), clearly references one of the major prooftexts which many use to support PPL, namely, Ro 8:26-27. But II.C says nothing about PPL. Thus, in this context, the BFM's silence is tantamount to a clear rejection of PPL.

You don't buy that, do you? Neither do I. :-)

Greg Welty said...

Here's another interesting point.

The statement in BFM II.C says that "At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ."

But in the prooftexts given, the only text which speaks about being baptized into the Body of Christ is not any of the Acts passages, but 1Co 12:13 (and even there, the reference to the body of Christ is implied, and not explicit).

So it's not clear that the cited sentence above is even being grounded in "the traditional Pentecostal passages" in Acts, for those texts don't speak of being baptized into the Body of Christ.

Greg Welty said...

I realize that Bart will now accuse me of attempting to become a guest host for the day :-) But I wanted to clarify something, just for the record.

Lest anyone get the wrong impression from my posts on the BFM above, let me be clear that I'm committed to SBC entities endorsing and perpetuating non-charismaticism as the norm for Southern Baptist life. But I'm also a realist about the kinds of ways this norm gets discerned. I believe the BFM is a sufficient guide to trustees in those areas that it addresses. But the BFM is not a guide in any area that it does not address. This seems sensible enough. Thus, by saying that the BFM -- all by itself -- does not exclude some of these Pentecostal or charismatic positions, I am not saying that therefore there is room for these doctrines and practices in the SBC. I am simply saying that the trustees of our entities need to look elsewhere for guidance on these matters.

This is not a radical position. It is a sensible one. Are we really to imagine that trustees are to studiously ignore any and every source of guidance, except for the BFM? Are we really to think that they are to studiously ignore the resolutions that get passed year by year at the convention by the messengers from the churches? Are they to ignore what the state conventions are telling them about the current state of the churches? Are they to simply stick their fingers in their ears and read only the BFM?

In this regard, some proposed interpretations of the Garner motion are simply self-referentially incoherent. If only the BFM is to be consulted for guidance when it comes to making various entity policies, because the BFM is "sufficient" to provide guidance, then trustees must ignore the Garner motion, since obviously the Garner motion is not the BFM. Thus, if the Garner motion (as some understand it) is authoritative, then it is irrelevant, because it implicitly instructs trustees to ignore the Garner motion as a source of guidance.

Where did the IMB, ever since 1845, get its policies on divorce? Not from the BFM! Where did NAMB, ever since 1987, get its policies on tongues? Not from the BFM! Where do our seminaries get their anti-alcohol policies for student life? Not from the BFM! Where did Southern Seminary get its Abstract of Principles? Not from the BFM!

The idea that Southern Baptist norms are -- or have ever been -- exclusively enshrined and exhibited in the BFM alone is ludicrous. This is an ahistorical, abstract, and utterly unreal construct that has been invented out of thin air and then foisted upon the contemporary discussion... by those who disagree with a judgment call made by the IMB with respect to missionary candidates. It is simply not how the SBC has ever conducted itself.

The IMB sees its PPL policy as a way of guarding the churches we plant overseas from charismatic influences. A double judgment has been made here, each part of which is fallible: (i) charismatic practices are in fact outside that norm of Southern Baptist life which the majority of Southern Baptists want to see represented in the churches which their CP dollars are used to plant, and (ii) PPL is a reliable indicator of present and/or future charismatic theology, for both the church planter and within the church that gets planted.

Perhaps (i) is way off. Perhaps Lifeway has already shown us that charismatic practices are the norm for Southern Baptist life. (Then again, perhaps Lifeway hasn't shown us this :-) Perhaps the IMB needs to get up to date as to the kind of churches Southern Baptists want to see planted with their CP dollars. That's a possibility, and we'd be stupid to ignore it.

And/or perhaps (ii) is way off. Perhaps linking PPL to a broader charismatic theology is just a mistake, and has resulted in a draconian solution to a nevertheless real problem. Again, that's an open question.

But it's one thing to say, "The IMB got their facts wrong and made the wrong decision here."

It's quite another thing to say, "The IMB should never look to anything beyond the BFM as a source of guidance for the policies they enact."

The first reaction is quite reasonable, and opens the way to genuine dialogue.

The second reaction reveals that someone needs to get real as to how the SBC entities have in fact functioned for the past 160 years.

Anonymous said...

Greg, you make excellent points and appear to be right on some levels. The frustrating thing is that Baptists do not seem to have much of any way to affect the decisions of trustee boards short of vacating the board or controlling the presidency. The BFM does not constrain them in any sort of constitutional way and neither do resolutions. Resolutions that seem to instruct our entities never even make it to the floor because they are ruled out of order. The Garner Motion has been completely ignored, even though it was passed by a majority. It only made it to the floor because it adopted a statement from an entity and made it the Convention's statement on the matter, but entities are still free to do whatever they want.

What I am learning here is that Southern Baptists have no ability to affect the machinations of our entities short of electing a president that is sympathetic to their particular ideology so that he can appoint his people to the nominating committees. That is a system that sets itself up for corruption and abuse and the only way that you can change anything is to be powerful enough to take over the SBC.

All this time I really did think that a second Spirit baptism was rejected by the BFM. I had good reasons for that. I thought that a PPL was allowed because the BFM spoke about spiritual gifts being from the Holy Spirit but did not interpret those gifts in one way or another. Apparently, from reading your comments, the way that you see this is that Pentecostal Spirit Baptism is allowed within the SBC as is PPL, but our entities have the right to draw further restrictions to eliminate those teachings if they see fit. So, the entities do not really reflect any actual theological position of the SBC that is codified, they just reflect the position of the group that happens to secure power. Is that correct? In reality, all of our discussions on this matter are null and void because the SBC through it's statement of faith takes no position on the matter. All that matters is power and which group controls the presidency and thus the appointments to the trustee boards. What a wonderfully fleshly system we have devised.

If this is so, then how can we speak of Baptist distinctives? If Pentecostals who are allowed in under your interpretation of the BFM gain power, then they can do whatever they want as long as it does not contradict the BFM, right? I now understand your fear. I really thought that we had some protection from rogue groups hijacking the SBC and remaking it in their image. Apparently not.

The problem is, where do we learn of Baptist Distinctives if not from our statement of faith? If there are beliefs held by different groups who happen to hold power at a given time, then those beliefs are not Baptist Distinctives, they are subgroup distinctives and what Baptists believe has more to do with who holds power at a given time than any type of Baptist consensus that someone can point to or read. If this is true, then how can we effectively fulfill the Great Commission? How can we disciple people if we believe a bunch of different things based on who holds power at the time? This perspective is unworkable in the long run, but it appears that few people want to take a long term view because our only guidance are the traditions of those who happen to hold power at the time. This allows us to become very relativistic and the very things that we fought for in the CR are sacrificed to specific group interpretations and power plays.

Basically, I have just learned that these types of discussions don't really matter. All that matters is raw politics and power plays to grab control of the Convention. There is no standard to appeal to for protection because even a group like the Pentecostals can take over the SBC based on aligning enough people with their perspective.

Greg, you make excellent points and I am finally starting to see that you guys just might be right on a lot that you have said about the BFM. I am not surprised that I was able to understand this from you because we have always had a very healthy dialogue and you have always been very respectful. We disagree, but I learn from our discussions. Maybe I have interpreted things wrongly, but the perspective that you laid out only leads me to the conclusion that we are not very Bible based at all, but our governing structure is based much more upon an oligarchy of a few people who are able to wield control. As long as they don't go too far, whatever they decide to do is basically untouchable. Apparently, the mistake of the moderates and liberals was that they went too far and opposition was galvanized against them. Will the fundamentalists do the same? One day, perhaps. In the meantime, Bible believing conservatives like myself who just happen to be open to a PPL have no refuge. We are on the outside because a small group just arbitrarily decided that we were one day. And, there's nothing that can be done about it short of waging a 10 year war to take over the SBC. What a mess.

I have better things to do with my time, I assure you.

Anonymous said...

Alan Cross says,

The previous post was my response to Greg.

Todd Nelson said...

Alan,

I agree: a very enlightening discussion on this thread that reveals the mess that the SBC is in.

My concern is that the hardening and narrowing of her arteries will so weaken the patient (the SBC) that eventually she may end up sidelined while the Lord keeps sending more charismatics and Pentecostals into the game. It's not that I mind charismatics and Pentecostals winning the world to Jesus, it's that the IMB appears to be shooting itself in the foot to protect the denomination and the world from "aberrant theology" and practice.

According to missions researcher David Barrett and others, most of the Kingdom growth in the world is coming from charismatics and Pentecostals in the "two-thirds world". Despite their theological shortcomings, as alleged by Baptists (and what group has none?), my conviction is that if we could combine their emphases on the Spirit and power, with the Baptist emphases on the Word and missions, then we would have a more balanced theology of mission and a more effective practice of missions.

Whatever happens with SBC missionary efforts, the Lord will keep extending His Kingdom. I just want to keep having a part in what He's doing in the world, along with believers of all kinds, as we try to demonstrate the truth of the Gospel, the power of the Spirit, and the unity of the fellowship. I'm confident that many Southern Baptists feel the same way. So may it be, whether inside, outside, or on the periphery of the SBC.