Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Resolution on Regenerate Church Membership

Tomorrow I will begin my BlogOver 2008. It may take me away for longer than I have intended, because I have developed some sort of infection in my left eye that has it bloodshot, leaking mucus, and partially shut. Of course, Paul apparently did a good job of presenting the gospel while possibly suffering from a similar condition, so maybe God will bring me some opportunities to share the gospel with medical personnel and pharmacists.

While I am away, I hope that you will visit and endorse the Resolution on Regenerate Church Membership, being hosted at a new website, Convictional Baptists, that I have created as a resource site for the principles articulated in the Fifth Century Initiative. At the moment, the resolution is the only content on the site, but that will change rapidly.

Tom Ascol is the man who has championed the concept of a resolution along these lines, and Tom will be bringing his own resolution again this year. I'm thankful to see the inclusion of language about believer's baptism in Tom's resolution this year. The similarities between the two resolutions outweigh the differences, although I prefer our resolution. I expect that there will be many people who affirm both resolutions in the days leading up to Indianapolis.

Anyway, visit the site and add your endorsement if you are so inclined.

22 comments:

Grosey's Messages said...

WOW a very pretty simple straight forward site..
:)
Sorry about the shiner.. your wife should wear gloves next time.
Steve

Dave Miller said...

I read Tom Ascol's motion this morning and now yours. They seem to be pretty much in line with each other. Why can't they be brought together?

The only issue seems to be a call for repentance. I was afraid when I read on Tom's site that this one included statements on Baptism and the Lord's Supper that somehow it was going to reflect some of those definitions that Dr Yarnell gave recently (some of them, I strongly disagreed with), but there seems to be no real disagreement here.

Why two motions? If I sign on to support yours, does that mean I don't support his? They seem to be saying essentially the same thing.

Dave Miller said...

I just read your document called "Fifth Century Initiative."

I would sign THAT document in a heartbeat!

How about presenting that as a template for SBC renewal?

Jonathon said...

Dr. Barber,

Over at the Founders site I asked whether these resolutions really matter in the long run.

Do they?

I don't see us talking about resolutions that were made in 2006 today!

Although I also want to be clear to say that I believe we need to be faithful in the are of regenrate church membership, because Lord knows we aren't.

Jonathon Woodyard

R. L. Vaughn said...

Since I'm not a Southern Baptist, it doesn't matter what I think about a resolution that will/may come before the SBC messengers. But I prayerfully support the efforts of all who proclaim the truth of and need for regenerate church membership. I've been talking about it for almost 25 years (within my small circles), but sometimes it seems like no one is listening. It is good that you all bring it to the "big circles". God bless Bart, Tom, et al.

Bart Barber said...

Steve,

Now, that's how rumors get started! I'm presently running a fever of 102, so I would not be able to put up much of a defense against Tracy if she were so inclined. Thank God that she is a lady in every respect!

Bart Barber said...

Dave,

Already several people have affirmed both resolutions, and you are welcome to do the same. I do not believe that they are contradictory or in any sort of contest with one another. I do not wish to make any comments that might be construed as criticism of Tom's resolution, believing that such a discussion would amount to a distraction.

Bart Barber said...

Jonathon,

When unsuccessful resolutions have failed two years previously, I believe that the adoption of a resolution will constitute a positive step forward. Presently the (false, I believe) impression left is that Southern Baptists are opposed to the idea of regenerate church membership. That's such a critical impression that I believe it to be worthy of either verification or correction.

Bart Barber said...

R.L.,

Brother, we need to correct that problem (of you not being a Southern Baptist who can help us to lead these efforts). Churches can have multiple affiliations, you know.

;-)

Ben Macklin said...

Brother Bart (and no one else, please) -

Not to be obtuse, but does your church currently practice church discipline as you think it ought to be practiced? If so, what, besides obvious, visible sins such as (drunkenness, known adultery, etc.) gets your notice to begin the process of discipline? Does lax attendance (once every 2-3 months) constitute grounds?

I really want to know; I'm not trying to be difficult.

Ben

Anonymous said...

Without being contentous, and I really mean that...

What is the purpose of the resolution? Is it to encourage churches to slim down their membership roles to reflect a current membership instead of "has beens" that have moved on? Is it to encourage churches to practice "church discipline" which could be anything from the removal of an immoral member to the loving confrontation of one caught in sin? Is it to clarify the definition of baptism and the proper observance of the Lord's Supper?

I ask because it seems to me that there are several themes in the resolution that deal with more than one topic, and it becomes unclear what the real focus is.

Todd Pylant

throughtheveil said...

I have brought the two together here:

http://throughtheveil.wordpress.com/2008/05/01/sbc-membership-harmonized-resolution/

In His Word,
Scott

R. L. Vaughn said...

Brother Bart, a couple of things:

1. I'm not a leader. Past experience confirms that. I wouldn't be useful in that regard. I can't even speak well in circumstances that require quick thinking. If I have any gift, it is teaching.

2. I'm too much of a hardshell- direct missions-landmarkish-apostolic practice is normative sort of guy to ever fit in as a Southern Baptist (or much of anything else, I've discovered). But I've come a long way in 25 years and can at least wish you all well in these efforts, and others. I am a descendant of a local leader who left the BGCT for the BMAT in 1900 and 12 years later said he would rather have his right arm severed from his body than allow a board party Baptist to use our church building to hold a memorial service for his (my ancestor's) own nephew. I hope he has changed his mind a little bit; if not he is looking down disapprovingly of me right now. ;-D

On the issue of the resolution itself, I am shocked at the seeming animosity over at "that other blog" toward your "well-crafted" resolution that leaves out what you all are "afraid" to day. As an outsider, it seems like two resolutions on the subject show that more people are stepping up to the plate, even though they may not walk in lock-step agreement. Positives would seem to include the possibility of garnering more attention for an important subject and the greater possibility that at least one of them will pass. Surely those who support your resolution will not whine if Tom's passes, or vice versa if yours passes.

Bryant Sims said...

Jonathon,

I would further comment that the passing of this resolution will give a lot of pastors a mandate to update church rolls. Instead of members looking at the pastor's plea for an accurate accounting of membership as some whim, the pastor will be able to point to this resolution as a call from the convention to do what must be done. I also see this as a call to a few other churches whose numbers are so ridiculously inflated to get real and focus on the task of the great commission.

Bryant Sims

chadwick said...

Dr. Barber,

You said:
"Already several people have affirmed both resolutions, and you are welcome to do the same. I do not believe that they are contradictory or in any sort of contest with one another."

Would you be willing to sign Dr. Ascol's resolution? :D

Respectfully,
chadwick

Bart Barber said...

To all:

I was supposed to be out on my Blogover, but instead I'm down with an eye infection. The eye problems make it difficult for me to type (that is, to read what I am typing, or what you type, for that matter), so I may be more brief than usual. My apologies.

Bart Barber said...

Ben,

FBC Farmersville is 143 years old. I've been the pastor here for nine of those years now. For the past two we've been at work developing a Constitution and By-Laws, Church Covenant, and Statement of Faith, all of which take us in the direction of regenerate church membership. We have exercised church discipline at our congregation, but only for egregious cases so far. I think it important to point out:

1. Restoring regenerate church membership is a process that requires significant pastoral leadership and requires that one have earned the trust of the congregation. Believing not only in regenerate church membership but also in congregationalism, I've taught the Bible and we've moved as the congregation has felt comfortable with it.

2. We believe that it is critical to establish a covenantal agreement among the congregation first, and then to call people to adhere to it. Willy-nilly exercise of church discipline apart from the process of defining biblical church membership is likely to be counter-productive, in our opinion.

3. When I first began to teach about this, one of my congregants fearfully asked me, "Are we going to do this right away, or is this a year off?" I answered, "I am an historian...a year off is right away to me."

Bart Barber said...

Todd,

The purpose of the resolution is to affirm the biblical doctrine of regenerate church membership. The fact that so many other items appear in the resolution merely demonstrates how far-reaching the concept of regenerate church membership is.

Bart Barber said...

Chadwick,

Although the two resolutions are not contradictory and should not represent any sort of wrestling match, naturally I prefer our resolution and will not be endorsing any of the others besides this one.

B said...

Hi this is my first time visiting your blog.

I just want to comment that Tom Ascol's resolution is much better than yours and I hope his gets more votes.

God bless you.

Bart Barber said...

Gee, B, how sweet! Stop by any time.

:-)

volfan007 said...

b has such a nice attitude...doesnt he? wow, he would definitely make me want to vote for Tom Ascol's resolution, and if he's a Founder's guy, it'd really make me want to go to be a part of that group.

b, write again soon. Would ya? We are all waiting to hear from you.

David