Wednesday, June 18, 2008

On the Conservative Resurgence and the Great Commission Resurgence

Three of the blogs I regularly follow (Nathan Finn, David Worley, and SBC Today) have posted this week on the theme of a Great Commission Resurgence. The Great Commission—one of the categorical imperatives of Christianity and certainly of the SBC. Who could argue, right?

Southern Baptists, as it turns out. And that's because, like most public actions in Southern Baptist life, there's as much subtext here as there is text.

First, the positives of the GCR, expressed in the negative things it addresses. Clearly Southern Baptists are less faithful than once we were about presenting the gospel to lost people here at home. We need a resurgence in our living out of the Great Commission. Clearly the North American Mission Board has been through a few years of turmoil while we are losing to paganism the large urban centers of our nation. We need a resurgence in our living out of the Great Commission. Clearly there are doctrinal problems with an International Mission Board that has so lost its confidence in the Bible as to become convinced that the Qur'an is the key to winning Moslems to Christ. We need a resurgence in our living out of the Great Commission. The very phrase "Great Commission Resurgence" scratches an important and palpable itch in the Southern Baptist Convention. I believe that it is helpful language, and I would be pleased to go to my grave thinking that I had contributed at all to seeing a Great Commission Resurgence take place even only among my congregation, much more among Southern Baptists as a whole.

But here's the problem, in my view, that generates some controversy. The proponents of the Great Commission Resurgence are constantly presenting it as the Post-Conservative-Resurgence Resurgence. Either they declaratively (seemingly authoritatively) state that the Conservative Resurgence has ended, or they proclaim that it needs to end right away. They have the "Mission Accomplished" banner painted and packed, and they are on a desperate search for the appropriate aircraft carrier on which to erect it. As the SBC Today article points out, one reads very little effort to expound upon Matthew 28:18-20 to define the GCR, yet as the article fails to point out explicitly, the one universal constant in the speeches, posts, and briefings given on the GCR is that it is defined as not being the Conservative Resurgence.

I hold out hope for a reconciliation of the Conservative Resurgence and the Great Commission Resurgence.

Why The Conservative Resurgence Is Not Over

The two need to be reconciled because we need both a follow-through of the Conservative Resurgence and a Great Commission Resurgence. We need not sacrifice one for the other. Several factors in Southern Baptist life demonstrate for us the continuing need for a vital Conservative Resurgence.

  1. The very issues (and indeed, many of the very people championing those issues) that provoked the Conservative Resurgence are still active and influential in the Southern Baptist Convention at the state convention level. The great failure of the Conservative Resurgence has been its inability to translate into state convention contexts, where intimidation of pastors by denominational bureaucrats has been much more effective in shutting down conservative movements. The severity of the problem varies from state to state, but a great many leading churches in the CBF are also leading churches in their respective state conventions.
  2. But for a few noteworthy exceptions, the network of traditionally-Southern-Baptist colleges and universities remains entirely unchanged by the Conservative Resurgence—even are more resiliently liberal in its wake. Consider, for example, GCR proponent and recently minted Church History Ph.D. Nathan Finn. An alarming number of state colleges and universities in Baptist life would go out of their way not to hire Dr. Finn simply because he holds a terminal degree from a Southern Baptist seminary. That's ridiculous. What's more, the same universities are actively counseling their ministerial students not to attend Southern Baptist seminaries for ministerial training. University after university has successfully amended its charter for the express purpose of remaining untouched by the Conservative Resurgence. Walk onto the average "Southern Baptist" university these days any you'll be disabused of any notion that the Conservative Resurgence has reached "Mission Accomplished" status.
  3. The past two years of blogging have revealed more than one troubling indicator of doctrinal weakness in our convention, from speculation of autoeroticism in the life of Jesus to a wink-and-nod "caveat" system in place among our trustees and employees to an aversion toward ecclesiology (among adherents of what is essentially an ecclesiological movement!) to an out-and-out advocacy of feminism in the SBC to a denial that life begins at conception…I could go on and on. The transparency afforded by blogging—something that some people hoped would put an end to the Conservative Resurgence—has actually pulled back the curtain to demonstrate how much work remains to be done.

A Plan for Reconciling the Resurgences

First, we must note that not all who are calling for the Great Commission Resurgence are doing so from the same place. I've read some analysis that seems to regard the GCR as the anti-CR. Having opposed the CR all along, but having been unable to defeat it, people in this camp apparently see in this moment a good opportunity to employ the sacred status of the Great Commission as a dodge to supplant the CR indirectly. Such a strategy can be effective—this is exactly the way that Landmarkism was largely set aside in the twentieth century, not by articulating another ecclesiology but by changing the topic of conversation away from ecclesiology altogether. For any people who might harbor these sentiments, the reconciliation of the resurgences would cause them to abandon the GCR, since it would no longer serve their purpose of bringing an end to the CR.

A second theme arises from those who did not oppose the Conservative Resurgence, but who have tired of it or have grown disillusioned with it. They may not want to overturn the CR, but they surely would like to get it over with, already. This mood is one of impatience, typified by Ed Stetzer's comments last year in San Antonio: "Wasn't the promise of the conservative resurgence that we would get to the point that we agree on enough that we can now reach the world for Christ? When will that come?" For such impatient folks, the need is (a) to reiterate the needs that remain to be addressed by the CR and (b) to show that the CR and the GCR are compatible and can proceed alongside one another—that the CR can continue without being the only thing that Southern Baptists are doing. I think there is hope for the reconciliation of the two resurgences in this group.

A third theme arises from those who are ambivalent about the Conservative Resurgence ideals, but who regard the whole thing as a negative influence upon public relations. These are our Madison Avenue Baptists. They're terribly concerned that people "know what we're for, not only what we're against." The world for which they hope is a pipe-dream. If tomorrow the SBC were to enact a thousand strategies for feeding the hungry or sheltering the homeless but were to pass one resolution against same-sex marriage, guess which one makes the news that night? And here's one important factor to note about such things as same-sex marriage—it's not the Southern Baptist Convention who is bringing these issues to the forefront of public discourse. Organized movements exist for the sole purpose of making Gomorrah of the United States of America. We can choose either to roll over to them or to take a stand for Biblical righteousness. Wherever we draw the line to take a stand, we're going to be castigated in the press for our intolerance. The Madison Avenue plan for appeasement will only lead us to our own Münich. Folks who want a kinder, gentler SBC need to be pointed to Christ's own testimony about the certainty that we will be persecuted, misrepresented, and slandered when we stand up for the truth. We need more preaching on these themes. And we need a resolve not to be what the Apostle Paul considered "men-pleasers." We need to do what is right and let the chips fall where they may.

A fourth theme arises from those who see "Great Commission" as a calling for us to forget our Baptist convictions. Within the IMB the phrase "Great Commission Christians" is code-language for evangelical ecumenism. A renewed rigor in biblical studies and in historical theology—a renewal fueled by the Conservative Resurgence and, to some degree, by renewed intensity in Southern Baptist discourse on the subject of Calvinism—is giving rise to what Malcolm Yarnell and others have rightly termed a "Baptist Renaissance." If any see the Great Commission Resurgence as a mechanism for blunting a resurgence of convictional Baptists, they are likely to be disappointed. Historically a faithfulness to carry forward the Great Commission has been quite compatible with vigorous maintenance of the Baptist distinctives, for Baptists have been among the most faithful to pursue obedience to the Great Commission.

A fifth and final theme arises from those who are concerned about flagging evangelistic zeal among Southern Baptists. As I opined some time ago, this category includes almost everyone in the SBC, and some overlap occurs between this category and each other category listed above. Yet for some this is the primary motivation, or even the exclusive motivation, for championing a Great Commission Resurgence. Some folks calling for a Great Commission Resurgence are really only saying, "We've got to become more faithful to share the gospel around the world." Granted. Such folks need to understand that, although the successful continuation of the Conservative Resurgence is not a guarantee of a Great Commission Resurgence, it is nonetheless the sine qua non of a Great Commission Resurgence. The current direction of our state Baptist universities will not contribute to a Great Commission Resurgence. No Great Commission Resurgence is forthcoming from the New Baptist Covenant any more than it is to be expected from the Unitarian-Universalists.

Not all of these themes are equally sympathetic to the Conservative Resurgence, but enough are sympathetic for us to see a consensus achieved in the SBC. Here's a plan for demonstrating the compatibility and confluence of the two resurgences:

  1. Leading advocates of the Great Commission Resurgence need to state plainly that the Conservative Resurgence is not yet complete.
  2. Leading advocates of the Great Commission Resurgence ought to develop a joint definition (platform, statement, whatever you want to call it) of the Great Commission Resurgence together with identifiable key historical leaders of the Conservative Resurgence in order to demonstrate not only the compatibility but also the solidarity of the two movements.
  3. The Great Commission Resurgence needs to be focused explicitly upon the planting and strengthening of Baptist churches as the specific task that the Great Commission presents to us.
  4. Southern Baptists need to underscore the fact that the powerhouse of the Great Commission is not to be found in contextualization, strategies, programs, bridges, the Qur'an, marketing, seeker-sensitivity, music, tiptoeing around ethical issues, pandering to cultural hotbuttons, or any other such man-centered locus, but arises solely from the gospel power of proclaiming Christ and Him crucified. This concept is a clear and solid link between the Conservative Resurgence and the Great Commission.
  5. Southern Baptists need to beware the potential that we might become fractured into CR and GCR camps. Each concept needs the other and will utterly fail if any divorce or separation takes place.


John Killian said...

Thank you, Dr. Barber. The need for conservative theological reform will never end. Furthermore, you are correct when you mention the sad state of many Baptist colleges. How many Baptist colleges have Science Departments that are thoroughly pro-evolution? How many Baptist Colleges approach the humanities from a Christian perspective?
Yet, a large share of Cooperative Program money is going to support our Baptist Colleges. The Conservative Resurgence is far from over!

Chuck Bryce said...


Well said (for the most part). I will not argue over any of your categories except to emphasize two points.

First, you are correct in saying the categories often do overlap, especially those of us who are alarmed at the seeming innefectiveness of our evangelism.

Second, the quote about "what we are for rather than what we are against" was a very public quote from Frank Page whom I would hardly consider a "Madison Avenue" anything.

As to your conclusions you are spot on in that we need to say that the CR is not over. Actually the more accurate statement would be that the CR, or its focus, will always need to be a focus for any group that wants to remain Biblically faithful.

You are double spot on (is that a term?) when you indicate that all the programs/approaches/strategies in the world are not the key to a real GCR. It is an humble people relying on the unlimited power of our Holy God that is needed.

In regard to persecution I would add this. Much of the missional movement and many of those who I hear use the term GCR are simply pointing out that there may be ways to improve our programs/approaches/strategies.

When the persecution is about Jesus we should bear it worthily. I feel, however, that some of the "persecution" we experience is brought on more by our own clumsy actions rather than the Gospel and person of Jesus. I knew a man in college with me 20 years ago who went around begging for persecution. He would do things that made ME want to persecute him. It was not about the Gospel but about what people saw in him. While not as overt about that I am convinced that we often bring this on ourselves by focusing more on what others think of us than we do about what Christ thinks about our actions.

Either way, I have come to the point that if I am going to be concerned about what others think then I would rather offend a fellow Brother in Christ than an unbeliever. By that I mean that we often try to act in such a way that other believers/Pastors etc... will approve of us to the detriment of an authentic witness to the world.

As always I ask others to pray for me if I sound judgmental in any of my words.

Anonymous said...

Bro. Bart,

Lots of good material to chew on. I particularly liked the how you tightly coupled the two resurgences in your comments on those who seem to be impatient with not seeing evangelistic fruit from biblical orthodoxy.

One of your points did cause me to seek some clarification. The issue is with your third theme regarding the 'Madison Avenue Baptists'.

I believe you may broad brush a bit with lumping everyone who uses the phrase 'know what we're for, not only what we're against' into a culture pleasing cesspool.

To flip that broad brush around, I could simply say that culture warriors are in fellowship with the Westboro hooligans.

That would be ridiculous.

While there is no denying that many want to court the favor of culture outright through appeasement, doesn't Scripture itself give us the hope, and the formula, that we can indeed find favor with men?

Acts 2:47 ..praising God and having favor with all the people.

Romans 14:14-18 ..For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.

Of course it's the 'these things' we're discussing, right?

My proposition is that the SBC has allowed it's tone be the message, as opposed to letting it's message be the message.

Many (not all) people with negative impressions of the SBC do not get that from biblically worded resolutions. They get those impressions from the way these resolutions are verbally communicated at the convention and the way they are communicated out in the churches themselves.

It's not appeasement to want to ensure that your Gospel message (which the resolutions should be, right?) doesn't focus an inordinate amount on identifying every microscopic detail of sin without bold typing the hope of Christ's salvation.

The hope for drunks is not less alcohol, it's more Gospel.

Mike Woodward

Bart Barber said...

So it's point number three that I need to clarify. You never know which one you're going to shank.

People liking us simply cannot be the goal. I'm more than happy for it to occur incidentally. When we show up in deluged Iowa and offer disaster relief, people are pleased with Southern Baptists. But pleasing those people was not the purpose of our efforts—we did it because it lines up with what the gospel has done in us and has caused us to be.

My point was simply that we cannot worry about our image. We're going to get bad press. We just need to get used to it.

And finally, I don't associate the phrase I quoted with Frank Page. I acknowledge that he has employed the phrase, but I don't think that he coined it, nor can a phrase employed so widely be associated uniquely with him.

Bart Barber said...

Thanks to all three of you for the encouraging and substantive comments.

Bart Barber said...

I failed to include two things in my clarification:

1. Neither should people DISliking us be our goal.

2. The desire for people to know more about what we're for than about what we're against is not an EVIL sentiment. I can sympathize with it. I am labeling it as naïve, not as malevolent.

Greg Welty said...


It is my understanding that Danny Akin was the one who first introduced the terminology of a "Great Commission Resurgence" into the lexicon of Southern Baptist discussion. He did so through a twenty-page address given November 28, 2007. The manuscript and audio is found here.

You state above that “The proponents of the Great Commission Resurgence are constantly presenting it as the Post-Conservative-Resurgence Resurgence. Either they declaratively (seemingly authoritatively) state that the Conservative Resurgence has ended, or they proclaim that it needs to end right away.”

That simply isn’t true. Read Akin’s address. Akin says that we should be “building on the ‘Conservative Resurgence’ that was initiated in 1979”. He nowhere states that the CR has ended, nor has he proclaimed that it needs to end.

Why is this relevant? Because Akin is no marginal figure when it comes to the subject of your blog post: he’s the guy who introduced and carefully explained the GCR terminology in the first place! I can’t find any diluting of baptist distinctives in this address. The BFM 2000 in its entirety is advocated as the *sine qua non* of cooperation: “we will not confess less than what this document affirms.” We need “a theology that rules out of bounds... infant baptism and non-congregational ecclesiologies.” “Believer’s baptism by immersion should not be up for debate.”

One thing that continues to puzzle me about the SBC Today blog post you referenced above is why Robin Foster (i) links to Nathan Finn's blog post, (ii) complains that among GCR-advocates there is a "lack of using the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20) itself as the defining parameter," when (iii) the blog post to which Robin links *explicitly* mentions Matt 28:18-20 as a defining parameter! I'll assume this was an oversight, rather than chutzpah :-)

Anonymous said...

Isn't there something in Scripture that says...

Blessed are the naive, for they shall see God work in unexpected ways.


Mike W.

Bart Barber said...


It seems that you miss the distinction between "building on the Conservative Resurgence" and continuing the Conservative Resurgence. One allows for it having been completed, while they other explicitly states that it has not been completed.

For an example, look at Nathan's recent post. Therein he states plainly that the Conservative Resurgence is over, but that we need to build upon it.

Bart Barber said...

As to the SBC Today guys, I'll let them answer for themselves.

Dave Miller said...

My view is that the CR, which was in my view a gracious work of God, got lost in the weeds.

I think some of the leaders of that movement may have stopped being reformers and started being conservers of power.

I also feel like the CR has lost its way with the introduction of some of the exclusionary policies that were introduced - the most visible iteration of that is the IMB policies.

That was certainly not what I had in mind when I was voting for Adrian, and Bailey Smith, and Jerry Vines and Charles Stanley and...

I think the Great Commission Resurgence is needed to remind us that our denomination, while it needs to be conservative and Baptist, needs to focus not on excluding those who disagree on issues of secondary importance, but on making disciples.

Most movements tend to lose their way at some point. I see the GCR as a means of restoring the intent of the CR.

I hope it works.

Dave Miller said...

On the other hand, my biggest complaint today is having my loyalty to the Word questioned because I think the CR power-that-be have made some mistakes.

You have stopped short of doing that, but at least one you have mentioned in your post here has consistently leveled the accusation of liberalism against anyone who differed from his positions on any of these issues.

I do think the spectre of liberalism is used too much to inhibit discussion and dissent on certain issues.

Bart Barber said...

I think the CR-powers-that-be themselves think that they have made some mistakes. I don't think that sentiment, in and of itself, has led to the exclusion of anyone. Now, when you get down to specifying which mistakes you think that they've made, that can start to involve the ideology of the movement itself.

wesmith said...

Great overview but short of some facts.

I have to agree with Greg Welty and Dave Miller. The Conservative Resurgence needs to be built on, not abandoned. As you stated we need to get on with it and spread the GOOD NEWS.




Wayne Smith

Dave Miller said...

I think a Southern Baptist needs to be an inerrantist, believe in salvation by grace through faith, needs to practice baptism by immersion of believers only as a symbol of salvation (not for salvation) and needs to be motivated by the Great Commission.

There are, of course, other issues. But those are the heart and soul of a Southern Baptist.

When we start telling people that they are unwelcome to serve because of how they pray privately, we have strayed from what the CR was all about.

When we tell people that their biblical baptism wasn't Baptist enough, we have strayed.

I know its like a broken record, but to me, those policies and issues like that are not minor things. They are a deviation from the noble purposes of the CR.

When we question the spiritual fidelity of someone because they interpret scriptures differently regarding moderate use of alcohol or have a different view of a woman's role in the church, I have a problem with that. (Again, I do not use alcohol, and my views on Women in Ministry are actually fairly close to Dr. Patterson's.)

I want to be in a denomination that follows scripture alone, not denominational traditions not based on scripture, and I want to be part of a fellowship that is devoted to obedience to the Commission and does not get sidetracked on secondary issues.

Not to beat another drum, but your FCI defines what a Southern Baptist is without straying into these sideline issues.

If we could stick to the Bible, fellowship on the basis of common consent to the BF&M, and follow the Great commission, I would be happy.

Bart Barber said...

Dave Miller and Greg Welty,

Greg, Dave's comment establishes what I am trying to show: That there is "out there" a perception of tension between the Conservative Resurgence and the Great Commission Resurgence. Dave regards it as a corrective of the Conservative Resurgence. Perhaps I should have included that as another category.

My point is simply that we need both movements, and that I believe them to be compatible. I tried to give some suggestions as to what specific actions might end any sense of antipathy between the two, but so long as the goal is accomplished (the continuation of the CR in the context of a burgeoning GCR), I'm content for our leaders to accomplish it any way that God gives.

Greg Welty said...


This is strange. You’ve gone from saying that “they state that the Conservative Resurgence has ended,” to saying that they “allow for it having been completed.” But these are two very different things. To give an example: you say that “We need a resurgence in our living out of the Great Commission.” This statement – by itself – “allows” for the view that no one in SBC life currently lives out the Great Commission. (It allows for it because it would be compatible with your claim.) But clearly your statement doesn’t *state* that no one lives out the GC!

I never thought I’d see the day when an SBC leader should be criticized for simply calling us to build on the Conservative Resurgence. The fact of the matter is that the Conservative Resurgence *did* accomplish something (did it not?!), and it’s perfectly OK to say we should build on that. Nothing in that position implies that there is no more need for conservative reform at any level in SBC life. The idea that we should build on the CR honors and recognizes the accomplishments of the CR, rather than denigrate them.

I repeat: nowhere does Akin state that the Conservative Resurgence has ended. Nowhere does he proclaim that it needs to end right away. Do you disagree?

This is what’s so bizarre. You “hold out hope for a reconciliation of the Conservative Resurgence and the Great Commission Resurgence.” But much of Akin’s paper was taken up with arguing that compatibility. You don’t “build on” something that contradicts your vision.

You may wonder why I’m focusing on this. I’m bothered by blanket claims about “The proponents of the Great Commission Resurgence,” claims that they are “constantly presenting it” as something, and that they are on a “desperate search” for something, claims that are inoculated from reasonable assessment because they are made against *anonymous* “leading advocates of the Great Commission Resurgence”. I mean, your charges don’t even apply to *the* leading advocate of the GCR. Don’t you think there’s something, well, unhelpful in that?

Tim G said...

i think you have laid the ground work for something that I have been chewing on: "The Great Commission resurgence" must be "a by product" of the CR or else it would or never will occur. Wrong Theology cannot produce the heart of God which is the Great Commission.

And yet, when I use the term "wrong Theology" I fear I open up wounds. Until we seek from God His way and live His way, we will never do His Will.

The barrier in the discussion may be on "seeking and finding"?

Greg Welty said...


That’s not true. As far as I can tell, Dave does not regard the GCR as a corrective to the CR. He regards it “as a means of restoring the intent of the CR.” That’s an honoring of the CR.

Let’s put this to the test. As Dave put it above, when you or others were “voting for Adrian, and Bailey Smith, and Jerry Vines and Charles Stanley and...”, did you *really* have in mind “the IMB policies” currently being discussed? If you did, then yes, I guess Dave’s view is that the GCR corrects the CR. But let’s be real: the CR was about inerrancy, not IMB policies. (I’m willing to be corrected on this point, of course.)

David Rogers said...


I think you and I have gone around enough on this to assume that you have a pretty good idea of where I am coming from, and I have a pretty good idea of where you are coming from. Let's also assume, for the sake of the argument, that neither one of us is ever going to convince the other to adopt our point of view.

From my point of view, assuming such to be the case, I am totally comfortable with supporting someone who believes like you to be an IMB missionary, or seminary professor. But, I am not sure if you are totally comfortable with supporting someone who believes like me to be an IMB missionary or seminary professor.

If you are willing to say yes, you are willing, then that frames this whole discussion in a different way. In that case, this is only a friendly, in-house discussion, in which we bring our different perspectives to the table, and defend and debate them openly, without fear of being censored. As far as I am concerned, that is fine, and has it's place. We are merely trying to help each other mutually to better understand Scripture, as "iron sharpens iron."

If, however, you say no, you are not willing, then this whole discussion takes on a whole new perspective. In that case, then we need to think seriously about whether or not we can both serve God together with a clean conscience as part of the same organization.

All I am asking for is the liberty to serve God according to my conscience, in the way I understand Scripture to teach, and to cooperate with others who are willing to allow me to do so, holding to and practicing my convictions.

If you cannot, according to your conscience, allow people who believe like me to cooperate fully in our joint Great Commission efforts, then we have a problem we need to face openly. I don't believe I should force you to go against your convictions. In such a case (which I sincerely hope is merely hypothetical), we may need to consider forming two different conventions, or some other compromise solution that accomplishes the same purpose.

But, if we are just going to go on and on trying to convince each other of our point of view until we are blue in the face, or bring the other one over to our side, I believe we are going to neglect giving the adequate focus to what we should really be doing, getting on with the fulfillment of the Great Commission, as we each understand it.

Also, if I can work with you, but you can't work with me, we need to decide somehow who needs to leave and who needs to stay. Or, maybe we need to come up with an equitable way to divvy up the resources between us.

But, then again, maybe there is no need for it to come to this. I, for one, certainly hope that is the case.

Also, obviously, this is not just about Bart and David. And, besides each of our personal perspectives, there are many other ones. But, I believe this scenario is in some way illustrative of what is at stake.

Would you agree?

Dave Miller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave Miller said...

Let me state this way more brutally than I really should do to make myself clear.

There was nothing wrong with the CR.

But the CR got hijacked by a more extreme group (what is sometimes called Baptist Identity) which deviated from the purposes of the CR.

The GCR is not a corrective to the CR, but to the deviation from the intent of the CR.

Again, I state it that way to make myself plain, not to besmirch people.

Glenn Leatherman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Rogers said...

Also, for the record... (I just read a few of the last comments after posting my last one)...

I do not see a tension or contradiction between the Conservative Resurgence and a Great Commission Resurgence. And, I am quite convinced that neither would my father. And, I think I am in a place to have a pretty informed opinion of that.

Lately, I have been reading over documents from the '79 to '90 period of SBC life. And I don't find the current Baptist Identity issues being talked about hardly at all. The issues discussed were mostly tied into inerrancy, and, gender-related issues. That is why some of us don't see the whole Baptist Renaissance thing as a natural continuation of the Conservative Resurgence.

Glenn Leatherman said...

Thank you for your perspective article on the need to unite the "Conservative Resurgence" (CR)ovement and the "Great Commission Resurgence" (GCR) movement that is currently vying for supremacy in the Southern Baptist Convention.
One thing that would be great to unpack is the definition of the term “Baptist Renaissance” that you refer to. This is still a vague term that needs unpacking through good dialogue. From my vantage point as a pastor of a church in friendly cooperation with “Southern Baptists Convention”, it will be difficult to define this term because the members that make up churches don’t know “Biblical theology” and “Church/Baptist History” because of poor teaching in the past.

You also say “that the powerhouse of the Great Commission is not to be found in contextualization, strategies, programs, bridges, the Qur'an, marketing, seeker-sensitivity, music, tiptoeing around ethical issues, pandering to cultural hot buttons, or any other such man-centered locus, but arises solely from the gospel power of proclaiming Christ and Him crucified”

All I can say to that is “Amen.”

The issue we have to deal with is that the gospel needs to be proclaimed in a way that doesn’t separate becoming a believer and becoming a disciple. As a pastor I struggle that most American Evangelical/Protestant churches including most Baptist Churches don’t really obey the Great commission – we really don’t make disciples in obedience to the command of Christ. Making disciples means that we must build biblical communities where accountability can be practiced. This includes a commitment to “Regenerate Church Membership” as well as “Biblical Church Discipline.” The Great commission involves proclaiming a thick gospel that includes not just justification but also sanctification and glorification. We never outgrow the need to hear the gospel. I am tired of people trying to sell me on the idea that there is some special key or method to spiritual maturity. God is merciful if we would just repent of our loss of the Gospel in our preaching. We need to live a Cross Centered life

To help us better understand our priorities both theologically and philosophically could we name this need Great Commission Power "Gospel Resurgence" that creates a “Christ-treasuring Renaissance?” This would be the glue for those of us that affirm both CR and GCR, but see the need to teach the Biblical understanding of Evangelism, the Gospel, and Conversion. Proclaiming Christ and Him crucified (risen, ascended, reigning) faithfully and accurately is truly the powerhouse of the Great Commission and Biblical Theology?

Thanks for making me think through all of this.

Tom said...


In his report Wednesday night at the convention, Danny Akin said (if memory serves me correctly) that the battle for the Bible will never be over. That should be easy to check on the archived videos. If this is indeed true, it would lend support to Greg's point and perhaps shed a little more light on the perspective of the "father" of the GCR


Dave Miller said...

Bart, I need your help.

Were you the author of a post a while back about an advertising campaign for your church - one that set out the biblical requirements of church.

1) Was that you?

2) Can you link the post? I went through your archives and didn't see it. Maybe it was someone else who wrote it.

Is my memory completely gone?

Bart Barber said...


Let me try to be more precise, thanking you all the while for helping me to do so.

1. This is not an attack post. I'm not trying to be unhelpful; I'm trying to be helpful. To whatever degree you help me to ferret out any appearance of attack, I'm grateful.

2. I'll gladly grant that there is some inference involved in my conclusions here. I believe that statements about building on the Conservative Resurgence imply a move forward to some next chapter.

3. I am not asserting that all of the GCR folks hold a negative view of the CR. Indeed, I have offered categories some of which explicitly do not. It is possible to approve of the CR and yet regard it as accomplished past rather then present task.

4. My post, as I myself read it, is a bit convoluted. Perhaps my thinking is as well. If I were convinced that Drs. Akin, Dockery, Finn, et al., were 100% sold on the idea that the CR is over, I would not hold out hope for a combination of the two ideas and would not call for a statement to the contrary. Yet I think that their presentations have left the impression that they see some relaxation or suspension of the CR (as it exists most recently) as an important precondition to the GCR. That's what I'm trying to address.

5. I cannot answer your question about my votes for the CR presidents. The only reason why Dave can answer them is because he is an old man. :-) My preteen self was not toting a ballot at any of those meetings.

6. I do appreciate your comments. I thought that the "Mission Accomplished" language was so picturesque. Perhaps I got carried away with my own rhetoric, declaring that this was the overt statement of every person involved with the GCR. It is Nathan's statement, and I think it a statement compatible with what others have written about the GCR. I would love to see the GCR distanced from such a sentiment. Indeed, that is among my stated conclusions at the end. I'll contemplate a revision.

Bart Barber said...


Dave, if I understand him, sees the GCR as a correction to what the CR is today, in his perception.

Bart Barber said...


Could be. I confess that my phone rang and something else was afoot distracting me during a few portions of Akin's message.

Bart Barber said...


I'm not sure that you are entirely representative of any large group in the SBC. I think that you have been exemplary in your deportment in blogging and that you have obviously been gifted with a keen mind. I wish you nothing but good things in your future. If I were a trustee of any of our entities, I would not vote to hire you for any of the positions of service that you have mentioned.

That's not really even tangentially the point of this post, I don't think. If you believe that the CR is over or that it needs to give way somehow to a GCR, that's not at all the reason why I would vote as I would. The topic of how I would vote regarding your employment is also not something that I would go out of my way to expound. But you have directly asked, and I'll not be so cowardly as to refuse to answer.

I will not, however, derail the post into any lengthy back-and-forth with you regarding my answer.

Bart Barber said...


I did write it. I'll look for it.

Also, I see that you further clarified your view of the GCR and the CR beyond my response to Greg.

Bart Barber said...


And, my apologies for outing you as an old man. :-)

Bart Barber said...


Thanks for stopping by. I confess that Greg, Dave, and David have received the better of my energies. Let me say that I don't think I disagree with any of what you have written. Let me also encourage you to Google a bit on the Baptist Renaissance and see whether it hasn't already been unpacked a bit.

Bart Barber said...

Finally, as I often do in posts that generate a lot of comments, I want to reiterate the point:

The CR and the GCR need each other.

Anonymous said...

Good post. I agree we desperately need the Conservative Resurgence and a Great Commission Resurgence. One without the other will result in failure.
It could be argued, however, that the Conservative Resurgence includes the Great Commission Resurgence. The leaders of the Conservative Resurgence were and are strong advocates of biblical missions and evangelism.
David R. Brumbelow

Dave Miller said...


I will plead guilty to the old man thing, only based on the way I feel most days. I now feel it mandatory to groan whenever I stand up.

I would point out, for the record, that I was a 21-year-old second-year seminary student when I punched my ballot for Adrian rogers in 1979.

That makes me 50, not 80.

Just clearing that up.

Dave Miller said...

David Brumbelow - did you attend Southwestern in late 70's early 80's? I worked on Brad Sprague's "lawn rangers" with a guy named Brumbelow.

Could that have been you?

What days those were. The whole crew had masters degrees in theology. We had some interesting discussions whilst "fighting for 'lawn order' across the Metroplex."

David Rogers said...


Here is how I think my comment is relevant to your post:

A good part of the energies of the so-called Baptist Identity movement seem to me to be directed towards refuting the ideas of people like me. And yet, I regard myself to be a "loyal son" of the Conservative Resurgence. I also see my place in life, at least in a lot of senses, as joining together with the people called Southern Baptists to help fulfill the Great Commission in the world.

If people like me are left on the outside, so to speak, without a seat at the table, we will have gone beyond the original intentions of the Conservative Resurgence, and beyond what the intentions of a Great Commission Resurgence ought to be.

And, I don't hear any of the folks calling for a Great Commission Resurgence saying we ought to drop our guard, and begin to allow things in the SBC again that were effectively excluded as a result of the Conservative Resurgence. I hear them saying we should hold our ground, and be vigilant, but not necessarily keep looking for new issues on which to exclude partners in the task of the Great Commission.

Greg Welty said...


As I understand it, most everyone believes that the CR accomplished *something* at the national level of the convention. And I don’t think very many advocates of the CR would dispute your view that something more needs to be accomplished at the state convention level. So let’s grant these two points. Notice that, in doing so, we have conferred upon the CR the status of something that is already-but-not-yet. (Eschatology buffs, start slavering.)

By simply speaking of this thing called “the Conservative Resurgence,” you treat it as if it were in the past. And, indeed, it was. But as you note, it has, sadly, remained mainly at the national level, with respect to trustees and entities. But by calling for further reform at the state convention level, you want “the Conservative Resurgence” to continue into the present and future. Great! But you can only make this argument, because you think you have something to “build upon,” namely, the CR itself.

If I’m right, then Akin et al are no more guilty of thinking the CR is over-and-done-with, than you are. You believe something was accomplished in the past (at the national level), and you want to build upon it (at the state level). Akin et al believe something was accomplished in the past (the CR at the national level), and they want to build upon it as well (in the GCR). Neither camp believes we should repudiate the CR. Neither camp (as far as I can tell) thinks the CR is purely a past phenomenon and has no implications for the present. (Nathan Finn is actually a case in point, given how much he laments goings on at the state level in his neck of the woods.)

Clearly, it *was* “Mission Accomplished”… at the national level. But as far as I can tell, that neither precludes further work at the state level, nor pressing forward with a Great Commission Resurgence.

That was my main point, I guess. I think you may be creating tension when it really isn’t there.

And if a GCR advocate *were* to think that the battle for the Bible is now over in some final sense, in every area of SBC life, I would rebuke him for his naivete.

(BTW, thanks for being so nice! :-)

Todd Benkert said...


I think you may be right that there is a political subtext to GCR language, but you are wrong about the nature of that subtext. I do not believe any of the leaders who are using GCR language (Akin, Lawless, Rainer, etc.) would say that the CR is over, especially on the local/state level as you have mentioned. Neither would any of these men be part of some move back to moderate theology. Those who advocate a Great Commission Resurgence are not advocates of, as you suggest in your third point, a weak ecclesiology, feminism, a denial that life begins at conception, or any other liberal/moderate position you care to mention.

However, I believe they would (and I know I would) be opposed to expanding the CR to a further narrowing of who can participate in SBC life. Part of a GCR is a willingness to cooperate with fellow Conservatives to fulfill the Great Commission. The political issues at stake are not a return to liberalism. That is a red herring.

There is a legitimate concern, however, that many in SBC life want to further exclude conservatives who differ on tertiary issues.


Anonymous said...

Dave Miller,
That was a theologically educated lawn crew wasn’t it? Nothing like lawn work to bring your great thoughts and theological insights down to size. That Brumbelow guy sure was good looking wasn’t he? But if I admit to that I would have to admit to being an old man like you.

Seriously, yes, I’m the one and lo, I am now two score and eleven. We need to have a Lawn Ranger Reunion!

Just so you don’t get ahead of me Dave, for the record, I also voted for Adrian Rogers in 1979. One of the greatest days of my life.

Sorry Bart, for the SWBTS fellowship and reunion on your blog - but we are Baptists after all. To make this relevant, I'd again like to say I concur with your post :-).
David R. Brumbelow

alan cross said...


I agree with Greg Welty entirely in his comments. When I heard the GCR talk, I was encouraged that the leadership of our convention was making a push to revive the SBC according to its own values. It takes 48 Southern Baptists to baptize 1 person a year. Something needs to be done.

I believed in the CR and still believe that the fight for inerrancy needs to continue. I spent a better part of the morning talking with a college student who was being affected by higher criticism in college. We had a long talk about it and I was able to point out flaws and give him a different perspective. He thanked me and said that he agreed with what I was saying. That is the CR that I was aware of. The Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God. We must continue to hold up that truth.

When I first heard talk of the GCR from Convention leadership, I was very encouraged. It definitely did not seem like something that was politically motivated or that contradicted the CR.

James Heffington Jr said...


Man it is an article like this one that reminds me of why I always held you in such high esteem intellectually. You are a very smart guy!

I can sympathize with you on many points but I have to beg the question...when is enough, enough? I think we have done what we can on the national level and there is little we can do as far as the universities or state conventions are concerned.

And...all of the battles have taken their toll on our younger generation. Guys under age 40 are by and large absent from any discussion having to do with the convention or its future. Prolonging this particular battle may be more destructive than it could ever be constructive. Seems most of our younger guys are heading to Willow Creek, Catalyst or C3 confrences rather than attending their state or national conventions simply because they see them as being endless debates about things that don't touch the local church.

Do we need to make sure our schools are teaching conservative theology...of course. Do we need the results of the resurgence...of course. But do we need to fight the battle for state conventions and colleges? I don't think it is a battle we can truly fight due to charter changes, etc...and I think it will cause us to further be viewed as impractical dinosaurs who just "don't get it."


Tim Rogers said...

Brother Alan,

You write; It takes 48 Southern Baptists to baptize 1 person a year. How can we advocate an exactness on these numbers when they are taken from the ACP that everyone is saying does not give accurate data as to the number of SB we have?

Brother Bart,

Great post. I am in agreement that we need to certainly grasp that everyone comes from the same starting point in calling for a GCR.


Alan Cross said...


I'll be happy to adjust my ratios. How many Southern Baptists do you think that we actually have? No matter how you cut it, baptisms go down year after year. Here's a real question, out of those baptisms that we DO have, how many actually stay in the church or are not rebaptisms from other denominations? How much retention do we have?

Todd Nelson said...


You articulate your convictions and opinions clearly and forcefully. I commend you for that, and for your civility.

I am deeply disappointed, however, to read that, were you a trustee, you would not vote to hire David Rogers as a missionary or seminary professor -- or anyone, I assume, who holds similar convictions. This is a perfect and practical illustration of where the Conservative-Resurgence-now-morphed-into-Baptist-Renaissance clashes with the Great Commission Resurgence. I'm all for continual reformation, but Crusading Conservatism? How exclusionary will it get?

I sincerely hope your view does not spread any further in the SBC. If it does, I believe we'll see more more would-be missionary candidates for the IMB going with parachurch organization -- and probably more networks springing up among SBC pastors and churches (like the Antioch Network of Churches). Maybe it's a good thing that SBC churches decentralize from the IMB so they can send and support missionaries that the IMB won't send. Seems like we're almost back to 1845 and a similar reason why the SBC first started. God's work goes on, but His children continue to fuss and fragment. Sad.

David, hang in there, brother. There are other m's out here who sympathize with your delicate (precarious?) position, and who have had to find other ways to fulfill our callings.

Grace, wisdom, and peace,
Todd Nelson (in Malaysia)

volfan007 said...

I guess I'm old too. I voted for the CR for the first time in 1985. I was a young Seminary student, and my Church in Memphis made sure that I attended in order to vote those liberals out. My, my, my were those interesting times. The conventions in Dallas and Atlanta in the mid-80's were wild and wooly.


Todd Benkert said...


I have to agree with Todd here. There seem to be two streams of thought. No one is arguing that the CR is over. There are conflicting views on the direction the CR should take, however. Some think that the CR should continue by tightening further the definition of what it means to be a Baptist. Others believe that the CR should continue by holding firm to our conservative Baptist doctrinal unity and building on that unity to work together for GC causes.

I am happy to dialog about doctrines on which Baptists disagree. Indeed, we should do so. ALL doctrine, as you have previously stated, is important. However, not ALL doctrines on which we disagree should hinder us from working together for Kingdom work.


Tim Rogers said...

Brother Alan,

It would seem that everyone would agree that 6M is more in line as to actual numbers because that is the number reported in average attendance. If we take that actual number and divide it by the actual numbers reported as baptisms, then we are more of a 17-1 ratio. It seems that Lifeway Research would definitely classify a church as healthy with that kind of ratio.

However, if you ask Brother Ed Stetzer I am not one to get numbers correct :>) so I really do not want to get into numbers and ratios. My point is that you have tried to advocate a need based on numbers you have advocated some other place as being flawed. If they are flawed in stating exactness as to who we are, then using exact numbers and mixing them with flawed numbers does not strengthen a point. To make such a point as you wish, one would have to hold to the exact numbers.

Dr. Welty,

Not trying to carry Brother Bart's water here, but you make a point I would like to ask about. "Conservative Resurgence" is not a past tense word. While is began in the past it is still operative today. I am not certain that Brother Bart has conceded the accomplishment of the CR on the national level. If he has, then I will tell him openly he is wrong. Why? We do not get our appointments from a national data bank. We receive them from state convention. Here lately they have been coming through the state convention headquarters. In some states that may be acceptable and one would expect to receive good appointments. However, in other states there still is a battle raging over the issues that began the CR.

A wise man told me one time that about every 5 to 8 years there will be a "hick-up" to the CR. Our leaders need to heed that advice. You seem to advocate Dr. Akin's seminary report. I believe it was a great report also. However, his ending throws caution as to what he was saying in his opening. I believe he is a good man with a sharp mind. He loves Jesus and truly wants to see a GCR. His passion for this is contagious and I praise God he is sounding the clarion call for such a movement. But just as I went to this past SBC, I did not jump on the first plane that left Charlotte. I observed where the planes were heading. I made certain that I was on a plane that was going to end at my destination. The GCR needs to clearly point to a destination, something it does not do. It is one thing to sound the call, but there needs to be a serious unpacking of what this all means and where it will take us.


Chris Johnson said...

Brother Bart,

I agree that the SBC has just begun to "listen" to sound doctrine. Advancing is a much tougher task. Baby steps are good.


Debbie Kaufman said...

I agree with Dave Miller. He has hit it square on the head in his analysis here.

Bart Barber said...

To all,

Yesterday we had an accident during VBS, last night was Family Night, and today we are conducting VBS during thunderstorms. Everybody's going to be fine, but my VBS-related workload has gone way up.

That being said, although I know that a bunch of comments have come in last night, I have no idea what they say. I also see that Robin Foster has posted yet again on this topic. If my poor hosting of the conversation dries it up over here, you might stroll over to Robin's place. Or, converse here if my absence poses no hindrance.

To keep things moving along, I'm putting up the post I had already written, but I'll be inattentive to comments for perhaps the entire remainder of the week. We'll just have to see how things develop.

Tom said...


I think you make a valid point when you state, "The GCR needs to clearly point to a destination." I would be interested in hearing responses to this point.

It raises another question in my mind, "What was the destination to which the CR pointed?" I was there in '79, voting for Rogers (after "getting my mind straight" on the issues just a few weeks before). What I voted for then, and in every convention I attended afterward for the next 27 years, was a recovery of and sustaining of full commitment to biblical authority on the part of our institutions and agencies. That is how I view the "destination" of the CR.

Do you see this in a similar way? Another question that might be helpful to discuss is this: "How will we know when the GCR and CR reach their respective destinations?" Since there are no nice flight attendants to announce "Welcome to Indianapolis," how will we know when we get there?

Dave Miller said...


When I voted during the CR, I was voting for a denomination that was devoted to biblical inerrancy (the absolute authority of the word).

I certainly was not voting for what the current "Baptist Identity" movement says the SBC should become.

Wayne Smith said...


Why did you not address this comment to “Jesus Christ” instead of David Rogers?

If I were a trustee of any of our entities, I would not vote to hire you for any of the positions of service that you have mentioned.

God knows all things and I don’t believe you would have voted for Jesus Christ either.
I agree with everything Todd Nelson said in his comment above.

Bart as a Brother in Christ, I Pray that you really take this to your Heart and start being a Christian of the Baptist Persuasion.

Wayne Smith

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Tom,

Seeing I began with the flight illustration and you seemed to have picked up on it, I would like to continue with this illustration.

On my flight I had a lay over in Chicago. The flights from Chicago to Indianapolis were canceled. We stayed in Chicago for over 6 hours trying to get a flight out. We were seated on one plane and the pilot came on the speakers to tell us it had been canceled. What did I do? My family of 3 jointly rented a van with 4 other people and drove to Indianapolis.

This illustration is something I believe we need to keep in mind. While I arrived at my destination, I did not arrive on a plane, I arrived on a van. As we look at the CR our mode of transportation has changed. From the beginning it was Dr. Rogers on whose back we rode. If Dr. Rogers was against something, usually it did not proceed. The genius of the BF&M2K was Dr. Adrian Rogers chairing the committee. Do not get me wrong, God was directing it but from a human perspective no doubt people voted for it because Dr. Rogers advanced it. Now we are in a serious lay over in our convention. It seems that many people are trying to say we have another vehicle to take us to our destination, but I still am not certain the planes are canceled. It took us sitting through 6 canceled flights before we decided to rent a van. (Which BTW meant that we did not rent a car for the week in Indianapolis. Thanks to the owner of this blog for his generosity in allowing my family to tag along with his family during the week.)

All this to say, I believe the GCR needs to be specifically married to the CR. You write about the CR was a recovery of and sustaining of full commitment to biblical authority on the part of our institutions and agencies. That is how I view the "destination" of the CR. While I agree that is our destination, I disagree slightly in that we have not arrived (if that is what you are saying. I do not want to attribute words that you did not intend) because in just one example we found in the IMB. The Camel Method is attributing the veracity of Scripture based on the veracity of the Koran. Certainly, with that method being presented as a valid method, we could agree that our destination has not been attained.

"How will we know when the GCR and CR reach their respective destinations?" Bart will be our nice flight attendant. :>)

Seriously, I believe this is the work of those who are advocating a GCR. I honestly believe we need to return to witnessing on a personal level. Remember in the CR there would be records revealing the baptism rates of the various candidates? I believe we need to return to some semblance of that. I know that some pad their stats for these reasons and they count re-baptisms as baptisms. But somehow some way we need to return to a personal soul winning resurgence. We should focus on a Personal Mission Strategy. Each pastor needs to set down with their individual churches and develop such a strategy. We could advertise it as The SBC embraces PMS

Those are just some of the meanderings of a redneck preacher. But, it seems that we need to push the GCR on a personal level because that is where the CR was founded. Let's not forget that the movement for the CR was the Baptist in the pew. Someone that it seems the GCR is forgetting.


Greg Welty said...

Hi Tim,

Thanks for the comments. Bart is surely using "Conservative Resurgence" in the past tense. Just read his post above. He says "we need a follow-through of the Conservative Resurgence." You only follow through on stuff that occurred in the past, not the future. He talks about the issues "the provoked the Conservative Resurgence." Again, past tense. He speaks of "the great failure of the Conservative Resurgence." He says the network of colleges and universities "remains entirely unchanged by the Conservative Resurgence." He speaks of "the successful continuation of the Conservative Resurgence." All of this presupposes a past CR.

I could continue, but I think the point is clear. Bart has an already-but-not-yet conception of the CR. He recognizes that there was a CR in the past, but it needs to be built upon in the present. Not only do I entirely agree with him here, but I think it's entirely compatible with the ideals of the GCR. I'm not picking a fight; I'm just here to dissolve needless tensions.

Bart has certainly conceded that *something* happened in the CR, because his lament is that the CR hasn't "translated" into the state level. If nothing was accomplished, there would be nothing to translate. But I totally agree with you that the national and state levels are intertwined, for the reasons you state.

You say: "A wise man told me one time that about every 5 to 8 years there will be a "hick-up" to the CR. Our leaders need to heed that advice." I totally agree. But I think that calls for vigilance with respect to past gains, not timidity with respect to future endeavors. (I'm sure you agree.) If you can't build upon past accomplishments, what exactly *was* the point of the CR. It certainly wasn't an end in itself, was it?!

I've never read Danny Akins' seminary report. And I'm not here to carry his water. I'm just perplexed that there's all this 'analysis' going on about the GCR, but no one's bothering to refer to the very paper that introduced and defined the terminology back in November 2007.

Greg Welty said...

Tim Rogers said: "All this to say, I believe the GCR needs to be specifically married to the CR."

Just read the paper! The reason for the GCR is *because* "we are in agreement on the inerrancy, infallibility, and sufficiency of the Bible" (3). And again: "Fulfilling the task will in no way leave behind or neglect an equal commitment to a faithful biblical theology. In fact, it will naturally grow out of that kind of theology. There is no question in my mind that a true and genuine Great Commission Resurgence will of necessity be wed to a strong and healthy theology. Such a theology will have definite and non-negotiable parameters" (2).

"The Camel Method is attributing the veracity of Scripture based on the veracity of the Koran."

Err, what? The Camel Method says the truthfulness of Scripture is *based on* the truthfulness of the Koran? Where?

"Let's not forget that the movement for the CR was the Baptist in the pew. Someone that it seems the GCR is forgetting."

Huh? Akin delivered his paper to a bunch of Baptists sitting in pews. (OK, they were modern stackable chairs, but surely that's not relevant ;-) He was speaking to individuals. His entire conclusion is composed of references to individuals, past and present. There's no other way to accomplish it, humanly speaking.

Todd Benkert said...

On the Camel method, I commend the article from SEBTS by Akin, et al.

I believe this article presents a balanced critique that I have not seen elsewhere.


Tim Rogers said...

Dr. Welty,

I will concede to you until I read the paper.


Alan Cross said...

Thanks, Greg, for bringing some sanity to this discussion both here and at SBCToday. I was aware of Dr. Akin's paper before the convention, although I had not read it. I did understand the concepts and was encouraged by what he was proposing. I've been really shocked to see the idea of a GCR be opposed here and elsewhere. I am glad that these guys are listening to you.

Bart Barber said...

OK, I'm back for a few minutes.

Bart Barber said...


I think I unwisely stirred up this tempest in a teapot when I attributed Nathan Finn's language to the entire concept of a Great Commission Resurgence. The others involved have not explicitly repudiated such language, but neither have they specifically embraced it. I should not indicate so forcefully that they have, when they have not.

I still think that the comment stream here reveals support for the idea that part of the Great Commission Resurgence involves some "stopping" of the Conservative Resurgence. Nathan's post states it a bit more explicitly, others here seem to nod in agreement.

My original post also does not state clearly enough at which points it is referring to people who have led the push for a Great Commission Resurgence from those who have merely signed on. My manifold categorization toward the end of the post is intended more toward the latter group than the former.

My working theory is that the GCR is, in its infancy, wooing some folks not crazy-in-love with the Conservative Resurgence, even if Dr. Akin is solidly in support of the CR. As I hinted in the original post, although some of my sentiment arises from the text, some arises from the subtext.

You are an excellent analyst of texts.

In any event, I'm wondering this: Does anyone wish to propose anything wrong with my suggestions at the end? Because even if you believe that I have argued wrongly to get there, or have misread this movement entirely, if my suggestions are not harmful ones, might they not be things that would give a clearer understanding to folks like me of the GCR without taking wind out of the sails of GCR enthusiasts?

Bart Barber said...


When the leading opponent to the "narrowing" that you mentioned has also been among the leading proponents of the very things that I have mentioned, that is not a "red herring."

Bart Barber said...


I can only presume from your offensive statement that you believe, if I am a Christian, I am under automatic obligation to hire every other Christian in the world?


Bart Barber said...

Akin's assessment of the Camel is, perhaps, the worst thing he has ever written. Surprising, given his usual clarity of thought and strength at communication. One can only attribute the failure to the fact that he was only one among several contributors.

Bart Barber said...


"the idea of the GCR being opposed"???


Did you read what I wrote at all?

Bart Barber said...

Unless, that is, you differ with Greg Welty and believe that the GCR actually does entail an end to the CR. Because the main point of my post was that the GCR and the CR need each other. How, precisely, is that any sort of opposition of either one?

Todd Benkert said...


However, I think the issue has become way too centered around the person to whom you refer. How is he related to a GCR? The people who used GCR language at the Convention do not share those positions. Neither do I.

My desire is to find some middle ground. I have no desire to reverse the CR or move to a moderate/liberal theology. I do want to be able to serve in our Convention with those who may disagree with me on tertiary issues such as Calvinism, alien immersion eschatology, church growth, etc.


Todd Benkert said...


Just a thought, but I now realize from your post that some using GCR language are saying the CR has ended. Sorry for saying otherwise. Still, I believe this is a non-issue. I think this language is similar to Bush's "mission accomplished." In one sense, the CR is over, in another, it is ongoing. Isn't this just a matter of semantics? Whether it has ended or is ongoing, I will still fight for God's inerrant word. :-)

In any case, I resubmit that I would like to find some middle ground with you on the issues of cooperation.


Wayne Smith said...


If you or I wanted to influence and teach Children and the youth about God and Jesus Christ what you are saying that David would be a Detriment to Our Cause, is this what you are saying???

I surely would want to support a Christian of Baptist Persuasion on the Front Line for Jesus Christ that Walks the Walk and Talks the Talk as David Rogers Does.

Wayne Smith

Debbie Kaufman said...

I guess the fighting is not ending soon? At any time? Why? For the excitement? Bart, it's over. I am telling you, continue this and the SBC will be over. Gone. Finished. But so be it.

IR SoBat said...

Bart, I feel compelled to point out one statement in your original post that froze me. After reading a later comment where you say: "this is not an attack post," I must confess that you're beginning to come across as speaking with a forked tongue. You wrote:

"Clearly there are doctrinal problems with an International Mission Board that has so lost its confidence in the Bible as to become convinced that the Qur'an is the key to winning Moslems to Christ."

I would totally understand it if you had written "I'm of the opinion that...", but it seems you have seated yourself as judge and jury and made this determination, so it must be so. Where do you get off saying the IMB has lost its confidence in the Bible? You actually think that has happened? I know you're miffed about the Camel method and don't agree with it, but to make that kind of statement? I'm sure you strive to be a man of humility, but that is a most awful, arrogant, judgmental, erroneous statement.

Blogs are wonderful places to debate and express opinion. As a Southern Baptist pastor, making that kind of condemning statement makes you look the fool. I can see why you've been trumpeting a return to '79: making McCarthiesque statements like that is a page of of the fundamentalist playbook ("Let's call 'em liberals!").

I urge you to change your language. There are 5,200 missionaries who undoubtedly would be highly offended at your rash statement.

Alan Cross said...

Yes, Bart, I did read what you wrote. I read it very clearly. I do not think that you communicated what you intended in your post. I read you calling the GCR into question because everyone who is talking about a GCR is not constantly referring to the need for a continued CR. It has been said by most people that the CR ended around 2002. I have seen that in print in many places. Some move the date up to 2005. We are clearly in a new era of Baptist life. New metaphors are needed. Dr. Akin did a good job of bringing in the past as he pointed us to the future. He is a statesmen. I suggest that we all listen to what he and others have to say instead of picking it to death.

As for your view of a continued CR, you seem to have gone far beyond a call to inerrancy and the sufficiency of Scripture. I imagine that you will find it harder and harder to get a majority of Baptists to agree with you on all of the points that you deem essential to a baptist identity.

Greg Welty said...

Bart says:

"Does anyone wish to propose anything wrong with my suggestions at the end?"

Well, I agree with all of your points. It's just that I thought some of them were already met by the people I *assumed* you were talking about.

"Because even if you believe that I have argued wrongly to get there, or have misread this movement entirely, if my suggestions are not harmful ones, might they not be things that would give a clearer understanding to folks like me of the GCR without taking wind out of the sails of GCR enthusiasts?"

I totally agree. Your point five is especially important.

Todd Benkert said...

For what it’s worth, I think #1 is a matter of debate/opinion and is not necessary for validating the CGR. I think #2 is good but has already been accomplished with the publishing of The Great Commission Resurgence by Thom Rainer, Danny Akin, Chuck Lawless, Jeff Iorg, and Jerry Rankin (and given out free at the SEBTS booth). On #3, I don’t have any objection as long as evangelism is part of the equation as well. On #4, I also have no objection unless you are discounting the legitimacy of the use and helpfulness of means in fulfilling the Great Commission. On #5, I have no objection, but do not think this potential will actually occur; the GCR, in my opinion, is already married to the CR.


Colin McGahey said...

In my reading of Akin's paper on the concept of GCR, I understood that existence of the GCR necessarily presupposed the continuation of the CR. In fact, the GCR seems to be portrayed by Dr. Akin as the "CR in refocus." Therefore, it is my understanding that Dr. Finn's assertion about the CR nullifies or redefines the GCR Akin presents, though I am not sure he (or anyone else, for that matter) would agree with me.

Having read Akin's paper just prior to your concluding points, I agree with Dr. Welty that some seemed to have been addressed.

Todd Benkert said...

Is there any question for the need of the Conservative Resurgence? Who wants to return to stuff like this?:

BP News -- "CBF presenter questions Christ's deity"

Debbie Kaufman said...

Does CBF have anything to do with SBC? I didn't think they did. Is he wrong? Of course he is, but I do think it's wrong to continue the CR or at least in the way they fought it before. There are better ways I believe. The CR in my opinion produced too many casualties of innocents. That is something that is never discussed among CR proponants. I will not fight the CR. I will stand for Biblical inerrancy, just not fight dirty.