Today we passed a resolution on Regenerate Church Membership. The very topic is one that elicits a variety of opinions about whether there is a problem, what is the nature of the problem if it exists, and what is the solution to the problem if we comprehend its nature. Coming to a consensus statement on this topic required genuine dialogue and negotiation (a.k.a. politics), including concerted efforts at the very end of the process. I am thankful for our Committee on Resolutions, even though I was not in agreement with the "genetically modified" resolution on RCM that came out of the committee. Theirs is a tough job, and I have not the slightest inclination to snipe at them for their work. Theirs was one of the voices that entered into the dialogue, and the result was a good resolution on Regenerate Church Membership that ought to please everyone involved.
Except, perusing some of the blogs this afternoon, I find that it does not. Tom, Malcolm, and I are, as far as I can tell, happy with the outcome. But various online opinions have suggested either that the wording of the resolution was insufficient or that any resolution, even one with good wording, is an exercise in vanity.
To quote Ulysses Everett McGill, "The personal rancor reflected in that remark, I don't intend to dignify with comment, but I would like to address your general attitude of hopeless negativism." Really, forgive me for saying so, but sometimes it seems that some folks just delight in the clothing of themselves in sanctimonious condemnation of the Southern Baptist Convention. I'm not in favor of denial—we have a problem with Regenerate Church Membership and continuing to address it is an urgent matter for our churches—but I know for certain that the solution to our problems does not lie in dissing steps in the right direction. Have we all been baptized in the Spirit or cured in vinegar?
Yes, we're less effective at reaching the lost than we have been in the past. But we have elected a president who wants to call us to greater fervency for presenting the gospel. The latter is not an iron-clad panacea to the former (s.v. "Bobby Welch"), but it surely is not a part of the problem. Local churches are going to have to solve this problem, but the SBC can provide encouragement for those local churches, and Hunt's agenda is likely to contribute positively in that direction.
Yes, the Southern Baptist commitment to bedrock Baptist distinctives is at something of a nadir, but the SBC just held discussion about regenerate church membership, baptism, the Lord's Supper, and regenerate church membership, voting in affirmation of those concepts. Voting for those concepts at convention is not the same thing as strengthening them at home in the church, but it is certainly a step in the right direction. Those who would make nothing of the passage of such a resolution sure were willing to make a lot of the FAILURE to pass previous similar resolutions. If not adopting a resolution is very meaningful, then adopting the same resolution must be very meaningful.
We've elected two wonderful Vice Presidents to serve our convention.
We've so far had a very pacific convention meeting.
With regard to the major problems that we face, if anyone has a "general attitude of hopeless negativism" he will be excellent at showing us where we need to repent but impotent at inspiring any sort of helpful change. If any Pollyanna in the convention has a blindness toward the challenges before us, he will be like a first-rate cheerleader for the Washington Generals (look it up). What is needed is neither denial nor sourness, but an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. That is our greatest dependency both during our annual meetings and throughout the months in between.
Or, look at me for your paradigm of hope. :-)