That’s right, I’m blogging today (and hopefully through Wednesday) from the shrine of Texas Independence, San Antonio, Texas. While I am rooting for the Spurs to take it all, I’m actually here to attend the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. I have the privilege to attend this year with a fellow pastor, James Billings and a brother church member, Justin Peters. After a long Lord’s day, actually ending into early this morning and a few hours sleep, I joined my two other convention cohorts to make it to the Ontario Airport and begin our flight to SA via Express Jet (a new airline deserving of an entire blog-post – actually quite positive).
This convention will be a little bit of a reminiscent one for me. I attended my first SBC in 1988 in San Antonio. It was amazingly memorable. Adrian Rodgers was the President, Jerry Vines was elected to become president. W. A. Criswell preached his famous “skunk” sermon, a motion was made to have a woman preach the annual sermon (it was booed and shouted down) and a small group of moderates marched out of the convention hall and down to the Alamo to publicly burn a resolution affirming pastoral authority in the local church. What a time.
From what I have been reading on a number of blogs over the past week (really, over the past year), this year may not be as bombastic as the 1988 Convention, but it is beginning to heat up. For those of you who know, tell me if I’m reading things right. There is an old guard (the leaders of the conservative resurgence) who are concerned about a new group of conservative-sounding voices who feel disenfranchised and a bit left out of the denominational political world – or at least, they are afraid that the old guard is narrowing the definition of who can be a legitimate Southern Baptist, or serve on Southern Baptist Boards and entities.
It appears that the newbies won the presidential election last year and this year the old guard is planning to elect an individual, Jim Richards, as first vice president who they hope to see become president next year. The newbies have put forth their candidate, David Rodgers, the son of the famous first president of the conservative resurgence. The newbies look at this election as a means to keep the old guard from limiting their freedom. The old guard sees this as an opportunity to protect what they’ve fought for.
Where do I stand? I honestly have to say that I’m not quite certain. I’m fairly certain I would have voted against the resolution last year regarding alcohol consumption, not because I’m for a drink here or there, but because I’m not certain that we need to be making cold-hard demands that the Bible does not demand. I agreed with the reason behind those who supported the resolution of why a person should not drink, but I also agreed with the reasoning of the opponents of the resolution in that raising extra-biblical demands to the level of biblical injunctions is not wise or in the end most helpful.
However, I have been reading a bit from Wade Burleson’s blog over the past year. I sympathized with his fight to not be removed as a trustee from the IMB, but I have strong disagreements with his wholesale support of Dwight McKissic, his advocacy of speaking in tongues, and his proposition that the prohibition for women teaching in 1 Timothy 2 does not extend to denominational seminaries because they are not local churches and professors aren’t pastors. I believe he has some very valid concerns, however, and I’m quite open to hearing what he has to say, while also quite cautious.
On the other hand, I appreciate what Jim Richards has done in Texas in leading the new Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Had I stayed in Texas, I would have supported it wholeheartedly. During my early days as a Southern Baptist, I wasn’t sure I would remain in the Convention if the Conservatives had not “resurged” – so, I’m a Southern Baptist today because they did. Not that I think the Conservative old guard should now have a blank check to do whatever their heart’s desire with no real accountability. While I would no doubt disagree with a number of them on a host of theological points and philosophy of ministry issues, I do trust them and they sacrificed much for us to have the Convention we do today. With the incredible diversity that has existed among the Conservatives over the past years of the resurgence, it is hard for me to really believe all of the claims that they are against such diversity.
Let’s just say, I’m wary but not against a great deal of what I see in the Burleson crowd (honestly, I don’t mean that disparagingly). They may be right in their concerns. I haven’t seen it all up close as some of them have. I openly admit this and plan to follow events and conversations more closely in the future. For now, I still trust those who have given much to lead us this far. I’m in SA to vote my conscience, but I’m watching carefully and wanting to learn more faithfully as to what is going on.