Monday, February 05, 2007

Ed Stetzer on the Greatest Strength and Greatest Weakness in Current SBC Life

1. What do you see as the greatest strength of the Southern Baptist Convention right now?

I actually see at least two “greatest” strengths.

First, I am greatly encouraged that Southern Baptists, as a convention, have made it clear where they stand on issues of scripture. Many younger pastors do not know how far things had gotten off track. I remember being taught at an SBC seminary that the Bible was corrupted by Greek philosophy. We have come a long way. Today, we have settled it in our faith statement—we believe the Bible to be inerrant and totally sufficient.

Second, I am glad to see a heart for missions. Southern Baptists have always been a mission-minded people, but recently Southern Baptists have exhibited a passion to go beyond learning and giving to missions. They have a growing desire to be involved in missions, not as an additional program of the local church, but as a significant part of their local church identity. Many thousands of Southern Baptists volunteer each year for mission projects in every corner of the world. The number of men and women committing their lives to serve as long term missionaries continues to grow at an all-time record pace. Our North American Mission Board just recorded its largest ever “Annie Armstrong” offering for North American Missions. All of this is good news.

2. What do you see as the greatest weakness or problem in the Southern Baptist Convention right now?

It seems that many people, including some leaders, are unsure what a Southern Baptist “is.” For some, being a Southern Baptist has meant being a part of a “church style” that includes everything from worship styles, church organization, ethnicity, and a common vocabulary of church terms. Instead, I see it as a shared theology, cooperation, and a passionate commitment to the Great Commission. If this “identity confusion” remains unchecked it will likely lead to growing conflict in the near future. A conflict such as that would weaken our mission efforts and likely lead to a further exodus of younger and more creative leaders (not to mention ethnics and others).

It is imperative for our Convention to come to an understanding of those essentials on which we agree in order that we might continue to work together. I recently wrote a blog on the BFM that encapsulates my thoughts on the subject. Click here if you are interested:


Blogger Steve Lemke said...

Dr. Stetzer has popularized the concept of "missional churches" in two of his books, "Planting Missional Churches" and "Breaking the Missional Code: Your Church Can Become a Missionary in Your Community." What does he mean by a "missional church"?

10:00 PM  
Blogger Ed Jordan said...

re: Dr. Stetzer's comments on the SBC having an Identity Crisis, and his auxiliary article about why it is crucial to embrace the 2000 BFM.

The SBC is in crisis of identity.
Even Dr. Stetzer is confused as to what the identity of the SBC is. He calls it a denomination in his article on the BFM. His whole rationale for why we need the BFM is because we are a denomination.

The truth is the SBC is not, and never has been a denomination. Our official name (unless the new leaders have changed that, too) is the Southern Baptist Convention.

A denomination is a hierarchical religious body where the control and ownership of the religious group's entities (and properties) are owned and controlled by the denomination.

A convention is a loose confederacy of people who gather for a short period of time to make decisions, and then go back home to their autonomous business (or churches in this case). The convention does not own the messengers, nor micro-manage the lives of the convention attenders.

Part of our loss of identity stems from the new leadership of the SBC transforming a free Baptist convention into a tightfistedly controlled denomination. Becoming a denomination is foreign to Southern Baptist nature, polity, and doctrine. It is as confusing as a cat becoming a dog. It is not the nature of the beast.

The drive for power and control, and the use of the 2000 BFM as an enforcement instrument are the things that are confusing our identity, and changing our identity.

We Southern Baptists used to be a people of the Book. We had no creed but the Bible. Each State Convention was autonomous, each association was autonomous, each believer was a priest with direct access to God through Jesus Christ, and the ability to interpret the Bible for themselves because of the indwelling Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth. This was called soul-competency.

Now the SBC "denomination" is demanding that we use the 2000 BFM instead of the Bible as our instrument of doctrinal accountability. State conventions and associations are being compelled to sign on to the BFM as their instrument of doctrinal accountability. Soon it will become the creedal test for churches to qualify to be SBC and members to belong.

That is not Baptist, and certainly not Southern Baptist. It is not Biblical either. No wonder we don't know who we are.

I was a foreign missionary who was forced to sign the 2000 BFM, resign, or be fired. As a Baptist, that left me no choice. After 11 years I had to watch the people we serve amongst weep at the news that our group left us no choice but to resign. We would be leaving them. They couldn't understand it, because they knew we were conservative. We served among them for 11 years.

I am not a liberal. In fact I am so conservative that I resigned rather than let a man-written document usurp the authority that only Jesus and the Bible have in my life. So rather than caving in to embrace the teachings of men, I chose to stay with the Bible as my instrument of doctrinal accountability.

So, that's where the leaders are moving the Convention. They want it to become a denomination. Dr. Stetzer says that it already is one and that the fact that denominations need to have controlling doctrinal documents is his whole rationale for why the BFM is necessary.

The SBC has lost its identity, because it is no longer Southern Baptist in identity. And all of that has been purposely orchestrated by a few power-hungry folks.

Pity. Galatians 6:7-8

Dr. Ed Jordan

8:50 PM  
Blogger spamthewunderdog said...

Amen Dr. Jordan!!!

I love Ed, I love the concepts he brings up...but his allegiance to a failing "budding neo-denomination" just makes me think that in spite of what he says, he has lost sight of things.

10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

see my response on the first post

1:21 PM  

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