Since I spoke on this last night, I wanted to make sure that I added a few points of clarification and definition to my understanding of this Great Commission Resurgence emphasis in our convention. First let me be clear in stating that what was said last night as well as what follows is my opinion and not the authorized voices of the SBC. I do think these opinions reflect the heartbeat of the doccument, but I am more apt to state things in language and in terms that come from my viewpoint on the situation.
Thus let me be extra clear about my view on why this doccument is necessary now. I think the Conservative Resurgence in our Convention was a necessary and good return to biblical orthodoxy. Even so, as the Conservative Resurgence moved forward it took a negative and hurtful tone. Any time brothers correct brothers some hurt is inevitable, but in the “Battles for the Bible” far too many became casualties of the methods of war instead of casualties due to their own rejection of the call to biblical orthodoxy. This leaves an negative impression that case us Southern Baptists as a group know for what they battle against.
Furthermore, the the major trend I see in our Convention relates to the lack of adherance to the SBC in my generation and in younger generations. As I mentioned last night the Convention is “graying” and at the same time baptisms are dropping. With the popularity of the Emergent Church as well as the seeming abandonment of all religion in favor of the New Atheism of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the SBC will be an empty convention within just a few generations. This is especially true in the more traditional churches like ours as more gravitate towards the buffet style ministries of Mega-Churches. Thus this doccumnt is a roadmap of sorts for the Convention to refocus our attention and efforts on passing on the biblical orthodoxy that was hard-won even though it seems that there is real problem now in passing that orthodoxy to the world around us.
Beginning with the first three commitment there are a few points that I would like to comment upon.
- Commitment I sums up the primary call of this doccument. We must have a vital relationship with Jesus in which he is “our passion and priority and we should aspire to both know Him and love Him more fully.” Baptists must cling to Jesus and live life with him in view. As opposed to the trite “What would Jesus Do” mentality, this is a call to not only know Jesus but also to live in a manner that demonstrates your love for Him. This is the reason I think Col. 3:16-17 makes so clear the thrust of this commitment.
- Commitment II again calls Baptists to have as their buisness what was Jesus’ buisness, namely the proclaimation of the gospel. Our society does not have a “Christian memory” anymore that prods them onto and into churches. We cannot simply invite people to church expecting that they will come, nor can we make a simple change in worship style or in programming and expect the town to turn out to see it. We must be about proclaiming the full gospel of Jesus Christ in order to reach our communities.
- Our young people and those in our community will not be kept in churches because of our relevant music and cool looking productions. The “worship wars” that are being fought and the call to relevance will loose the generation of young people they seek if they do not get them the gospel.
- We must endeavor to practice “gosepl centered living [that] will help ensure that the bloody cross of a crucified King is the offense to non-believers rather than our styles, traditions, legalisms, moralisms, personal preferences, or unhelpful attitudes.” In other words, our post-modern culture that does not believe that anyone is wrong, desperately need to hear that all men are sinners in need of a Savior!
- Thus in our churches, at all points of programming and worship we must proclaim the gospel because “if we assume the gospel we will lose the gospel.” Even when we doe good social works like our food pantry, our clothes closet, or any of the brotherhood projects the gospel must be on our lips! As we make visitis in the neighborhood the gospel must be on our lips! As we are in our stores the gospel must be on our lips! If people reject us let it be because of the gospel of Jesus Christ! As 2 Cor. 5:17-21 relate we are Ambassadors with a message from Christ.
- Finally Commitment III calls us to love God an others as the Great Commandment require. We must be about self examination to ensure that we have no blocks in our life to sharing the good news and living for Jesus.
- The call of the “Moral Majority” to win elecetion and push for legislative efforts were correct in their call to “speak out against moral ills, [but] this must not be done in a way that is hateful toward unbelievers or trades gospel priority for political influence.” In other words we display our love for God when we speak out against moral ills but if we do so in ways that display hate for fellow man we are defeating our cause. We must endeavor to hate the sin but love the sinners. Furthermore, Eph. 4:15 provides a clear call to “speak the truth in love” to people so that they may grow into Christ. The gospel is not promoted through elections and legislation, but in winning the souls of men for Jesus Christ!
- Finally, if we genuinely pursue loving God and man, we love all people created in his image. This statement must become a reality if people in my generation and younger are to see the Baptist church live what it teaches. If Jesus died for all men, why are Baptist pews predominately white? Our church and all Baptist churches cannot ignore that our Convention was founded due to a spilt from the abolitionist Norhtern Baptist Convention over slavery. Even so we can endeavor to see racism in our churches and Convention be a thing of the past. As this commitment proclaims “until our churches better reflect the diversity we look forward to in heaven, we must labor at gospel-centered racial reconciliation.”