As our family begins to pack up for the plane ride back to South Carolina, we face the task of deciding what must we leave here in Texas and what must we bring home. Clothes, books, papers, food (and the pounds they inevitably also bring) find their way easily into suitcases for the trip. With iPhones and the camera roll, memories too can make the trip via iCloud. The significance of the convention must find a slightly different means of travel. Ideas and moments must be packaged into words and communicated in order for the significance of these day to last. So here’s a few moments I want to take-away from the SBC 13.
- Pastor’s Conference Take-Away: As Baptists we must navigate a narrow way in order to proclaim God’s Word to today’s people. Greg Laurie said in his message a line I’ve heard him say before, but that bears repeating. “Relevance to the culture does not mean irreverence.” Laurie’s message announced to the convention a very narrow path between speaking to the culture and faithfully proclaiming the gospel.This narrow way seems to also have been in Mike Huckabee’s mind as he seemingly proclaimed the end of the unspoken alliance with the GOP and the SBC. In his message he declared simply that as Baptists we must support no party, but positions that agree with Bible.
- Day One Take-Away: The SBC leaders want to avoid the Calvinist/Traditionalist (non-Calvinist) divide in the convention instead of directly engaging it. Yes the committee made a report; an unofficial, non-binding, non-affirmed report. While I understand that the leadership desires to keep us as unified as possible, we are a congregational body. We either divide or unify as the congregation or in this case convention votes. With all due respect to the Calvinism committee and Dr. Page, we needed to vote to affirm or deny their leadership in this area. ( I have other thoughts that I do not have space to include here. )
- Day Two Take-Away: A good resolution must provoke a response in order to speak to a need. Three resolutions come to mind in this regard. First among those would be the resolution on the prevention of child abuse. This resolution met an obvious need, but when the resolution committee left out resolution author Peter Lumpkin’s language about denominational leaders he rose to the floor to amend. The resolution on mental health may well have flown under the radar or run roughshod over those who rose to amend it. Being one of those who rose to amend, the resolution forced me to think carefully about the issues it brought up as well as my convictions in order to offer an amendment. Finally, the Boy Scout resolution surprised no one. Even so, its high profile nature forced all of us to address its wording with care.
- Overall Take-Away: Will we be a Convention of Great Commission Christians? Danny Akin’s convention sermon pointed out the clearest question that our Convention needs to answer. Do we actually live as Great Commission Christians or do we simply talk about the Great Commission? If we are Great Commmission Christians, then we will happily walk the narrow way that our Savior walked before us, in order to proclaim God’s Word to our world. If we are Great Commission Christians, then we will not shrink from taking a vote to clarify how we cooperate to preach the gospel, even if a difficult but necessary debate may ensue. If we are Great Commission Christians we will seek to have the needs of our day and burdens of our brothers challenge us to apply and proclaim God’s Word to the situations at hand.