Category: SBC Issues

It’s Not Calvinism But Rationalism That Divides Us

by Ken Hamrick

Having debated Calvinism for many years, I’m beginning to see the wisdom of leaving to mystery that which can never really be figured out—a view espoused by many others before me. Such a position is disdained by both sides as something of a weak and anti-intellectual compromise. But arriving at this Antinomist position after thoroughly studying the issues is to arrive in strength, not in weakness. I’ve always argued from the middle anyway, previously confident in the power of reason to explain truth.  But unless the intellect is tempered by faith, it is a hindrance to real understanding; and only by faith can reason be humble enough to see its limits. Reason is just not equipped to take us beyond our finite, temporal thinking so that we can grasp the ways of the infinite, timeless God who transcends creation—that is faith’s role. Seeing that there is more to the equations involved in reality than the merely finite and temporal is also faith’s role. Accepting this, I find that I now have little interest in arguing with either side (which may be why the middle is so rarely heard from). As such, this article is intended to appeal to those who are not yet “sold out” to one side or the other, rather than to debate with those who are. The latter may strongly disagree, but I no longer feel the need to answer them beyond what is offered below. Continue reading

Awakening to the End of the SBC

By Dr. James Willingham

All that has taken place on the nation level, the approval of homosexual unions as marriage, political correctness (which means no more free speech, etc.), the fines and law suits against Christians for their views on marriage, is but the precursor of things to come.  The end of jobs by computerization, automation, and robotics along with their removal to other nations for cheaper labor is also the indicator of a planned effort to bring down religion as a key factor in this land, any religion, except that which approves of the present PC views and practices.  And then there are the efforts of SBC leaders (so-called) who are supposedly trying to save the SBC mission programs by getting rid of the DOMs on the local level, followed by the state conventions, and after that the SBC (an expense, you know).  The result will be and is on the way to becoming the end of the programs for missionaries, the largest in history. Continue reading

Admonitions to a Disappointed Young-Earther

This article was also published at SBC Voices

by Ken Hamrick

Recently, I came across a paper in the Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry, written by Dr. Kenneth Keathley in 2013, entitled, “Confessions of a Disappointed Young-Earther.”[1] The piece is well done and gives an informative summary of the various arguments and supposed problems of the Young-Earth Creationism movement. After reading it, I must say that I’m just as disappointed as Dr. Keathley, but for different reasons. I’m disappointed that the enemy, who is delegitimizing the truth-claims of Christianity by undermining the authority of Scripture, is often met with so little resistance and so much well-meant, reasonable-sounding cooperation. I’m disappointed that not even the best among us are immune from a skeptical evidentialism. And I’m disappointed that one so capable of competent reason would falter in thinking that evidence has bearing on the question of a recent miraculous creation.

I’m no scientist, and I do not claim to be able to present all the scientific intricacies of the various arguments. To be fair, there do seem to be some valid points brought against Young-Earth “creation science” and even a few points in support of it. Nevertheless, I do not argue for a “young” earth, but for an old earth recently created—what Dr. Keathley presents as Philip Henry Gosse’s “Omphalos argument” or the mature earth view. The Bible clearly and explicitly reveals a recent creation by divine fiat. Miracles being what they are, we should not expect to find proof in physical evidences for this recent miraculous act. But, neither should we expect the secular scientific view to be free from error, overconfidence, and overreaching. Ultimately, though, the scientific argument is irrelevant to the vital question at hand—and that fact is sadly missed by Young-Earthers and Old-Earthers alike. Continue reading

Caner’s departure addressed, trustee resigns

Baptist PressEDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated since being posted earlier this afternoon (Feb. 3).

MOUNT VERNON, Ga. (BP) — Brewton-Parker College trustee chairman Gary Campbell is the third high-profile figure to leave the college’s leadership team in the past two weeks.

Campbell tendered his resignation on Feb. 2 shortly before introducing Interim President Charles “Charlie” Bass to faculty and staff at the South Georgia college.

But before departing, Campbell discussed the unexpected resignation of President Ergun Caner on Jan. 20 and, barely a week later, the termination of Vice President C.B. Scott. On Jan. 29 Campbell told Vidalia-based Southeast Georgia Today news outlet that he could not comment on Scott’s departure due to it being a personnel matter.

Ergun Caner

Scott was one of the first administrative appointments made by Caner, calling him “the perfect man for the job” of overseeing the college’s alumni and college relations programs. Scott, who was already serving in various capacities at the college, according to the original press release announcing his appointment, was elevated to the cabinet-level position in January 2014.

Before announcing his own resignation, Campbell took several minutes to “set the record straight concerning speculation regarding recent leadership changes at Brewton-Parker College.”

via Caner’s departure addressed, trustee resigns.

Religion and Politics by Russell Moore | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org

Russell Mooreby Russell Moore

Tabletalk: How did you come to pursue a career as a systematic theologian and Christian ethicist?

Russell Moore: I felt a call to ministry early on and preached my first sermon at my home church in Biloxi, Miss., when I was twelve. I then drifted from that calling toward a career in politics. When I was working on Capitol Hill as a very young man, I picked up in the Library of Congress a copy of a Free Will Baptist manual on weddings, funerals, and so forth. After I returned home I wondered, “Why did I want this?” The Lord used that to rekindle my sense of His call to ministry. I never imagined how God would merge these callings together.

via Religion and Politics by Russell Moore | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

3 Decisions a Pastor Can Make That Will Help His Family | Ronnie Floyd

Ronnie FloydMy wife Jeana grew up in the home of a Pastor, and we have always worked hard together to ensure our family is our #1 priority following our personal commitment to Jesus Christ. To God’s glory, my wife did not ever resent the church as the wife of a pastor, and as our children grew, they did not ever resent the church. In fact, our church was our life!

The four of us loved the church and we still love the church! Our boys’ spouses love the church and they are now raising children who love the church!

How did we escape the testimony I often hear of pastor’s families resenting the church? By God’s grace and prayer. I also believe we made several decisions that moved us along toward a positive experience. I will note three of these decisions.

via 3 Decisions a Pastor Can Make That Will Help His Family | Ronnie Floyd.

CALL TO PRAYER: More than conquerors in 2015 & beyond | Baptist Press | Frank Page

Frank Page

Frank Page

EDITOR’S NOTE: This column by Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, is part of his ongoing call to prayer for revival and spiritual awakening for our churches, our nation and our world.

NASHVILLE (BP) — Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this year was the year during which we live as “more than conquerors”? The Lord gives us the key to see how this may be accomplished in our lives — it can only be done “through Him who loved us.”

These words from Romans 8:37–39 shine as one of God’s brightest promises to His children. The passage says: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Continue reading →

Teach the Uncompromised Truth of Genesis in Church | Answers in Genesis

answers-in-genesis-logoThis month, the pastor of one of the largest churches in Northern Kentucky (and close to our Creation Museum) is conducting a teaching series going through Genesis 1–11 for the congregation. This is the same church that will be hosting our annual Mega Conference, June 24–27. I was present at the service when Pastor Corey Abney1 (the lead pastor) introduced the Genesis series to the congregation. I thought his introduction was excellent (watch it at the video link below), and it could be used to challenge pastors, Bible teachers, and others to consider teaching through Genesis 1–11. We live in an age when the authority of God’s Word has come under attack, particularly the first book of the Bible. We also need to equip this current generation of young people to defend the Christian faith against the secular attacks of our day.

I encourage you to watch Pastor Abney’s short but powerful introduction to his teaching series on Genesis 1–11. I pray many more Christian leaders will be challenged and inspired to stand on God’s Word beginning in Genesis. Continue reading →

Racial Reconciliation: Why Most Whites Just Don’t Get it

by Ken Hamrick

There’s something insincere about any repentant admission that says, “Yes, I’m guilty—and so are you.” I do not admit to being a racist, and neither do I think most Americans—white or otherwise—are. Many are racists, but most—or even, all? Contrary to the popular Evangelical party line these days, that cannot be established. It is not enough to point out that racism is sin, and as such, it comes from the fall of man, which affects us all. All are sinners, but not all are racists.

Some good Christian black leader, whose article I’ve since lost track of, has explained that black people view things from a racial/ethnic solidarity—that when one is unjustly treated, all feel the pain. This, I think, illuminates the differences in thinking and explains why most white people just don’t get it when it comes to racial reconciliation. Continue reading

Racial justice and the gospel | ERLC.COM

Russell Moore

Russell Moore

On the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act this year, I was reminded of one of my favorite pictures, which sits on a shelf in my office. It’s a photograph of a line of civil rights workers—in the heat of the Jim Crow era. They’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder, each of them bearing a sign. The sign reads, simply: “I Am a Man.”

I love that picture because it sums up precisely the issue at that time, and at every time. The struggle for civil rights for African-Americans in this country wasn’t simply a “political” question. It wasn’t merely the question of, as Martin Luther King Jr. put it from before the Lincoln Memorial, the unfulfilled promises of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution (although it was nothing less than that). At its root, Jim Crow (and the spirit of Jim Crow, still alive and sinister) is about theology. It’s about the question of the “Godness” of God and the humanness of humanity. Continue reading →

Do Small Churches Need Self-Assessment? | The Exchange | Ed Stetzer

Ed StetzerNumbers don’t determine a church’s health in-and-of themselves, but facts are our friends. | Ed Stetzer

This column originally appeared in Outreach magazine. Be sure to check out Outreach and consider subscribing.

Facts are our friends, and we need to use them with care. A church assessment is about giving you the facts you need, even if a lot of people don’t recognize that. Churches of all sizes, even small ones, should engage in some form of assessment because it is necessary, legitimate and beneficial.

Is It Necessary?

Whether you know it or not, from the classroom to the doctor’s office, we use assessments every day. My auto mechanic uses certain tools to assess the health of my car and determine if there are any problems we need to address. Most accept those types of assessments, but when it comes to the assessment of churches, the conversation can get sticky. Continue reading →

Small, rural church gives 30% through CP | Baptist Press

Baptist PressALMYRA, Ark. (BP) — Some might say trusting God comes easily for the farming families who make up the majority of the members of Almyra First Baptist Church.

They watch rice emerge from flooded fields, soybeans grow in carefully weeded rows, and cotton blossoms nearby. They know from this that God gives the increase in His time, when they’re obedient to do His work, says Doug Hibbard, who has served as pastor of First Baptist in Almyra, Ark., the past four years. The congregation averages about 55 in Sunday morning worship.

“These are people who want to hear the Word, and want to do what they can do to serve,” Hibbard said. “Because of what they do for a living, many of them can’t go [on mission trips,] but they want to be supportive of what Southern Baptists are doing around the world.” Continue reading →

4 Considerations for Every Southern Baptist Church in 2015 | Ronnie Floyd

Ronnie FloydAs we near the coming of the Lord, we should be more focused than ever before. As our 50,000 plus churches and congregations partner together in gospel causes, the time is now for us to rise up like never before.

I want to ask you to consider these four things with me in 2015.

1. Personally, collectively, and cooperatively, we need to own the Great Commission.

As Southern Baptists, our missional vision is to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations. There is not one of us that can escape this vision, not because it our vision as Southern Baptists, but because it is the vision of Jesus Christ for each of us as His disciples.

When I challenge us to own the Great Commission, I mean we must own this responsibility personally. Continue reading →

Why Religious Colleges Should Worry About This New Ruling | First Things | Mark Bauerlein

First ThingsLast month, the National Labor Relations Board issued an important ruling that promises to land in the courts. The ensuing decision may be as momentous as the Yeshiva case of 1980, which determined that tenured and tenure-track faculty members have managerial status and cannot unionize. The new ruling opens the way for more professors in post-secondary institutions to unionize, including religious schools.

Administrators are wondering what it portends, particularly whether it means a more troublesome faculty work force. But those at religious might also ask a policy question: Should they have allowed professors to work at their institution in complete independence of the religious identity of the school? Continue reading →

Day of Service: NAMB gives back to community | Baptist Press

Baptist PressALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — The phrase “Whatever it takes” is one of the North American Mission Board’s operating values. Staff members are reminded that the mission agency exists to serve Southern Baptists and Southern Baptist churches. Giving back to the community in service was a tangible demonstration of this value as staff participated Dec. 12 in the annual NAMB Day of Service.

Staff from the NAMB’s Alpharetta, Ga., office joined local ministries in a variety of service activities at Peace Baptist Church of Decatur, Clarkston International Bible Church in Clarkston and No Longer Bound of Cumming. Continue reading →

Floyd calls Baptists to racially reconcile | Baptist Press

Baptist PressSPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) — Southern Baptist pastor Terry Turner has a newspaper clipping from the early 1900s telling of a family member taken from jail by a mob of southern whites and lynched, never tried or convicted of a crime.

Turner’s memory of growing up as an African American under Jim Crow segregation laws in Guthrie, Okla., partly fuels his support of Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd’s racial reconciliation initiative launched today (Dec. 15), calling for Southern Baptists to repent of racism and unite in love. Twenty other Southern Baptist pastors signed the appeal, including leaders from the white, black, Asian, Native American and Latino communities. Continue reading →

The Wounds Run Deep: Racism and Injustice Must End and Let Grace and Love Begin | Ronnie Floyd

Ronnie FloydUnder deep conviction by the Holy Spirit that I must do something as a Christian, a pastor, and as the current President of the Southern Baptist Convention, this past Wednesday, I conducted a conference call with four of our SBC African American pastors and two Anglo pastors. We talked openly and honestly about the growing racial tension in our nation.

The conversation we had on this conference call led to this article. When I shared with these men my desire to write on this subject, they immediately joined in and said, “Let us help, sign our names, and enlist a few others to come alongside of speaking to the issues of racism and injustice.” Various representatives of ethnicities, who have signed below, are joining us in releasing this article to the pastors, churches, leaders, and laypeople of our Southern Baptist Convention. Continue reading →

CALL TO PRAYER: Our grand vision | Baptist Press | Ronnie Floyd

Ronnie FloydSPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) — As a local church pastor, I am thrilled when I get to share the vision of how Southern Baptists are praying and working to reach the world for Jesus Christ. When I share with our people this grand vision and how our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions is significant to what we are doing around the world, they immediately join in helping fund this vision.

With world crises occurring daily and the severity of lostness ever increasing, we have no other choice as Southern Baptists than to do all we can to take the Gospel to every person in the world. Continue reading →

The Pastor and His Family During the Christmas Season | Ronnie Floyd

Ronnie FloydThe pastor is pulled in a thousand directions all the time, but especially during the Christmas season. Through the seasons of leadership I have experienced over twenty-eight years of ministry here, there have been some very challenging years. However, I have always really tried to insure that my family received my love, support, and focus. Looking back through the years, I believe I have been able to do this in a satisfactory and fulfilling way.

What Threatens Time With the Family

Any pastor can state the intention not to sacrifice his family during the Christmas season. Yet, in order to make this a reality, he needs to know what can threaten his time with his family.

What are some of these possible threats? Continue reading →

Fayetteville, Ark., LGBT law repealed | Baptist Press

Baptist PressFAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (BP) — Voters in a Northwest Arkansas city have overturned a pro-homosexual/transgender ordinance that many claimed posed a threat to religious liberty.

A sign in Fayetteville, Ark., urges voters to repeal an ordinance passed by the city council that many claimed posed a threat to religious liberty. On Dec. 9, voters did repeal the measure by a narrow margin.

In a special election Tuesday (Dec. 9), residents of Fayetteville — home of the University of Arkansas — approved repeal of the measure by fewer than 500 votes, with 52 percent (7,523) of voters in favor of repeal and 48 percent (7,040) opposed. The result rescinded a law passed by the city council in a 6-2 vote in August. Opponents of the ordinance collected enough signatures within a month to place its repeal on a special election ballot.

The Civil Rights Administration ordinance included protections for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

Local and national Southern Baptist leaders opposed the ordinance largely because of concerns it would infringe upon the freedoms of religion and conscience for individuals, churches and businesses.

The ordinance’s repeal “represents a victory for religious freedom,” Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious liberty Commission, said. Continue reading →