Saturday, June 23, 2012

The SBC/ Eddie

I always look forward to the Southern Baptist Convention. Always. The convention is a family reunion of sorts. A group of my friends and I stay close together, eat almost every meal and attend most sessions together. We truly have a wonderful time as we worship and fellowship together. This year was no different.

But as the 2012 convention approached there was a different feeling. There was/is a feeling that Calvinism had begun to dominate the SBC and the Pastors’ Conferences. Many felt like there needed to be a push back. A push to let the Calvinists know and understand there are Bible believing, Gospel centered leaders who are not Calvinistic. 

Battle lines were being drawn. Calvinist and non-Calvinist were debating and sometimes insulting one another. Though there were calls to be kind and to “play nice,” many times those calls fell on deaf ears. Therefore, as the convention approached one had to wonder if there would be “fussing and fighting,” perhaps as we had never witnessed before. I feared the worst and was concerned I would leave the 2012 convention discouraged and distraught over my beloved Southern Baptist Convention. 

Thankfully, the fighting never happened.

Thankfully, I left the convention as hopeful about the SBC as I have been in sometime. In recent years I have wondered if the divide between the mega-churches and the rest of the convention would ultimately split the convention. This year I wondered if the differing views on soteriology would split the convention. It seems (to me anyway) instead of dividing the convention and pointing us toward our doom, in a strange way I feel more unified. Why?

Maybe it’s because the conversation has begun. As Jerry Vines pointed out prior to the convention, the “elephants” needed to be discussed. Instead of listening to a 30 second video of Mohler, Platt, Gaines, or whoever in our offices, the discussion was brought full scale to the convention; out in the open. Eric Hankins should be commended for his contribution of the “Traditionalists” view of soteriology. Mohler, Harwood, Vines, Gaines, Wright, Page and a host of others are to be commended for their responses to the issue at hand. Both sides who weighed in publicly should be commended for their kind tones and gestures.

So, I for one, am relieved and hopeful that open discussion will continue in a courteous and kind manner, with both groups realizing the legitimacy of one another’s beliefs and that both groups will continue to study God’s Word and grow therein. We will likely never change one another’s opinion and that is OK. I am not mad at the Calvinists. I am not and have never been accused of being a Calvinist. But, I understand how they get there. I believe they love the Lord and I have many friends and partners in the ministry who lean that way. We can work and worship together for God’s glory.

Maybe I am hopeful because of because of the descriptor; doubtful, but maybe. I was not for it. But, if my brothers in other areas of the world believe it will help them reach the lost, who am I to say no. It changes nothing I do or how I refer to the church I serve. So maybe the willingness to help those in other areas encouraged me.

Or maybe it was the election of Fred Luter, the first African American President of the SBC that encouraged me. I have known of Bro. Fred for years and have never heard a disparaging word about him or his ministry. God has used him to grow a great church and he is universally loved and respected in the SBC. May God bless him and use him in a mighty, mighty way!

Maybe I am na├»ve, but I truly believe Calvinists and non-Calvinists can serve the Lord together. I do not believe we should change our name, but we should all be Great Commission Baptists. And it doesn’t bother me if a church uses the descriptor (after all it does include Baptist)! Also, I believe we can rally around President Luter.

Some may say I’m crazy, or giving in, or whatever. That’s OK. I choose to believe the best about the Body of Christ and to work for the best of our convention through the power of Christ.

Eddie Wren

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