In addition to the previously mentioned podcasts, Doug Baker of the Baptist Messenger is conducting short vidcast interviews with Southern Baptist pastors, thinkers, and other leaders. One of the first vidcasts is with our own Nathan Finn, who along with Alvin Reid was in Oklahoma last weekend for a conference. The topics discussed include the Conservative Resurgence, the GCR, competing visions among Southern Baptists, the Cooperative Program, and ethnic diversity in the SBC. The vidcast, which lasts about 10 minutes, can be watched at the Messenger Insight website.
Doug Baker has written a very insightful editorial about what’s at stake for Southern Baptists in the current debates about the GCR and related issues:
“Were the moderates right?” The sheer posing of such a question sent a collective gasp across Alumni Chapel. During a recent panel discussion when Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler, Jr., uttered these words in a place where moderates once dominated one of the world’s largest seminaries, it was not as though such a theory was not without a plausible grounding. Some 20 years earlier Bill Leonard, a notable moderate who once served on the faculty of Southern Seminary, predicted that once the conservatives took control of the SBC’s massive infrastructure, they would soon turn on one another.
Russell D. Moore, the Dean of Southern Seminary’s faculty went a step further. As a young doctoral student, Moore observed the doctrinal deliberations of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. His conclusion? “You are wrong about the Bible. You are wrong about Jesus. You are right about us.” By being “right,” he meant the ferocious relational controversy that still (perhaps now more than ever) envelops the Southern Baptist Convention.
The mere mention of the words-Great Commission Resurgence-can send most every Southern Baptist gravitating one way or another. For some, the movement that began with a 95 percent vote by messengers to last year’s annual meeting in Louisville indicated a seismic shift was taking place within the denomination. They thought that the embrace of a comprehensive theological worldview would gladly result in an objective examination of the denomination’s agencies and entities resulting in a process for streamlining, focusing and targeting funding allocations toward areas where little or no Christian witness is present. . . .
You can read Baker’s full editorial at The Baptist Messenger, the news magazine of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
Myth #4: The goal of the Great Commission Task Force is to dismantle if not destroy the Cooperative Program as we know it today.
Recently a Baptist Press article lamented that, “Some leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention tell us that the CP is dead or is no longer effective or efficient, or needs to be redefined. Simply stated, these leaders tell us the CP doesn’t work; it’s a relic of the past; it’s the old way; it’s a program, and programs are an anathema; and that CP is all about old denominational loyalty.” Then just a few days ago, I was told that the word was being spread in one of our state convention buildings that I, personally, was “trashing the CP.” Each of these is a sad example of straw men, hyperbole and outright misrepresentation as applied to the GCRTF. Here are the facts.
First, I affirmed the CP and countered this myth just last week when I spoke on the future of the SBC at Union University. If you like you can access the address at http://apps.sebts.edu/president/?p=1471. Further, you will look in vain to find any place where I have trashed the CP. I thank God for the CP. It helped put me through seminary and has paid a significant portion of my salary since 1992. Without it, Southern Baptists could not receive an outstanding theological education at the very best cost in the world. Without it we could not send missionaries around the world. Thank you Southern Baptists for giving through the CP.
Second, the GCRTF believes the CP is alive and well. We believe it is effective and that it is working. We believe it has a wonderful past and pray it has an even more wonderful future.
Third, does the GCRTF believe we should carefully examine and study the CP in light of the assignment given to us by the Convention in June? Yes we do. Do we believe we should see if there are ways to improve and make even more efficient the CP? Absolutely! To not do this would be irresponsible as a TF. So, have we had healthy and honest conversations about the CP? Yes.
Have we studied and analyzed a lot of data as it relates to the giving of local churches, giving through state conventions, and giving to national agencies and entities? Yes. Are we concerned about the decreasing giving patterns of our churches? Yes. Do we believe we need to find a way to cast a compelling vision that will encourage and move our churches to give more? Yes. In particular, are we asking God to help us find a way to get more resources to the nations and our nation where the gospel witness is weak or non-existent? Yes.
The CP is a good giving mechanism that allows Southern Baptists to work together. It is a good giving mechanism that allows us to do more together than we could ever do alone. It is a servant not a master. It is to be a tool and not a tyrant. It should be used to bring us together, not divide us. Pray that our Lord will guide us to find ways to make the CP even more useful for the advancement of His Kingdom as we move ahead for the glory of King Jesus.