ridiculous, ridiculous, ridiculous


The “Theology Committee” of the Missouri Baptist Convention have released a statement today that, in effect, separates the MBC from ever working in partnership with Acts 29 and their organization of church planters again. The Chairman of the committee had this to say, “We are living in a day and age where we need doctrinal precision and we need to be definitive in what we believe,” which begs the question,” How have you concluded that the use of alcohol is a significant enough issue to sever partnership? Knight goes on to say, “The day of presuming what everybody believes—that’s ambiguous. I believe most people do not thrive well in ambiguity. We thrive well with parameters such as the Baptist Faith & Message (2000), and any clari!
fication that can be made of a statement like that.
” (emphasis mine) Since alcohol use is not addressed in the Baptist Faith and Message, one can only assume that Knight is imposing his interpretation of scripture on to the document. It appears that he is serious about providing “clarification” of “a statement like that” and in doing so he is interpreting, for us, the Baptist Faith & Message.

In response to their statement, I’ve listed below the seven conclusions of the committee. I’d like to interact with them individually.

1) Acts 29 is a part of the Emerging Church movement;

I would agree with that.

2) We have great difficulty with the notion or philosophy that a church can be theologically conservative and methodologically liberal. There is an inherent connection between biblical theology and missions methodology;

Hmm, interesting quote. I would assume, then, that his point would disallow a Democrat, for instance, to be a member of the MBC. Wouldn’t it follow that espousal of “liberal” social positions indicates a sign of biblical infidelity and therefore renders one who practices such behavior (i.e. a Democrat) useless to the MBC?

3) There seems to be levels of immaturity and even rebellion among the leadership of the Emerging Church movement;

Wow, I cannot believe that they went there. Do they really want us to address the level of immaturity that exists within “accepted” SBC life? Is that a sign of disfellowship? Beyond that, how are they measuring what they perceive to be “rebellion?” If by rebellion they mean happiness to throw off traditional norms that are either not grounded biblically, or ineffective methodologically, than count me as a “rebel”.

4) Acts 29 should not be an organization with which the Missouri Baptist Convention networks by means of our Cooperative Program money, missions emphases and church planting;

I completely disagree with their assessment but I’m curious to know if they will accept money towards the CP from churches that consider themselves Emerging Church friendly? If so doesn’t that mean that they’re playing both sides of coin?

5) A commitment to planting indigenous churches in Missouri is not a commitment to cultural compromise;

I cautiously agree. I would like for them to define “cultural compromise” further.

6) We recognize the diversity of opinion in American evangelicalism when it comes to alcoholic beverages. This does not negate our historic and ongoing affirmation of the resolutions at 57 annual meetings of the Southern Baptist Convention regarding abstinence as the Baptist position on the sale and use of alcoholic beverages;

It would be stupid for me to disagree with their assessment of an historical SBC position. Having said that, however; does that qualify this as an issue of theological diversity that is great enough to cause a lack of fellowship/partnership? In my opinion, no.

7) There are vast theological extremes and a profound depth of doctrinal diversity, even instances of clearly heretical statements, within the Emerging Church movement with which we are greatly uncomfortable.

Umm, there are vast theological extremes and a profound depth of doctrinal diversity, even instance of clearly heretical statements, within the Southern Baptist Convention, and yet we’re still happy to partner together. I’m sorry, I don’t buy it. Are there problems within the EC movement? You bet there are. That doesn’t negate the significance of those within the EC movement that are conservative, biblical, etc. The EC is not a “formal” organization and as such I am more than reticent to write off the entire group in a wholesale move.

Beyond all that I’ve said above, in no specific order and carrying no measurable degrees of importance to me, here are some additional concerns that I have with the report.

1. Dr. Ed Stetzer is considered one of the greatest minds in SBC life today. He has worked for multiple seminaries, NAMB and now LifeWay. He also sits on the board for Acts 29. Are we withdrawing our support from these SBC agencies because they obviously support a man who is tied directly to Acts 29? If not, why not? The fact that they would outwardly withdraw fellowship with an organization that is encouraged by a man like Dr. Stetzer seems ludicrous to me.

2. Why, when there are only 5 committee members, did Mike Green (who appointed the committee) appoint an individual who reports directly to him to sit on the committee? Denny Marr, who sits on the committee, is the Education Minister at Green’s church. Isn’t that indicative of the problems with tightly controlled power that we’ve been lamenting in the MBC?

3. Are we ready, upon acceptance of this statement, to disfellowship ourselves with all churches that embrace Acts 29 and other aspects of the Emerging Church movement? I hope not because if so, myself and my church will be out the door.

**UPDATE**

In the article by the Pathway, the reader is led to believe that the decision of the committee was influenced by Dr. Mark Devine, from Midwestern Seminary and his paper on the Emerging Church. That just didn’t seem right to me. I’ve taken theology under Dr. Devine and spoken to him many times away from the classroom about the EC movement and that opinion seemed contrary to what he and I have spoken about. In fact, I was just getting ready to email him and query him about it when I read his response on Steve McCoy’s blog about the whole controversy. It has certainly set me at ease regarding Dr. Devine’s role in the situation. !
His quote is below.

The Pathway article contained a vast distortion, indeed a contradiction of both my article (which was distributed to the committee) and my comments to the committee. Don Hinkle has invited me to write an op-ed peice for the next edition. I am working on it now and will post an early draft on my website.

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He's Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he's a debtor to grace.

15 thoughts on “ridiculous, ridiculous, ridiculous

  1. Greetings, Micah,

    I find this report very interesting, and reading it caused me to do some reminiscing about those uncomfortable years of transition from Independent Baptist churches to those affiliated with the SBC. When we would go home for vacation, the Sunday School lesson would suddenly change from Scripture to a lesson about the difference between being conservative but not fundamental. Or we would get an hour on the evils and gross liberalism of the leadership of the SBC. The lesson in a nutshell was this: they’re not us, so they’re not okay. They don’t do things the way that we do them, which makes them wrong and dangerous. The EXACT same reasoning, even some of the very same arguments that this committee has made regarding the EC movement were leveled against the SBC by the churches in which I grew up. Those arguments were off the mark because they tried to label an entire group as being one thing or another. One last observation, if I may. Independent Baptist churches were notorious!
    for determining the extent to which one might be a liberal or a conservative based upon actions, not upon belief. Is that really where we want the focus to go? We’re not “acting” Baptist enough? This is a great way to enhance style and sacrifice substance. We’ll all end up looking alike and not willing to minister to any who don’t fit the image. I’ve been down this road befiore, and nothing lives at the end if it.

  2. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are acc!
    ustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    Is that what it is going to take?

  3. Micah,
    I too am a bit disheartened over the report. Thankfully for now it’s just a report.

    Pastor McAlpin has largely been the voice of reason on this committee, I’m sure his absence was missed.

  4. Mike-

    I don’t know of specific churches pulling out, but I am aware of specific, significant MBC churches that are tired of this kind of behavior and are prepared to take action to change it. I would recommend that you keep an ear out – I think some exciting developments are coming soon! 🙂

  5. I picked an interesting time to leave my MBC area megachurch for my small neighborhood nondenom…

    BTW, I’m sure my former MBC mega is one of your specific and significant churches, and just by looking at the makeup of the committee I can think of another almost-mega church as well.

  6. I posted this over on McCoy’s blog:

    We’ve got some strong churches in our association who are in agreement with the BF&M, led by some Godly bros, and have a relationship with A29. I have no plans of backing off from partnership in any way whatsoever. Theologically conservative, Gospel centered, engaging culture…let’s roll

    What these dudes have got to figure out is that as long as we have first tier doctrine/theology in agreement, some second tier matters and third tier matters of methodology have to be left to the local autonomy of the church while we celebrate those first tier truths we unite upon.

    Darren Casper
    St. Louis Metro

  7. Micah,
    It is this type of reasoning within the MBC that drove our church to leave the MBC. I must concur with Marty’s post that we are looking at a time when many may chose a similiar path.
    For reasons beyond my ability to comprehend the leadership of the MBC seems arrogantly bent on the destruction of the very minstry they serve.
    I am thankful that God is larger than the MBC and our church family, Windsor Baptist Church, Imperial has discovered a freedom and peace in our independence from the MBC.

  8. Micah-

    Once again you have hit the nail on the head. If we cannot clearly see the direction this current leadership is taking us, then we are blind. I believe that it is high time for a change. I do not believe that the majority (or anywhere near to a majority) of Missouri Baptists are interested in allowing the noose of legalism to be tightened any further.

    It seems many in this group feel that they have no one to answer to. Perhaps now is the time to let them know that the Missouri Baptist Convention consists of more than an ad hoc committee or those who land leadership positions within the convention.

    Speaking as an Exec. Board member and Nom. Comm. member, I would gladly relinquish my positions in order to start afresh and follow the Spirit of God rather than the witch hunts of men.

    May God help us!

  9. Won’t it be incredible when we are in the day where we aren’t talking about one state’s denomination and are talking about the unity of the entire Body of Christ? I think Jesus mourns this disunity… disunity within a tiny fraction of the Body worldwide. Is it any wonder that the lost doesn’t know Him?

  10. As an outsider, so to speak, I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I can make an observation or two.

    1) Paul said he wanted to be all things to all people so that by all means, some may be won. I guess not everyone wants to do that.

    2) Doctrinal precision worked pretty well for the Pharisees, so I see no reason it can’t work in Missouri, too.

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