THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn
The advisory committee formed by Southern Baptist Executive Committee President Frank Page to study the divide over Reformed theology in the convention released its final report a week before the SBC was scheduled to hold its annual meeting in Houston.
Page assembled the group last August, after an annual meeting in New Orleans where Reformed theology was a hot-button issue. Much of the conversation then centered on the need to work together despite theological differences; Page wanted the team to help him develop “a strategy whereby people of various theological persuasions can purposely work together in missions and evangelism.”
The group’s 3,200-word statement outlines nine areas of theology that all Southern Baptists can agree on, and then tackles areas of disagreement within those issues. For example:
“We agree that God is absolutely sovereign in initiating salvation, uniting the believer to Himself, and preserving the believer to the end, but we differ as to how God expresses His sovereignty with respect to human freedom,” the report reads.
Pointing to one of the tenets of Reformed theology, the statement continues, “We agree that the Holy Spirit working through the Gospel enables sinners to be saved, but we differ as to whether this grace is resistible or irresistible.”
But those tensions shouldn’t hinder cooperation, according to the advisory committee, which was made up of people from both sides of the theological divide. Rather, “we urge Southern Baptists to grant one another liberty in those areas within The Baptist Faith and Message (BFM) where differences in interpretation cause us to disagree.”
Later in the report, the group points to the BFM, as adopted in 2000, as the confession that “is to serve as the doctrinal basis for our cooperation in Great Commission ministry.”
A report on the group’s work is expected during next week’s annual meeting, which begins June 11. In its closing words, the statement offers a challenge that could be especially important in Houston:
“If we stand together in truth, we can trust one another in truth, even as we experience tension. We can talk like brothers and sisters in Christ, and we can work urgently and eagerly together.”
-With reporting by Baptist Press
Baptists expected to discuss Boy Scouts at annual meeting
Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land told CNN there is a “100% chance” there will be a resolution to disaffiliate with Boy Scouts during the upcoming Southern Baptist Convention in Houston. “…And a 100% chance that 99% of people will vote for it,” Land continued. “Southern Baptists are going to be leaving the Boy Scouts en masse.” Boy Scouts of America recently voted to allow gay-identifying youth to be members. As autonomous churches, Southern Baptist congregations can choose their own course of action when it comes to Boy Scouts, but many will likely find it difficult to comply with the new policy, SBC spokesman Sing Oldham told CNN. “With this policy change, the Boy Scouts’ values are contradictory to the basic values of our local churches.” Read more on CNN’s Belief blog.
What does Illinois’ non-action on same-sex marriage mean for the rest of the country?The St. Louis Post-Dispatch asked that question in the wake of Rep. Greg Harris’ refusal to call the same-sex marriage bill for a vote before the Illinois House adjourned its spring session May 31. David Smith, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, told the paper, “The momentum has been stopped.
“It shows that it’s not as popular with people as the national media is telling us.”
Smith added that the non-action in Illinois could be a “bellwether” for other states, especially those that don’t lean as far to the left. As the Post-Dispatch pointed out, “If gay marriage fails here, how would a state like Missouri ever even flirt with it?” Read the full story here.
One-third of Americans trust God more during suffering
A new study by LifeWay Research found 33% of Americans trust God more during times of suffering that seems unfair. The research, conducted after the devastating May 20 tornado in Moore, Okla., also found 25% of people reported being “confused by God” during such times, and 16% say they “don’t think about God in those situations.” Read more at LifeWayResearch.com.