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Motion to replace VP with time of prayer fails on the floor

Controversy arose Monday when the Southern Baptist Convention’s Order of Business Committee announced Vice President Mike Pence had been added to the Wednesday morning schedule. Debate online and in the convention hall centered on the appropriateness of having a political figure speak at time when the country and the denomination itself is experiencing so much disunity.

Garrett Kell, a messenger from Del Ray Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va., brought a motion to replace the Vice President’s address with a time of prayer. The motion called Pence’s addition to the schedule a source of disunity with minority brothers and sisters that suggests alignment with a particular political party and puts SBC workers around world at risk. Kell asked messengers to consider Romans 14:19.

Committee on Order of Business Chair Grant Ethridge responded to the motion. “The Southern Baptist Convention aligns itself with no political party. Our loyalty is to King Jesus, Lord of Lords,” Ethridge said to applause in the convention hall. He explained that the White House reached out to the convention and that Pence’s appearance was keeping with history. “Many political figures have reached out to us in the past.”

Ethridge, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton Roads, Va., referred to a list of Scripture passages to support his position. “1 Timothy 2:1, 3; Romans 13:1, Titus 3:1. 1 Peter 2:17 to me really sums it up. In Acts 25:11, Paul even says, ‘I appeal to Caesar.’”

He went on to say he felt messengers should respect the position of the office and that had he been chair when the previous administration was in office, he would have welcomed them to speak if they had requested it.

Concluding, Ethridge said, “We encourage the messengers to extend a biblical, Christ-like welcome to the Vice President of the United States.’

Messengers overwhelming voted against the motion to replace Pence’s address, and approved the Order of Business for the Annual Meeting.

Multiple motions to change the SBC bylaws to disallow requests by or invitations to political figures were presented during the first schedule Introduction of New Motions time Tuesday morning. There will be a second opportunity for messengers to bring new motions to the floor at 3:45 p.m. The Committee on Order of Business will review the motions and determine which meet the convention’s guidelines to be eligible for a vote.

Evans: We’re experiencing the passive wrath of God

Dallas | “We’re living in a day where we’d rather offend God and fear the culture than offend the culture and fear God,” James Merritt proclaimed to those gathered at the 2018 SBC Pastors’ Conference in Dallas.

The conference, which precedes the Southern Baptist Convention, kicked off Sunday evening June 10, with three speakers: Merritt, pastor of Cross Pointe Church, Sugarloaf, GA; Juan Sanchez, pastor of High Point Baptist Church, Austin, TX; and Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, Dallas, TX.

Merritt, spoke from Romans 1:16, urging pastors not to be ashamed of the simple: 1) message of the gospel; 2) might of the gospel because it is the power of God; or 3) saving ministry of the power of the gospel.

Sanchez cautioned pastors, “We are not made to live in isolation…yet pastors are some of the most isolated people. Brothers, we need deeply rooted gospel relationships if we are to fulfill our calling.”

He encouraged them to remember, “Our confidence is in the Lord Jesus Christ who lived and died and rose again. The Lord chooses to use us and to him be the glory forever and ever amen.”

No matter what discouragement pastors might face, Sanchez reminded, “Our confidence is not in our building. It’s not in our city. Our confidence is in Jesus Christ.”

It was local pastor Tony Evans that roused the audience. Evans based his messaged on 2 Chronicles 15:3-6. “It’s a summary of why the world we live in today is the way it is,” he said. “It gives us a picture of chaos.”

He contrasted the chaos of the world then with that of our world today. “Family chaos, international chaos, urban chaos. It says there was social chaos comprehensively.”

“God determines in a society what he is going to do by the presence or absence of his people, Evans declared. “What you and I are experiencing today is the passive wrath of God.”

He described what God did then and what he said God’s doing now. “God troubled them with every kind of distress… He’ll use the distress to bring our undivided attention back around to him again to pray for revival.

But there is a solution if churches choose to address it. “If God is your problem, only God is your solution to the chaos.”

The SBC Pastors’ Conference continues Tuesday, June 11 and can be viewed online at http://live.sbc.net/.

By Nate Adams

Editor’s note: The bill remains in committee in the House at the close of the spring session.

How churches can respond to LGBT curriculum vote

ADF-IBSANot long ago, someone used a word that wasn’t familiar to me. I immediately began breaking the word apart in my mind, realizing that I recognized pieces of it. Those pieces, along with the context in which the word was being used, allowed me to develop a pretty good idea of what the word meant. Later I found I was right.

Almost every time that kind of thing happens to me, I am thankful for Miss Daisy McCabe, my seventh-grade orthography teacher. Orthography may not be a familiar subject to many today, but it’s kind of like spelling on steroids. By studying the different parts of words and their origins, you can piece together what they mean, where they came from, and how to use them properly. A student of orthography is often good at spelling, grammar, hyphenation, punctuation, and any number of word skills.

I wasn’t crazy about orthography in seventh grade. But it has served me well throughout my life. Those of us who paid attention as Miss McCabe drilled words and participles and usages into our young minds came away better writers, and thinkers, and problem-solvers.

For some reason, I thought of orthography when I learned of legislation that recently passed the Illinois State Senate, and that now is under consideration by the Illinois House. Senate Bill 3249, which passed in the Senate 34-18 on May 2, would require a portion of public school history courses to include study of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) figures, and that history books be “non-discriminatory” overall.

If the bill becomes law, Illinois would be just the second state, after California, to require public schools to teach LGBT history. Regional Superintendents would be tasked with enforcement, and if passed, the law would take effect in Illinois July 1, 2019.

I think my mind turned back to my orthography days because of the stark contrast between that useful subject and its lifelong, educational value, and this latest attempt by liberal legislators to impose not education but blatantly political and, for many, objectional moral values in public schools. Instead of giving all students, regardless of their background or personal choices, the skills they need for life, this type of legislation seeks to indoctrinate a belief system, and to normalize and condone behavior that the Bible clearly calls sin.

As Illinois Family Institute lobbyist Ralph Rivera said in a memo to legislators, “Schools should teach that we should be respectful of each student and each person. This is what we all agree on. However, schools should not be used to advocate for lifestyles that are against the religious values of the students and parents.”

This disturbing trend in our culture is one more reason that churches should be vigilant and well prepared in guarding their own religious freedoms. It’s one reason that IBSA has entered a partnership with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), and why IBSA is offering to pay half the $250 first-year fee for any cooperating IBSA church that enrolls in ADF’s Church Alliance program.

Churches that join the Church Alliance program receive a religious liberty audit, including legal review of their church bylaws and policies. They receive direct access to attorneys who can answer the church’s questions about protecting its religious liberty. And they can receive consultation and/or legal representation in cases involving the church’s religious liberty. You can learn more about ADF’s Church Alliance program, and receive the half-price IBSA church partnership discount, through the IBSA.org website.

In addition to advocating for our churches’ religious freedoms, church members today must also be vigilant in communicating Biblical views and values to our state legislators. It’s a shame that we have to defend even public education this way. It makes me miss orthography.

Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org.

2018-am-pre-reg-open

Aim of task force is renewed passion, effectiveness

With hopes of catalyzing “a fresh wave of evangelistic passion,” the Southern Baptist Convention’s evangelism task force has finalized its recommendations to the convention and will release them a week before the SBC annual meeting in Dallas.

“The ETF has prayed and worked hard,” said Doug Munton, pastor of First Baptist Church, O’Fallon, and a member of the group appointed last year by SBC President Steve Gaines. “We have tried to seek the Lord and to consider ways to encourage the SBC in evangelism,” Munton told the Illinois Baptist.

The task force is scheduled to report Wednesday morning, June 13, at the SBC annual meeting.

“We will bring to the convention a list of affirmations and denials that we hope will sharpen our evangelistic focus, as well as some recommendations which we hope will encourage our convention toward greater effectiveness,” Munton said. “We certainly recognize that the SBC needs to seek the Lord as never before and to have a greater zeal for the Great Commission.”

The task force held its third and final meeting May 14-15 at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. In addition to adopting its recommendations unanimously, the 19-member group elected Southern Baptist Theological Seminary administrator Adam Greenway as vice chairman. Southwestern Seminary President Emeritas Paige Patterson is chairman.

Greenway, dean of Southern’s Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry, said the meeting “was characterized by constructive conversations about our report and recommendations.”

“The evangelization of the world remains our top priority as a convention of churches, and the prayer of all of us serving on this task force is that God will use our efforts to help bring us together by renewing our passion for and increasing our effectiveness in bringing people to Christ,” Greenway told Baptist Press.

“We know that we need a fresh wave of evangelistic passion, but we also need the presence and power of God,” Munton told BP. “We won’t get it all right, being imperfect members of an imperfect convention in an imperfect world. We do pray we bring encouragement to the SBC to refocus our attention and energy on reaching the lost with the Gospel.”

Steve Gaines, who is finishing his second one-year term as SBC president, thanked Southern Baptists for their prayers on behalf of the task force and requested continued prayer “for the SBC as we renew our commitment to take the gospel to all people everywhere.”

High attendance anticipated
Dallas attendance is in line to be the highest at a Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting since 2010, according to an event coordinator.

Advance hotel reservations, which ended May 14, were about 25% ahead of reservations this time last year, said William Townes, SBC Executive Committee vice president for convention finance. Between 8,000 and 9,000 messengers could attend the meeting June 12-13 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, he projected, based on current hotel reservations and advance messenger registrations.

Messenger attendance at an SBC annual meeting has not been that high since the 2010 annual meeting in Orlando. Topped with 5,000 to 6,000 invited guests, exhibitors and other attendees, total Dallas attendance could surpass 14,000.

SBC President Steve Gaines urged messengers and guests to leave their neckties at home, recommending a casual dress code to beat the heat in Dallas.

– From Baptist Press, w ith additional reportingby the Illinois Baptist

By Eric Reed

Red BishopWe might feel sorry for the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Three of our leading SBC entities are without presidents, and the incoming convention president will find himself leading in the aftermath of a firestorm. At least we hope it’s the aftermath.

One resigned because of personal moral failure (Frank Page of the Executive Committee). One was removed for inappropriate comments about women and alleged inaction to protect abuse victims (Paige Patterson of Southwestern Seminary). Only one was not under a cloud (David Platt of the International Mission Board). Yet, his departure leaves a great gap in representation by the younger and reformed generation. A lot of people had pinned their hopes on Platt.

Here’s what the next SBC president faces: The EC, IMB, and SWBTS all need new heads. Their presidential search committees operate independently of each other and, officially, free from outside direction and pressures. Yet, with three major vacancies at the top, the SBC seems particularly vulnerable right now, and the next president will be expected to offer whatever assistance he can to stabilize the ships in the fleet. The new heads of those entities will just be getting their feet under themselves during the next SBC president’s first term. Helping them all is a tall order for the next guy.

What kind of leadership is needed in a season of change and uncertainty? How can he lead after this firestorm?

The next SBC president must be public. Past presidents Fred Luter and Ronnie Floyd were very public, both in mainstream media and Baptist press. Steve Gaines was less public, appearing rarely in the national media, especially in his first term. The new guy must be available to the press, write for publication often, and make effective use of social media.

The next guy must be winsome. In this era of failure and the resulting distrust, it will be up to the next SBC president to bolster public opinion of Baptists with thoughtful apologetics and likeable presentation. It won’t hurt to have a good personality.

The next guy must understand the times. Like the leaders in Issachar (1 Chronicles 12:32), he must be wise and culturally aware. He must take action befitting the age, bringing biblical response to today’s needs. Southern Baptists have been characterized as “tone-deaf” on the subjects of women and abuse. The next guy shouldn’t aim for political correctness, but he must rightly assess the needs of the people in the pews and the watching world.

Indeed, that’s a tall order.

Eric Reed is editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.

The Briefing

Patterson removed, interim president named
In a meeting that began at 1:30 p.m. May 22 and ended just after 3 a.m. May 23, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s trustees removed Paige Patterson as president and appointed him president emeritus effective immediately. They also named as interim president of the seminary Jeffrey Bingham, dean of Southwestern’s School of Theology, pending his acceptance.

New rule cuts Title X Planned Parenthood funds
The Department of Health and Human Services announced a regulation that would bar Planned Parenthood and other organizations that perform or refer for abortions from receiving federal money through Title X family planning program. The Protect Life Rule is a step toward a longtime goal of the pro-life movement — the public defunding of the country’s No. 1 abortion provider.

ERA clears committee, but full Illinois House vote delayed
Despite passing committee, Illinois’s official endorsement of the federal Equal Rights Amendment didn’t get a final vote in the Illinois House since some legislators who intend to vote “yes” were out of town and a partisan divide remains.

Illinois Senate OKs plan to allow cannabis-based medicines in school
Some students in Illinois could soon get to use cannabis-based medicines in public schools. Gov. Bruce Rauner will decide if kids in Illinois public schools who suffer from seizures and other serious medical conditions will get to use cannabidiol and THC-based medicines in school. Cannabidiol oil is a non-intoxicating cannabis extract.

Pope reportedly told gay man: ‘God made you like this’
Roman Catholic Church leader, Pope Francis, has reportedly told a gay man who is a victim of clerical sex abuse that God made him gay and loves him the way he is. When CNN asked Vatican spokesman Greg Burke to comment, he responded: “We do not normally comment on the Pope’s private conversations.”

Jimmy Carter urges unity at Liberty graduation
Former United States President Jimmy Carter challenged Liberty University graduates to “work as much as [they] can to unify Christians in the world,” and noted Baptists should “come together as friends and not be alienated one from another.”

Sources: Baptist Press, State Journal-Register, Illinois News Network, Christian Post, Baptist Press

Updated May 23, 2018

By The Editors

As with most things in Texas, this gathering of Southern Baptists promises to be a bit bigger than usual, both in attendance and in the scope and possible impact of the issues likely to be discussed.

Generation and direction: The two announced candidates for SBC president are markedly different, both in age and theology. While recent conventions have concluded with some attempt at conciliation and commitment to work together, this two-man race serves to highlight the differences. Its outcome will likely be interpreted as a shift in direction.

This presidential election is marked by an increase in campaigning by the candidates’ supporters. Young and Reformed J.D. Greear was the candidate who stepped aside two years ago, rather than force a second run-off election and risk deepening divisions between younger leaders beginning to take their place and their parents’ generation, and between Reformed Southern Baptists and those who would call themselves “traditionalists” on the topics of salvation and election.

The elder Ken Hemphill’s experience in a variety of SBC leadership roles positions him as a statesman candidate. A number of other SBC leaders support him as a defender of traditional theology and the Cooperative Program.

The need for assurance: Messengers will arrive in Texas feeling some fallout from Frank Page’s departure as head of the SBC Executive Committee due to personal moral failure. And David Platt announced his intention to step down as International Mission Board president earlier this spring. Both entities have search committees working to fill the vacancies.

The search for new leaders has generated conversation about diversity among denominational leadership. One pastor said it’s “imperative” that at least one of the two roles be filled by a minority candidate (see our report from MLK50 on page 10).

Diversity: The SBC’s process for nominating trustees for its entities is in the spotlight for a lack of diversity among this year’s nominees. According to the “SBC This Week” podcast, the announced group of 69 nominees to serve on SBC boards is made up of 58 men and 11 women; 67 are Anglo, one is African-American, and one is Asian-American.
Southeastern Seminary President Danny Akin tweeted in response to the report, “We have got to do better than this. Our trustee boards must reflect the WHOLE SBC.”

The report from the Committee on Nominations is still a work in progress (the group generally has to fill 5-10 spots that come open prior to the convention). Chairman James Freeman said the committee initiated measures at their March meeting to increase diversity, a decision that he said was reinforced by the social media discussion.

ERLC AND social justice: Racial justice and unity may be raised again in Dallas. Throughout his tenure, ERLC President Russell Moore has galvanized younger Baptists with his brand of compassionate activism. Others, though, bristled at his harsh words for supporters of then-candidate Donald Trump, and have since questioned whether the ERLC’s policies reflect the majority of the SBC.

Last year the convention voted on a Moore-led resolution condemning “alt-right racism.” Now Moore has raised the issue of race again at an April conference that ERLC hosted commemorating the life and death of Martin Luther King, Jr. The ERLC’s report to the convention is, like last year, near the end of the meeting agenda. Moore will be among the last leaders heard from before Baptists leave Texas.

Paige Patterson: The man who led the conservative reclamation of the SBC starting in the 1970s is scheduled to preach the convention sermon in Dallas and many are calling on him not preach the sermon. On May 23 at a special called meeting of the Board of Trustees at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth he was removed as president and appointed president emeritus.

It comes after comments he made in 2000 about domestic abuse recently required a statement from the seminary offering clarification 18 years later. In the comments, which resurfaced last month, Patterson said his counsel to a woman being abused by her husband would depend “on the level of abuse to some degree.” He said he never counseled divorce, and at most temporary separation.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, Patterson’s full statement is more stunning today. Fellow Texan Beth Moore, who will speak at an event for pastors’ wives in Dallas, was among the hundreds who tweeted in response, posting “We do not submit to abuse. NO.”

As the trustees met the Washington Post released an article about an incident at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary where Patterson was president in 2003. A former student said she told Patterson she had been raped and he urged her not to go to the police, but to forgive the student who was alleged to have committed the crime. Southeastern is investigating the report.

The cost of unity: Perhaps what will mark the Dallas convention isn’t which difficult conversations will be had, because there will certainly be some, but how we Baptists emerge from them. Will the meeting be marked by willingness to stand in unity because what unites us is the gospel? Or will our differences over the nature of gospel itself, and how God brings people to salvation, make the divide, largely generational, even clearer and wider?

Also read #SBCtoo: What we forgot to report may also be forgotten after the convention

– The Editors