A very important resolution was offered for consideration from the floor of the Southern Baptist Convention this year. Tom Ascol was the writer of this resolution that called for proper church discipline. Here is an excerpt from the resolution:
Whereas in 2004 the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Church Profiles indicated that there are 16,267,494 members in Southern Baptist churches; andThis resolution is needed and should have been accepted for consideration and debate. However, the reason given for denying this resolution to come to the floor for a vote was:
Whereas well over one half of those members never attend or participate meaningfully in the life of any local Southern Baptist church and are thus no different than non-members; and
Whereas the ideal of a regenerate church membership has long been and remains a cherished Baptist principle; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED that . . . Southern Baptists . . . repent of our failure to maintain responsible church membership, and be it further
RESOLVED that we . . . repent of the widespread failure among us to obey Jesus Christ in the practice of church discipline and be it further
RESOLVED that we plead with pastors and church leaders to lead their churches to study and implement our Lord's teachings on this essential church practice, and be it further
RESOLVED that we commit to pray for our churches as they seek to honor the Lord Jesus Christ through reestablishing integrity to church membership and to the reporting of statistics in the Annual Church Profile.
- The committee questioned the validity of membership statistics and the assertion that "well over half" never attend or participate and
- The committee stated that churches should not remove these non-attending members from their church rolls because they were "excellent prospects for outreach" and we shouldn't throw away our "prospect list."
As Gene Bridges wrote, it is the height of irony that many call Calvinists "closet Presbyterians" for their soteriological beliefs and these same may be called the same for opening the door for unregenerate church membership (because Presbyterians practice paedobaptism, it is very possible for a member of the church to be unregenerate).
As for majoring on the minors, another resolution did pass: the forbidding of anyone who partakes of alcohol to serve as a trustee for an SBC institution (admittedly just one part of the resolution). Many think this was brought up and ratified as a veiled attempt to remove Wade Burleson from the Board of Trustees of the International Mission Board. Burleson answers that assumption in a very gracious way and even throws in some good exegesis on the whole topic of drinking alcohol.
So, in the mind of this year's convention, it is more of a sin to drink wine during Communion or have a glass of wine at a dinner than it is to have a church with half of its membership heading to hell . . . on the church bus?