Friday, May 23, 2008

Good Questions about the Future of the SBC

Nathan Finn has begun writing a series of posts based on questions he fields on an annual basis as professor at Southeastern. So far, he has dealt with four of them:

1. What is all the fuss about at the International Mission Board? (Variation: What do you [NAF] think about the new IMB rules?) (Variation 2: Is there really a problem with missionaries who are speaking in tongues?) If you are unfamiliar with why this question is #1, there has been a lot of controversy over two decisions made by the IMB regarding those whom it will allow to serve on the mission field. First, they must have undergone a "valid" baptism. Second, they must not engage in a private prayer language. Finn gives his two cents on both issues.

2. Will the SBC split over Calvinism? (Variation: Do you think they will “kick out” all the Calvinists one day?) Finn points to four groups of people on this issue: Non-cooperative Non-Calvinists, Cooperative Non-Calvinists, Cooperative Calvinists, and Non-cooperative Calvinists. Finn expresses hope for the Convention as along as the two extreme positions above cease and desist. However, that seems unlikely because both groups feed off one another and both feel entitled to exercise dominion over their "authentic Baptist" fiefdom. Finn's final position on a split over Calvinism:
I do not think the SBC will divide over Calvinism, though it is possible if the extremes do not tone it down or move on. . . .If the above-mentioned cooperation does not happen, then yes, we will divide over Calvinism. The SBC will lose a healthy chunk of its “younger leaders” and the annual meetings will be attended by 1500 senior citizens and “harvest evangelists” while Sovereign Grace and Reformed Baptist churches will get a surge of new pastors and missionaries who drink sweet tea, eat grits, and root for SEC football. When that happens, there will be no Great Commission Resurgence and the Conservative Resurgence will prove to be little more than the last gasp of an ultimately irrelevant group of Baptists in the American South and Southwest. And that will be a shame.
3 & 4: Skipped for now

5. When will the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina become really conservative? (Variation: Is there any hope for the Biblical Recorder?) It is becoming more conservative but there are still much more to do.

6. I’m not a cessasionist–is there a place for me in the SBC? (Variation: I don’t have a problem with speaking in tongues, but I don’t personally do it–can I be a missionary?) [SIDENOTE: Speaking of cessationism, Dr. Jim Hamilton of Southern says we all are (at least those of us who believe in a closed canon.]

Dr. Finn is one of the best young thinkers in the SBC and one worth reading. I look forward to reading more of his thoughts on these good questions that we all should be asking.

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