This week, the Southern Baptist Convention will be voting on whether or not to adopt the Great Commission Resurgence statement as the official position of the SBC. While most of the brouhaha has been over axiom nine, I believe the entire document is important. All ten axioms address issues that are pertinent to our Convention and which affect the spread of the gospel by those who cooperate as Southern Baptists. I look first to my own life and ministry and in voting for the GCR, commit with my fellow Baptists in all ten of these areas. Among the ten, however, four axioms seal the deal for me.
Axiom #2 – A commitment to gospel centeredness. I think too often the church has lost the centrality of the gospel message to all we do. To often we have made traditionalism on the one hand or innovation on the other become the focal point. At the same time we have focused our message on pet doctrines, felt needs, cultural woes without making the gospel the center-point of all. It is the gospel that changes lives and must return to the center of our lives and ministries if we are to have an impact for the kingdom of God.
Axiom #5 – A commitment to a healthy confessional center. At the heart of this axiom, is a commitment to end the bickering about tertiary issues and get about the business of partnering for the gospel. The most obvious of these disputes is on the issue of Calvinism and the fighting that has seemed unending between those who affirm the “doctrines of grace” and those who oppose Calvinism. Already, we have seen growth in this area leading up to this Convention. As a pastor of a church in which half its members are reformed and half or not, I have already experienced the ability of believers to unite around the gospel and its proclamation while remaining in cordial disagreement about this tertiary issue.
Calvinsim is not the only issue at stake, however. While the debate will continue about what issues are secondary and which are tertiary (see Mohler’s theological triage paradigm), affirming the GCR document will show a commitment to work together even while we sort out these issues. That goes for me, for example, in the case of being strongly against the IMB personnel policies while continuing to be an avid supporter of the IMB and Lottie Moon. More could be said about this, but axiom 5 is a move in the right direction toward cooperation.
Axiom#8 -- A Commitment to a Methodological Diversity that is Biblically Informed. To me, this one should be a no-brainer, but for all our talk of methodological diversity, we are too often in the practice of questioning and criticizing the practices of others on non-biblical grounds. We ought to focus, instead, on our own particular context and the continuing process of developing new biblical and contextual methods for reaching the nations. I am in agreement with Ed Stetzer who recently quipped, “Southern Baptists will be on record affirming methodological diversity … If only we would will listen to that call...”
Axiom #9 -- A Commitment to a More Effective Convention Structure. Much has been written on this issue, so I won’t belabor the point, but I support Axiom #9. There has been much debate on whether this belongs in a Great Commission document, and I for one believe it does. Southern Baptist Great Commission work is based on cooperation and that cooperation is based on our Convention Structure. We should be in a continual evaluation of our structure to be efficient and effective stewards of God’s resources. We should not be afraid to restructure, remove bureaucracy where it exists, and yes, even downsize our state conventions to move to 50/50 split of CP funds.
Well, I have to be off. Preaching Conference starts in an hour and I haven’t yet finished my coffee. If you are attending the SBC, please be informed about this document and then support it when it comes time for a vote. If you are not attending, please pray for the SBC and its messengers as we together decide on this and other important issues.
p.s. For further reading, among the many commentaries and opinions available on the Webb, Nathan Finn has offered an excellent series of blog posts on the document.