Wednesday, April 26, 2006
SBC Resolution on Exit Strategy from Public Schools
I firmly believe that submitting our children to anything less than distinctively Christian education is being unfaithful to our charge of training our children to know the Lord. Therefore my family homeschools, and I recommend to my members either homeschool or a private Christian school.
Many pastors and other members, however, are in the dark or in denial on this issue. Therefore I firmly supported the Pinkney/Shortt resolution in 2004, the Baucham resolution in 2005, and this proposed resolution for the 2006 SBC Annual Meeting.
RESOLUTION ON DEVELOPING AN EXIT STRATEGY FROM THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS THAT WOULD GIVE PARTICULAR ATTENTION TO THE NEEDS OF ORPHANS, SINGLE PARENTS, AND THE DISADVANTAGED
April 24, 2006
Dr. Bruce N. Shortt
Whereas, in June 2005 Dr. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, called for responsible Southern Baptists to develop an exit strategy from the government schools, stating further that there is no reason to believe that each year will not bring even more urgent concerns related to public education , and
Whereas, federal circuit court judges held in November 2005 in Fields v. Palmdale that "parents have no constitutional right ... to prevent a public school from providing its students with whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual, or otherwise, when and as the school determines that it is appropriate to do so"; and
Whereas, in December 2005 a federal judge ruled in favor of government schools indoctrinating children with dogmatic Darwinism; and
Whereas, government schools continue to adopt and implement curricula and policies teaching that the homosexual lifestyle is acceptable; and
Whereas, Christian educational alternatives to government schools are desperately needed immediately by orphans, children of single parents, and the disadvantaged  and can be an effective means for evangelistic outreach; and
Whereas, the Gospel of Luke instructs us that a student is not above his teacher and, when he is fully trained, will be like his teacher; and
Whereas, the government schools are required by law to be humanistic and secular in their instruction; and
Whereas, children are our most important mission field, and the overwhelming majority of Christians have made the government school system their children’s teacher; and
Whereas, studies by Barna Research, Dr. Christian Smith, and The Nehemiah Institute have found that a large majority of children from Christian families do not have a Christian worldview; and
Whereas, an article by Dr. Thom Ranier published in the spring 2005 issue of the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology reported, “nearly one half of all [Southern Baptist] church members may not be Christians”; and
Whereas, the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life reported to the 2002 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention that 88 percent of the childrenraised in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18, never to return; and
Whereas, the Messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention’s 2005 Annual Meeting urged parents in Resolution No. 1, On Educating Children, to embrace their responsibility to educate their children by choosing a means of education that would “…ensure their physical, moral, emotional, and spiritual well-being, with a goal of raising godly men and women who are thoroughly equipped to live as fully devoted followers of Christ”; and
Whereas, in light of government school curricula, court rulings, and the influence of the NEA, parents cannot satisfy the criteria for the education of Christian children set forth in Resolution 1 by educating Christian children in today’s government schools; and
Whereas, article XII of the Baptist Faith and Message states, “the cause of education in the Kingdom of Christ is co-ordinate with the causes of missions and general benevolence, and should receive along with these the liberal support of the churches. An adequate system of Christian education is necessary to a complete spiritual program for Christ's people”; and
Whereas, the next clause in article XII makes it clear that this education is to be provided through ‘Christian schools, colleges and seminaries’; and
Whereas, Southern Baptist congregations can draw upon many existing buildings and other resources to provide an alternative to educating children in government schools; and
Whereas, Southern Baptist congregations have many adults, including pastors, who can assist in the education of children as a ministry; and
Whereas, satellite, DVD, internet-enabled multi-media computer technology, and other more traditional forms of self-paced learning are effective ways of providing Christian education and are now very affordable; and
Whereas, churches can collaborate in providing alternatives to the government school system:
BE IT NOW RESOLVED that the 2006 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention encourages each church associated with the Southern Baptist Convention to heed Dr. Mohler’s call to develop an exit strategy from the government’s schools; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 2006 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention urges that particular attention be given in the development of such exit strategies to the needs of orphans, single parents, and the disadvantaged; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 2006 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention urges that the agencies of the Southern Baptist Convention assist churches in the development of exit strategies from the government schools and help coordinate efforts, including partnerships with churches in low income areas, to provide a Christian educational alternative to orphans, single parents, and the disadvantaged; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the 2006 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention applauds the many adult members of our congregations who teach in government schools, and this resolution should be construed to encourage adult believers who are truly called to labor as missionaries to unbelieving colleagues and students to continue their missionary work in the government school system.
1 Mohler, R. A. (2005). "Needed: An Exit Strategy." June 17, 2005. 2005, from http://www.albertmohler.com/commentary_read.php?cdate=2005-06-17.
2 Basham, P. (2001). "Home Schooling: From the Extreme to the Mainstream." Public Policy Sources Number 51: 18.
Basham, P. (2001). "Home Schooling: From the Extreme to the Mainstream." Public Policy Sources Number 51: 18. Research indicates that home-educated children whose parents did not graduate high school outperformed their public school counterparts from similar socio-economic situations by more than 50 percentile points. Thus, providing alternatives to underperforming urban schools may be the greatest form of socio-economic uplift the SBC can provide the poor and underprivileged.
3 See: Barna, G. (2003). "A Biblical Worldview has a Radical Effect on a Person's Life." The Barna Update Retrieved March 29, 2005, from http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=154., Smith, C. (2005). Soul Searching: The religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. Oxford, University Press.
4 Rainer, T. (2005). "A Resurgence Not Yet Realized: Evangelistic Effectiveness in the Southern Baptist Convention Since 1979." The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 9(1): 54-69.
I welcome your comments on this matter, especially ones with a clear biblical basis, and any questions you may have.
Love in Christ,
Monday, April 24, 2006
Why Teach Your People Sound Doctrine?
Let us teach not what our church members' itching ears want to hear, but what the Bible says to be true. Return with me to the historic practice of teaching sound doctrine.
Titus 2:1 You must teach [lit. speak] what is in accord with sound doctrine.
Why is the teaching of sound doctrine so important? Among other reasons, which you may add, are these five:
1. Sound doctrine brings glory to Jesus Christ.
If you wanted to make me sound good, you would need to leave some things out and make some things up! But to bring the most glory to Jesus Christ, you need to tell the truth. Leaving out part of the Bible's teaching about Christ, or getting something wrong as far as interpretation brings Him less glory than He deserves.
2. Sound doctrine brings the Gospel to sinners.
If I gave directions to my church location that were incomplete or slightly wrong, the visitor might still find the place. But he would be best served by complete, correct directions. In the same way, the sinner is best brought to Christ by true doctrine about man, sin, Jesus, salvation, etc.
3. Sound doctrine brings encouragement to believers.
Titus 1:9 . . . so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine . . .
Our church members have trouble of various kinds. A misinterpretation of Romans 8:28 or Proverbs 22:6, for instance, can weaken the faith of a believer. Good doctrine, however, about God's faithfulness, can build up the weak.
4. Sound doctrine brings protection to believers.
Cultic groups, as well as Christian groups that preach much false doctrine mixed with true, can ruin the lives of believers who fall into their traps.
Titus 1:10-11 For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. (11) They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach--and that for the sake of dishonest gain.
A Christian who has heard a steady stream of good doctrine from his pastor is unlikely to believe the lies of these kinds of groups.
5. Sound doctrine brings unity to the church.
Some disunity in the church comes as a result of petty squabbling over issues with no spiritual significance, (like the color of the carpet) due to the sin nature in each church member. Other disunity comes from arguments over matters of belief or practice that are not perfectly clear in the scriptures. (Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli did not agree about the Lord's Supper, for example.) Teaching sound doctrine does not necessarily treat these two causes of disunity in the church.
Much disunity can be avoided, however, and harmony acheived when the church as a whole has learned from its elders and other teachers the truth of the essential points of doctrine.
Ephesians 4:11-13a) It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, (12) to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (13) until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God
Join me in preaching and teaching the lost and our dear church members the truth of the essential points of doctrine. We will bring glory to Christ, bring the Gospel to sinners, bring encouragement and protection to the believers, and bring unity to the church.
Please add your comments, which are very welcome here.
Love in Christ,
Monday, April 17, 2006
New Jim Richards Fan Club (SBTC/Calvinism Issue)
I am hereby declaring myself the founding President of the Jim Richards Fan Club.
I’m not used to hobnobbing with the convention big wigs, but tonight I had a wonderful call at home from Dr. Jim Richards, who is the Executive Director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. He had received my e-mail about the anti-Calvinism letter sent out by Dr. Don Cass, Director of Evangelism for the SBTC and called to respond. He very humbly and courteously apologized for what Dr. Cass had done, and promised that there will be no more such offenses to Texas Baptist Calvinists.
Having written rather an angry and somewhat accusatory letter to Dr. Cass, I took Dr. Richards’ soft-spoken kindness to me on the phone as a silent rebuke for my lack of Christian kindness in my letter. I will be e-mailing an apology for the tone (not the content) of the nasty-gram that I sent to Dr. Cass. In addition, I issue this apology on this blog:
Dr. Don Cass, I am sorry that I wrote an unkind response to your letter in the e-mail that I sent and on this blog. Please forgive me for not taking up this matter with you more privately and gently.
Thank you, Dr. Richards, for handling this situation so lovingly. Your good example is speaking loudly and clearly in favor of the cause of Christ and the work of the SBTC.
Love in Christ,
1963 BFM Study-What should I watch out for?
I plan to begin teaching our church from our doctrinal statement, which is the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message. This will be my first time to teach it, except for a few short sections on certain topics, and actually my first time to STUDY it as well.
Are there any statements in the BFM that you consider weak biblically? I would like to get your ideas as a "heads up" for items that need the most study.
Love in Christ,
Thursday, April 13, 2006
SBTC Evangelism Director Opposes Calvinism-UPDATED
Dr. Don Cass, Director of Evangelism for the SBTC, has sent every SBTC pastor an envelope of materials including one sermon transcript and two sermon recordings on CD. In the cover let, he states that these materials address “critical issues of our day that directly effect evangelism in the local church.”
One of the issues is Universalism. Certainly Baptist leaders agree that this is indeed a threat to the evangelistic zeal of our church members. One of the CD sermons argues against Universalism.
The other issue is Calvinism. Certainly Baptist leaders DO NOT agree that this is a threat to the evangelistic zeal of our church members. The sermon manuscript is from Dr. Roy Fish, and opposes Calvinism on the grounds that historically it has inhibited the spirit of evangelism and missions. The sermon CD is from Dr. Paige Patterson, and argues against the Calvinistic view of predestination.
Since Calvinism, properly understood and applied, is most definitely not a threat to evangelism, but instead is a powerful propellant for it, I have written to Dr. Cass for clarification.
Monday, April 10, 2006
Accept Non-Southern Baptists for Membership?
In our small town (Bonham, Texas), and the nearby even-smaller towns, there are several Southern Baptist churches, but only one Nazarene church, and no other Nazarene church for many miles around. This particular church is very small, all the members are retirement age, and there is little ministry available for younger adults or children. Similarly, there is only one Presbyterian church, and it is liberal in orientation, with a woman pastor and other issues that are disagreeable to the more conservative Presbyterians. We have no Missionary Baptist church, no Freewill Baptist church, no Four-Square-Gospel church, no Reformed Baptist church, no Bible church, etc.
So, a number of believers from these backgrounds, who move to our community, have to look to Southern Baptist churches for a church family with which to worship. Clearly such believers are welcome to attend our Bible study groups and our worship services, but what about membership?
Should a believer who has been baptized by immersion as a profession of faith in Christ, but who is not from a Southern Baptist background be accepted for membership in a Southern Baptist church?
This question would be easy to answer in the case of someone who has basically been “converted” to Southern Baptist-ism. That is, if someone has become convinced that the Southern Baptist system of belief and practice is superior to his denominational upbringing, then we clearly can accept him for membership.
But what about the person who is not forsaking his denominational distinctives, but simply cannot attend his own brand of church, and is joining a Southern Baptist church as the best available alternative?
One solution I have considered is this: If the person is willing to say he believes the church’s statement of faith (1963 BFM in our case), he can be accepted for membership. There is a BIG problem with this approach, however---I DO NOT BELIEVE EVERYTHING IN OUR CHURCH’S STATEMENT OF FAITH, EITHER!!! For example, as some of you know, I do not believe that baptism should be called a “church ordinance.” I also do not believe that the church’s biblical officers are deacon and pastor. (The Bible clearly says “Elder” and “Bishop/Overseer” rather than “Pastor.”) Unless I want to kick myself off the membership role, I can’t use this approach.
The solution I am considering at present is this: If a believer has been baptized by immersion as a profession of faith in Christ, and commends himself by Christ-like words and actions as he worships with our church, then he can be accepted for membership by the church. If he brings with him certain beliefs or practices that are not traditionally Southern Baptist, then so be it.
I welcome your comments, as this is an issue of great importance in my own local church, and in our whole denomination. As we share ideas, may God guide us to policies and practices that honor Christ, strengthen the local churches, and edify the individual believers.
Love in Christ,
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