Monday, June 26, 2006


Some Affirmation Definitely Helps!

Dear Friends,

Human opinion does not drive our ministry---far from it! Often we must make enemies on this earth in order to be faithful to our Master, Jesus Christ.

Our Master is compassionate, however, and supplies us with human friendship, through which He strengthens and encourages us. In my case, I have a dear friend named Doug Cherry, who is an MSC missionary at CMU in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

His wife, Kiki, is an ardent Baptist Blogger, and has argued in favor of public school for the children of Christian parents, while I often argue that only distinctively Christian education is acceptable for our children. (If I recall correctly, we have also not seen eye-to-eye on guns, birth control, Y2K, and a number of other issues!) In the midst of such an argument on her blog, however, Kiki paused to affirm her and Doug's affection for me and respect for me personally. I did not read it at the time, and 0nly just found it today. It was like drinking a cold Coke on a hot day! Thanks, Kiki, for such kind words.

If you only know me as the SBC messenger who opposes everything, and as the pastor who preaches against everything, then maybe you would enjoy visiting Kiki's blog and reading about her perspective. You have to scroll down to May 11th. You'll get to read about a side of me you may not have seen, and get to see pics of my best friends from my hometown, and our wives and children.

For the record, Mrs. Cherry, I am very thankful for your family's friendship, and am a great fan of your ministry in Pittsburg. I also have a much higher opinion of you as a Christian than I have of myself.

Love in Christ,


P.S. But you’re still wrong about Christian education! :)

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Let's Have No Political Speech Next Year

Dear Friends,

The Southern Baptist Convention is a religious organization, not a political one. At our annual meeting we hear reports from our seminaries, we pray for our missionaries, we conduct necessary business, we debate resolutions on practical theological questions, we worship Jesus Christ through music, and we challenge each other to greater faithfulness in obedience to the Great Commission.

Why, then, did we have a political speech from a high government official?

I suppose it would have been great to hear the Christian testimony of a high government official who is a fellow Baptist, or perhaps even a fellow Christian who is not a Baptist, telling of his or her experiences, what it means to serve our country as a Christian.

This was not a Christian testimony, however. This was a political speech. Why did we have a political speech from a high government official at our Annual Meeting?

Dr. Condoleezza Rice (yes, two z’s) is a fine, upstanding American to be sure. She is articulate, composed, well-educated, accomplished, and hard-working. She deserves all our admiration and respect as our Secretary of State. But she is not one of us, and she should not have been speaking to our convention in that venue.

Let’s have no political speech at next year’s convention.

Every person who spoke to this convention was a Baptist, except one.

We heard the Vietnamese-speaking voice of a pastor as he baptized a new Christian; we heard the South African-accented voice of a pastor as he preached strongly from 1 Kings; we heard the Southern, African-American voice of another pastor as he preached strongly from Acts; we heard the excited voices of seminary students as they testified of their experiences on mission trips; we heard the beautiful voices of singers as they led us in worship. Every one of these voices that spoke to our convention was a Baptist voice, except one.

Dr. Rice is a Presbyterian, and praise God for Presbyterians! This was not, however, the annual meeting of the Southern Presbyterian Convention, but of the Southern Baptist Convention! Right now in our International Mission Board, we are debating how closely we will cooperate even with other groups that baptize by immersion. Baptism by immersion only is the primary Baptist distinctive, and in fact gives our denomination its name. Why, then, was a Presbyterian speaking to our convention? I grant that there could be a compelling reason in the future: Perhaps a Presbyterian missionary would testify of cooperation with Baptists on the mission field; perhaps a Presbyterian pastor would testify of God’s hand working through Baptists in disaster relief. But why was a Presbyterian giving a political speech to our convention?

Let’s have no political speech at next year’s convention.

Every person who spoke to this convention was Pro-Life, except one.

One of the moral issues upon which the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention have spoken consistently is abortion. The Bible teaches that life starts while the baby is still inside the mother, and that man must not murder his fellow man. Therefore we hold that abortion is murder, and must be opposed in our laws. We hold that the Supreme Court decisions legalizing abortion in America must be overturned and/or a constitutional amendment must be passed specifying that the right not to be killed before birth is an inalienable right.

In that meeting hall, we did not all agree on Calvinism, on alcohol, on church discipline, and on a variety of other issues. But all of us who spoke at the convention agreed that no unborn baby should be torn limb from limb inside his mother’s womb, except one.

Dr. Rice says she is, “mildly pro-choice.” (I completely reject the idea that the world “mildly” can honestly be used in conjunction with “pro-choice” regarding abortion.) Dr. Rice says, abortion is an “extremely difficult moral issue.” (No, it is an extremely difficult POLITICAL issue, but is a very simple moral issue.) Dr. Rice says, “we should not have the federal government in a position where it is forcing its views on one side or the other.” (I assure you that she does not hold this as a principle, but rather as a political expedient. She agrees, for example, that it was acceptable for the federal government to force its views on one side or the other when it emancipated the slaves, desegregated the schools, and overturned the other Jim Crow laws.) Why was a pro-choice government official giving a political speech at our Annual Meeting?

Let’s have no political speech at next year’s convention.

Every person who spoke to this convention professes faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, except one.

There was a refreshing discussion of the doctrine of election during the Pastor’s Conference. An Arminian-leaning and a Calvinist-leaning seminary president presented opposing views on this aspect of soteriology (doctrine of salvation). Some messengers spoke of church discipline, while another countered with “reclamation evangelism.” But everyone who spoke to the convention speaks openly, at every opportunity, of his belief that he has been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, except one.

Since she was speaking to a religious organization, it was natural that Dr. Rice should mention her own religious beliefs which she did. Here are her remarks:

“People ask me all the time about my beliefs and I tell them faith has been a journey for me, as I'm sure it has been for each and every one of you. I do pray every day and in times of tragedy and heartbreak, like the passing of my own parents or September 11th, I have found solace and strength in the power of prayer.”

What we heard that day was not a profession of faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, but instead a politically correct, sanitized paragraph of non-sectarian rhetoric that would pass equally well in a Mormon, Unitarian, Jewish, Muslim, or any other religious assembly.

Secretary of State Rice received, several times during her speech, a standing ovation from our convention, primarily because of remarks on the war and in support of our military heroes. But this crowd would have gone NUTS if she had said something like, “I have been saved from my sins by God’s grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” If she had simply “made the good confession,” she could have sent the applause and cheers through the roof!

But she did no such thing. I grant that she may well be a genuine Christian. But one of the marks of a Christian is that he or she PROFESSES faith in Christ! We heard no profession from Dr. Rice, because this was not a Christian testimony from one chosen for her boldness in sharing the faith we all share, but a political speech from a high government official and political partisan. Why was a government official who would not profess faith in Jesus Christ even to ardent supporters making a political speech at our Annual Meeting?

Let’s have no political speech at next year’s convention.

We are not an arm of the United States Government.
We are not an extension of the Republican Party (or any other).
We are not, ultimately, citizens of any country of this world.

We are the Southern Baptist Convention, a distinctively Christian organization, and we serve the Lord Jesus Christ only.

Let’s have no political speech at next year’s convention.

Friday, June 09, 2006


My Goals for Greensboro

Dear Friends,

For the first time every, I'm heading for the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, which will be in Greensboro, North Carolina this year. I have felt convicted that I must do my part in overseeing our denominational work, especially the mission boards and the seminaries.

Here are my goals for this year's convention:
1. To speak and vote in favor of what is right and against what is wrong.
2. To represent the Name of my Savior and the reputation of my church well.
3. To learn everything I can from the experience.
Please pray with me that Christian kindness will rule the day in all our meetings.
If I can figure out how to connect to the internet at the convention center and/or the hotel, I'll keep you posted during the convention. If not, I'll make a report as soon as possible after I get home.
Love in Christ,

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