Some observations from the SBC’s annual meeting
June 28, 2005
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Some random rumination from a foot-aching editor concerning the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) annual meeting here June 21-22:
Southern Baptists overwhelmingly approved nine resolutions and three of them proved timely. While the resolution marking the end of a successful eight-year boycott of The Disney Company gained considerable public attention, the resolutions condemning embryonic stem cell research, calling for President Bush to nominate — and the Senate to approve — federal judges who “interpret rather than make law,” and urging parents and churches to more closely monitor textbooks and programs in community schools (particularly for those promoting homosexuality), could not have come at a better time. Each one passed on the eve of political warfare in several states over embryonic stem cells, anticipated U.S. Supreme Court vacancies and renewed efforts by homosexual activists to force their lifestyle upon America through local school systems and higher education.
As I and this newspaper have pointed out repeatedly, Missouri – as well as many other states and even the U.S. Senate – is poised to tackle the controversial embryonic stem cell issue. In a disturbing development, the U.S. House earlier this month passed a bill that would allow embryonic stem cell research, which requires the destruction of life in its most basic form. Thank God President Bush has vowed to veto such legislation should it be approved by Congress. The Senate may soon take up a bill similar to the one passed by the House and most observers believe it will pass as well, necessitating the presidential veto.
Southern Baptists were AWOL when Roe v. Wade passed in 1973. It appears, however, that Southern Baptists will not be silent this time around as forthcoming Supreme Court appointments could dramatically change the court and bring abortions in America to a merciful conclusion.
I noticed in a newspaper a few days ago that Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is beginning a chapter in Jefferson City. PFLAG sounds innocent enough and Christians should always demonstrate compassion to anyone being mistreated – homosexual or otherwise. But PFLAG often lays the groundwork for another pro-homosexual organization to enter local public schools. The Gay and Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which now claims to have more than 3,000 chapters in American public schools, is the most aggressive organization among homosexual activists in forcing a homosexual viewpoint into school curricula. GLSEN already has chapters in St. Louis and Kansas City and it appears they have set their sites on Jefferson City and Springfield. Missouri Baptist parents must be vigilant in watching for such activity and respond accordingly.
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Country and Bluegrass music recording artist Ricky Skaggs welcomed the approximately 11,900 registered messengers to Nashville. Skaggs is well-known throughout Middle Tennessee for his faith in Jesus Christ. So when he took the stage and blew the ceremonial shophar, I could not help but think of the mighty work God has done through the SBC conservative resurgence.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson, one of the key architects of the resurgence, wrote a series of essays that were published as a three-part series entitled The Shophar Papers. Released in 1980 by the Criswell Center for Biblical Studies and now out of print, all three volumes became sort of a rallying point for the conservative resurgence which was still in its infancy. Volume three, The Issue is Truth: The Shophar Papers, should go down in history as one of the most important explanations of why the resurgence was needed. I consider it a classic and one of the most cherished documents in my theological library.
I always thought the title was clever. Of course the ancient shophar was the Hebrew word for the ceremonial ram’s horn used to call the people of Israel together (Exod. 19:16). Among other things it was used as a trumpet of war as Israelites were campaigning against their enemies.
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There were 381 registered messengers from Missouri at the SBC’s annual meeting, which put the state in the top 10 among the states with the most. Missourians were ubiquitous and contributed mightily to the success of the convention. A good many made a point to come up and say “hi,” a gesture that always blesses me beyond anything I deserve.
Missourians witnessed, passed out tracts, registered messengers, preached, served as tellers and on committees. I would like to especially commend Gary Urich, pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church, Bolivar, and a trustee at Southwest Baptist University. Urich stood on the convention floor at microphone No. 1 for 45 minutes so that he could be the first to speak in favor of sole membership for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He was later joined at microphones for the same purpose by David Tolliver, Missouri Baptist Convention Cooperative Program specialist; Mitch Jackson, MBC president and pastor, Miner Baptist Church, Sikeston; and Jeff Purvis, pastor, Westport Community Church, Imperial, and a member of the MBC Executive Board. Sole membership was of particular interest to Southern Baptist Missourians. Had it been in place here it could have prevented the five renegade agencies – with whom the MBC is currently embroiled in a legal fight – from removing themselves from MBC accountability. Because of time limitations only Urich and Tolliver were able to speak – and both did eloquently. The motion passed overwhelmingly.
One final congratulatory note on Urich: He was elected secretary of the SBC Pastors’ Conference.
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Picking the best quote of the convention was easy. William Franklin Graham IV, son of Evangelist Franklin Graham and grandson of legendary Billy Graham, said that whenever someone asks if he could arrange for them to meet his famous grandfather, his reply is simple: “No one goes to the father but through the son — not the grandson.”
The Gaylord Entertainment Center crowd roared with laughter and applause.