I hope you have been blessed by the fine series articles Pathway Associate Editor Ben Hawkins has written commemorating the 40th anniversary of Adrian Rogers’ election to the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). It was Rogers’ election that set in motion events that would lead Southern Baptists to reject the liberal direction of the mainline Protestant denominations and affirm the infallibility, inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture. The fact that Southern Baptists were able to pull it off is one of the most remarkable achievements in the history of American Christianity.
That same struggle was played out on the stages of state conventions throughout the SBC until the early 2000s, including here in Missouri in which conservatives – and the inerrancy, infallibility and sufficiency of the Bible – prevailed. The story of what happened in Missouri between 1979 and 2000 is yet to be chronicled. That needs to happen and, I suspect, at some point The Pathway will tackle that substantial project. The so-called “Battle for the Bible” in Missouri saw churches split (in some cases it needed to happen because not everyone held the same view of the Bible), relationships torn and reputations soiled. I urge future generations to remain vigilant in standing against theological liberalism. I do not want to see future generations sucked into such a costly struggle; however, the Bible must always take precedence over relationships.
But a new day has dawned in Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) life – to the glory of God. When we get to Branson for our annual meeting, you will frequently hear the word “synergy” – and rightly so. I have been editor for nearly 19 years and I have never seen this level of cooperation, such singular purpose for the cause of Christ, as I am witnessing on the part of Missouri Southern Baptists.
It has not always been this way. Even 40 years ago when everything in the MBC appeared to be working, the issue over Scripture festered until it finally exploded. With the issue over Scripture settled, the shackles of lawsuits lifted and dignity and confidence restored in MBC leadership, the MBC is poised to be used of God in a mighty way.
One of the criticisms that I would hear from some of our SBC brethren a decade ago about Missouri Baptists is that all we wanted to do was fight, if not liberals, each other. There was a time, due to misunderstandings among conservatives, that accusation was true. It led some in the SBC who doubted that conservatives could effectively guide a state convention. Missouri has demolished such a notion.
I encourage you to make plans to come to Branson Oct. 28-29 and witness the blessed changes that have placed the MBC on the precipice of perhaps some of its finest days. The love, unity and focus will be evident everywhere. Grousing will rightly be frowned upon.
Conservatives in Missouri have never really celebrated the great victory God provided. Here is our chance – to the glory of God our Father.
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As the staff advisor for the Missouri Baptist Convention’s Christian Life Commission (CLC), I was delighted the commissioners selected Missouri Baptist Children’s Home (MBCH) President Russell Martin as this year’s recipient of the CLC “Outstanding Service Award.” He has not only effectively run the MBCH, but has been a tireless advocate for Missouri children. He is a dear friend, and I cannot think of anyone more deserving. The award will be presented at the annual meeting in Branson. Past recipients include U.S. Sen. Joshua Hawley, Christian radio icon Dick Bott and MBC legal counsel Mike and Jonathan Whitehead.
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I have been asked to carry a piece of legislation through the Missouri General Assembly during the 2020 session that will provide legal protection to pastors who bring credible proof that an employee has committed sexual abuse. The costs of having to fight such a legal battle should the abuser sue the pastor or church are substantial, perhaps forcing smaller churches to close their doors. The Texas legislature passed such a law last year and Gov. Greg Abbott signed it into law. The Missouri bill, being crafted by Jonathan Whitehead, is tailored after the Texas law. Pray for me as Whitehead crafts it and I guide it through the General Assembly.
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A fourth Missouri Baptist minister has announced he will be running for a seat in the Missouri House of Representatives in 2020. Timothy Faber, director of missions, Lake of the Ozarks Baptist Association (formerly Miller Association) joins Wally Long, pastor, Northside Baptist Church, Mt. Vernon, as running for first terms. Doug Richey, pastor, Pisgah Baptist Church, Excelsior Springs, and Dirk Deaton, a lay preacher from Buffalo Creek Baptist Church, Tiff City, are running for re-election.