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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bobby Welch Gets It Wrong - Again

Yesterday, I read an article by former president of the SBC Bobby Welch in the upcoming issue of SBC Life. After having read this article, I felt that I needed a full day of thought and reflection, because it seems that our beloved convention will stoop to no level to put out articles that are inaccurate, inflammatory, and dishonoring to Christ. Florida Baptist Witness was the first to disappoint with their string of op-ed pieces after Greensboro, and now the Executive Committee of the SBC hasn’t the wisdom or the discernment to see the folly in following such adolescent behavior.

It was just a year ago when Bobby Welch took the shoddy research of Dr. Steve Lemke’s white paper called “The Future of the Southern Baptists as Evangelicals” and wrote a piece in his church’s newsletter which stated that Calvinism is detrimental to the Great Commission according to the “hard evidence” proposed by Lemke. Welch got it wrong last year, as he has clearly shown that he knows very little about evangelical Calvinists as well as the history of Southern Baptists which is fully of passionate soul-winners who are yes, Calvinists.

This year, Bobby Welch has chosen to misrepresent the issue of the alcohol resolution and throw in some unnecessary rhetoric which sounds good in a sermon I suppose but does nothing to argue his case. I have been told that when you are seeking to present an argument against an opposing view, the first thing you must do is accurately and fairly present the opposing argument as though they were saying it themselves. Then, only after having done that, does one critique that position and offer a corrective or alternative position. For the Christian, this is a moral matter, as integrity, truthfulness, and honesty should characterize our presentation of not only those who agree with us, but also those who we disagree. At this crucial point, Bobby Welch has done his worst work—a work which I would call immoral.

Bobby Welch has all the rights in the world to disagree with those on the other side of resolution number five, but he has absolutely no right to misrepresent them and lie about it. What makes this matter all the more appalling is that the Executive Committee gives him a pass and publishes his article in spite of this. What does this say about the Executive Committee? What does this say about our leaders in the SBC? And they tell me we shouldn’t criticize! For something to be as distasteful and repugnant as Welch’s article, I hasten to see whether any of the SBC leaders will step up to the plate and distance themselves from (if not denounce) Welch’s statements.

Aside from the pleas of “more, more, more”, “accelerate, accelerate, accelerate,” and “now, now, now,” Bobby Welch says that the victory was against the “theology of moderation.” Theology of moderation? What is he talking about? Welch goes on to say that those arguing against the resolution “publicly promoted the drinking of alcoholic beverages and wanted the SBC to do the same!” Four times in his article he argues that the resolution was about the use or promotion of the use of alcohol. Where he gets this I have no idea. Those in Greensboro and on the internet have argued against this resolution because we believe that when the Scripture presents two viable options, neither should be dismissed, and when the Scripture is silent on an issue, we should not make new laws and bind them on the conscience of others. It is fine if you hold to the preference and conviction of total abstinence (I personally do), but you cannot absolutize your preference and assert it on a brother who can just as biblically hold that drinking wine is NOT a sin. The issue is not the promotion of alcohol but the promotion of the sufficiency of Scripture. If you notice, the tactic of personal testimony is used (again) to stir up an emotional appeal, but there is not a Scripture text in his article anywhere.

Welch says that those against the resolution are “blinded by a theology” that encourages and promotes drinking alcoholic beverages. First, this has nothing to do with “theology.” This matter is not a doctrinal issue, though some would like to think it is. It is a social issue and a hermeneutical issue. Welch wants to spin the issue to make alcohol appear as an essential matter by talking about “theology of moderation.” Trust me, Bobby Welch, none of us against this resolution are blind to anything here, especially your empty rhetoric and shameful comments.

Such shameful comments come at the expense of taking pot shots at Wade Burleson for example, whom he calls “a pathetic joke(!)” when referring to his article about witnessing to a lady over a class of wine. In such a short article, what is surprising to me is how easily Welch can throw in comments like “blinded by theology,” “such foolishness,” and “sipping saints.” As I look back on this article, the only part that I am happy to see written is found in the title, “A Word from Our Former President.”

Our Convention needs a new attitude and new leadership, and thankfully we have received it in Dr. Frank Page. In the same SBC Life issue, our new president is leading our convention to broken hearted repentance and humility which is too far gone from recent years of triumphalistic braggadocio. Furthermore, we would do well to hear the hopes of Dr. Morris Chapman who said in his SBC Life article, “Sometimes we seem better prepared to compete than to cooperate, to boast than to be brokenhearted, to stand proudly in the synagogue than to kneel at the altar, to judge than to be judged, to call for repentance than to repent.” May God be gracious to us and give us leaders in the SBC who will not only issue a call for repentance, but also lead in doing just that.

Ultimately, the problem in SBC is not alcoholics—the problem is atheists. The endemic crisis we find ourselves is not that we have people in churches who are “sipping saints” but unregenerate sinners who don’t know God or live the life of faith but have been convinced that they are upstanding Christians. After all, they have prayed the prayer, rededicated themselves again, and have a decent track record in church attendance. But the point is, of the 16 million we tout, I am convinced that we are plagued with functional atheists where God is nowhere on their radar screen in everyday life. If our convention wants to see real change, let’s put God on display and exalt Christ. To go down this road of our former SBC leaders by polarizing our convention through politics and punditry is the fast-track to a dead-end road. After all, I would much rather have a God-besot brother in Christ who happens to drink wine in moderation than a functional atheist who doesn’t.

For a list of bloggers responding to Bobby Welch’s article, go here.

11 Comments:

Blogger Gordan said...

Amen and Amen.

I agree with Dr. Ascol when he says that Welch's comments about the pastors who opposed Resolution 5 amount to simply the bearing of false witness. It's a public sin and ought to be publically repented of.

8/09/2006 06:33:00 PM

 
Blogger Nick Kennicott said...

I am almost jumping from my seat to shout AMEN! What an awful display of leadership - Bobby Welch should be ashamed of himself. I couldn't believe, as you pointed out, how often he chose to say that those of us who oppose Res. 5 are promoting and endorsing use of alcohol. I have not heard of anyone standing at the pulpit to proclaim the need for widespread drinking of alcohol. The fact that the man couldn't use a single word of scripture to make his vile comments goes to show how little his "leadership" ever had to do with sharing the truth that he so vehemenently suggests we all should do. According to Welch, our sole effort should be focused on putting people under the water - I will be the first to tell you that I could present 25 people right now that have never been baptized and want to be, but that doesn't make it right to go through with it when they don't know what's going on. It has irked me since the beginning of his 1 million baptism campaign that anyone would suggest that this should be our ultimate goal. What a foul, blind, and self-defeating goal it is... if we've "blown our cork" then he has drown in the baptismal pool. What a shame.

8/09/2006 09:40:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

@ Gordon,

I am glad that Dr. Ascol has addressed this matter. He along with a few other pastors were among the bunch that have been mistreated through such terrible remarks. I harken back to just a couple of weeks ago when Jerry Vines that all those who disagree with the total abstinence view should repent. As a new crop of SBC leaders emerge on the stage of SBC life, I am hopeful and optimistic that this will not tarry for generations to come.

8/10/2006 06:18:00 AM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

@ Nick,

Let's hope and pray for a retraction and apology.

While I agree that there are many inherent issues within the million more campaign, I am hopeful that the Great Commission can be appreciated in its fullness, which includes the most ignored phrase, "teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." With all the acceleration, hurrying, and request for more, the first place I want to start is with making disciples. I think people in the SBC have realized that the Great Commission and evangelism altogether is more than just getting someone into the baptistry, so regardless of whether this goal is met or not, is irrelevant to me. What matters is establishing young believers in the faith and investing in them through meaningful relationships that will foster spiritual growth and Christ-likeness. I call this evangelism too, though many leave it after having prayed the prayer. Let us not short-circuit biblical evangelism by reducing it to a method, program, or pre-packaged deal wherein we relegate the gospel to merely the lost. The Great Commission in all its breadth and depth cannot be adequately advanced through merely baptizing a bunch of folks, especially if many of them do not clearly understand the gospel or bear no fruits of the new birth. May the Lord so grip our convention that we have a people who treasure Christ above all things and live out the gospel which they have believed and professed.

8/10/2006 06:36:00 AM

 
Blogger Tony K. said...

"the problem in SBC is not alcoholics—the problem is atheists"

provocative quote-

I've been too busy to keep up with all this but I appreciate your angle. Your pic is a little like Ascols, maybe you should go black and white?

8/10/2006 08:31:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Actually, I thought I'd try a juxtaposition like Marc does and see if I can come up with some "separated at birth" pics . . .

8/10/2006 09:21:00 PM

 
Blogger ed elliott said...

you go, Timmy.
You do have a gift for clean, reasoned thinking and clear expression...keep up the good work. Interesting how you captured the thought that this is hermeneutic, and about the "sufficiency of Scripture" for our doctrine, not a theological problem...
you go, Timmy.

8/13/2006 05:09:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Ed,

Great to hear from you man! Been a long time since T4G hasn't it?! Enjoyed the time hanging out with you brother. Thanks for the encouragement!

8/13/2006 08:11:00 PM

 
Blogger ed elliott said...

Timmy,

I wandered into the Southern Baptists after a long Christian journey -- I kid them that finally reaching the Southern Baptists was the Holy Spirit's way of finally leading me into ALL TRUTH (BUT, they nod like I'm not kidding). Early on when I was dating my wife-to-be, who was raised Southern Baptist, she was horrified when an old high school buddy showed up with a case of Busch beer and how I relished it. She REALLY wanted me to quit but she said "How could I just give up such a habit?" I said, hey, if you didn't like pickles, i'd quit eating pickles. I won't drink beer if it offends you. I have been a Baptist tee-totaler since.
But, at TG4 Pastor Shaun, jokingly, converted me back to my Presbyterian roots (Reformed Presbyterianism this time) and I told him how much I looked forward to going with him for some Jack Daniels, "I've been a Baptist for 15 years and I'm soooooooooo thirsty." It is fascinating to me how they make this cultural preference a "biblical" or theological issue. I can't tell you how many sermons and Baptists have spun that tale about how wine wasn't really wine back in "Bible times." I get that Baptist look of disapproval-as only Baptist can give- when I tell them that the wine at Cana was so potent, you would have ended up on the ground. All of these church culture preferences must not be allowed to divide--- sincere distinctives are grand, but these divisions over worship preferences, liturgical preferences, small groups yes or no, alcohol, etc, etc are just silly. Which is why WE met at TOGETHER FOR THE GOSPEL, where we determined to unite under the power and beauty of the Gospel---and as John Piper puts it so eloquently--- GOD IS THE GOSPEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

8/14/2006 03:49:00 PM

 
Blogger Tom B. said...

Welch has overlooked the passagge in Isaiah 25:6 "6In Jerusalem, the LORD Almighty will spread a wonderful feast for everyone around the world. It will be a delicious feast of good food, with clear, well-aged wine and choice beef."

8/15/2006 09:29:00 AM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Dad,

I believe this is your second comment on my blog. Is this the start of a new leaf for you? Before long, you might be out-blogging me! :)

8/16/2006 09:04:00 PM

 

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