.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

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, September 06, 2006

"We're on the Same Team!"

Or, I guess you could say, “We’re on the same page.” That was the heartfelt proclamation of Dr. Frank Page as he spoke in his first seminary chapel service since becoming president of the Southern Baptist Convention. For those looking for some breaking news, well, there were no fireworks or chapel speakers gone wild, nor has there been a typed up manuscript (though I will attempt to provide some cliff notes). Furthermore, the chapel message has been made available, so you do not need to look for a press release explaining one’s trouble for someone else’s trouble with TULIP. Actually, from what I can tell, the chapel service went quite well, and I hope that Dr. Page felt welcomed and appreciated for the good work he is doing in representing us before the world as well as signaling change in our convention. Page’s message was entitled “Changing That Which We Can Change” with the sermon text as Philippians 1:12-20. He began by asking the question, “Is there anything we can change or have impact within the sovereign will of God?” To that Page answered with an unqualified “yes.” Again, he asked, “Are there aspects in our lives which we can control in the changing circumstances of our lives?” And to that Page replied again with an unqualified “yes.” So how does one exactly do this, one might ask? Page answers by showing us that it is through our mindset, motive, and methodology. Page shared that Paul’s perspective (mindset) of his imprisonment (vs. 12-14) wasn’t a matter of limitation but of liberation, for it caused others to be set free from fear and proclaim the gospel with boldness. It was also an opportunity to take the gospel to those in prison. Under the providence of God, God takes us to various circumstances and places for the progress of the gospel and for the purpose of his glory. As Page iterated, “No matter where I am, what I am doing, or what happens to me, I want to bring glory to Christ and proclaim his gospel.” To that I heartedly say, “Amen!” Page also explained that Paul’s purpose (motive) was a singular devotion to Christ (vs. 15-18); however, this devotion was not met without enemies. There will be those who will have the wrong motives in their ministry, fostering envy, rivalry, and strife. Page added, “What I want to know is, ‘Are you bringing glory to Christ?’” He continued the line of questioning and examination, asking, “Why do you do what you do? Do you have a secret agenda?” Bringing denominational application to the surface, Page readily responded, “We do not own the convention, and we cannot control it. For those who have the mindset that ‘I own it’ with follow up with the motive that says ‘I can control it.’” Giving the historical illustration of the differences of Wesley and Whitefield, Page asserted that he had differences with Dr. Mohler, but quickly added, “But we are on the same team!” Wesley and Whitefield, though they had serious theological differences, were on the same team in the progress of the gospel; likewise, those who have differences should always remember that we are on the same team – for the progress of the gospel and for the glory of God. Finally, Page noted that Paul’s practice (methodology) mattered (vs. 19-20). It was Paul’s prayer that whatever he did, it was to be in a way that will bring glory to Christ. Page emphasized that it does matter what your methodology is and that some churches are adopting methodologies today that are not bringing glory to Christ. He asks the probing question, “Will the way you do what you do bring glory to God?” In conclusion, he reminded us that we seek to change what can be changed. And it is time to let the world know what we are for, not just what we are against.

Personal Reflections

I was really encouraged by Dr. Page’s message. I believe we should come together for the gospel and the glory of God. This is where my heart lies. I am also encouraged to see the direction Dr. Page has taken in the early stages of his presidency, calling our convention to brokenness and repentance, seeking to revive a spirit of cooperation and unity in the midst of an increasingly divided convention. The days and months ahead will be difficult days, demanding wisdom from God and requiring the prayers of God’s people on his behalf. I encourage you to join me in praying for Dr. Page as he seeks to lead us in the days ahead. On another note, I want to add a fourth point to his sermon. I believe that Paul needed to have the right mindset, motive, and methodology, but he also believed it was necessary to have the right message. As those who have been entrusted with the gospel, it is imperative that we get it right, for we are living in a day where the gospel is quickly being lost in our churches. We should not just be concerned about the extent of the gospel (in its breadth) but also the content of the gospel (in its depth). In other words, we should not only focus our attention on the progress of the gospel but also the status of the gospel. Again and again, this was one of Paul’s greatest concerns as he was aware that many were either tempted to believe “another gospel” or were likely to “turn away from the truth and wander off into myths” after having their ears tickled. In many SBC churches today, a counterfeit gospel is being preached; in others anemic and truncated gospel is purported. We need to recover the full and biblical gospel of Jesus Christ in our day, and this requires us examining our message and the gospel we preach. A lot has been said in the SBC over recent months about the exponentially increasing impact Calvinism is having on our Convention. Let me suggest to you that one of the primary reasons why this is happening is not the adoption of some philosophical system (even as Page as argued in his book Trouble with TULIP), but rather a passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ and a willingness to see it recovered in our day. We believe God is sovereign in salvation, just as he is sovereign in all of life. We believe that God’s grace is truly amazing, for it is an electing and efficacious grace for those who have nothing to vouch for except the matchless mercy of God.

Page and others have shared their concerns about Calvinism and its impact on our churches, but if we are on the same team, I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. I don’t understand so many who are anti-Reformed have sought to publish articles either in SBC presses or “white papers” which falsely represent and caricature those who are supposed to be on the same team. I don’t understand why, when some disgruntled church members don’t like their pastor, they can call up their State Board of Missions and be given free copies of For God So Loved the World by Fisher Humphreys and be directed to BaptistFire (which no longer exists) for information to use against their pastor to have him removed (because they found out he was a Calvinist). I don’t understand why pastors are teaching and training their students to defend themselves against Calvinism as thought it was either heresy or equivocal to modern-day false teachings. If we are on the same team, why are so many churches and pastors treating us like we aren’t?

Yes, put me down, I am on the same team with Dr. Page. I hope that we, who are in “the Reformed hotbed” are treated as such (as well as those throughout our convention). I believe our greatest days are ahead in our convention as further reform, by God’s grace, will continue to take place in our churches, and I look forward to laboring with my brothers and sisters for the progress of the gospel which we have received, in which we stand, and in which we are being saved.

Side Note: I was too much of a sissy to ask Dr. Page to sign my copy of Trouble with TULIP, but my friend and fellow blogger Stephen Newell wasn’t. Here’s the proof.

7 Comments:

Blogger Gavin Brown said...

What skillful alliteration.

9/06/2006 07:27:00 AM

 
Blogger Gavin Brown said...

Tim,

I saw in your sidebar that you have a "Library thing." What is that?

9/06/2006 07:30:00 AM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Gavin,

LibraryThing is an online website that helps you organize your library. Also, you can view other people's libraries, compare books, leave comments, or allow others to view your library on your website or blog.

LibraryThing is a great tool, but I haven't updated it since last December where I put around 500 books up in one sitting. I really need to put some more up. I encourage you to check it out. It is free for the first couple hundred books, and if you pay a small fee, you have unlimited number of books to insert. What's great, too, is that all you have to do is type in the title or author, click on it, and it alls all the info for you, including even a pic if its available.

Click on mine and peruse around. I think you might be interested.

Oh, and I like alliteration too. :)

9/06/2006 11:52:00 AM

 
Blogger Mike Hess said...

Timmy,

I would imagine that you have grown up Southern Baptist your whole life. With that being said, what would it take for you to leave the SBC? Or, what would have to happen to force you to separate from the SBC? I greatly appreciate your open thoughts about the abstaining from alcohol resolution and the anti-calvinist bend that many SBC pastors and churches have. I am NOT saying that you should leave the SBC seeing that we need more reformed voices in this massive denomination. Just a question from someone who grew up IFB.

Good post and thanks for the update on Page's visit to SBTS.

Mike

9/06/2006 01:47:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Mike,

You are correct that I have been SBC all my life. However, I want to be careful in the way I present my convictions. I seem them in this order: Christian, Reformed, evangelical, baptist. The last two are being debated right now, because evangelicalism is in flux and Southern Baptists are in desperate need for reform. I don't like the triumphalistic braggadocio all-to-often found in flaunting statistics which have led to a predominately unregenerate demonination. I don't like emphasis being placed on non-essentials and the narrowing of cooperation among Southern Baptists. I don't like the way my Reformed brothers (and sisters) have been treated as they are seeking to revive the gospel and reform our churches. I don't like the way it appears that our convention can't handle criticism from within its own conservative camp where prepackaged thought piped through certain channels are the only acceptable interpretation, or if it isn't, it always trumps it anyway. There are others I suppose I could mention, but those whould suffice to surface my discontentment. Does all this lead me to want to leave? No. And here's the reason why.

Within the SBC, there are some remarkable things happening, especially with the younger generation. While there are some who finding affirnity with the emerging church movement (which in large I do not like), they are recovering a biblical orthopraxy which has been missing. There is also the consequential ad fontes occuring from the conservative resurgence which affirmed the inerrancy of Scripture, meaning that the Word of God is our sole authority in doctrine and practice. This manifestation is the first part of a denomination halfly reformed. The second part is the gospel, which is where the heart of the matter lies, and I have great reason to hope that indeed, the gospel according to Jesus and the Scriptures will evidence itself through the sovereign and gracious working of God. Also, I realize being a part of this process is being willing to take hits and keep on ticking. During the course of my short tenure on the blogosphere, I have unfortunately slandered, mistreated, and found to be in the center of some controversy. That I really dislike. But the joy, encouragement, and support I have received from like-minded brothers like you and others has eclipsed the discouragements and humbled me to press on. I only hope that my little offerings will be used to inform others on what is happening, provide some analysis and commentary from my personal perspective, and speak truthfully, clearly, and compassionately to the issues which I find important today.

I know you probably didn't expect all that (and I could give more . . .), but an unqualified "yes" or "no" answer would, IMO, be disrepectful to the nature and sincerity of your question. I love the SBC and wouldn't put my name and reputation on the line like I do if I didn't. There is more to be had in the days to come, but it begins with me getting out of the way. By God's leading, I hope to do exactly that.

9/06/2006 04:29:00 PM

 
Blogger Mike Hess said...

Timmy,

Thank you for taking the time with a well thought out and gracious response. I hold you and others like you (Dr. Mohler, Dever, and Aschol) in high regard and I am truly thankful for the high price that has been paid to make this conservative resurgence a reality.

I have only been to one SBC pastor’s conference (or one that was predominately SBC) and that was at FBC of Jax FL. I did come away very blessed, encouraged and with some great ministry ideas. I also appreciated greatly the heart that many of these men had who spoke. I’m not saying that I agreed with some of the pragmatism and arminian bent that was evident in SOME preaching but I always rejoice when others have a heart for the gospel and the reaching of souls for Christ.

Many of the battles that you face in the SBC are totally foreign to the IFBx movement. For years our battles have surrounded the KJV only issue, pants on women, music, affiliation with the SBC, and dubious methodology. Some of these issues seem to have surfaced in the SBC but for the most part I see the reformed debate and pragmatic evangelism taking center stage today at the SBC. I was totally taken by surprise that the alcohol debate ever became an issue and I pray that the militants realize that there are greater battles to be fought and that the Church throughout history has never seen this as an issue (outside of drunkenness of course).

Anyway, thank you again for your correspondence and the work you do on this blog. Keep up the good work!

Mike

9/06/2006 05:24:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Mike,

You're welcome. :)

I have enjoyed reading and gaining a better understanding of the IFBx through your writings as well as others like James Spurgeon. While I have been written quite a bit on the SBC, I hope that the content of my blog reflects the nature of my convictions (Christian, Reformed, etc.). I hope to strike a balance while putting an emphasis on the areas where my passions and foci are. Everyone has their own contribution to make, for good or naught, but I hope regardless of whether my fellow SBCers agree with me, they will at least be a little more informed on the issues and encouraged to be involved in what God is doing in our churches and around the world.

That reminds me, a large reason (which I left out) that I am passionate about the future is the missionary work and cooperation ongoing and hopefully increasing in years to come. I have many close friends on overseas with the IMB, and I am hearing some wonderful things taking place. I praise God that we have a strategy that allows missionaries to focus on the mission entirely and let God's people worry about the finances.

Needless to say, there is much to be grateful about, including the great work done in the conservative resurgence, though I am disappointed in the current ethos in the convention. With God at the helm and Dr. Page bringing some fresh perspective, perhaps the wind of God could blow fresh in our convention. I have reason to be hopeful, but then again I also realize that God is much bigger than any denomination or church. :)

Take care, man, and it's great to hear from you.

9/06/2006 06:55:00 PM

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

 
Counter
Site Counters as of May 4, 2005