I mentioned previously that I would try to get the exact quote of Dr. French's argument against bringing my resolution out of committee and before the convention. Here it is, as sent to me by my brother, Bill. After I read my resolution from the floor, Tommy French, the chairman of the resolutions committee gave this response:
Brother Tom, we understand and we are concerned about these things. However, we are also concerned about the accuracy of the claims because what we receive through the statistics are just those things that are reported by the local churches. And so we would have to challenge what they send us.Also, Tom Nettles thinks that as many as 40% (not 25% as I had suggested) of the messengers voted to consider the motion.
And we certainly do not want to throw away from our membership rolls the names of the non-attenders because we would be throwing away a very valuable prospect list for reclamation in evangelism. Now in Sunday School we don’t cull the rolls as long as those people live in our area so that we can continue to pray for them and visit them and secure them in Bible study.
I was told by a friend that when I stood up to speak against Resolution 5 (calling for abstinence from consuming alcoholic beverages) that I fairly well sealed the fate of my effort to bring the resolution on membership to the floor. It was politically foolhardy. I was actually very conscious of the fact that some would probably misconstrue my comments and think that I am an advocate of alcoholic beverages. But the resolution struck me as ill-conceived and unbiblical. We have enough problems dealing with real sins. We certainly don't need to manufacture more sins out of cultural preferences. When an amendment was offered urging that no Southern Baptist be allowed to serve on any SBC board if he consumes acohol as a beverage, I simply could not sit idly by. So I rose to speak against this amendment and the motion. The reslution, as amended, passed overwhelmingly.
By the way--I am a tee totaler.
On Frank Page's election to the presidency
I had the opportunity to speak briefly with Frank Page, once before he was elected and once, afterward. Before the election he said that he had very little hope that he would be elected. Yet, he won a 3-way race on the first ballot. After the race, he said that he really did not have an "agenda" because he really had not planned on winning. Donna and I assured him of our payers. We plan to keep our word.
A reporter whom I did not know emailed me for a comment about how Dr. Page's election would impact the "resurgence of reformed theology among Southern Baptists." Evidently he emailed the same question to Dr. Nettles. As it turns out he is the managing editor of the Baptist Standard and his story was published online today. Without conferring with one another about this, Dr. Nettles and I gave very similar answers. The kind of reformation that we need cannot be affected by denominational politics.
The prominence of Calvinism
Several speakers felt the need to mention Calvinism or some aspect of the doctrines of grace. Sometimes the tone was rather conciliatory but more often with at least a hint of fear or hostility. In addition there was a motion to study the influence that Calvinism is having on the SBC. It was referred to the Executive Committee. Regardless of the negative attitude that was displayed toward reformed theology, the fact that so many brought it up and felt compelled to speak to it is a good indication that more and more people are considering it. This can only be healthy for the denomination as it will inevitably move us toward more and more theological dialogue. Regardless of what your views are on the doctrines of grace, this should be seen as a healthy development.
The spirit of the convention
With all of the pre-convention anticipation as well as the obvious dissatisfaction with the status quo, the spirit of the debates and disagreements remained for the most part, healthy. Bobby Welch moderated with fairness and good humor. This helped set the tone for the whole meeting. If this kind of spirit can prevail in our ongoing efforts to recover historic Southern Baptist principles, then we have many reasons to be encouraged about the future.