Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The resolution failed

It amazes me how quickly information flows in the blogosphere. It has only been two hours since the resolutions committee made their report to the convention and already many readers of this blog know almost as much about it as I do...and I was there (a special thanks to all those live bloggers and commenters who kept folks informed!). So, in blogotime, this is like yesterday's news, but here is what happened this morning with my resolution on Integrity in Church Membership.

I learned as I was waiting to board a bus at my hotel to take me to the convention center that the published report of the resolutions committee showed that they declined to recommend my resolution to the convention. Bylaw 20 states a properly submitted resolution that the committee rejects can nevertheless be considered by the convention if 2/3 of those voting agree. So, I went to microphone #1 and asked for a point of order. President Bobby Welch recognized me and very kindly asked me if I would wait until the committee had finished the first part of their report. Once that was done, he returned to my concern and asked about my point of order.

I asked how and when I could follow Bylaw 20 in an attempt to get my resolution before the convention. Dr. Welch explained the procedure and allowed me to read my resolution from the floor. After the resolution was read, he asked Tommy French, the chairman of the committee to explain why they did not recommend my resolution to the convention. I do not want to misquote him, but others who have commented here have it right, as far as I can remember. I will check the video record and correct any mistakes or misrepresentations that I may inadvertently make in this account.

Basically, Dr. French (who is a very nice man and treated me and my concerns with real respect) said while the committee shares my concerns they concluded that the figures that I cited could not be verified and that besides that we don't want to throw out all those members who don't attend because they are some of our best prospects for evangelism.

I must admit, I was incredulous at what he said, but in all fairness to him, I doubt that Dr. French would try to defend that position if we could sit down and talk about it. I hope he simply mispoke. Perhaps he was caught off guard by attempt to get the resolution before the SBC, although I have publicly blogged that I would do that and informed two members of the resolutions committee that this was my intent. Nevertheless, he did make these statements and on the basis of his statements considerably less than 2/3 of those gathered voted to consider the resolution. I turned and looked at the raised hand vote and would guess that 75% voted not to consider the resolution. For accuracy's sake it is important to note that the convention did not vote down the resolution, they voted not to consider it.

What is my take on all this? Well, I am disappointed that the committee did not bring it out for debate. I think the discussion could have been very healthy. I am disappointed that our inactive members were identified as legitimate because of they are such good prospects for evangelism. That certainly gives a whole new definition to "prospective church member!"

On the positive side, I am very grateful to God that I was allowed to read the resolution before the whole convention. I appreciate Dr. Welch and the parliamentarians for allowing me to do so. I am grateful that 25% of the people wanted to have the resolution debated. And I am very grateful for all of the encouraging conversations--mostly with younger pastors--after the failed attempt. This is a conversation that Southern Baptists need to have. I believe that it is inevitable that we will have it.

Two young pastors who approached me shortly after the vote expressed their deep concern and disillusionment with the SBC in light of what they had just witnessed. Here is what I said to try to encourage them. In a war, if you want to do the most good you must ride toward the sounds of the gunfire. The revelation of how bad things are, while sad, must not deter us from our commitment to reformation. Rather, it should call us to feel the burden all the greater.

I have long contended that many of the doctrinal and spiritual problems that we have in the SBC are deep and systemic. It does not do us any good to pretend that things are better than they are. It is painful and at times disheartening to be confronted with the depth of our problems, but honesty is necessary for an accurate diagnosis. And an accurate diagnosis is absolutely critical for any prospect of getting real help.

So, overall, I am very encouraged. Thanks very much for your prayers and encouraging words. I think the Lord was glorified in the effort. At the end of the day, that is all that really matters.

114 comments:

Charles said...

Regarding Brother Tom's resolution,

"And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' So the servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he said, 'No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them." (Matthew 13:27-29)

Jason said...

Tom,
This is an important issue and we will be well served if you and others continue pressing on this matter. The truth is ALWAYS worth fighting for.

Tom said...

Charles:

Thanks for the Scripture reference. Keep reading. Jesus is not talking about the church, but the world!

Your misreading of this passage may help explain the mess we are in.

Matthew 13:36-43
Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”
He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness,and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

Scott said...

Tom,

You have a second here! Charles read the text!

DOGpreacher said...

Tom,

I have been impressed with your (God given) desire and tenacity to see us (SBC) hold to the truth of the word of God. I sure hope Mr. French mispoke, or this is REALLY bad.

Thank you for your service. Men like you and many others have been given platforms with varying degrees of notoriety by God. Thank you for being obedient, and that with a zeal for Him that is evident.

Becca said...

I wish I had known you were going to get to read your resolution thingy on the floor. I'd have turned on the streaming video online. Oh well. Love you and can't wait to see you maƱana!! :-)
Becca

David B. Hewitt said...

I think the underlying issue we have here with the rejection of Tom's resolution and the reason given for rejection is this:

We've made evangelism into an IDOL.

No matter what it takes, no matter what Commandment we violate, we MUST evangelize! Never mind the theology behind what evangelism should be, never mind the fact that we're being dishonest, never mind that conversion is God's work, let's focus on the "work of evangelism!"

Well, that's wrong. Why is it wrong? The reason is that we've chosen to focus on a work that God has given us to do rather than the GOD Who gave us the work to do by His grace!

Yes, we must share Christ, and do so joyfully, but real evangelism doens't begin with demands that we do it more, and it is NOT an end within itself.

I plan to blog on this later on today or tomorrow so I don't take up Tom's comments section with more off-topic remarks, but I did want to say this:

Dr. Tom, you are an inspiration to us all with your Christ-like attitude and showing of patience. I often find myself rebuked when I see your lowly, humble, Christ-like attitude.

Persevere, my brother.

For the Honor of Jesus,
David B. Hewitt

Amicus said...

Charles, we really want top be your friends. And you never fail to astonish us. Thanks for being more Puritan than us reformed Southern Baptists.

Anti-Calvinistic Baptists are always pointing out that the Puritans persecuted the Baptists, as if we reformed Baptists were Puritans and as if the Baptists the Puritans persecuted were not fellow-Calvinists. Where the Puritans and the Baptists in New England did disagree was on the theology of the church. Specifically the Puritans used the passage you cited to defend the idea that everyone should be in the church (The Lord's field), regenerate or not. The true church was defined by the preaching of the Gospel and the right administration of baptism and the Lord's Supper, not by membership; therefore there could (and should) be a state church composed of both saved and lost. Roger Williams demurred, saying that "the field" where the devil sowed was not the church but the world, and that the parable was Jesus' express teaching against his disciples attempting to seize power in this world, that state churches and persecution were abominations, and that this parable had nothing to do with the church, which should be composed of those who give evidence of being born again. The Puritans kicked the Baptists out and harrassed them for years - not because of "Calvinism", on which they agreed, but because of the Baptist insistence that church members should actually be saved.

Not so BTW, it is no mystery whether the field in Matthew 13 is the church or the world. See verse 38a. It's what we call a dominical saying, meaning that in your red letter Bible, it's in red.

As far as the practical question is concerned, inactive church members do not make good evangelistic prospects. They have been assured that they are "always saved." As one said in a conversation I heard second hand, "I'm not coming back, but that's my church, and don't you dare take me off the rolls."

Tom, Thanks so much for your faithful effort. You embolden us all.

RBCpastor said...

Tom,

I signed in late this morning to watch the live webfeed, but I caught your presentation--excellent! Praise the Lord. Our mutual N. GA friend Ray encouraged me not to give up on the SBC after the events that followed your resolution (I also saw your statement about wine--which was also wonderfully put). The response of our Convention was sad. What about gluttony? Should we amend the resolution to forbid anyone 5 pounds overweight from serving in SBC leadership? That would get an interesting response! And wine is not a sin (and gluttony is)! While much reform has occured, there is A LONG WAY TO GO.

Brian R. Giaquinto said...

Tom,

Do you remember what Dr. French said? One of the reasons why this was not a good idea is that if we purge non-attending members from the rolls, we would be losing great propects for evangelism. I couldn't believe this. To gain membership in a Baptist church (at least in my church), one must have made a profession of faith and be baptized by immersion (by letter, statement, etc). If they're evangelism prospects, why were they members to begin with? His comment cuts to the heart of the unregenerate membership issue.

I wanted to run to the mic and remind him that one could be removed from a membership roll and still be an evangelism prospect.

Gavin Brown said...

church members prospects for evangelism?

what an oxymoron.

at least Dr. French gave a good biblical explanation:)

Chris Whisonant said...

Two weeks ago my pastor stated at the end of his sermon that he is struggling with the idea of purging (for lack of a better word) our church membership rolls. I told him that I fully support him in this - it needs to be done everywhere!

Brian R. Giaquinto said...

I, for one, really hate the term "prospects." It sounds like we're buying real estate or something.

scripturesearcher said...

Tom:

If at first you do not succeed, try and try again!

But in many SBC churches the non-attending, non-participating members aka "evangelistic prospects" (according to the TIMID resolutions committee) GREATLY outnumber the Christians!!!!!

Maybe there is a better word than TIMID.


RE: Charles

If this is the Charles who is the clone of Bob Ross of Houston, the publisher of all the POWERFUL Biblical sermons by Charles Haddon Spurgeon -

It is not the first time Charles has failed to correctly interpret a passage in the Bible.

We can pray it will be his last.

DOGpreacher said...

Charles problem isn't that he hasn't read the text, but that he has a problem with eisegesis (you know, "those who have eyes to see...")! #:>)

Your problem Charles (having been to your blog), is pulling texts out of context, for your pretext, to wrap around your doctrinal presuppositions. HEY...if you love Christ and His word...STOP THAT! Instead, be a "workman" who rightly divides the word of truth so that you will have no need to be ashamed before Him.

slmayes said...

Tom,

I support the resolution fully. I hope that you will present it for consideration again next year. I think that more support might have been given in voting to allow the resolution to come before the convention if you had been allowed to speak for the resolution after the other gentleman spoke against it. His statements could easily have been countered.

An additional statement in the resolution calling for continued ministry and evangelism to those whose named are removed from our church rolls through the disciplinary process might also help to disarm the critics and enable others to see that the goal of discipline is not punitive but restorative in nature.

Sojourner said...

Pastor Tom,

Please submit that resolution every year until it is considered, and then continue until it passes. Next year, I will save my vacation to go and vote for this in whatever form it is presented.

Dr. French serves in the same association as I do. As soon as I can see the video, and I am going to prepare a letter to express my dismay at this decision not to present this resolution.

Scott said...

David Hewitt,

You nailed it ! Evangelism has become an idol. Everyone neads to read Dr. Roy Hargraves little book called An Idol Called Evengelism. Roy pastors Riverbend Community Church (SBC) in Ormond Beach, Fla. The church number is 386 672-1821 or www.riverbendchurch.com .

all4hisrenown said...

I enjoy reading all of your posts. My name is James and I'm new to this whole blogging thing. I'm very grateful for all of you hard work. Thanks!

Jeff Fuller said...

In all fairness, many evangelists would agree that many of the "faithful attenders" on our SBC rolls are good prospects for evangelism... afterall, why do we hire evangelists to come do "revival" meetings if we don't believe that?

Scott said...

Jeff,

Good point however I thought that a " Revival" was supposed to be for the saints but it has turned into " Evangelism of Church Members". Dr. Bailey Smith always has good stories to tell about how he was " I was down in Texas around the home of the Texas AM folks and I preached the Wheat and Tares and I had the Pastors wife saved, three deacons, WMU Director, and the song leader". Again, what do his stories say about the type of members that we have?
By the way those Texas AM folks need some type of serious "Revival". Have you seen that Football team lately. You can find one team that has had "Revival" down at the Plains in Auburn, Alabama( War Eagle)!

Darel said...

I think we ought to at least have considered it and had it talked out.

If the only basis for not doing it is simply that we use our membership roll as an evangelism tool... then that's no objection at all. There's no substance to that argument.

It was a good effort Tom. I wish the SBC were filled with more people that not only have a geniune concern for these matters, but also the desire to spend more time in thought and discussion on them.

jbuchanan said...

I have said from the beginning that I did not believe that this would make it out of committee and that it would not be able to get a 2/3's vote to put it on the floor. I hoped that it would but was sure that it wouldn't. I am not dissilussioned with the SBC, we must remember that fixing the problems of bloated church rolls is a local church matter.

Ben said...

Tom,

Aren't your figures derived from the ACPs? Don't the powers that be cite such figures rather liberally when they support the arguments they want to make? Am I missing something here?

Timmy said...

Tom,

I just got word that the resolution failed. Like many others, I feel a deep sense of disappointment, especially since they can move for resolutions on alcohol but not the integrity of the church.

Thank you for all the hard work you have put into this. The number of men and ministers behind you, praying for you, and supporting you are more than you know. You are correct that we must focus on the continuing reformation. We are just beginning, and by God's grace, we will continue to work to see real reform take place in the SBC. God bless you, brother, for having such a passion for Christ's Church and the men of whom God has called to care for it.

MarieP said...

I was deeply saddened by this too. I thought we believed in regenerate church membership... Dave Hewitt is right about the "idol called evangelism." Over and over again in listening to the pastors conference/annual meeting, I heard the the statement that nothing else matters besides evangelism. It reminds me of the old saying that Arminianism is "all door and no house."

Pastor Ted Christman of Heritage Baptist Owensboro preached a sermon not to long ago at my church on how the Great Commandment always comes before the Great Commission and not the other way around. This is in stark contrast to the many calls to "engage yourself in evangelism first and then all else will fall into place" that were heard in Greensboro.

I agree that Dr. Ascol should bring this up again at the next meeting. Although I think that it would be great to bring up the Scriptural reasons for the resolution to the convention floor, my fear is that even then it might be rejected. I was amazed that the alcohol resolution passed, even with all the Scripture cited against it. The only Scripture cited on the other side was "abstain from all appearance of evil" (KJV) which reads "every form (or appearance) of evil" in the NASB. Even the NKJV uses "every form of evil."

studentofgrace said...

Scott,

You said it well brother. There has been a revival on the Plains. I can really trust a man who not only holds to right theology but also has his heart right about college football. War Eagle!

Secondly, I echo what Ben said. It seems awfully arrogant to stand before a crowd and say that man's statistics are wrong without giving any evidence as to how you arrived at that idea.

As a newly Reformed pastor, I am becoming more and more convinced that the reason it is so hard to get a hearing on these issues (Reformed Theology, church discipline, bloated statistics, etc.) is because there is no legitimate argument against them. It is much easier to brush away the evidence with generalities than to face the hard truth of facts.

H.E.S. said...

Tom,

Thank you so much for your resolution and for the courage to stand behind it.

I continue to pray for the SBC but I must admit...I am very disappointed by what I have seen take place at this year's Convention.

Steve Weaver said...

Tom,

Thanks for your efforts in preparing and presenting this resolution. I agree that it should be re-presented each year. Thanks for all your work for the kingdom! It was nice to see you at the Southern booth on Monday!

Blessings,
Steve

David B. Hewitt said...

...and one of these days I hope to be blessed with a Tom Ascol sighting. :)

SDG,
David Hewitt

Docsalogy said...

I think the real idol is Sunday School. Once a great evangelistic tool, the Sunday School has become nothing more than a Bible club, or dare I say "clique" in many cases. Our strategy of Sunday School is not all that different from the "strategy" of the emergent church, that "community presedes confession." Therefore, we never remove anyone from the roles of Sunday School, as they are prospects. In other words, never give up on anyone, but keep on evangelizing and sharing with them. This strategy has become the error of the church, which now believes that we never remove anyone from the church roles, because, as Bro French's comments have betrayed, they are now viewed as "prospects." With a president like Bobby Welch, the author of the FAITH strategy, it is no surprise that they don't get it! Church membership is based on regeneration, baptism, and a covenant relationship. Sunday School is based on no such conditions. We need to rediscover, and redefine these differences, and tear down the Sunday School idol.
By the way, I am no more opposed to Sunday School, than the previous poster was opposed to evangelism. Just the idolitry and the errant methodology of it all.

God bless, Tom. Keep up the fight.
It's not going to be easy, or quick.

GeneMBridges said...


"And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' So the servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he said, 'No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them." (Matthew 13:27-29)


I take it you affirm an unregenerate church membership. How ironic, for aren't you and your cohort on your website deriding us over here for alleged Presbyterians? If actual church members are to be considered prospects for evangelism, pray tell what is the difference between a regenerate and unregenerate church membership? You claim to be a Baptist, but you appear to be a closet Paedobaptist.

I agree with the others here: RESUBMIT IT EVERY YEAR UNTIL IT IS PASSED.

By the way, Brother Tom, get Wiley Drake in your corner on this. He's quite a character and has no problem telling people like it is about things like this.

I'd like to peg onto the Sunday School comment above...This is an odd issue for churches, because they often keep 2 rolls: membership and Sunday School. Sometimes they are blended. I was once in a church with 900 members, 600 in Sunday School, and 300 attended both any given Sunday. You are right, we need to test all our traditions and redo them. I'm all for Sunday School. In fact, my home church, Calvary Baptist in Winston-Salem was built on Sunday School and expository preaching, but I am not for conflating what we do with Sunday School rolls and membership rolls.

To quote Scripture Searcher: Persevere!

The rest of what I have to say is here: http://strangebaptistfire.com/2006/06/14/closet-paedobaptists-in-the-sbc
/#more-54

Tom said...

Thanks so much for all the encouragement and kind words. One of the joys that I have experienced the last two days is personally meeting so many new friends that I had previously known only via the internet. The conversations have been great and fellowship sweet.

I do plan to present this resolution again next year. Brother Wiley Drake encouraged me to just "stay with it" after the vote failed. As so many of you have pointed out, I think that is good advice.

And James...welcome!

Charles said...

Tom, Hello!

Thank you for your comment.

I hope to respond in a day or two.

Life is good. Hope you are well.

Charles

Brian Hamrick said...

Will Dr. French be on the committee next year?

Tom, could you arrange to meet with him personally and discuss his comment? Like you, I sure hope he misspoke. It is possible.

If that is not feasible, perhaps each of us should write him a cordial, but well-thought out letter explaining our concern.

I appreciate your patience.

GL said...

After listening to Edwin Young's message on "Sidestreets" on streaming video this morning, I would think that he might support your cause. He severely criticized the statistics and mocked the 16 million figure widely used. He said something about there being 10 million Southern Baptists that the FBI can't find.

Couldn't someone like Edwin Young help on accurate membership numbers?

While on the church discipline side he may not be willing to help (but maybe), I do know that he enlisted his staff and many lay people to call and in many cases visit EVERYONE on the rolls in 1998 and again in 2005. From what I heard, I believe they cleaned up those unwieldy rolls a good bit.

I realize Edwin Young in some respects is an unlikely ally for Founders.org folks, but in some ways I think he would be simpatico. He's a fair guy and a bright guy and he genuinely cares (a lot) about people coming to know Jesus. It's worth trying to enlist him when you renew this effort.

Pastor Brad said...

Tom,

I just became acquainted with your blog a few days ago. You present some very thought provoking things.

Your resolution was especially interesting. I too have come under conviction - as a SBC pastor for 13 years - about the way we inflate membership.

To me it's nothing short of lying to throw around this figure of 16 million members when you couldn't find that many Southern Baptists together on any given Sunday if you counted every person sitting in a SBC pew twice!

Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for inflating figures in the local church. Is this any different?

You didn't realize it, or maybe you did, but your resolution endangered a sacred cow in the convention. I've been a Southern Baptist all my life, and a Southern-rural-grass-roots one at that. We were taught early on that our membership and the sacred "church letter" that went with it were not to be tampered with.

Speaking of church letters... that's another practice that needs to be addressed in the convention. Some folks seem to think that deep within the bowels of every SBC church there is a vault. In that vault are kept the "letters" of every church member, and when Jesus comes back He'll dispatch angels to gather them from the four corners of the earth. These letters will be taken to heaven whereby we can claim membership in the New Jerusalem.

I have lost count of the number of times we have had request for church letters from the same ones who are on our rolls but have not seen in years. The implication in sending a church letter is that the person requesting it moved is a member in good standing. Ha!

One reason why your resolution was shot down might be the furor the committee knew it would cause in the grass roots churches. Just ask any pastor what happened when he attempted to "cull" the rolls. People who have not attended or tithed for twenty years become incensed.

Regardless, the issue is going to have to be faced one day. Thanks for trying.

Oh, and one more thing: this Charles guy is an egotistical fellow, isn't he? There's one in every blogosphere.

LivingDust said...

Brother Tom,

I find it ironic that we, as Southern Baptist, will spend 27 years in a "conservative resurgence" to ensure that our seminaries are populated by professors who teach and preach the "innerancy and infallibility" of God's Holy Word, but will tolerate BLANTANT LIES about the number of folks who populate our congregations.

Do you think that Southern Baptist Pastors would be in an uproar if the same SBC folks who are in charge of maintaining SBC membership data were in charge of the Pastors retirement fund.

This situation will have consequences. During the One Thousand Year reign of Christ here on earth, Southern Baptist will not be allowed to work in any accounting departments or jobs requiring accurate counts.

Tony K. said...

VI. The Church
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. . .


Maybe we can ammend the BF&M with a footnote. "A church is also made up of all those we hope to evangelize by sending them the church newsletter."

Perry McCall said...

Just a thought,

I was not there and have not viewed any video of the Con. But I did go to NOBTS and served in Baton Rouge during the Katrina recovery so I have been around Tommy French a few times. I do not know him although I have met him. I could believe that he was trying to make a joke by poking fun at one of our (SBC) weak spots. Tommy can be alittle more stiff at the podium than is in conversation. Just a thought.
Perry

Brian Hamrick said...

Perry,

Brother, I appreciate your comment, but I was there, and in the tone of his response, there is no way this was intended as humor. It was clearly intended as justification for th committee's refusal of the resolution.

Chuck said...

Roy Hargrave wrote a little pamphlet called 'An Idol Called Evangelism' that I got at the Founder's Conference last year. It's a good perspective on the SBC.

David B. Hewitt said...

Anyone know how I would get a copy of that little pamphlet Dr. Hargrave wrote?

SDG,
Dave

C. T. Lillies said...

I think the resolution is a great idea and thanks for being bold enough to present it. The sacred cow comment cracked me up. I sat here thinking "Someone popped a gasket over that one." Keep knocking brothers, that door'll fall down eventually!

Part of the problems seems to be the old "We ain't never done it that way before" syndrome. But I'm really convicted the roots of it are in a serious misunderstanding about how folks are saved. Active members take a "You never know," attitude about whether or not someone is lost or "Who are we to judge?" Which of course makes sense if YOU get to chose whether or not you're going to heaven.

Not only that, most of the Sunday School strategies that I've seen from, er, Lifeway? The Sunday School Board? Anyway most of them revolve around signing up anyone who walks throught the parking lot, bums passed out out front, and dogs and cats and armadillos if you're far enough South. And anyone who sticks around long enough is likely to get ordained as a deacon--saved or not!

Oh, and I have to add this: How could anyone call the last 27 years "a conservative resurgence" and keep a straight face?

This might be old hat to some here but its a bright new light to me. Thanks all and may the Lord bless and bless...

Josh

jwo said...

Hi Tom,

Thanks for addressing this issue.
We will continue to pray and work for changes that need to come about.

I have seen many changes for the last 50 years in SBC work. Sadly, much of it has been regressive to the work of the Spirit.

Just recently a state association employee brought us up to date on the latest terminology.

When I was a child we used the term, lost sinners, then we used, prospects, for many years. Now, we are told to use, pre-Christians.

Thanks again for helping us keep our focus on Him and His Word.

God Bless You.

jwo

Nathan Finn said...

Tom,
You made a valiant effort with the resolution. Take heart; the rising generation of pastors and informed laypeople seem to agree with your assessment of this issue, regardless of where they may shake out on soteriology. These are good and godly concerns, and I am confident that one day Southern Baptists will make the right call on church membership issues. And when we do, we'll sound more like the Baptists who have gone before us.

Stan said...

I assume that the membership of the resolutions committee is published. Maybe a number of pastors and churches ought to write to each one of them to express our disappointment in their lack of support for the resolution.

Also, it seems that a resolution like this is going to require some explanation, documentation, and argumentation to be successful. Should we consider putting together a paper that documents and makes a case for it and provide that document to each of the committee members before the meeting next year?

What do you think about this?

Micah said...

The pastor of the church my wife and I are now attending told me how they visited a member and family which had ceased attending. The member had started attending another church in the area. When asked why they left the member stated he was uncomfortable with the take on "Lordship Salvation" of the church and felt more comfortable with "Free Grace"... (though on further discussion it was evident the member wasn't clear on either concept.)

Regardless, the pastor's response was dead on, "Why didn't you approach the staff of the church with your concerns and allow us to work these issues out together?"

The attitude of church members as well as church staff seem infected with good 'ol American individualism and lack of understanding of Biblcal principles of discipleship, church discipline and simple respect and love for each other.

RefBaptDude said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Perry McCall said...

Pastor Brian,

That's what I was afraid of! thanks for the info.
Great job Dr. Ascol!
Perry

wayner said...

David B. Hewitt said...
Anyone know how I would get a copy of that little pamphlet Dr. Hargrave wrote?

I went over to Riverbend's site and here is a link to the sermon http://www.riverbendchurch.com/wma/2004/101704p.wma. Also their media ministry website (reflectionsofgrace.com) stated that the booklet was coming soon. Not sure if this means if it will be free or not.

Also let me say that I have "lurked" here for some time, and I always enjoy reading the reasoned, wise and biblical responses that I see here.

Scott said...

Bloggers,

I talked to Pastor Roy Hargrave today. He is currently finishing the entire book called An Idol Called Evangelism. However you can read what he already has and the church has made a little booklet out of it. Call the church office to get a copy of it 386 672-1821. Pastor Jerry can help you out in getting it or one of the secretarys. It's a great booklet. He nails the problems. You need to get to know Riverbend Community Church( SBC). Some men can't stand the fact that the church is a strong calvinistic SBC church and is the largest in the SBC( Calvinistic). Yes, they practice Church Discipline and they have committed members.I hope this aggravates Pastor Roy ROY HARGRAVE FOR THE NEXT SBC PRESIDENT!

volfan007 said...

it was more than 75% that voted to not discuss your resolution. it was more like 80 to 85%. everyone saw it for what it was....a hyper..whoops...five point calvinists attempt to get thier viewpoints and preferences on the convention. we all know how five pointers love to kick people out. they seem to want to kick people out of churches rather than win them to the Lord and grow churches. a real badge of honor amongst five pointers seems to be how many you kicked out of church rather than how many you reached and baptized.

John Wootten said...

Volfan007, I believe that the fact you are allowed to make such ignorant and arrogant statements in this blog proves that Calvinists do not like to "kick people out."

You said...
they seem to want to kick people out of churches rather than win them to the Lord and grow churches

This is simply false. THe truth is that we love to win people to the Lord. We just prefer to do it before we make them members of the baptist organization.

You see, we care more about people actually getting saved and being discipled to lead others to Christ. We care more about that than we do about inflating our membership numbers so that we appear larger and more successful and influential than we are. No, we are not pragmatic about church growth. We are biblical about church membership and church growth.

The resolution was about being biblical, not Reformed, in how we represent our qualifications for church membership.

We do not believe that having your name on a church rollbook or simply being a part of a convention adds anything to being a Christian. We also believe that God grows the church, so there is no extra manmade program or anything else necessary outside of evangelism.

Calvinists may not have mega-churches, and that may disqualify our pastors from being the president of the SBC, but that's not our goal anyway. What we will have is churches full of healthy sheep.

David B. Hewitt said...

Volfan:

Before I typed this response, I had to stop and pray for God to calm me down -- your statement aroused a good amount of anger in me.

If you continue to construe biblical soteriology (which includes the TULIP doctrines) as unbiblical hyperCalvinism, we cannot stop you. If you continue to say that we do not care about evangelism, we cannot stop you. You will, however, continue to misrepresent what we believe, and purvey little more than falsehood. If you are fine with that, then we cannot stop you.

But may God rebuke you for your error and unteachable spirit.

To the Author of Truth, our Lord Jesus, be the Glory.

DBH

John said...

"Integrity in membership" is not peculiar to Biblical (i.e. "Reformed" Christians). In fact, it shouldn't even be peculiar to Christians of any kind. It's just plain and simple honesty. To call someone a "member" who never (or very rarely attends), who doesn't contribute, and who may not even believe in what the organization believes in, is, quite frankly, to lie. Is there even a secular club that so cynically lies to the world in order to keep its statistics looking good? The Lions don't do it. We need to start telling the truth about who is and who is not a member of our church.

volfan007 said...

five pointer churches will go the way of the primitive baptist churches....die out.

i do believe in church discipline. i try to practice it...in the biblical sense. but, i am not more concerned with kicking someone out of church than i am in trying to win souls and lead them to know the Lord and serve the Lord. most five pointers i have been around seem to "brag" about how thier churches lost so many members.

i too want to see people genuinely converted to Christ...truly saved. but, i didnt see phillip telling the ethiopian eunuch that he had to read the book of romans and go to a new members class before he could get saved...lol.

david hewett...i am not trying to dis you, nor do i hate you. i am simply telling you like it is. i am trying to help you. sometimes i may come across too strong. sorry. but, i do pray that the Lord will bring you out of this tangent to know His glorious truth.

David B. Hewitt said...

Volfan:

Apology certainly accepted, but what tangent are you referring to?

We don't do evangelism OR discipline OR discipleship, etc. -- we do ALL of them. It's not a matter of being more concerned with "purging the rolls" than with sharing the Gospel, and if I've come across as bragging about trimming people, then may God forgive me. Rather, it is being concerned about something that should have been happening for all along that has been lost, which is why it appears that it is our focus. It is a matter of returning to being biblical in how we do church in ALL areas of it, including the practive of evangelism.

I definitely desire to share the Gospel, though it has very little to do with adding numbers. GOD adds to the numbers. I shall simply go forward with the message through which He will work His miracles, in hopeful prayer that some will be saved in it, by His grace -- and ultimately, if an elect person hears it, someone WILL be saved!

I am also confused as to what you mean by saying "5-pointer" churches will eventually die out. If you mean "hyperCalvinist" churches, then you are right, but it isn't what you said. If you want to know what hyperCalvinism is, then read around to find out more. Otherwise, please stop throwing the label around. Please forgive ME if I sound harsh; I'm just a bit frustrated is all.

There are a lot of "5-point" churches today that are growing by leaps and bounds, and many (if not most) of the preachers of old were "5-pointers" in that they believed in these doctrines and preached the Word of God accordingly: Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, J.P. Boyce, John Dagg, George Whitefield, William Carey, Adoniram Judson, and yes, even the Apostles Paul and John. How is it that preaching according to the Word of God by men who believe these great doctrines leads to dead and dying churches? I simply cannot understand your reasoning; please help me so that I can and we can be mutually edified.

Lastly, you said:
i too want to see people genuinely converted to Christ...truly saved. but, i didnt see phillip telling the ethiopian eunuch that he had to read the book of romans and go to a new members class before he could get saved...lol.

Of course he didn't. However, we aren't talking about making people do that before getting saved. Rather, it is what to do when they claim they are. New member classes are a just that, though this isn't on topic. Anyway, all for now. I've posted too long the way it is. :)

SDG,
David Hewitt

volfan007 said...

i knew a leading five pointer...a prof....who told a young man who was interested in getting saved to go home and read the book of romans. the young man was saying that he wanted to get saved right then, but the prof. told him to go home and read the book of romans to see if the Lord would convert him or not.

Mitch said...

Sounds like a very wise professor.

John said...

Dear volfan007,

How is telling someone to go to the Word of God to seek salvation (where the Lord Jesus said one could find it) somehow revealling a lack of concern for evangelism?

And how does lying to people that they are church members (when they don't attend, don't live like Christians, and don't believe what Christians are supposed to believe) somehow helping the cause of evangelism?

We cannot, by our own power, "win souls." The natural person is "dead in sins" and can no more be "won" to life than a corpse can be won to living again. The only way someone can be born again, repent and believe, is by a miracle from God. Since He doesn't do that miracle for everyone (since all are not saved), then he does it for people who He choses to raise from spiritual death.

By the way, ultimately it is Arminianism that leads to a diminishing of evangelism and destroys the life of the church. About 250 years ago John Wesley was convinced that Calvinism would kill evangelism (even though his close friend and great evangelist George Whitefield was a Calvinist). Wesley thought his evangelical Arminianism would better carry the gospel into the future. Does anyone really think that Methodism today is the embodiment of vibrant evangelical faith?

Morgan Owen said...

Tom,
I hope one day I will be as holy and spiritual as you.

Sincerely,
Jesus

Andrew said...

Morgan, what's that supposed to mean?

David B. Hewitt said...

Morgan,

Indeed sir, please explain yourself.

DH

Timmy said...

Third that.

John said...

Dear volfan007,

Hi. Could you please rethink your post of 11:42 am? The Lord Jesus is God. You have taken the liberty of making up a quote, which appears sarcastic, and ascribing it to the Lord Jesus. I sincerely believe that is a violation of the third commandment: against taking the Name of the Lord in vain.

Morgan Owen said...

Seems that I've struck a nerve. When it comes to explaining my quote, it seems rather strange to explain a simple, to the point, description of what the heart of God is screaming out. I'll keep from adding too many "Woe to you" statements or making the brood of vipers comparison.

If you can get you nose out of Romans long enough, you can see that Jesus Christ came to this world to reach out to those who were the rejects. For some reason the religious leaders made any possibility of a spiritual life impossible among such individuals. They truly LOVED the fact that they had God all figured out... at least until He came among them. Walked with them. Talked with them. Amazed the people with the simple teachings of God. "When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law." Matthew 7:28-29. Jesus came to the religious leaders, yet they wanted to do nothing but catch him in doctrinal slip up.

Jesus makes it clear in Matthew 25 that it will all be revealed who is a sheep and who is a goat. This will take place at the judgement. You can call this the great purging of the church membership records to come. I think I will leave such a decision in his hands.

John said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John said...

Dear Morgan Owen,

Please see my 8:15 entry (incorrently addressed to someone else).

I believe you have taken the Lord's Name in vain. You have no right to make up a quote and ascribe it to the Lord Jesus Christ. You should, indeed, leave that to Him.

I believe that Arminianism is inherently human centered and thus frequently (and over enough time inevitably) leads to an irreverance for God. It puts God's entire salvation program at the mercy of sinful human beings.

John Wootten said...

This is exactly the reason why reformation is needed in the SBC. We need leaders to rise up who will take the bible seriously, and are able to discuss doctrine with maturity and grace.

Andrew said...

Morgan,
You clarified your comment as a description of “what the heart of God is screaming out."
Do you believe that God’s heart screamed these particular things to you so that you would reveal them to Tom on the Founders’ blog? I cannot tell if you are being sarcastic, symbolic or straightforward - because that was the 2nd time that you have claimed to utter new revelation from God. I fear that you are ascribing God’s holy name to your own fallible words.

Hmmm... what was the context when Jesus compared the religious leaders to a brood of vipers? It was not (as you suppose) because they rejoiced in knowing their God or because they felt that doctrine was important. The context makes clear that He was referring to their speech.

Let's see what Jesus actually said in context:

"You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. [35] The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. [36] I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, [37] for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." Matthew 12:34-37 ESV

Morgan, you have neither explained nor retracted your earlier comment (which you imply is Christ's). No one quite understands what you meant by your remark; neither have you the courtesy to explain it. Therefore, were those idle words?

You do not need to explain your absurd sacrilegious remarks to anyone on this blog or on this earth. You will give an account to Jesus.

It is ironic that you cited a passage where Jesus literally says that on the Day of Judgment, you will stand before him and explain to Him why you spoke those words on his behalf, signing His name.

Needless to say, I share John's concern about wanton throwing around of the Lord's name and adding fictitious sarcastic remarks to his lips.

Andrew said...

"You can call this the great purging of the church membership records to come. I think I will leave such a decision in his hands."

I have never heard of Matt 25 being interpreted as fatalism that way. If we are going to be consistent we need to make this argument also:

"Since Jesus is going to purge the church (and the world) of sin, we should do as we please and leave the final cleansing up to Him"

Morgan Owen said...

Andrew, you really don't make sense when you blog at nearly 3am. You probably need to take my advice given to Mr. Hootten and get some rest. ALSO keep from blogging past midnight, it could be hazardous to your spiritual health.

It is obvious that I explained myself in my reply of 9:05pm last night. You just choose to not accept the reasoning. That's fine. Thanks for bringing out even more of what Jesus said to the religious leaders...it just proves my point even more. Appreciate the help.

John said...

Dear Morgan,

I don't think we really should discuss anything else with you right now except for your breach of the third commandment in your 11:24 AM post. It is really an extremely serious issue. You simply have no right to ascribe words to the Lord Jesus, especially not in the way you did.

Please think and pray it over. The Lord will not hold anyone blameless who takes His Name vainly.

Andrew said...

Morgan, did you know that some people work an evening shift and therefore have bodies that are well-conditioned to be awake at late hours? Of course you knew that. But that did not stop you from rendering judgment upon me.

Judging others thoughts and motives without omniscience dethrones Christ and places us on His throne. This is expressly forbidden of New Testament believers.

Repent, my friend. There is little more I can say until you do so.

Perhaps you will heed your own warning: if you will not repent of your sin "it could be hazardous to your spiritual health."

Morgan Owen said...

John the words the prophets ascribed to the Lord were not well received either. Selah

Andrew, so you're not judging me???? In your own words "Judging others thoughts and motives without omniscience dethrones Christ and places us on His throne. This is expressly forbidden of New Testament believers." Selah
oh, so I guess you're not working the evening shift tonight??

John Wootten said...

Mr. Owen,

Might I suppose that you wear your reading glasses when you post, or perhaps you should enlarge the font settings of your internet browser?

You have misspelled my name twice, and differently each time.

And yes, I work the evening shift. And so in my other post which was written at 12:48AM, I had been home less than an hour, and had just taken a rather delightful and desired hot shower and was sipping on a hot cup of earl grey tea. So I assure you, I was quite awake and evidently more aware of what I was reading that you were.

Andrew was explaining your view of fatalistic church membership. You said...

Jesus makes it clear in Matthew 25 that it will all be revealed who is a sheep and who is a goat. This will take place at the judgement. You can call this the great purging of the church membership records to come. I think I will leave such a decision in his hands.

I believe the main point of the resolution was focusing on integrity in church membership. Did you read the resolution?

Why do we propagate the view that church membership = salvation by allowing people's names to remain on church membership rolls, even though they do not attend the church, and in some cases are not even saved?

I can't even count how many times I have asked a young person if they are a Christian and are involved in church, only to hear them say yes. But upon further discussion, it was often a one-time decision, or in some cases, not even a decision or committment. They only showed up for an event in a children's or youth ministry years prior, and were signed up with no real understanding.

What is wrong with asking churches to contact the invisible members and either restore them to the fellowship or delete their names from the roll? The way I see it, the resolution was practically an evangelistic program!

I realize we would no longer be able to boast of being "16 Million Strong," but isn't it worth giving up a deceitful cliche in order to restore possibly thousands to stronger faith and fellowship in Christ?

Andrew said...

Morgan:

I have repeated God's judgment upon those who take His name in vain (Ex 20:7). Your sin is between you and God.

No, I am not working this evening. Shall I e-mail you my schedule so that you will not feel tempted to make presumptuous judgments about me? You are quick to judge without knowledge. Again I admonish you with a warning from our Lord,

"Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment."
John 7:24 (ESV)

John said...

Morgan,

To compare yourself to the prophets is despicable! The prophets were inspired by the Holy Spirit. You are inspired by . . . ?

You broke the third commandment. You took the Lord's Name in vain. What's more, you did it in an insulting, sarcastic way. You've been challenged on it a number of times but will not repent.

preacher289 said...

Morgan,

Why do you wish to breed hostility? Most people when they read your comments will sense an angry, hostile spirit within you. CLEARLY you have 1) Used the Lord's name in vain. 2)Misquoted and misinterpreted Scripture. 3)Made some hypocritical comments.

In an effort to try and understand what you have said, I do sense a level of inmaturity in your character. Please continue to study Scripture.

We are talking about the purity of Christ's church!

Morgan Owen said...

Just to help a few of you out that seem to be confused, I will explain what the third commandment is all about:

Exodus 20:7 describes the third commandment (the one that you say I violated). Most theologians agree that in later Judaism, this covered any careless or irreverent use of the name YHWH. (not Jesus) It was pronounced only once a year by the high priest, when giving the blessing on the great day of atonement. Originally the commandment seems to have referred to swearing a lying oath in YHWH's name. This seems to be a true meaning of the Hebrew. To bless or curse in the name of YHWH was permissible under the law; it is virtually a proclamation of His revealed will and purpose to different categories of men. A deeper reason for the prohibition may be seen in the fact that God is the one living reality to Israel. That is why His name is involved in oaths, usually in the formula 'as sure as YHWH lives'. To use such a phrase, and then to fail to perform the oath, is to call into question the reality of God's very existence.

Please do your homework before misinterpreting scripture for your own personal gain.
Thanks

Andrew said...

"Please do your homework before misinterpreting scripture for your own personal gain.”

What personal gain??

My friend, your iniquity on this blog is multiplying. Add plagarism and self-righteous pomp to the growing list. This is really sad. I am taking no joy in this rebuke.

WHY did you plagarize two footnotes from the article “Israel’s Worship” by Bob Deffinbaugh of Dallas Theological Seminary?

Here it is:
http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=147

It would be better for you to study that article which contains an excellent exposition of the 3rd commandment.

With regard to your jeer, “Do your homework” it appears there is a log in your eye.

Andrew said...

To give proper credit, the footnote Morgan plagiarized originally came from this commentary by R. Alan Cole:

Exodus: An Introduction and Commentary (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1973)

Obviously it is not true that "most theologians agree" this random little blurb on OT Judaism is somehow the definitive summation of the 3rd commandment.

My pastor is currently preaching through the 10 commandments and he spent almost one hour on this verse last Sunday.

Morgan Owen said...

Andrew, you are a good student. You are quite right that the information shared came from R. Alan Cole, not from Bob Deffinbaugh book though. I prefer to do my own study instead of having someone else give it to me in footnotes. However, if you noticed, I set off this quote following a colon, meaning "here is the research I have done. I've done my homework." Excuse me for leaving out the reference. I do ask for forgiveness for that.

So, who are the others who agree with the view mentioned:
*The Bible Knowledge Commentary
*The NIV Application Commentary
*Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible
*Word Biblical Commentary: Exodus
To name a few....

Which is worse, not mentioning a source or misquoting the intention of a passage of scripture?? Surely you know... thanks for helping me pull the splinter out of my eye.

Andrew said...

One problem is you took credit for the explanation. You said:

""I will explain what the third commandment is all about..."

Second problem is you mingled your personal experience into Cole’s scholariship. Here's your smooth transition:

"Exodus 20:7 describes the third commandment (the one that you say I violated). Most theologians agree that..."

And that's where your verbatim copy-and-paste began flowing neatly with your personal experience.

This has become a game of "you can't prove I did it and I'll never admit it" and I am not into playing games with issues concerning sin. Anyone can make endless excuses just to save face but God sees the heart. You've been reproved but you will not receive correction. There not much else I can do.

Andrew said...

By the way, how does one correctly "quote the intention" of a passage of scripture? Is this similarly to your quoting for us "what the heart of God is screaming out"?

If you insist on spiritual hardening, please accept this academic advice. A colon does not mean, "here is the research I have done. I've done my homework." You need to be aware that such use of a colon would get you thrown out of community college.

Also, you are still claiming that this is research you have done when it is not. The author and scholar responsible is R. Alan Cole. If you want to claim to have done research on OT Judaism, you must write something original.

Morgan Owen said...

Andrew, evidently blogging is as close as you get to scholarly work. Try attending seminary. Or is it possible that you know all about getting kicked out of community of college. That's one thing I have noticed with several individuals who have responded to my blogging: they are a minister want-to-be. "My pastor preached on...."

I have asked for forgiveness if you felt misdirected. If you cannot forgive than that is your problem. Also, if you cannot take the wisdom of the references mentioned on Exodus 20:7, then you can live in your ignorance.

Andrew said...

1. I graduated from the College of William and Mary.
2. I am not called to preach. (James 3:1)

I am only responding to your slander (9th commandment). I have no desire to respond to you any more than is necessary (Prov 26:4b)

Morgan Owen said...

Andrew,
No slander, just the possibility. I understand that you find it hard to forgive. You just wanted one last jab.

Andrew said...

More slander?

"I understand that you find it hard to forgive."

I am (and have been) ready to forgive, even though the sin which you confessed was not really against me. But before you write to the publisher, please read this article, which has helped me in the past.

http://www.founders.org/blog/2005/08/apologies-vs-repentance.html

"You just wanted one last jab."

Judging motives again (John 7:24). Only God knows the intention of the heart.

Please stop with the accusations.

John said...

To Andrew and others concerned about Morgan,

Several of you have correctly noted the problems with his behavior here. He took the trouble of sending me harassing e-mails, the first with the same content in one of his blogs in which he tries to so narrow the focus of the 3rd commandment that virtually no one could violate it any more. I finally had to ask him either to repent or apologize or, if he continued to send me harassing e-mails, I would report him to his ISP. It was no surprise that he couldn't help himself with "one last jab." So I had to report him.

He reports to have been (perhaps currently is) a pastor in the SBC. There is no greater testimony that the evangelical church today still needs much reformation. And one of the most significant areas it needs reform in is the kinds of men it choses to call to pastorates.

Andrew said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andrew said...

It's possible that Morgan makes his living on CP$. Are not campus ministers denominational employees?

http://www.tnbaptist.org/page.asp?cat=college&subcat=campusbcm

I will be contacting his office and sending a transcript of the dishonesty, hostility, and unabashed arrogance he has displayed here. Perhaps someone closer to him can hold him accountable, and then reconsider whether this man should minister to young people.

Contacts:
Collegiate Ministries office of the Tennessee Baptist Convention
615/312-1993 or 800/558-2090 ext. 1993
email bchoate@tnbaptist.org

University of Tennessee, Martin
Baptist Collegiate Center
112 Hurt Street
Martin, TN 38237-2999
(731) 587-9063 (O)
(731) 587-1907 (F)

volfan007 said...

morgan owens is a good and godly man. he loves the Lord and does a great job at utm. i think you will find that we all love him and thank God for him around this part of the world.

hang in there, mo.

mo,it's just like a five pointer to want to accuse and hurt others. this five pointer cant stand your truth in your arguements..so he wants to try to hush you up thru intimidation. shame on you, andrew. why dont you discuss things like a man instead of wanting to go off crying to the teacher? mo, keep on standing on the truth, bro. we have your back.

Mike Woodward said...

As a somewhat neutral observer (neither Calvinist nor a virulent non-Calvinist) I would argue that this looks like the typical playground fight spiraling out of control.

I would suggest you let trolls be. They have nothing to lose with their sarcasm. They draw you into you letting your flesh answer them, then they point out how you are not as "good and godly" as they are.

Perhaps more people should heed the call of Pastor Welch and minister where they are instead of getting into blog arguments with people they don't even know. ;)

Andrew said...

Mike,
Every Christian is obligated by the law of love to correct a brother gone astray.

It says in Leviticus that to remain silent while your brother continues sinning is the same thing as hating you brother:
"You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him" Leviticus 19:17 ESV

Mike - you may be right. I do admit that this appears to have been a waste of time.

At the same time, don’t you think it's hard to tell who is a troll versus a true Christian that will receive correction?

I have been corrected on blogs and web boards and I have found it to be a tremendous blessing when someone demonstrates from the Bible that I am in error. It is liberating to discover my own blind spots. For example, some of the people on this blog who have corrected me are Bristopoly, Gene Bridges, Tom A., Byroniac... and probably others. I am grateful for Christians who have the courage to lovingly correct, instead of worrying that someone will think they're unkind.

On the other hand, volfan has been trolling and sneering at people for weeks, but some readers still feel the need to correct him. He never admits to breaking commandments even though it's been shown to him countless times. It's as if sinning against a holy God just isn't that big of a deal to these people. Lately, the trendy thing to do is level the charge “Pharisee!” if the law of God is even mentioned. Some of these same people turn around and say "well actually I believe you're a Christian...” Wait a minute - the Pharisees were false teachers and apostates. How can you call someone your "brother" if you truly believe they're apostate? Obey your conscience!

Mike, I think you are correct in that, at some point, you have to just move on. I probably (and perhaps John as well)passed that point with Morgan and didn't realize it.

As a sidebar, Mike, this issue about a regenerate vs. unregenerate church membership is not a Reformed/Non-Reformed issue. Since you are coming to the issue from a neutral perspective, I am interested in your opinion of the proposed resolution. Would you have voted "yes" or "no" to consider the resolution? Do you think it’s honest for Southern Baptists to boast about +16 million members when only about 5 million have attended church in the last year? If there exists an opposing view with any credibility, I would like to hear it. I haven’t yet heard any good reasons to continue misrepresenting our membership statistics (especially when some leaders are boasting about them.)

Mike Woodward said...

First and foremost...Yes.

Sunday Schools rolls are for evangelism, not membership rolls.

Here's an idea. Let's start reporting on Sunday School versus membership rolls so we can keep those numbers up!

CBS News: "Now reporting from the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest enrolled Sunday School denomination..."
--
Second, you have to look at tone. When someone continually sneers at you while extolling their Godliness...you just gotta walk away.
--
Third, if you do want to get drawn in, even with good intentions, it's probably best to give them a small benefit of the doubt on imprecise words rather than to immediately go nuclear on them. Bloggers and commenters alike can either spend the time crafting their thoughts precisely, or they vomit whatever comes into their mind right away.

Just as in real life, engage the craftsman and extend grace to the pukers.

Morgan Owen said...

Andrew,

Its a shame that you reject the apology of a brother. I see your heart. But your relishing in arrogance doesn't really shake me.

I proudly serve the Tennessee Baptist Convention in Collegiate Ministry with the support of the Cooperative Program. I cannot wait to hear the chuckle from those who you may contact.
Perhaps you would like to look through the window into my ministry over the last 14 years:

*160 Youth and College students have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior
*Mentored several young men and women in the ministry who currently serve as ministers/missionaries
*Over 450 youth and College students involved in missions (which included Alabama, Washington, West Virginia, Illinois, Missouri, Wales, England, Hungary, Peru, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Indiana, Kenya, Japan, Russia)

Wait a minute! I have nothing to prove to you, Andrew (whose last name is not mentioned). God has His hand on my ministry and if you are truly Calvinist, than you believe that God's sovereign will shall take place. So anything you do has little impact.

Better off, why not give me a call yourself---You have the number :)-- if you have anything you wish to say to me. Oh, I forgot...You would rather see blood spilt on a blog forum.

John,
My emails were not harassing. In fact I chose to discuss those things with you in a private forum. You, however, have chosen a public forum to continue your harassing. What a true example of Christ.

Morgan Owen said...

volfan007

Thanks for the encouraging words. I'm not shaken by the arrogance of Andrew.

Just make sure you keep your identitiy secret, or else Andrew will be after you. :)

Morgan Owen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Morgan Owen said...

Dear All,

I have had the chance to think over a few things and as I review the blog postings (conversations) that involved me, it appears to me: the ramblings of the last few days speak exactly to the subject of this category "The resolution failed".

The posting I made several days back that said:
"Tom,
I hope one day I will be as holy and spiritual as you.

Sincerely,
Jesus"

started the major debate that just a few of us found ourself in.

The statement (which is similar to many other statements you might see on a billboard or in a church bulletin) was viewed in different ways. While some (like myself) felt it was a statement of satire, others felt I went too far (even offending the name of God).

Attempts were made to explain the statement in midst of trying to also defend myself against those ready to throw stones.

In the end we all have witnessed a type of "blog discipline". One individual considers a one on one conversation a breach of conduct and the other takes it into his own hands to notify employer and to encourage others to share their disdain.

This is why we should not have a group pressing our churches towards church discipline. Total destruction of the person's character, calling, and occupation is the objective. It must be their way or the highway.

Harassing statements and emails came my way from some of you, but I was willing to allow it to stay in that specific medium of communication.

This is why I have a problem with others regulating church discipline.

John said...

Morgan Owen is, I believe, a seriously disturbed individual. He comes to a web-site and blog that he knows is committed to theology he detests. He attacks those there, sometimes personally. To further one of his personal attacks, he attributes sarcastic, insulting words into the mouth of the Lord Jesus. He thus clearly violates the third commandment. When some of us try to bring him to repentance, he continues his attacks and in so doing tries to interpret the third commandment so narrowly that practically no one could violate it. He calls the idea of actually obeying the Lord Jesus' command in Matthew 18:15-17 "stupid;" the only direct instructions the Lord Jesus Himself gave about the church, he says is "stupid" and exclaims what "gall" we have for wanting the church to actually follow it. He initiates insulting, harassing e-mails to people who tried to correct him. I know, I was one. I told him to either apologize and stop his harassing behavior or stop sending me messages. If he didn't, I warned him that I would report him to his ISP for using his e-mail to harass. He had to get in one last "jab" (something he accuses others of.) He said he was done posting here. But now he's back. He is really in need of some serious pastoral intervention at the Martin, TN.

John said...

Dear Mike,

You are probably right most of the time about "trolls". However, in this case, this is a Christian site and one particularly offensive individual committed what I believe is clearly a violation of the third commandment: he took the Name of the Lord in vain, and in a particularly reprehensible way. He ascribed to the Lord Jesus sarcastic and insulting words. The Lord will not hold someone guiltless who takes His name in vain. If he wants to insult me or Andrew or whoever, then I'll "turn the other cheek and forget about it. But when he insults the Lord, that cannot be allowed to stand.

Andrew said...

Tonight I received an email from Morgan stating that he is considering a law suit against me.

I'm not making fun of him at all. If somebody here knows this guy, please step in and help him.

Andrew said...

Mike said:
"Here's an idea. Let's start reporting on Sunday School versus membership rolls so we can keep those numbers up"

I like this idea!

You know what really confused me about Dr. French's statement? If SBC churches remove those can't-be-found-anywhere members off the membership roles, it's not like their contact information is thrown in the trash. So in a way Dr. French is correct that those "members" are great prospects for evangelism.

I guess the disagreement about the resolution comes down to whether non-Christians should be church members. I don't think that Dr. French would agree with that. I hope he (or somebody from that committee) clarifies what the real objection is.

volfan007 said...

i would like to know how i used the Lord's name in vain, and how i put words in the mouth of the Lord. wow, this is really getting weird. i am thinking about not coming into this blog anymore due to the strangeness and the ungodly spirit portrayed by the five pointers in this room. i came in here to try to help yall come out of this tangent...this extreme...to come out of the deep end and get back on the right road. but, i see that you all just want to argue and fight...kind of reminds me of the church of christ...the campbellites....they love to argue and fight about thier extreme doctrines too. this may be the end of me coming in here....i dont know.

but, i do know this...i am more sure that calvinism is not the way after reading yall's posts. i am really more convinced to stay in between calvinism and arminianism and stay with the bible after dialogueing with you all.

Morgan Owen said...

Volfan,

I think that comment was for me. I could be wrong. It really is weird in here. I thought that coming to this blog I would be involved is some basic dialogues concerning the subject mentioned.

I understood that this blog was for conversation and dialogue. Helping one another in the sharpening of their skills of debate and dialogue. (Proverbs 27:17) Instead some chose to make it a place where people desire to just slap one another on the back in like mindedness. And even more, stab you with their iron.

The debate has been lively, even absent at times with the constant stonewalling by some.

I've been called a gorilla, a seriously disturbed individual, a harasser, and a blasphemer in need of some serious pastoral intervention.

I know better. Its just a shame that you choose to treat a brother this way. Interesting in light of my 10:24pm posting of last night.

I have pushed some personal hot buttons and even chose to make some one on one contacts to resolve the issue (no, Andrew, that was NOT a threat, just letting you know that I was prepared if you pushed that far)

The sad part of this all is the personal smear attempt outside of this blog and desire by some to end a ministerial career. (John had the heart the think it up and Andrew had the legs to make it happen). Please don't flatter yourself with a job completed. I really feel sorry for you two if you feel like you must demonize someone to feel like you have won a conversation.

Amicus said...

The brother who said a while back that this has turned into a playground fight gone out of control was precisely on point.

As a pastor of 23 years who believes the truths stated in the Abstract of Principles, I come to this blog for information, insight, and encouragement. I have been deeply saddened by the recent events in our denomination, not least the rejection of Dr. Ascol's long-overdue resolution. I was hoping that this comments section would contain some helpful thoughts from reformed brethren, and even some thoughtful dialog with those who support Dr. French and the committee. I believe their decision was very unfortunate, and that it was made worse by Dr. French's response to Dr. Ascol on the floor of the convention. But it would have been good to have some honest debate going on here.

Instead we have had this disgusting schoolyard brawl. Brother Owen chose not to address the question but to take an ugly, sarcastic, and personal potshot at Dr. Ascol. To make matters much worse he chose to put it in the form of a fictional note from Jesus.

Apparently Brother Owen is a respected and accomplished campus minister in one of the most Baptist towns in America. And apparently this has led to several brethren being even more offended at what is at best gross irreverence. But the returning in kind of his personal attacks, and the escalation to attacking his employment, is not only unkind and unseemly: It completely misses what we should be learning from his (what seem to us to be) utterly weird posts.

Bro. Owen is not, as one brother said, a deeply disturbed individual. He is hardly individual at all. He is a type, a type that pervades Southern Baptist and American evangelical life. We had better get used to dealing with this type and to depending on the sovereign mercy of our loving God in responding to them, if we hope to be used in reforming our denomination.

This type of minister and Christian is grossly pragmatic yet feels deeply, but he does not think. He has been trained by John Dewey and LifeWay to believe that the behavioral and affective are where life is lived, and that the cognitive(truth/content) is irrelevant and a distraction. He is deeply offended by theology of any kind - Calvinistic or otherwise. If something feels bad and does not contribute to his understanding of success - such as a resolution of meaningful membership - he writes it off as pharasaical - especially if the reasons given for it are theological. That theological discourse and practice based on theological reflection are pharisaical is an assumption he holds implicitly.

This mindset holds to a number of contemporary American values. One of them is cuteness. Cuteness in ministry is like sweetness in food: it was virtually unknown before the 20th century, and in the 21st it is assumed to be indispensible. One of the cutest things a religious educator can do is to compose (and even get his students to compose) notes from Jesus.

For this reason Brother Owen, who is not incapable of reason but is appalled by it, was probably stunned when you all took exception to his irreverence.

Now, I believe, based on the third commandment and the Bible as a whole, that fictional notes from Jesus are beyond the pale. But in the religious world of many American evangelicals, they are no worse than having cartoon vegetables play the parts of Bible stories or using a "precious" ceramic image of our Lord. For cute things cannot be offensive, much less balsphemous. And if you suggest they might be, then you are a pharisee.

We need to get it about Bro. Owen's worldview. We need to address it with the warm-hearted, doctrinally sound passion of our forefathers and founders.

And we need to stop being so shocked, and to stop responding in kind.
David

PS - Dr. Ascol, you have been, as always, gracious to your detractors. But it is time to shut this thread down.

John said...

Dear David/Amicus,

Thanks for the remarkably insightful post. You made a lot of comments that deserve careful attention and acceptance. Your observations of the culture of "cuteness", etc., are keen, intelligent observations.

However, I take strong exception to the assertion (that really does not flow logically from your insights), that we ought not to be shocked by a Baptist minister (support by CP money) coming here, attacking sarcastically, blaspheming, and refusing to repent and then we ought not to be shocked by that. In the past, believers would be deeply shocked by this kind of behavior. Gregory Wills, in his excellent book "Democratic Religion", chronicles how Baptists used to express their shock by obeying the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 18. A couple of years ago William Bennet wrote a book "The Death of Outrage" about how it is less and less acceptable to show moral out-rage.

But most of all, the Lord Himself is out-raged. He says that He will not hold anyone guiltless who takes His Name vainly. He once told Israel to put a man to death for taking the Name of the Lord irreverently. He was trying to show His people that they are indeed to be extremely shocked when the Name of the Lord is taken in vain. When it is done by someone who is supposed to be a Baptist minister, supported by CP money, in a personal attack, that multiplies the out-rage we should feel.

I'm sorry, I do not believe that the Bible teaches that we are supposed to excuse that kind of sin. Nor do I believe that myself, Andrew, or any other Founders participant here responded to Morgan in the same way he's been attacking others. It was the young man who was "shocked" by the immorality and compromise of some Israelites and took a spear and took care of the problem that was commended by the Lord for his zeal. C.S. Lewis wrote that a lack of indignation is a sign of a spiritual sickeness. I'd encourage you not to abandon indignation.

Andrew said...

Amicus,
Thanks for weighing in on what has taken place here. I have taken to heart much of what you said. And I agree with most of it except for this part:

"But the returning in kind of his personal attacks, and the escalation to attacking his employment, is not only unkind and unseemly..."

Let me clarify that I have not and will not "attack" anyone's employment. Please reread my post concerning this. You agree with me that Morgan refuses correction from anyone on this blog. But perhaps someone who knows him personally will hold him accountable (for his edification). The only way I know to find such a person (since I don't live in Tennessee) is through his public ministry.

I don't think it's an "attack" to inform one of his peers what he has posted a public website. Perhaps everyone at the Tennessee Baptist Collegiate Ministry will read his postings and say "Yeah, that's very appropriate. No problem here. This is how Christians ought to act"... but my guess is that somebody whom he knows and respects will correct him.

Also, I disagree that I responded "in kind". If you really believe that this is true then please give an example. If not on this thread than please feel free to shoot me an email.

Again, I do agree with many of the other things you said. You've made me rethink how I comprehend the attitudes that certain people carry around with them.

Morgan Owen said...

Andrew and others chosing to talk about me as if they know me:

I encourage you to read my 10:36am post on the forum "Why Mark Dever did not get elected to 1st VP"

Unfortunately, John has chosen to take this discussion to another forum, multiplying those involved.

Morgan Owen said...

Andrew,

There was quite an interesting correlation between our use of the internet.

I chose to seek your email information to send a message directly to you (just you--noone else) responding to your personal attack.

You chose to seek my personal information in hopes to bring into question my integrity in a public forum and potentially get me fired.

Mine was a use of the internet.. Yours was a MISUSE of the internet.

Andrew said...

Morgan, this is the LAST time I am going to address you directly.

You are a public servant in a public ministry. I googled your name and state. Your public ministry came up on the first page. This cannot be a surprise to you.

Let's be clear about something here. If you sir are fired, then it will be BECAUSE OF WHAT YOU YOURSELF HAVE POSTED HERE. Given what you have said, that should not worry you at all. You said yourself that you “ can’t wait to hear the chuckles.”

In ANY case, it is impossible for anyone to construe my actions as "misusing" the internet. If you are ashamed of what you have posted here or how you have treated other Christians on this blog, then repent of these things. All would be forgiven!

It is not my desire for you to be fired, although I agree it is possible that could happen. I do not know you, but your peers DO. And they will know whether your behavior has been “un-Morgan-like” or if this is a consistent pattern in your life.

All I know is that someone who is charged with the HIGHEST calling this side of Heaven has showed raging contempt for other Christians and has blasphemed God without slightest remorse. IF I look the other direction, I would take part in this evil. I feel obligated to hold you accountable, my friend.

Someone closer to you who understands you well can discern your pastoral fitness. They will have an opportunity to read your words verbatim, in context - and I pray God will lead them to make a wise decision.

Morgan Owen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.