I wish to address this post to all my Southern Baptist readers. So the rest of you have fair warning that what follows is a bit of inside baseball for my fellow SBC’ers. Last week, I wrote about the “Building Bridges” conference that was taking place in Ridgecrest, North Carolina. The conference theme communicated the organizers’ intention to “build bridges” between the Calvinists and the non-Calvinists of the SBC. The divisions of late between some Baptists on this issue have left many SBC’ers wondering if the heated controversy might prevent future cooperation for missions. Thus it was good to hear many of the speakers (both five-pointers and non-five-pointers) communicate their belief that the SBC is big enough for both Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike and that all sides have enough in common in the BF&M 2000 to continue cooperation for the cause of Christ around the world.
In my opinion, the speaker that drove this point home most effectively was Dr. Danny Akin, the president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In his address, Akin called the SBC to a “Great Commission Resurgence,” and he called on Calvinist and non-Calvinist SBC’ers alike to join hands for the missio dei. Dr. Akin asks and answers two questions in this address: (1) Why should we come together in a Great Commission Resurgence? and (2) How can we come together in a Great Commission Resurgence? You should listen to the entire address, and here’s an outline of his remarks.
I. Why should we come together in a Great Commission Resurgence?
1. We are in agreement as to a common Confession of Faith to guide us, “The Baptist Faith and Message 2000.”
2. We are in agreement on the inerrancy, infallibility and sufficiency of the Bible.
3. We are in agreement on the necessity of a regenerate church.
4. We are in agreement on the exclusivity of the gospel.
5. We are in agreement on the sinfulness and lostness of humanity apart from Christ.
6. We are in agreement that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Salvation is a free gift in which human works plays no part.
7. We are in agreement that the Great Commission is a divinely mandated assignment given to the Church by the Lord Jesus and that it is a task we are to give ourselves until the end of the age.
2. How can we come together in a Great Commission Resurgence?
1. We need a sound theology, not a soft theology or a straight-jacket theology.
2. We need to let a biblical theology drive and determine our systematic theology.
3. We need a revival of authentic expository preaching that will lead us to be genuine people of the book.
4. We need the balance of a Great Commission Theology.
5. We need to love and respect each other as brothers and sisters in Christ even though we are not in complete agreement on every point of theology.
In a rousing conclusion, Akin says this:
“I believe our Baptist Fellowship is big enough, in all the right ways, to have room for William Carey, Andrew Fuller, Luther Rice, Adoniram Judson, Charles Spurgeon, John L. Dagg, Basil Manly Sr. and Jr., Lottie Moon, and Annie Armstrong. I believe it is big enough to include Al Mohler and Paige Patterson, Voddie Bauchman and J.D. Greer, Adrian Rogers and Timothy George, Jerry Vines and Mark Dever, W.A. Criswell and Hershel Hobbs, Buddy Gray and Johnny Hunt, Andy Davis and Steve Gaines, Danny Akin and Tom Ascol. We may not agree on everything, but we agree on more than enough to work together for our Lord Jesus in fulfilling the Great Commission. So, will we live or will we die? Will we come together for life or fracture apart in death? I make my choice for life. It is my hope and my prayer that you will join me.”
If you care at all about the future of Southern Baptist cooperation, you must not miss this message. It was a stirring, prophetic word and, I hope, a rallying cry for Baptists to come together for the cause of missions around the world. I pray that Akin’s tribe will increase within the SBCâ€”for the glory of Christ and for the nations.
I haven’t finished listening to all of the messages yet, but here are some others that I thought were outstanding:
(HT: Taylor Tsantles for the photo of Akin)