Friday, July 2, 2010

For the Record...My Published Quote on the GCR

I was grateful to be contacted by Dr. Gerald Harris, editor of The Christian Index for a brief quote on the passage of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Recommendations by the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Orlando last month.  Dr. Harris is a dear friend, mentor, and eloquent statesman among Georgia and Southern Baptists.  It was my joy to fulfill his request.

The text of my quote was simple:

"The invoking of God’s name, the misuse of His Word, and the presumption of His will on an organizational matter (the GCR vote) was incredibly over-the-top. I pray that I never use God’s Word to tell my members that their vote either for or against an extra-biblical structural change in our church is an indication of their faithfulness to Christ or their commitment to the Great Commission."

For the record, I believe this occurred on BOTH sides of the GCR.  That's why I stated, "either for or against."  It occurred publicly at the podium and privately in the hushed conversations of the hallway.  Frankly, I have less patience for the private, off-the-record, if-you-repeat-this-I'll-deny-it approach that many Baptist leaders take.  I can at least respect those (for and against) who will stand flat-footed and publicly state their position.

My quote was specifically directed toward those comments that presumed the mind and will of God.  For example, God is in favor of the Great Commission.  No question.  We've got Bible on that.  Would God have voted in favor of the GCR?  Would God have voted against it?  It is prideful and presumptuous to say either way.

I don't think those who voted for the GCRTF report are reckless men and women who do not appreciate the past or who have some sinister motive for denominational advancement.  Are you kidding me?  The leaders of the task force (beginning with President Johnny Hunt) are people of character, integrity, and faith.  And frankly, the members have accomplished quite a bit without the SBC.  To assume they are seeking self-advancement is ludicrous, unwarranted, and frankly, sinful.  To whisper, "I wonder what so-and-so was offered for his vote?" is a violation of the law of love and the prohibition against sinful judgements.  Besides that, if you really have that question, why don't you go ask the man, "Did they offer you a job for your support?"  That will hardly ever happen in the SBC.

I don't think those who voted against the GCRTF report are denominational dead-weights who favor "bloated bureaucracy" or "declining baptisms."  It is possible they are God-loving, Bible-believing brothers and sisters who simply think it is a misstep from an organizational perspective.  Maybe...just maybe...they have not made a god out of the CP and are not more concerned about funding Nashville than populating heaven.  Maybe...just maybe.

Having said that, my concern (and the essence of my quote as published in THE INDEX) is the invocation of God's name to support one's position.  Good and godly brothers and sisters can simply disagree on this matter.  If I were asked to find a text that said, "God is in favor of the GCR report" I could not find it.  It is not there.  If I were asked to find a text that said, "The report is a violation of God's will" I could not find it either.  It's simply not there.

My quote is, at its core, a call for humility.  This is what we believe will help us accomplish the Lord's work.  We could be wrong.  But it's the collective effort of good and godly men and women.

Neither a vote FOR or AGAINST this organizational change was obedience to a Divinely-inspired mandate.