SBC Joke of the Day

Two SBCers walk into a coffee shop, one a Calvinist and one a non-Calvinist.

They bicker over the order of salvation, if their CP dollars should go to schools and institutions that hire people who have different soteriological positions from them, and who started it.

They never share the gospel with anyone in the shop or encourage one another in the Lord, as good brothers ought. They don’t testify to Jesus, either by their conversation with one another or their lack of conversation with the lost people all around them.

Yeah, I guess that one’s not that funny.

Constructive Southern Baptist Systematic Theology

I don’t even know that this claim can be substantiated, but what are blogs for besides making unsubstantiated claims?

I think we need more constructive Southern Baptist systematic theologies from current Southern Baptist theologians.

To my knowledge, I can only think of either a) theologies of particular doctrines b) non-Southern Baptist baptistic STs or c) the anomaly that is “A Theology for the Church.”

NOTE: Yes we have many historical theologies (Garrett’s massive tome comes to mind) and some biblical theologies (e.g. Schreiner’s NT theology). I’m talking here specifically of systematic theologies, though.

As far as the first is concerned, they are good and helpful in many cases. I’m thinking specifically of NAC’s series including volumes on Baptism and the Lord’s Supper and other such works (e.g. Dever and Hammett’s works on ecclesiology, Bruce Ware’s works on theology proper, etc.). I want MORE though – more on that at the end.

In many other cases, though, these theologies on particular topics tend to focus on divisive doctrines like Calvinism and dispensational eschatology, and at this point I think it’d be nice to, you know, talk about something else. Or at least talk about soteriology and eschatology in a more comprehensively systematic context.

As to the second point, Grudem, Erickson, and Geisler have produced systematic theologies from a baptistic viewpoint, but I want to see some SBC theologians do the same.

Finally, I want to commend the purpose and spirit behind “A Theology for the Church,” edited by my former President and teacher Danny Akin. Theology is done in community, and I’m appreciative of that volume’s dedication to that truth and to its desire to combine diverse perspectives in it.

But systematic theology is systematic - it needs to fit together from beginning to end. And so I’d like to see those diverse perspectives found in the different chapters of “A Theology for the Church” get their own individual STs.

I’m looking at you Malcolm Yarnell. I’m looking at you Russ Moore. I’m looking at you Greg Thornbury, Bruce Ashford, Chris Morgan, Greg Allison, Nathan Finn, Craig Blaising, John Hammett, Ken Keathley. And all the people I’m forgetting and offending right now.

I want MORE. More than just books on particular doctrines. I want some big, fat, 7 volume systematic theologies like Baptists used to write in the 1700s. Let’s do this.

From en.wikipedia.org

John Gill Agrees – Write more ST!

 

Ephesians 4 and the SBC

Yesterday in Sunday school I walked with my class through Ephesians 4, which includes the following from Paul:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is over all and through all and in all (Eph 4:1-6).

In our study of Ephesians we’ve talked about Paul’s emphasis on the unity of the body and specifically about the racial unity of the church. Paul is keen on showing how Gentiles have been grafted into the people of God and urges his readers to live as “one new man” in Christ (2:15). In this section we talked a bit about racial unity, but we also talked about what it means to be unified around God (one Spirit…one Lord…one God and Father of us all) and the gospel (one body…one hope…one faith, one baptism). Even though I didn’t use the language of “theological triage,” I think it’s a helpful way to think about cooperation among Christians and we talked about how a) all Christians around the globe are part of Christ’s one body but that b) denominations exist because we understand certain things differently, especially baptism and church polity, and that c) local congregations and even denominations should not let “tertiary” doctrines or practices divide us.

Therefore it was all the more disturbing, after having studied this passage, to learn of some different events in the last two weeks in churches around the SBC.

First, a friend of mine, who is not white, is being forced out of his church because of his skin color. Obviously, this is in direct contradiction to Paul’s point in Ephesians. This is actually the most disturbing one for me, but I don’t know many of the details and don’t want to share them anyway for his privacy’s sake so I’ll just leave it at that.

Second, another friend, one of my best friends, is being forced out of his church because of his theological stance on a certain issue (I’m sure it won’t take long for you to figure out what that stance is…but I’ll just leave it at that for now). This stance has never in the history of the Church been considered heretical or heterodox, and has strong roots in the history of the SBC. The situation is all the more disturbing because of how it has happened. Although I can’t share all the details, the relevant points are these:

  • My friend never taught, preached on, or publicly or privately alluded to or mentioned his convictions on this issue;
  • One church leader guessed at my friend’s convictions after a teaching series in which my friend used a prominent, non-SBC pastor’s book as a guide (the book had nothing to do with the issue at hand);
  • The church leader had read pejorative articles about this famous pastor in Baptist newspapers, and especially about this pastor’s particular beliefs on this issue;
  • This one leader forced the conflict after a long time of discussion on the issue with my friend. The church leadership decided that it just isn’t what the church believed, even though by their own admission they had never studied it.

Again, my friend was not forced out because he taught something contrary to Scripture, or to Baptist distinctives, or even because he taught anything at all on the issue. He was forced out for merely holding a particular theological stance on one particular issue, a theological stance that is well-grounded in biblical theology and the SBC’s history.

Third, an SBC pastor recently posted a letter on his church website in which he calls for designated giving around SBTS and SEBTS because of their “Calvinistic agenda.” First, I find it humorous that anyone would accuse SEBTS of having a Calvinistic agenda (I can’t speak for SBTS since I’ve never been there, but I seriously doubt their goal is to “make an ‘army’ of Calvinists,” which is what the pastor argues in the article). Second, here we have again dividing lines being drawn where they ought not to be drawn. Perhaps even more disturbing is another article by the same pastor, which argues against multiculturalism in the US. Again, dividing lines are being drawn in places where they shouldn’t be according to Scripture.

I’m writing this as a call to my SBC brothers and sisters: fight for unity. We are called to be unified as a body, and as a denomination when we divide over race and tertiary doctrinal issues, we are not testifying to Christ. We are testifying to our own sinful selfishness and divisiveness. Particularly, let’s fight for unity in two ways:

  • Fight for racial unity. We are clearly not past racism in some of our churches, and that is beyond abhorrent.
  • Fight for doctrinal unity, not on everything but especially on the “main” things, i.e. God and the gospel. Fight for doctrinal unity on Baptist distinctives (i.e. believer’s baptism, congregational polity, etc.). But don’t divide over tertiary issues. As has been stated numerous times by SBC leaders who are calling for unity, the BF&M 2000 is a big enough tent under which many diverse groups of Southern Baptists can unite for the sake of the gospel being proclaimed in all nations.
  • Obviously we can fight for this by proactively promoting and teaching the unity of the body to our people. But we can also fight for it through loving confrontation of those who are obviously not for unity but division (cf. Titus 3:9-11).