Thursday
May192016

Articles prompt thoughts 

Some of the recent editorials and articles that I have read in the Arkansas Baptist News have caused the following thoughts.

Our Baptist and national history is replete with actions most Christians today would consider inconsistent with Scripture. These actions were justified by the policy of “manifest destiny” in regards to Native Americans and quotes of specific Scripture in regards to race and gender equality as examples. My point is it’s good to glory in our history, but (to) be honest when choosing examples of being Christian. The recent veto of the Religious Restoration Act in Georgia seems to have placed the governor in bad stead with some.

First, I don’t like using threats of what might happen to make a political point. Second, I don’t believe in quoting Scripture to prove a point because it usually results in Scripture being quoted to validate the opposite position. I believe there are biblical principles that can guide our position on a number of issues. One that might apply to the moral outrage by Christians against “others” not like us is that in Jesus’ day it was felt that uncleanness – in its many forms – was spread by touch. However, Jesus consistently touched the unclean as though cleanness could be spread by touching. Our touch may not heal a blind man, but it might do more to heal relationships than condemning ever has. I would not ascribe compassion as a leading motivation for corporations in Georgia, but it sure should be for me.

Roy Runyan
Jonesboro

Thursday
Nov052015

Missionaries attacked

This year International Mission Board (IMB) President David Platt for financial reasons called for a reduction in our missionary force of 600 to 800 personnel. Earlier this year Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson called for a different type of reduction. Patterson stated the following in calling for firing 750 missionaries and declaring a battle with the IMB.

Patterson said, “Unfortunately we got about 750 missionaries that need to be brought home. Either they are in this movement (the church planting movement) or else they’re singing ‘Standing on the Promises’ while they’re only ‘sitting on the premises.’ And in either event, they need to be brought home. And so we are fighting another grand battle, this one more subtle than the other one actually.”

Patterson made these charges shortly after the retirement of Tom Elliff as president of the IMB. If Patterson’s charges are true, former Arkansan and Ouachita graduate Tom Elliff supervised, supported and took part in theologically questionable missiological practices along with our missionaries.

I do not believe Patterson’s accusations are true about our missionaries or Tom Elliff. This is just the continuation of years of attacks on our missionaries by Patterson and his political organization.

I am glad Ronnie Floyd has called for revival in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). But no matter how many meetings Floyd organizes to pray for revival, I do not believe the SBC will experience revival or take part in a spiritual awakening until Floyd and other conservative resurgence leaders get on their knees before our convention and ask God for forgiveness for the years of slander against our missionaries and other theologically conservative Southern Baptists by leaders of the SBC.

Ron West
Little Rock

Thursday
Nov052015

Keep the ABN in print!

I have read the Arkansas Baptist Newsmagazine (now called the Arkansas Baptist News) all my life, starting long before the name changed. It is indeed sad that Georgia Baptists have given up their printed news.

I am computer literate, own an iPhone, laptop, Kindle, etc., but I look forward to seeing the Arkansas Baptist Newsmagazine arrive in my mailbox. I read every page (at least some of every page). I am a member of Immanuel Baptist Church, Little Rock, but I began as a young girl in Prescott.

Thank you so much for your continued faithfulness.

June Hines Moore
Little Rock

Thursday
Nov052015

Why sing the ‘old songs’?

A church member handed me a worn copy of a pocket hymnal titled “The Soldier’s Hymn Book” given to Israel Hunnicutt on March 18, 1871.

As I thumbed through the enclosed selections, I realized how many of the text were familiar to me 144 years later. I thought of the contemporary songs that we are singing and realized that most of those that I learned 15 or even 5 years ago are not even being sung today.

When it comes to valuable lessons of the faith, it is imperative that it is enduring. Yes, we should not hesitate to embrace new expressions of our faith, but we are derelict in our duty as worship leaders to not build upon a strong and lasting foundation.

“Am I a soldier of the cross, A foll’wer of the Lamb? And shall I fear to own His cause, Or blush to speak His name?” (Isaac Watts, 1674-1748).

Glen Ennes
Republic, Mo.

Thursday
Oct082015

Word of God, not pragmatism 

This May, International Mission Board (IMB) President David Platt championed a set of new “qualifications that will characterize every missionary” at the IMB.

These changes included removing divorce and the practice of tongues as disqualifying factors for long-term missions. To my great concern, the rationale given at the time was not argued from Scripture, but instead pragmatism – i.e., alignment to the Baptist Faith and Message and the goal to commission “limitless missionary teams.” The implication? Southern Baptists’ overly strict policy for qualifying missionaries was the limiting factor in the number of missionaries we could send.

Fast-forward four months, and we learn that in truth, the limiting factor is not lack of a qualified candidate pool, but a severe budget shortfall. This is not new information. Over the past six years, the IMB is upside-down to the tune of $210 million. Now we are being told the plan to fix the budget is an offer of early retirement to missionaries over 50 with five or more years of service, effectively removing 600-800 of the most experienced, faithful and doctrinally sound mission resources at our disposal. Interesting aside: This same group of faithful servants has also been one of the most concerned about and opposed to the new pragmatic changes in missionary qualifications.

Pastor Appreciation Month is upon us, and as a pastor, I know what I would appreciate from our Southern Baptist leadership. First, to argue for solutions and implement changes based in the Word of God and not the pragmatism of our day, for the wisdom of men is foolishness to God. Second, the honest and clear communication expected of a Christian (Matthew 5:37) by which what we say is consistent with reality, with that which is true.

Brian C. Williams
Hackett