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Conservative heritage

I was pleased to attend the recent SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) Annual Meeting in Baltimore. There were many encouraging reports, and President Fred Luter led the meeting with integrity and fairness. There were a couple of areas of concern. We were shown statistics demonstrating a 30-year decline in baptisms and other critical areas in our convention. I heard several men on the podium speak of a past conservative resurgence and return to inerrancy. 

I am thankful as an Arkansas Baptist we had no need for a conservative theological resurgence and we have always supported inerrancy. The same is true of the Foreign Mission Board (FMB) – now the International Mission Board (IMB) – where I served from 1978 to 2009. Our mission leaders and missionaries were theologically conservative and worthy of the support of our convention. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of many of the IMB trustees appointed by the leaders of the conservative political resurgence. I attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in the 1970s and 1980s under presidents (Robert E.) Naylor and (Russell H.) Dilday, when it was our largest seminary and was also solidly conservative theologically in the finest tradition of our convention.  

It may be that these men making reports or those they associated with or their schools were not theologically conservative and opposed inerrancy since they refer to that situation so often. If so, I only wish they could have been Arkansas Baptists or have attended Southwestern when I did or been associated the FMB/IMB and our missionaries. The 30-year decline in our convention seems to coincide almost exactly with their rise to power. I am glad to see signs of a return to our conservative theological foundation under the recent leadership or past SBC President Fred Luter and pray it continues under Ronnie Floyd. 

Ron West
Little Rock


Let’s stick to the basics

I am a 77-year-old who has been involved in church leadership for over 45 years and has watched the decline in making real disciples for several years. We sit around wringing our hands wondering why we can’t keep our young people after they get out on their own, why 6 million of us Southern Baptists don’t show up at worship services anymore, why we are so hesitant to confront people about their salvation, why there are no revivals anymore, why pastors are afraid to preach on the socials ills that confront us every day like adultery, abortion and homosexuality and why there is little teaching on the Holy Spirit anymore.

Pastors now believe you have to stand in the pulpits improperly dressed to connect with people. They are fulfilling the highest calling God bestows on man and then wonder why there is no respect for the Lord’s Church. The church property has been dedicated to God and is therefore holy, and yet we desecrate it by being disrespectful of it.

We have turned our worship time into some so-called modern worship that is so loud which is called “praise.” Jesus had a word about that in that we love to sit in His house and praise when the fields are empty. People keep telling me that the young people just won’t come if we don’t have the loud modern music, but I believe that is Satan’s lie straight out of hell. The Holy Spirit will draw them just as He drew me to Himself. 

What became of quiet reverence?

I pray that we will stop trying to think up some new program for worship when we have had the same one for so long that still works if we will just keep “telling the old, old story of Jesus and His love.”  

Don Jones


‘Evangelistic’ Sunday school

Thank you and Steve Wilkes for the article “What happened to ‘evangelistic’ Sunday school?” in the April 18, 2013,  edition of the Arkansas Baptist News. 

The decline in Sunday school attendance and the promotion of it has been a great concern of mine for some time.

I pray that there might be a great hunger for His Word. Then there will be revival.

Rosemary Looney


Baptists go by the Bible

Much has been said about the Calvinism controversy in the Southern Baptist Convention, but I have found little to explain or define it.

Baptists go by the Bible. Remember the words of Jesus, “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers” (Matt. 23:8, NASB). Again, Paul tells us, “Each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos.’ ... Has Christ been divided?” (1 Cor. 1:12-13, NASB). We Baptists should weigh any theologian directly against the Bible, agreeing only when it makes sense, and don’t swallow entire agendas by someone, especially the early reformers like (John) Calvin and (Huldrych) Zwingli, who could be all too grossly human. Vincent Price could have made a good drive-in horror movie about their antics and been entirely factual.

Some scholars like to pretend they know it all. Only God knows everything. Besides, John Calvin sure wasn’t the founder of the Baptist denomination! 

Stephan Allsup
Little Rock


An Open Letter to Southern Baptists from the BSA Religious Relationships Task Force

TurnerResults of the much-publicized vote at the 2013 national meeting of the Boy Scouts of America were announced on Thursday evening, May 23. Understandably, this was not what many Baptist denominations and others wanted to see transpire. (Read related story from the Associated Press).

Now what? Before deciding, I urge you to prayerfully consider the following:

*Are the evangelism and family ministry opportunities now lessened in the church's Scout unit(s)?  Are the lost and un-enlisted any less our responsibility now? I respectfully remind us that the Great Commission remains unchanged and no vote can alter this reality. The local church still owns its Scout units and is responsible for selecting the leadership. As fishers of men, are we not to go where the fish are located?  In the case of church-based Scout units, there are unreached people already in your buildings! (In the average Scout unit, as much as 60% of the youth and their families are not currently involved in anyones church. What an opportunity!)

*Are our churches being compelled to accept homosexual leaders or the homosexual lifestyle? No. (In) fact, it remains the responsibility of our churches to hold high a standard. The resolution clearly states that youth are still developing, learning about themselves and who they are, developing their sense of right and wrong, and understanding their duty to God to live a moral life. Shouldnt Baptists be at the forefront in helping youth find answers which are biblically-based? 

Keep in mind.Too, that there are a number of membership requirements which must still be met, including affirming the declaration of religious principle, doing ones duty to God, and adhering to the principles of the Scout Oath and Law. In addition, a behavior standard is being set forth which disallows sexual behavior of any kind in Scouting. 

Do our churches routinely exclude persons from our other evangelism and outreach efforts or do we seek to reach them where they are with the Good News and help them discover The Way?

*Do we surrender the opportunity of involving children, youth, and families in the Religious Emblems Program which is an effective tool for reaching Scouts (and entire families) for Christ, discipling them, and helping many clarify their call to vocational Christian service? I pray not!  

*Does it really matter whether or not Baptists are involved in Scouting? First, the obvious answer is "yes" for every Scout, family, and leader in Baptist units. Second, there are tens of thousands of Baptist Scouts and thousands of Baptist Scout leaders involved in Scouting who are not in Baptist units and we should be serving them, too. (The third largest group of Scouts and leaders at the 2013 National Jamboree will be Baptist). 

*Why not invest our outreach ministry and energies elsewhere? Obviously, you can. But why does it have to be an either or situation? There are many fine children and youth programs in our churches which primarily address those already in the church family. However, what about the unchurched and unreached? Plus, consider the people in your church family who are better members, parents, leaders, and citizens because they had the Scouting experience delivered by godly men and women. Dare we deprive our children and grandchildren of this same life-changing experience? Do we surrender this precious opportunity to others who may not share our values. Shall we abandon an organization which needs our influence now more than ever?  Future generations hang in the balance.

The Lord of the Harvest stands ready to help us, guide us, encourage us, empower us, and equip us to reap an abundant ingathering.

R. Chip Turner
Chairman of the BSA Religious Relationships Task Force
Past President, Association of Baptists for Scouting

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