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Friday, June 16, 2006

Reflections from my 1st Convention

One of the more important events at the Convention is the election of the President because of his appointment powers. Going into the Convention I was unsure whether I would cast my vote for either Frank Page or Jerry Sutton. In fact I had not made up my mind until after the nomination speeches were finished. I voted for Frank Page, and to my surprise (as well as many others) he won on the first ballot. While I have theological differences with him, in the spirit of cooperation I felt he best demonstrated in the events leading up to the convention the kind of spirit I wanted for representing the Convention. Only time will tell, but I urge Southern Baptists to pray for him, as I believe this may be a difficult and busy year for him.

I was hoping to see during this convention a spirit of cooperation around the gospel. I believe, after reading many summaries of the talk by Patterson and Mohler, there was demonstrated the basic kind of spirit needed for cooperation between parties who disagree on the intricacies of the gospel. However, it was evident to me that tension was in the air. Even when platform speakers were trying to focus us on the essentials, they spoke carelessly. One speaker spoke of Calvinism and Plurality of Elders as being distractions. One need not think long on how this would make Calvinists feel. And to say to those Southern Baptists who care passionately about how a local church should be properly ordered that debating "the elder issue" is distracting certainly disheartens many Southern Baptists.

In many ways, what this convention will be remembered by besides the Page victory will be the spirited debate on the resolution pertaining to alcohol consumption. It seems to me to be a sad day when alcohol consumption gets so much attention when so many people in our Southern Baptist churches cannot articulate the gospel. Personally, I think there are always better options for most of us to choose some other choice of beverage than one which contains alcohol, but biblically for one Christian to say to another Christian, "You must abstain," is close to legalism. There are many issues which the Convention needed to address, and alcohol consumption was not one of them.

Meanwhile, a resolution on Integrity in Church Membership was declined both by the committee and by the convention as a whole. As I pointed out on a recent post, it continues to be grievous point when we are referred to as the 16,000,000 plus Protestant denomination, when we are only this on paper. If membership meant anything besides some card we sign, then our membership would be more accurately reported somewhere around 6,000,000.

Definite high points of the trip were spending time with family and friends. I spent around three hours with my Grandmother, aunt and two cousins. I stayed with Seth and his wife for two nights (thanks again). I enjoyed watching Brent play golf. And one of the highs had to be the time spent talking theology with pastors.

One of the major issues to be addressed was recent IMB developments. However, not much came of it; accept that it will be referred back to the IMB trustees for study. Hopefully when we gather in San Antonio next year, the Baptism policy will be rescinded or revised.

Brent and Seth, what say you?

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