June 20, 2018

A Paradigm Shift in the Southern Baptist Convention

After last week’s annual meeting in Dallas, it appears we have a paradigm shift in the Southern Baptist Convention. We’ve become culturally sensitive and biblically aware, when we need to be biblically sensitive and culturally aware.

Here’s what I mean. If we feel a need to pass resolutions about things already mandated in Scripture, isn’t that a sign of disobedience? Why not just call our churches to repentance then? Every change needed within the SBC would come about by simply doing what God has told us to do in Scripture. Obeying God’s Word first and foremost, puts us on the right side of social issues – God’s side. When obedience to God rubs with the world’s values, and it will, then so be it (John 15:18-22). As those who claim to believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, certainly we can also see its sufficiency to handle every cultural issue we face.

It seems as though we’re striving for relevance in an anti-God culture by jumping on the social justice bandwagon. I’m all for partnering with organizations that do good in the name of Christ (Matthew 10:42). Doing good, however, is not the mandate of the Church. Our commission is disciple-making (Matthew 28:19), which cannot happen without also teaching obedience to Scripture (Matthew 28:20). Now, we can debate what it means to “make disciples”, but a good place to start is by continuing Jesus’ mission to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Practicing obedience is what trains our senses to discern what’s right and good from what’s wrong and evil – in any culture (Hebrews 5:14). The problem is, we spend more time focusing on the extreme differences in biblical interpretation that exist within the SBC rather than seeking biblical discernment. As a result, we are now interpreting Scripture through the lens of current culture rather than viewing our culture through the lens of Scripture.

So, I propose another shift. Let’s shift the conversation from the extremes to finding balance. I love the way John Stott puts it, “My conviction is that we should love balance as much as the devil hates it and seek to promote it as vigorously as he seeks to destroy it. By our “imbalance” I mean that we seem to enjoy inhabiting one or other of the polar regions of truth” (Balanced Christianity).

There’s only one way to unity. We have to stop hunkering down in our extreme bunkers and submit our personal ambitions and interpretations to the mind and cross of Christ. That’s the only way to truly affect our culture rather than just react to it.