Dave Miller writes regarding the 2012 motion to adopt a "descriptor" (moniker nickname), for Southern Baptists:
"The motion passed by the margin I expected. There were 4821 votes cast, with 2546 (52.78%) in the affirmative, and 2232 (46.27%) in the negative. The motion passes by what hardly can be called a mandate."
Guess that seems to indicate our convention is about as divided as the United States is as a nation. And since Dave once bemoaned being "stuck with" the Southern Baptist name forever, I imagine he felt somewhat pleased that the motion passed, even if it was by such a slim margin. Dave did fare a tad better (percentage-wise) in his bid for 2nd Vice President, (congratulations, Dave), but I suppose he may think that isn't much of a mandate either, considering over three-thousand folks who voted in the "descriptor" motion were AWOL for the vote on 2nd Vice President.
Wonder what all this says about the future for our beloved Convention. 2,546 messengers affirmed that millions of fellow Southern Baptists in around 40,000 autonomous churches can officially describe themselves as affiliated not with the SBC, but rather with the Great Commission Baptists (GCB). In the past, Southern Baptists have been known as "People of the Book". By being described as "people of the Book", Southern Baptists grew to and maintained the largest protestant denomination in the world. She's already known as pro "great commission", isn't she? After all...
the SBC has commissioned thousands of missionaries around the globe who do not have to worry about paychecks or coming back home to beg for money to sponsor themselves and their ministries around the world. Instead SBC cooperating churches pooled their money and resources to ensure that missionaries are financially able to reach the lost for Christ.
With the faithful missionaries, our convention has helped plant and build churches in thousands of people-groups in "the uttermost parts of the world". For many decades, Southern Baptist women have diligently knelt and prayed unceasingly for those missionaries. They've taught boys and girls to pray for and support missionaries.
SBC churches have discipled thousands of preachers before they were called to the ministry, and subsidized their educations so they were equipped to "Go into all the world" and fulfill the "Great Commission" as our Savior commanded. The SBC has built and supported five seminaries (I have no idea how many colleges). Our church leaders have armed millions of baptized followers of Jesus Christ with SBC, gospel-centered curriculum to guide them, edify them, and teach them to teach others.
We've focused on raising our children in Christian homes, and taught millions of children about Jesus through the Vacation Bible Schools every summer. We've developed hunger funds, and foreign mission offerings, and home mission offerings, state offerings, and associational offerings to support these causes and concerns.
As "people of the book" the Southern Baptist Convention has been known for:
our compassion for the unborn,
our adherence to scriptural purity and holiness,
our belief in separation of church and state,
the care of orphaned children,
the relief of those experiencing disaster, and...
hope for the broken, weary and worn. We've been baptized, criticized, and demonized. We've been ridiculed and rejected, scorned and despised. Sometimes we've failed and made many mistakes. Yet, we have endured. We have fought for human rights but refused to waver from the teachings of the Book--the Holy Bible. We've moved beyond unbiblical practices and prejudices regarding race; and this year, unanimously elected the first African American as President of the SBC, Pastor Fred Luter from Louisiana, with a standing ovation.
All this, each and every endeavor, had one, single, solitary goal in mind as Southern Baptists worked: to bring the "Good News" and carry out the "great commission" of our Lord and Savior to each and every sinner on this earth.
As Southern Baptists we know the Holy Spirit bestows gifts upon each of us to use in serving the Savior who died that we each might have eternal life. All too often we take those gifts for granted. Indeed, at times some may think we've accomplished this all on our own. Others know better. We know we have also been "nicknamed" the battling Baptists. We are not perfect. We know that. We've fought amongst ourselves from the beginning of our existence, yet tried to remain faithful to God's Word and the Spirit's guidance. The divided votes on this year's motion of a descriptor simply mirrors the battles behind us, and the obstacles ahead of us.
If the comment threads in the many blogs, and the tweets on Twitter are any indication of how folks feel about Kum-bah-yah and Bless Be the Tie That Binds, we've got a long way to go to find unity. It's only by the grace of a Sovereign God we've come this far. Some think if we all just rally round the "GCB" flagpole and sing Victory in Jesus and Onward Christian Soldiers, then God will pour out His blessings on His people who are called by HIS name and heal their land. All we need is a new way to identify ourselves as Baptists. Drop the Southern and become Great Commission Baptists and sinners will no longer be turned off to a geographical name.
Will this new descriptor prompt the Holy Spirit to draw all sinners to Christ? No. It's not about our name, after all; it's about His name: Emanuel, God With Us, Jesus the Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. It's about His life, not our life. It is not about who we are, but Who HE is: The great I AM, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.
Pride is the common denominator in most any argument. Smack dab in the center of the word "pride" is the tiny lowercase letter "i". Each and every person wants to be right. Each wants to win. Pride. Envy. Ire. Who can win with those things swirling about in one's head? Who can lead?
Certainly not I. Nor can anyone else who wants to glorify God.
If only we'd but "humble ourselves, confess our sin [pride], and turn from our wicked [pride-filled] ways", then God would hear from heaven. He'd forgive. He'd heal. Until we are each willing to yield our stubborn free-will, or corrupted will, to the Holy Spirit, we can expect more division, more disharmony, and a lot more omission of the Great Commission in the SBC.
The Lord still asks, "Who shall we send?"
Can we really say, "Here am I, send Me" unless we fall to our knees and confess "Woe is me, a sinner with unclean lips"? I think not, but that is certainly a mandate I can rally behind. selahV