A Harmony Of The Resolutions

Word Document: Harmony Of The Resolutions

At least two separate SBC resolutions are being proposed for this summer’s Southern Baptist Convention Annual meeting. One by Bart Barber and the other by Tom Ascol. You can read more from the Southern Baptist Texan.

What follows is my attempt to harmonize the two. I’ve kept everything in its place, but aligned the columns to show where the resolutions speak to similar issues.

What Do You Think?

I would like to hear what you think about the situation and the pros and cons of each resolution. At first reading there were some points I noticed:

  • They are complementary but not redundant. Ascol is really speaking to our hypocrisy in saying we have 16 million members. While Barber is dealing more in depth with the issues that caused the problem in the first place.
  • Ascol cites the 2007 Annual Church Profile for support, while Barber does not.
  • Barber cites the theological reasons behind his resolution in more detail.
  • Ascol’s language calls for “repentance.”
  • Barber calls for “renew” their commitments and practice.
Bart Barber & Association of Convictional Baptists Resolution on Regenerate Church Membership Tom Ascol & Founders Ministries Resolution on Integrity in Church Membership
WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith Message asserts that the Scriptures are “the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried” (Article I); and Whereas the Baptist Faith and Message states that the Scriptures are “the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried” (Article 1); and
WHEREAS, A New Testament church is composed only of those who have been born again by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Word, becoming disciples of Jesus Christ, the local church’s only Lord, by grace through faith (Matthew 18:18-20; John 3:5); and
WHEREAS, A New Testament church is formed through covenant by a group of Christians intentionally gathering in the name of Jesus Christ and under his lordship (Matthew 18:19-20; Colossians 2:10, 19); and
WHEREAS, Baptism of only believers by immersion in the Triune name is the only proper means of entering a local New Testament church and is thus the indispensable beginning of regenerate church membership (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 2:41); and
Whereas life in a local church should be characterized by loving discipline as the Bible teaches in passages like Matthew 18:15-18, 1 Corinthians 5 and Titus 3:10-11; and
  Whereas the 2007 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Church Profiles indicate that there are 16,266,920 members in Southern Baptist churches; andWhereas those same profiles indicate that only 6,148,868 of those members attend a primary worship service of their church in a typical week; and
WHEREAS, Regenerate church membership is preserved by the practice of redemptive church discipline according to our Lord’s command (Matthew 18:15-18, 1 Corinthians 5; Titus 3:10-11); and
WHEREAS, The Lord’s Supper is to be celebrated in a worthy manner as a memorial of our Lord’s atoning death, providing continuing evidence of regenerate church membership (1 Corinthians 11:23-29); and

WHEREAS, Regenerate church membership is necessary for the responsible practice of congregational church government (Matthew 18:17; Acts 6:3-4; 15:22); and
WHEREAS, The local church has been commissioned to make disciples of all nations through proclaiming the Word, by going, baptizing and teaching all things that Christ commanded, thus propagating regenerate church membership through evangelism (Matthew 28:16-20); and

WHEREAS, The New Testament ideal of regenerate church membership has long been a cherished Baptist principle as described by the Baptist Faith and Message (Article VI); now, therefore, be it

Whereas the ideal of a regenerate church membership has long been and remains a cherished Baptist principle as described in Article VI of the Baptist Faith and Message; and
Whereas the significance of believers’ baptism tends to be lost when churches that practice it fail to exercise loving care for all their members; therefore, be it
   
RESOLVED, That the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 10-11, 2008, humbly urge our beloved churches to renew their commitment to regenerate church membership by acknowledging the necessity of spiritual regeneration and Christ’s lordship for all members of local churches; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we humbly urge our churches to renew their commitment to the congregation as a covenantal assembly entered only by immersion of those who evidence a credible profession of faith in Christ; and be it further
RESOLVED that the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 10-11, 2008, urge Southern Baptists to repent of our failure to maintain responsible church membership, and be it further
RESOLVED, That we humbly urge our churches to renew the practice of redemptive church discipline, reviewing their membership rolls and kindling fraternal kinship and accountability among all members of the congregation; and be it further RESOLVED that we urge the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention to repent of the widespread failure among us to obey Jesus Christ in the practice of lovingly correcting wayward church members (Matthew 18:15-18), and be it further
RESOLVED, That we humbly urge our churches to celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a meaningful memorial celebration according to the New Testament, and develop congregants capable of responsible self-governance; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That we humbly encourage all of our beloved Southern Baptist churches to seek to fulfill the New Testament ideal of regenerate church membership for the glory of God, the edification of His people, and the more effective evangelization of the lost.
RESOLVED that we plead with pastors and church leaders to lead their churches to study and implement our Lord’s teachings on this essential church practice, and be it further
  RESOLVED that we encourage denominational servants to support and encourage churches that seek to recover and implement our Savior’s teachings on church discipline, especially when such efforts result in the reduction in the number of members that are reported in those churches, and be it finally
RESOLVED that we commit to pray for our churches as they seek to honor the Lord Jesus Christ through reestablishing integrity to church membership and to the reporting of statistics in the Annual Church Profile.
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13 Responses to A Harmony Of The Resolutions

  1. You got it right.

  2. Matt Svoboda says:

    I hope at least one of these gets to see some action. It will probably be Barber’s just so they don’t have to mess with the more severe nature of Ascol’s. Either one is great with me! But wait, will that mean we,Southern Baptists, can’t say that we have 16 million of us anymore? Maybe this isn’t such a great idea…

    Matt Svoboda’s last blog post..The Pastor and Evangelism

  3. Scott says:

    I took your table one step further and combined them into a unified document. It is available as a Word document here.

    Scott’s last blog post..SBC Membership {Harmonized} Resolution

  4. Guys,

    This was attempted already this past week behind closed doors (see Tom’s comments on his post). Yarnell/Barber/Patterson did not want the language of repentance, an explanation or rationale for the resolution, or a call for prescriptive action–all of which were suggestions made by Tom, who BTW was more than willing to harmonize them, should his suggestions be received. They were not, and that was the end of it. Should an amendment be made on the floor, and our convention refuse to include the language of repentance and humility, then that alone will speak for itself just how dire straits we are in today.

    We’ll see.

  5. Scott says:

    Timmy,
    You said…

    Should an amendment be made on the floor, and our convention refuse to include the language of repentance and humility, then that alone will speak for itself just how dire straits we are in today.

    Amen.

    Unless a closed door is to a specific closet (Matthew 6:6) the discussion should be going on out in the open anyway. If they (supporters of either resolution) refuse to unify, that will indeed be a signa then — the SBC truly is in decline and not just in membership.

    Scott’s last blog post..SBC Membership {Harmonized} Resolution

  6. kschaub says:

    One county seat FBC church in TX boasts 4,056 members on its role at the SBC website. On average 700-800 attend weekly, leaving 3,200 absent.

    I suspect that is actually common, especially when many of those churches did have attendance over 1,000 per week before their towns started to shrink. I am fond of this church, but boasting 4,056 members with only 700-800 attending weekly is not right. In light of that kind of circumstance, I would definitely support Ascol’s language of repentance when addressing this issue locally. It is the right thing to do.

    Kevin

    kschaub’s last blog post..J.C. Ryle: On One of the Best Antidotes to that Vague, Dim, Misty, Hazy Kind of Theology

  7. My question to is: Why will they not include the aspect that refers to repentance. Obviously, they see a problem with church membership loosing its meaning. So why not urge others to repent of the mishandling of church membership? Perhaps there is a reasoning that I have not heard.
    Dr. Yarnell, what is your reasoning?
    Stephen

    stephen stanford’s last blog post..Renewing Your Mind: An Evangelical need

  8. Liz says:

    I am not sure if I am completely OK with “Repentance of the SBC” being splattered all over the news media and blogs like the “decline” has been, because only Christians know what repentance really means, but there does need to be some re-evaluating of how the numbers are come by and how we go about reconciling them.

    I used to be a church sectretary and clerk. The pastor of that church used to count the people in Sunday School and then count them again in the worship service and publish the total as our numbers for that week. My husband called him on it and he never repented. We eventually left that church because of the deceit in many areas.

    I’m not sure that the whole SBC is guilty and in need of repentance on this issue, but I would be happy if either or both were adopted.

  9. Liz, it seems to me that if we have been dishonest, we ought to be prefer to be known as those who repent. It shows that we value humility, truth and honesty. Obviously, not every Baptist church that is linked to the SBC has been dishonest, however with the statistics that Dr. Ascol has pointed out, it is quite apparent that this is convention wide problem. Unless we repent, I do not see how we can take ourselves, as a convention, seriously at all. We pat our selves on the back for “doing” the great commission, but we are not really making disciples. We are making numbers. Besides… behind every number there is a story….. just not a good one.
    Stephen

    stephen stanford’s last blog post..Renewing Your Mind: An Evangelical need

  10. Liz says:

    Stephen, then the churches that have been faithful with their numbers will carry the stigma, too?

  11. When a large percentage of the SBC does something wrong, we all, who are a part of the SBC, carry the stigma anyway. When you join an organization of any sort, you are affiliated with their problems, whether or not you agree with the decisions being made. This does not mean that every SBC church is doing something wrong, it simply means that as a whole we have not taken theology of the church very serious.
    An analogy of corporate responsibility could be found in the OT. This does not mean the analogy is perfect, no analogy is. But consider the many times God calls Israel to repent. Did God mean that every Israelite was wayward. I do not think so, but I think he meant the whole entity of Israel is responsible, because of the overall actions of Israel as a whole. Someone can respond that Israel and the SBC are not the same. However, this response misses my point.
    Stephen

    stephen stanford’s last blog post..Renewing Your Mind: An Evangelical need

  12. Tony Kummer says:

    Thinking on the convention level this is a difficult issue to work who has failed. The denominational employees are reporting the ACP results that were sent to them from the churches. So when they say we have 16 million members, they are using shorthand for “the churches have reported that they collectively have 16 million members.” What the news media does with those numbers, including our own Baptist Press, is certainly up for examination.

    I think the real action, and tragedy, is on the local church level. Both resolutions address that and call for change. This is a step in the right direction. But the real results won’t be passing a resolution. Change will only come as pastors and their churches take loving each other serious enough to keep track of who belongs to the church.

  13. Scott says:

    I think the real action, and tragedy, is on the local church level. Both resolutions address that and call for change. This is a step in the right direction. But the real results won’t be passing a resolution. Change will only come as pastors and their churches take loving each other serious enough to keep track of who belongs to the church.

    Good observation. And as such, we must keep in mind that 1600 churches did not send in a report. That could represent a huge statistical anomaly in and of itself.

    That said…regenerate church membership must be a priority regardless of number crunching.

    Scott’s last blog post..SBC Membership {Harmonized} Resolution

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