Friday, June 13, 2008

A call to repentance

The Southern Baptist Convention this past week at it's annual meeting passed a resolution on regenerate church membership. It is not as strong a resolution as I would have liked, a resolution like the one proposed again by Tom Ascol of Founders Ministry, but it is a start and a recognition. It is not just the Southern Baptist Convention that is need of repenting over church membership, but as the largest and perhaps most public of the conservative denominations, the SBC takes the lead for good or ill on many issues. If we are going to covenant with someone in membership in a local church, we need to a) make as sure we can that they are a Christian! and b) hold the accountable to the body. Membership in a local church is the focal point of the Christian life and when we take it too lightly we do harm to the church as a whole. A good start, but certainly it is just a start.


Anonymous said...

Resolutions by conventions do not change "Jack Squat!" Are SBC churches going to find out about this resolution and then the leadership sit down and say,

"Holy Smokes! We need to repent of letting lost people into our churches."?

To me, this is a big waste of time! Whose going to change? So what if they call for repentance - who is going to truly repent because some resolution says so? Nobody. Some might argue that this is a step in a good directio to let all SBC's and future SBC's that the SBC takes membership seriously. If you don't take membership seriously, You're not a church.

Arthur Sido said...

Well, the SBC is not a church but a denomination. Unlike many denominations, actions taken at the conventions of the SBC have made a difference in seminaries, mission organizations, etc. WIthout action on the convention floor, men like Al Mohler wouldn't head SBC seminaries and the six SBC seminaries would still be churning out pastors who don't faithfully preach the Bible.

Free church denominations have very little control over individual churches, so will this or any resolution cause seismic change? Probably not, but the resoltuion does form a basis for calling churches to examine themselves. If not passing resolutions, what should they do? Should they dissolve the convention? The SBC is a voluntary association of local churches, so this is about the best that can be hoped for, a resolution calling on the convention and it's member churches to repent of a failure to practice church discipline and hopefully that will lead to churches examining their practices. Unregenerate members of churches is common to virtually every local church from Tampa, Florida to Detroit to Vanderbilt, Michigan. Better that the SBC is talking about church discipline instead of whether or not the Bible is inerrant or whether homosexuals can be pastors.

Arthur Sido said...

From Dr. Ascol on the passing of this resolution:

Many, many people have expressed their appreciation for having this resolution on the record. At least a dozen pastors have already told me that they intend to read it to their churches in an effort to shepherd their congregations into healthier streams of responsible church membership. Some of these have had tears in their eyes as we spoke.

A resolution has no binding authority on a local church. But perhaps the Lord will use this to promote the ongoing work of biblical renewal in many churches across the SBC. Pray that this will be the case.