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The Lausanne Catholic–Evangelical Conversation: Does Talking & Praying Make a Difference?

IMG_1713From the beginning of the ecumenical movement in the 19th century each of the churches involved in this growing quest for local and global unity brought their respective gifts and backgrounds to an ongoing search for common mission. This quest has clearly been fueled by the prayer of Jesus in John 17:20-24 more than by any other biblical text. Our Lord prayed, the night before he went to the cross, that we would all be one so that the world might know that the Father had sent the Son. All efforts to understand these modern historical developments must be understood in the light of how churches and leaders have worked out the implications of this amazing prayer.

When Vatican II changed how the Catholic Church related to the world, as well as to the proclamation of the gospel, things really began to move in a new direction. The now popular Catholic commitment to the “New Evangelization” entered the Catholic missiological vocabulary in the 1980s but found its first prominent expression in 1992 at the Council of Latin American Bishops (CELAM)


The recently released motion picture, Courageous, is the fourth film released by Sherwood Pictures, a church-based film production company that is an extension of the mission of Sherwood Baptist Church (SBC) in Albany, Georgia. The first hit-movie from Sherwood was Facing the Giants, a film with a football theme. This film was surprisingly successful, both commercially and among a significant number of Christians and churches. The second film, which was much better, was Fireproof. This is a film about marriage, Christian faith and conversion. The first film that director Alex Kendrick did for Sherwood Pictures was Flywheel, a not so widely-known feature about an unscrupulous used car salesman who resolves to win back his wife, become a better role model for his son, and stop ripping off his unsuspecting customers.

courageous_new_lg Courageous is, in my judgment, the best of the four films. (I have seen the three films that have appeared in theaters in wide-release.) The producers, writers and directors have all demonstrated noticeable improvement in film-making

By |October 26th, 2011|Categories: Film, Southern Baptists|

The Debate in the SBC About a Name Change

The Southern Baptist Convention is once again discussing a name change. I hope they do it this time.

The president of the SBC, Bryant Wright, recently told the SBC executive committee in a Nashville meeting that he had appointed a task force to look at a possible name change. Giving up a 166-year old name for this denomination will not be easy to do. But make no mistake about it—this should be done for the sake of the gospel and the witness of the SBC to Americans.

bryant-wright-full Wright said the SBC name represented a region of the country when the denomination is now scattered to every part of America. What this means, quite simply, is that the name SBC is simply not accurate. It wasn’t accurate forty-one years ago when I pastored a little SBC congregation in suburban Chicago but it is really not accurate in the 21st century. SBC churches are now in all 50 states and thousands of missionaries have taken the gospel all over the planet.

By |October 15th, 2011|Categories: Southern Baptists|

Southern Baptists and the NIV 2011 Translation

I wrote yesterday about the recent Southern Baptist Convention held in Phoenix June 14-15. I spoke of the new sense of unity in the Great Commission that many found encouraging, even historic. I sincerely hope that this will prove to be more than the euphoria of a convention in the desert. One of the great things that could happen for the church in America is for Southern Baptists to find their way again in terms of church planting and evangelism. It seems they have been in the wilderness with most denominations for some years now. All Christians should pray that all churches, where Christ is preached, will grow and mature.

ImageServerDB.asp But the SBC is generally a mixed-bag. This year was no different. A resolution was introduced, from the floor of the convention, regarding the 2011 New International Version of the Bible. It was pointed at the so-called “gender neutral” language of this updated version. (It must be noted, that the committee on resolutions did not bring this

By |July 2nd, 2011|Categories: Southern Baptists|

Whither Southern Baptists? Unity and Controversy in Phoenix

Many readers know that I grew up a Southern Baptist (SBC). While I am not a Baptist now I have huge respect for my childhood church and my spiritual formation in this context. I tell some of this story in my book: Your Church Is Too Small.

I have expressed my concern about the direction of the SBC for some years. Much of that concern is not limited to Southern Baptists. In some ways, Southern Baptists ARE American evangelicalism in one large cantankerous and evangelistic group. You’ve never seen a real old-fashioned democratic shoot-out until you been in a Southern Baptist meeting with many different opinions being expressed. It is truly the best and the worst of congregational polity on a very big stage.

HOME20116164796 Over the course of the last thirty years the SBC engaged in a serious debate over the Bible. The buzz word was “inerrancy.” Eventually the more conservative party won. But a lot was lost in the process. The SBC affiliated seminaries were all impacted

By |July 1st, 2011|Categories: Southern Baptists|

The Fault Lines in the Southern Baptist Convention

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) remains a major factor in American Christianity. But the decline of the SBC, in recent years, is alarming to anyone who cares about the overall health of Protestant Christianity in America. There are things to be learned here by all Christians.

Lemke Steve Lemke, provost at New Orleans Baptist Seminary, recently examined various points of divergence among Southern Baptists in a four-part series for the blog SBC Today (April 5, 7, 8 and 9 posts). Lemke offered two possible solutions. I am more than intrigued by what he wrote and find the attacks on Lemke on the Internet to be both sad and irresponsible.

Lemke says the SBC fault lines include points of contention such as:

  • Greater versus lesser Baptist identity.
  • Smaller versus larger churches.
  • Anti-Great Commission Resurgence verses pro-GCR.
  • Majority Baptist theology versus Reformed theology.
  • Association and convention advocates verses association and convention detractors.
  • Those who place great value on the Cooperation Program (the fund raising approach to the budget) versus those who place a lower value on the

I Stand Corrected About the Southern Baptist Convention

My post yesterday, about Mark Driscoll and the Southern Baptist convention, had several inaccurate statements in it. I acknowledged one of these by saying that I incorrectly stated that Mark Driscoll preached at the SBC. (See the comments following the blog of yesterday.) This statement came about because I did not read the story in Christianity Today carefully enough. It was not intentional I can assure you. I simply messed up.

The second point, made by two gracious men who commented from their own personal experience, gives them far more credibility than me. It was noted that the SBC did not pass the five resolutions presented on the floor regarding Driscoll. I actually should have known better since such resolutions are made by various messengers in almost every such convention. This is a unique part of Southern Baptist polity, one that I do not like. But it must be understood for what it is and I failed to do that. For this mistake I humbly apologize to those who were misled

By |August 13th, 2009|Categories: Southern Baptists|

How Mark Driscoll Became Controversial in the Southern Baptist Convention

2009 LOVELOUD_FINAL 1 Christianity Today reported in their August issue that Mark Driscoll, well-known pastor of a mega-church in Seattle, created quite a stir at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) this year. The flash point was the “Great Commission Resurgence” (GCN), a group of Baptists who believe the convention needs to change if it is reach real non-Christians in the coming generation.

Most outsiders know that the SBC began a battle about the Bible some thirty years ago. That battle energized Baptists in a unique way. I am not impressed that it did them a lot of real good in the end. Conservative commentators say that this first battle was about the Bible. Some now believe that a new battle is growing in the SBC and this one is about the church. GCR says that by 2050 the SBC will lose half its members unless changes are made in the coming years. Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, says “Southern Baptist decline isn’t a matter of

By |August 12th, 2009|Categories: Southern Baptists|

The SBC on Alcohol

The Southern Baptist Convention, which continues to discover new ways to promote the agenda of conservative populist groups within their circles, approved a resolution this week on the consumption of alcohol. The messengers to the annual convention dealt with fifteen resolutions this past week, including one on immigration and another on the environment, demonstrating that “hot buttons” often dominate conservative Baptist life. But it was the resolution on alcohol, and the debate surrounding it, that caught my attention.

The alcohol resolution was the most debated of all at the 2006 convention. This is most definitely not the first time this subject has taken center stage for Southern Baptists. It really serves to remind us that Baptists and abstinence have a deep historical, and contemporary, connection. I grew up in this setting and was thus taught from earliest remembrance that alcohol was a great evil and we must oppose it to be good Christians.

It is important to understand that the resolutions of the SBC are not binding on member churches. But they do have an effect, often an adverse one. An amendment added to this resolution

By |June 16th, 2006|Categories: Southern Baptists|

When the SBC Mission Board Stayed at a Holiday Inn Express

You’ve seen the television commercials. A man falls from his bike. A man stops to help and begins to examine the guy’s injured leg as if he were a physician. In another commerical a man is in a science lab working on a major experiment and is asked by the attendants, "Where did you go to school doctor?" He answers, in both cases, "I am not a doctor but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night." The idea is simple. Those who stay at a Holiday Inn Express will have judgment that allows them to go well beyond their normal abilities and expertise.

I thought about this when I noted last week the decision of the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention, by a vote of 50-15, to no longer appoint candidates for overseas missions who speak in tongues in their private prayer life. Several years ago the IMB voted to not appoint a missionary who practiced tongues, or encouraged this practice, in public. Now they have decided to go even further and stop any new

By |January 13th, 2006|Categories: Southern Baptists|

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