Calvinism, Missions, and Evangelism in Baptist Life

Calvinism is experiencing a resurgence in Baptist life. Some suggest that it has the power to kill missionary efforts and evangelism. Others are convinced that a revival of Calvinism will restore a more pure form of Baptist church life. I think it is a good time to step back and ask both sides of the issue to talk about matters in an irenic and fruitful way.

Anthony L. Chute has published a book with Mercer University Press titled, "A Piety Above the Common Standard: Jesse Mercer and Evangelistic Calvinism." In the introduction to this book he makes a comment that demands attention from Baptists concerned with this issue. Chute states:
"Those who fear that a return to Calvinistic theology among Southern Baptists will sound the death knell of missions may be surprised to discover that the missionary spirit they now champion was birthed at a time when Calvin's understanding of salvation was in vogue. And it is hoped that those who appeal to the founders of the Southern Baptist Convention as examples of Calvinistic Baptists will carefully note the pitfalls into which Primitive Baptists fell and avoid them like the plague."

Questions for discussion -
1. In what ways can Calvinist and non-Calvinist Baptists partner together?
2. How can Calvinist Baptists avoid, "the pitfalls of the Primitive Baptists"?
3. What gifts do Calvinists give to Baptist life?
4. What gifts do non-Calvinists give to Baptist life?
5. What attitudes are necessary for us to work together?

I think this is important. What do you think?

Preaching Preview for October 1, 2006

Text: Colossians 3:1-17
Title: Intense Life

"When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory." 3:4

Sunday we will see that the Messiah is our life when -
1. We are in God.
2. God is in us.
3. God's character is on us.

Romans 16
We will begin our study of Romans at the end. Chapter 16 serves as a good intoduction for the book. It is also a good way for us to ground our deacon ordination in scripture.

Something to Do: Read Romans 16:1-16 and list the Christian virtues listed in the text.

Off the Record: Commentary on the Journal of the Mississippi Baptist Convention

MBC Annual Meeting Schedule
The Record led with a shedule of the 2006 convention. I think the theme will be a very positive one and Dr. Shaddix will no doubt do a good job developing the "Your Jerusalem" idea. I am a bit concerned about a good portion of the meetings taking place on Halloween. My wife has already told me that I will be missing alot of it due to our community outreach activities - O well. Maybe I'll go in a costume. I'm thinking about dressing as a fat Baptist preacher. Will any of you join me?

Picture of the Year
Perkins' editorial was dedicated to a film titled, "Facing the Giants". I join him in challenging you to support this movie. I am grateful to the McLaurin Heights Baptist Church for giving tickets to all of the Pearl High School football team. Pray that God will work in those young men's lives. We will partner with McLaurin by providing transportation for the players.

Iuka Church and Sunspots
Jim Holcomb and Bobby Cobb both wrote pieces in support of the Iuka Baptist Church. This church has drawn national press attention for problems related to the Purpose Driven model. I think we should pray for and support the church. A Pentecostal pastor named Tommy Barnett used to say, "God doesn't do division." Amen to that.

Disagree with Writings
John Brashier wrote a fiery rebuke of William Perkins editorials. I have not always agreed with Perkins but I fealt like the tone of Brasier's words was out of line. I myself don't like the, "fundamentalist Baptist mentality" but I think it can be manifest on the left as well as the right. I have commented where I disagreed with Perkins but have also affirmed much of what he has done as editor. I think we can disagree and remain civil. A true moderate should be a bit more irenic.

Deep calling unto deep

The presenters at the Mercer Preaching Consultation have been wonderful. I have heard some great lectures including Fisher Humphrey's amazing message, "The Preacher and Forgiveness." All the lectures have been helpful and inspiring but for me the most beneficial has been Craig McMahan's, "The Call" (Or,"Why I Didn't Do Something Productive with My Life"). McMahan is University Minister at Mercer.

McMahan said that we were in the ministry because God called and we each followed with our own yes. He challenged us to remember the day that our calling became a public event. McMahan said, "Anchor yourself in the sacred moment of your ordination. Remember that day - it will be bread enough for the journey." I have some friends at the Kettering Fellowship that allowed me the opportunity to remember that sacred moment recently and it was greatly affirming. I must be honest though and say that the grind of ministry and life's trivia often cools the fire of the divine call. McMahan offered ways to fan the flames. Using biblical call stories, especially Isaiah's, McMahan pointed to three important principles:

1. Pay attention to mystery. Be alert to the God that dances on the edge of knowing.

2. Cultivate grief. Pay attention to the brokeness in the world and in yourself.

3. Listen the the inner voice. The Holy Spirit's calling renews our call.

What is your "heard the call" story? How do you fan the flames of divine purpose in your life? What do you think of McMahan's principles?

The Freshness of Altitude and the Bloom of Glory

As a student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary I would check out old sermon tapes from the library to listen to on my way home to our little parsonage in Wanilla, Mississippi. I grew fond of a salty old preacher named John Killinger. I heard Killenger give a lecture tonight that I thought was amazing.

His lecture was tited, "Preaching as the Footnotes of Mystery." In it he called us to climb the mountain of God to find the "freshness of altitude" and return to preach with the "bloom of glory" on our faces. Killinger counseled us listening preachers (a rare congregation) to resolve not to preach until we had done three things:

1. Have met with God. A sermon should not be delivered until we reside in God's presence.

2. Have done a comprehensive search of scripture and tradition. He said we need the full weight of the spear behind us and not just the point.

3. Have a clear idea of what your people need to hear.

I think this counsel is sound and life giving. What do you think?

Snowden's March to the Sea

We loaded into a rented minivan yesterday and made our way toward the Atlantic. I am going to attend a preaching consultation put on by Mercer at St. Simons Island, GA. This is Molly Katherine's first long road trip.

Our first stop was Meridian, MS. We visited with family and stocked up on some trip essentials. My grandparents prepared us the Southern family's car ride feast of fried chicken, pimento cheese on white bread, boiled peanuts and coca-cola. We ate it for lunch at the Alabama-Georgia line.

After lunch, we drove east and listened to the David Crowder Band (Daddy's pick), The Dixie Chicks (Mamma's pick), and the Veggie Tales (Molly Katherine's endless pick). As we listened to, "Traveling Soldier" my thoughts turned to Ole General Sherman. It dawned on me that he took this same road trip years ago. His was a journey of blood and fire. Ours has been one of pure joy.

Today we hope to visit Christ Church and eat some crab cakes before I have to go to meetings.

Larry Kennedy Remembered

Dr. Larry Kennedy, president of William Carey University, died today. Meredith and I both graduated from Carey and were sad to hear the news. We remember Dr. Kennedy as a godly man who did a number of wonderful things for the school. Our prayers are with Dr. Kennedy's family and the university.

Off the Record: Commentary on the Journal of the Mississippi Baptist Convention

William Perkins included a quote from Margaret McRae Lackey that I think is awesome. Her comment will serve as my commentary this week.

"Sisters, we have done passing well this year. But oh, the untouched multitude of Baptist women and children in Mississippi today whose souls are crying silently yet know not for what they are crying. Beloved, figures, however high-sounding they may be, are mere skeletons in the valley of dry bones unless there is breathed into them a spirituality that makes them living, breathing realities." Lackey 1917

Let's sing with Lackey, "Breath on me, breath on me, Holy Spirit breath on me."

Preaching Preview for 9.24.06

Morning: Jim Didlake of the Mississippi Baptist Convention will be with us. He will be talking about the state missions offering that we will be collecting in October.

Evening: Bob Griner, a church planter and pastor of the South Mountain Community Church in Milburn, New Jersey, will be with us to talk about the Strategic Focus Cities Initiative. We are partnering with other churches in the Mississippi Baptist Convention to plant congregations in New York, Cleveland, Baltimore and Vancouver.

Don't miss the opportunity the hear these men talk about what God is doing and our role in it!

Wednesday's Word

We had a great experience last week. God is doing a work in our church in the area of prayer. I was renewed in my commitment to pray for and with my friends at Truitt Memorial. Tonigt we will continue to explore God's power released in prayer. Our focal text will be Isaiah 64. In this prayer the writer presents three factors related to experiencing God's power for life and ministry.

Factor One - The Oh Factor
In verses 1-5 the supplicant prays for God's power to be released into his present circumstances. He prays, "Oh, that thou wouuldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down..."

Factor Two - The But We Factor
In verses 6-7 the supplicant sees the depth of sin and its limiting force in the life of the people. He says, "And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee..."

Factor Three - The But Now Factor
In 8-12 the supplicant grounds his prayer for God's power in the soil of relationship. He says that God is father and we are his children, God is potter and we are clay, and that God is a lord and we are his people. Bold prayer rooted in a personal relationship with God is usually filled with faith and free of presumption.

We will flesh these factors out tonight and put them into practice as we pray together.

See Ya'll Tonight!

Lash Yourself to the Local Church

Ben Cole's latest post involves Dr. Joel Gregory of Truett Seminary. Ben said that Dr. Gregory met with a group of Southwestern students and himself last fall at Pappadeaux' Seafood in Arlington, TX. Dr. Gregory gave them the same advice he gave a group I was in at Truett earlier this year.

Gregory told us - "Lash yourself to the local church. The Kingdom of God is not built on the backs of anything other than the small-membership church."

I would like to know what you think about that statement (setting aside all Baptist politics).

Monday's FAITH Focus

We had a wonderful week with Drs. Kevin Meador and Barry Landrum. The messages on prayer really stirred a number of people in our church. I have received calls, emails, and old fashioned personal comments about the impact of the services. Two of our young deacons are really passionate about leading the church in prayer. Wow! Prayer should fuel all that we do. This is vital to our church growing into the missional community God would have us be.

"Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is still greater. He who has not learned well how to talk to God for men will never talk well - with real success - to men for God." E.M. Bounds

"O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence - as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil - " Isaiah 64:1-2a

Baptist Parties

Jeremy Roberts just posted about two parties that are emerging in Baptist life. He was present as Dr. Frank Page preached in chapel at Southwestern Seminary. He placed Page in one party and Paige Patterson in the other. So now we have the "i" and "no i" parties or the Page and Paige parties, etc. Roberts created party titles that had to do with wine drinking and beer abstaining. I think a better system would be the "Strong Conservative and Conservative But" parties.
The Strong Conservative label was coined by Ronnie Floyd. Conservative Buts say things like: I am conservative but -
I'm not mad about it.
this is crazy.
I don't want the SBC to become any more narrow.
this method is ungodly.

I am a Conservative But - it could be worse.

Off the Record: Commentary on the Journal of the Mississippi Baptist Convention

Here are a few items of interest in this week's Record.

Board sends record budget to messengers
The MBCB will be sending a record budget to messengers next month. According to William Perkins, "The proposed 2007 CP budget approved on August 29 by the convention board's executive committee and later by the full board, is $33,188,934 - $1,874,433, or 5.99%, higher than the twin 2005 and 2006 budget totals of $31, 314,491." This bold proposal will spark discussion but I believe will be passed by messengers. In additional action, The Conference Ministries Study Committee made a preliminary report on their work. Our prayers are with them.

Not to be taken seriously
William Perkins' editorial dealt with the humble educational background of outspoken Hollywood liberals. I would give him points for courage if he dealt with the humble educational background of some of the SBC's "Dr. Fundypreachers." The Baptist house is filled with a good deal of "worthless adulation." Maybe we should sweep our own porch.

Giving proves faith and love
David Michel wrote a great piece on missinal giving. We will be collecting the State Mission Offering in October. Pray about how you will participate.

Dr. Futral wrote, "The fourth and final thing that I have learned is that some people do not recognize, appreciate, or want any humor." He nailed that one. Keep writing Dr. Futral and I'll keep laughing. Your sense of humor is healthy. Some people just don't or won't get it.

Note: Will are still in revival at Truitt. Kevin Meador is doing a great job leading us to a more vital prayer life. Don't miss the rest of the services. Barry Landrum of West University Baptist (Houston, TX) will be our Sunday preacher. See you at church.

Praying Pastors?

I intended to post about Friedman's "flat world" theory so that I could discuss some of the implications for missions and evangelism with some of my pastor friends. I think I will eventually do this but I ran across a quote from E.M. Bounds that demanded attention. Bounds wrote:

"Too often Christian leaders shut themselves in their studies and become students - bookworms, Bible experts, and sermon makers. They are noted for literature, thought, and sermons; but the people and God, where are they? Out of heart, out of mind. Preachers who are great thinkers, great students, must be the greatest of pray-ers. If they are not, they will be the greatest of backsliders, heartless professionals, rationalistic, less than the least of preachers in God's estimate."

Pastor friends - What do you think?

Monday's FAITH Focus

I am reading an awesome book written by Mark Galli. Galli is a former Presbyterian minister and currently is the managing editor of Christianity Today. He titled his book,"Jesus Mean and Wild: The Unexpected Love of an Untamable God." Galli paints a ragged and lively picture of Jesus based on sections of Mark's gospel.

Eugene Peterson wrote a forward that was worth the price of the entire book. In it he said, "When evangelism is retooled as recruitment, then marketing strategies for making Jesus attractive to a consumer spirituality begin to proliferate. Words and aspects of Jesus that carry unwelcome connotations are suppressed. We emasculate Jesus."

WOW Eugene! Let's decide to present the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Anyting less betrays the biblical Jesus.

See Ya'll Tonight!

Preaching Preview for 9.10.06

Title: Missio Dei X
Background: Matthew 3-10

"...Jesus sent out with the following instructions:'Go..."

This Sunday will complete our ten week series on the mission of God. We will explore Jesus' missional example. He showed us how to relate to God as a son (or daughter), slave, and sender. He made disciples and called us to make them as well.

Evening Text: II Thessalonians 3:1-17

Note: We are beginning a new semester of E.T.S. We are working through Waylon Bailey's "Step by Step Through the Old Testemant." Join us in the library at 5:00 if you are interested.

Off the Record: Commentary on the Journal of the Mississippi Baptist Convention

This week's Record ran a number of articles on the anniversary of September 11. I think they did a good job of presenting the issue. In response to disasters we can all participate in Christian response. The Record announced two events that relate to this type of missional work.

Disaster Relief Training for Chaplains and Pastors - September 15

Strategic Focus Cities Initiative - September 27

You may want to mark your schedules. TMBC will be involved in both of these.

Wednesday's Word

"But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation." I Thessalonians 5:8 (NRSV)

We are discussing "the Deborah anointing" during our mid-week services. Deborah was gifted by God to prophesy, lead, fight, and worship. Tonight we will focus on spiritual warfare.

Paul Thigpen, founding director of the Stella Maris Center for Faith and Culture, wrote of spiritual warfare: "We must never underestimate the enemy. We must never forget the utter malice of his intentions, the ruthlessness of his assaults, the subtlety of his tactics. Yet we need not walk in fear, for God has provided mighty weapons for our ultimate victory in spiritual warfare." We will examine the mighty weopons tonight. Hope to see ya'.

Haggard on Friedman

Discipleship Journal ran an interview with Ted Haggard in the September/October issue. I have always seen Haggard as an irenic and wise voice within the evangelical community. His DJ interview did not disappoint.

Haggard was asked by DJ what book is challenging his thinking now. He responded, "The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. This and Friedman's other book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, demonstrate the incredible opportunity this generation has to advance the Great Commission. His analysis of the global situation should encourage us to pray and fast, build great local churches, and fund pioneer evangelism like never before."

Alvin Reid discussed Friedman on his blog, Books, Culture, and the Gospel - I have discussed him on Broken Steeple. Haggard's comment confirms the importance of his insights for missions.

Get it. Read it. Go to work!

Happy Labor Day TMBC!

We celebrate four years with Truitt Memorial Baptist this month. We have seen God do some wonderful things and can't wait to see what he has prepared for our future together.

Have a great Labor Day,

P.S. We will be having a "make-up" evening service for all our Ole Miss fans.

I'll load my own pictures, thank you!

Copyright © Broken Steeple