The MBC Pastor's Conference Report

Dr. Tony Lambert of Crossgates Baptist Church was elected as the 2008 Pastors' Conference President.

I think that the messages this year were among some of the best I have ever heard at the PC. Fred Luter, Fred Wolfe, James Merritt, and Steve Gaines all did a wonderful job preaching to preachers. Everyone seemed to be challenged and encouraged by them.

Fred Wolfe's message was awesome. He talked about the tradegy of the "offended spirit." The fictional older brother of Luke 15 had an offended spirit as did the flesh and blood Pharisees in the same chapter. They were angry, isolated, full of self-pity and quick to accuse. They were barren and joyless. Pastor Fred said that the cure for the offended spirit was spending time in God's presence. He illustrated his sermon with confessional stories about his struggles with the offended spirit and the healing he found in God's presence. I think we all needed what Fred Wolfe gave yesterday.

The conference was almost free of Baptist politics. The only exception was a few comments from Johnny Hunt who gave an otherwise wonderful sermon. I don't think most of the crowd got his digs; it's still 1975 down here for the most part. He talked about "bloggers that go online to talk about the temperature they like their brandy." The Baptist bloggers are boozers!? According to Hunt they are also on par with the dreaded Nicolaitans of Revelation 2:6. Hunt believes that the Nicolaitans were worldy, compromised Christians that lived close to the edges. "That's just what we've got now", he said. That's pretty tough stuff because Jesus hated the deeds of the Nicolatians and praised the Ephesians for hating them as well.

I think we should hate what Jesus hates and loves what he loves. However, I would not class the Baptists that opposed the alcohol resolution with the Nicolaitans. It's pretty clear from Hunt's tone the direction the SBC is heading in the next few years. Those opposed to the old hardline junta will be cast as boozin bloggers whose deeds Jesus hates. Feel free to hate them as well for you will be patted on the back.

I am looking forward to the next two days of convention. I hope to see you there.

28 comments:

Kevin Bussey said...

Why is it that fine preachers like Dr. Hunt have to stoop to that level. That wasn't necessary.

Matt Snowden said...

It was a little overkill but he did a fine job for the most part.

Perry McCall said...

"Pop a top, again!" and log on baby!! Give me a break. Like you said, I am an "odd duck" but this makes it hard to keep trying.

Matt Snowden said...

Keep on trying Perry. We need you.

anabaptistblogger said...

Help me out here guys, what is wrong in principle with saying that drinking alcohol is wrong?

Alcohol is abused by most who consume it and not the reverse. By abuse I mean that most who drink alcohol do so in order to feel the effects of intoxication. Are all alcohol users drunkards? No. But to allow alcohol into your body is to give the Devil a foothold.

If you look at the number of crimes committed while under the influence of alcohol then the negative effects of alcohol are only further illustrated. Murder, rape, sexual abuse of children, DWI homicide, etc. The Bible tells us to not even have the appearance of evil.

So what on earth is wrong with officially stating that abstinence from alcoholic beverages is our policy?

You can make the same arguments for why homosexuality is evil. Would we debate on the floor of the SBC that we have no place condemning homosexuality?

Granted, I get as frustrated as the next guy with nuisance resolutions, but Hunt and the fundies have the moral high ground here and we need to stand with biblical truth on this one.

Matt Snowden said...

Bill,

I don't drink alcohol and have voted to keep Rankin County, MS dry. I have enough Irish blood to make moderate drinking unwise. I don't have a beef with anyone that makes an argument for totally avoiding drinking as a wise course to travel. I do part company with someone that equates any consumption of alcohol with homosexuality or something of the sort. The suggestion that a Christian who drinks a glass of brandy is like a Nicolaitan is also a bit over the top.

I don't want the be on the side of drinking and I'm not. I just think we need a little perspective. John Piper speaks of total abstinence from alcohol as a, "restriction which the New Testament never imposes..." Others make good agruments to counter this but the point is if someone as conservative as John Piper makes this argument then it must not be that cut and dried. It should not be a test of fellowship or sign of orthodoxy.

Just some quick thoughts. How are things in Texas?

Perry McCall said...

Hey Bill,
The problem isn't stating that abstinence is a good and proper position. The problem is with the character attacks on those who take a differing position. Also, it is a problem of creating division and distraction. Hunt does the same exact thing toward those who hold to the doctrines of grace.

Wed. morning Dr. Shaddix made a reference to parents pleading with their children to not ever take the first drink. He promoted our long held belief in abstinence without any personal attacks on anybody. The greater virtue isn't creating an false barrier on a person's liberty. The greater virtue is in rejecting our liberty in the name of love for all of the true reasons that you stated in your comment. I wish he would have stated that we shouldn't drink alc. I wouldn't even mind too much if he would have said it is wrong to drink alc. in his opinion. But he didn't do that. At best, he implied that Jesus hates those who drink. That is why I have a very real problem with Dr. Hunt.

anabaptistblogger said...

Matt,

I am serving the Lord with all of my heart in Texas and raising a two children with another one on the way. Life is good. Thanks for asking.

The notion that homosexuality is more grossly sinful than alcoholism is what I find offensive here. How is homosexuality more sinful than alcoholism?

In the NT era there was no available clean drinking water. Wine was a necessary evil. The NT does not prohibit slavery either. Do you think we should be as tolerant of racism as we are drinking. Racism in moderation is okay, I guess.

I am not directing any of this at you personally but simply thinking out loud here.

Drinking leads to many evils. There are so many viable options for consumption why would any Spirit filled born again believer in Jesus Christ possibly take part in something that is so misused and abused. Alcohol is of the Devil I can personally attest to that from my own experiences with having misused and abused it. I am no better than anyone and in my own church I try to show much grace where I can. I do not think that what take place in the privacy of someone's home is very much in play, but I had I deacon who was out drinking in a restaurant or rumored to have gotten drunk on vacation, don't think for a minute that I would not say something to him about that.

More over, I do not see this as a test of fellowship. No one to my knowledge is saying that to join a Baptist church you have to sign a covenant saying you will not drink alcohol. As Baptist we are saying that abstinence is preferable and Alcoholic beverages are to be avoided.

Heck, even when I was running from the Lord, I would have told you while I was half drunk that drinking is a sin.

In Mexico drinking is no big deal, but smoking is seen as evil within the church. I would go on record as saying that smoking is sin.

Matt Snowden said...

Bill,

I'm glad to hear about your family. I've got one on the way as well. I'll keep you in my prayers.

As for the water thing - John 4:7

Perry McCall said...

Actually,
The most standard Baptist church covenant does require you to abstain in order to be a member. It may not be enforced but it doesn't change the covenant. BTW, this reason alone is enough to expect abstinence.

Also, I don't think I answered your question. I don't think there is anything wrong with saying drinking alchohol is wrong.

Matt Snowden said...

Perry,

I have seen truckloads of those covenants posted in fellowship halls. When we revised all our documents in Wanilla we changed the line about beverage alcohol to sins of the flesh. We did not do this to reduce the importance of alcohol but to elevate abstaining from a good many other sins we Baptists seem to celebrate.

John Piper does a great job dealing with church covenants and alcohol in the Broadman and Holman published book, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. Check out chapter 21.

anabaptistblogger said...

Matt,

Granted to say there was not available clean drinking water was an overstatement. But I am sure you will agree that clean water was not widely available and that the consumption of wine was more a matter of the limitation of choice, as opposed to today.

I repeat my question, given there are so many viable options for consumption, why would any Spirit filled born again believer in Jesus Christ possibly take part in something that is so misused and abused as drinking alcohol?

Matt Snowden said...

Bill,

I know Baptist deacons that drink wine on the advice of cardiologists. I think they are OK with the Lord.

I don't drink and will not be the apologist for alcohol but I do know of a number of other good things that are abused that I would not be willing to give up i.e. food, sex, talking, reading, etc. With that said, I'm not saying that alcohol is a good thing without careful qualification.

Just a note: I'll be teaching my kids through word and example that total abstintion is the best course of action.

Have a great day.

anabaptistblogger said...

Matt,

I am pretty sure that the overwhelming majority of people are not drinking alcohol at a doctors order. The same medical benefits are also available through drinking a glass of Welch's grape juice.

To say that food, sex, talking, reading, etc. are analogous to drinking alcohol is absurd. Food, sex, talking, reading, etc. have a proper use that is in no way a violation of Christian integrity. Alcohol is an intoxicant. An intoxicant is a type of spirit that controls the user, not unlike a demon possession. That is why they call them spirits. I would object in the same way to someone taking an anti-depressant who is not clinically depressed. Why? Because anything that we attempt to gain fulfillment through that Christ otherwise could have given us is a form of idolatry.

Moreover, Matt, do you care any less for the little children of others, than you do your own children? Why then would we as Baptist not want to try and teach other's children what we will be teaching our own? If you feel that you want to teach your kids abstinence then what objection should you have in wanting to teach everyone abstinence?

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

Okay, guys,

Mississippi is my home state, but I was not at the Pastor's Conference. I was roaming the streets of a major city in South America. I tend to do that on a daily basis. So I had to look for blogs and news sites to find out what happened in the MBC this year.

That being said, I believe I understand Bro. Snowden's dismay. He thinks Dr. Hunt went over the top, or under the table, or through the briars with his comments. Still, I like what Anabaptist is proporting in his comments. Please let me explain.

The day after Halloween is All Saints Day. It's the day of the dead. Down here men and women flock to the cemeteries. There they wine and dine and dance the day away. Drunkenness is woefully rampant. In fact, alcohol abuse is so common that it is one of our primary issues in this country from which I write. It's worse; the parents will begin offering booze to their kids as young as 12 years of age. Unlike the good Europeans who think you will adjust and learn to drink moderately, we have serious problems with alcoholism, alcohol-related deaths, alcohol-related sexual crimes, and other blights on society.

So when I hear that some of my Baptist brethren in the good ole US of A are beginning to be proponents of social drinking, I tend to want to lean harder to the right. The truth is, in almost 20 years of being overseas, I have seen a lot of evidence that the church is more comfortable with the current politically correct worldview, especially with the world's definition of tolerance, than it is with strong biblical standards. Perhaps Johnny Hunt embellished his statements. It's easy to do when you are already such an extroverted, flamboyant kind of preacher. But, as Anabaptist has said, was it necessarily a bad thing?

Matt Snowden said...

Everyone has probably said enough about this. Mississippi Kevin in South America got to the heart of it so I think we should let him have the last word.

God's blessings on your ministry.

jasonk said...

Anabaptist,
You are so far off the mark on this, I have trouble typing this response.
I was going to ask if you ever engage in sexual intercourse, but you already answered that with your statement that you have two children, and one on the way. Congratulations, by the way.
I am deeply offended that you would say that the majority of people who partake of alcohol abuse it. The absurdity of that statement is beyond contempt. It shows that you are living in a world that is out of touch with reality. Is alcohol abused by people? Of course, and the abusers get the headlines. But to say that most people who drink abuse it is simply wrong, at best. At worst, it reveals a deeply held prejudice in your heart.
Most people who engage in sexual intercourse are rapists. How does that sound to you? It is a false and inflammatory statement, but it is no different than what you said about people like me.
You give a pass to people who engage in sex, eating, or obsession with work or play, because you likely engage in those activities. You open your mouth to talk, and if you're like most people, you sometimes say evil things. It does not mean that all talking is a sin. You say sins related to talking are not as bad as the sin of consuming alcohol. But Jesus disagrees, according to the Bible. He said the tongue is an evil beyond all others. I've known Baptists who destroy lives with their loose tongues.
Do you ever medicate your body? A dose of NyQuil contains more alcohol than three beers. No wonder one pastor called NyQuil the only Southern Baptist approved alcoholic beverage.
I am a spirit filled, born again, Bible toting believer in Christ. I love Him more than some, because He has forgiven me of so much. Every so often, I like to drink a beer. Occasionally I will drink a glass of wine. You asked why. The answer is because it tastes good. Sure there are other options for a drink that tastes good, but I prefer the taste of a beer now and then. That, brother, does not make me a sinner. It does not lead me to rape, murder, drive a car, abuse my children, etc.
I suspect that if you were to do an inspection of the homes of your church members, you would find a good number of them feel as I do, and they must be hurt that their pastor would regard them as such vile sinners, simply because they drink a glass of wine or have a beer on occasion.

Matt Snowden said...

jasonk,

The Baptist drug of choice is chicken and dumplings. I need a twelve step for that one for sure.

jasonk said...

I hear you, brother :>)

anabaptistblogger said...

Jason,

I ran from my calling for 10 years. I have been employed as a bartender in one of the biggest bars in the state of Mississippi. I never did go through a 12 step program but I abused alcohol and drugs through misuse and down right prodigal living. I can assure you that I have very good information when it comes to alcohol. Now as a pastor I deal with the messes that alcohol leaves behind.

I also qualified my statement about abuse, as those who seek an intoxication from consuming alcohol.
Most who drink alcohol desire to have at least a minimal if not an altogether numbing effect from consuming alcohol. Drinking responsibly now a days simply means having designated driver. Society says as long as you do not drive get as loaded as you want. By the way, how does one go to a bar and drink more than one drink and then drive without breaking the law? The over whelming majority of people who frequent bars drink and drive while intoxicated. That puts innocent people at risk, not to mention themselves. Alcohol use has led to countless injuries and deaths on our nation's highways. Years of research confirm biblical warnings that alcohol use leads to physical, mental, and emotional damage (e.g., Proverbs 23:29-35); and the breakup of families and homes can be directly and indirectly attributed to alcohol use by one or more members of a family. The use of alcohol as a recreational beverage has been shown to lead individuals down a path of addiction to alcohol and toward the use of other kinds of drugs, both legal and illegal.

I never said that other sins were more excusable than drinking. What I said was as follows:

"To say that food, sex, talking, reading, etc. are analogous to drinking alcohol is absurd. Food, sex, talking, reading, etc. have a proper use that is in no way a violation of Christian integrity. Alcohol is an intoxicant. An intoxicant is a type of spirit that controls the user, not unlike a demon possession. That is why they call them spirits. I would object in the same way to someone taking an anti-depressant who is not clinically depressed. Why? Because anything that we attempt to gain fulfillment through that Christ otherwise could have given us is a form of idolatry."

I have given no one a pass on sin of any kind as you put it. And quite frankly I find you excuse for drinking to be in poor 'taste.'

jasonk said...

Anabaptist,
Are you employing humor when you say you find my excuse for drinking to be in poor taste?

I am glad you are over your addictions to alcohol and drugs. God is amazing, isn't He?

My assumption is that you are kidding when you say that alcohol is called "spirits" because it makes people act like they are demon possessed. Did you just make that up? I ask because the truth is that the words "spirits" and "liquors" come from similar Latin words, which mean liquid. It has absolutely nothing to do with demons. That is just a "preacherism." Those are extremely dangerous things to employ in your arguments, since you stand for truth.

You stated twice now that alcohol is a sin that is not on the same level as sins of the tongue, or overeating. I still don't get that.

Also, if the issue in Jesus' time was impure water, why didn't He just turn the water into pure water?

Finally, I do not wish to argue over the legitimacy of alcohol. I used to feel as you do, but came to the place where I realized I was focusing on the wrong things. I don't expect you to change how you feel. But the hypocrisy in your words is most troubling to me. When I drink a beer, it is not sin. You may not like it, or agree with it, but just because you don't like it, it doesn't make it a sin. As my mom used to say, "who died and left you boss?" :>)

Matt Snowden said...

Guys,

You can hash this out all night. I hope you don't.

I believe that abstaining from drinking is a wise decision. I also know that there are some very passionate and godly people that drink in moderation. I intend to show them kindness and ask others to do the same.

I am preaching through Romans now and am reading J. Theodore Mueller's translation of Luther's commentary. I think we are all in debt to at least one German beer drinker. He should remind us that this issue should not be a test of fellowship or orthodoxy.



Bill,
The Rebels has a rough week last week on the football field. You will be happy to know that the president has issued a new alcohol policy. We all know that moderation does not exist in Oxford, MS.

Eat some Texas BBQ for me. I love smoked hot link. Earl Campbell brand of course.

Have a great night!

jasonk said...

Matt,
Not only was he a beer drinker, but he was a bit gassy as well.
Didn't mean to over take your blog. I love reading your posts, and decided today would be the day I would chime in. Forgive me.

Matt Snowden said...

jasonk,

I'm glad you did and wish God's blessings on you. Come back any time. I'll be sure to check out you blog.

Bill,

I'm grateful for your two cents as well. You always give me something to think about. I'm praying for your new little one. I'm having a little boy.

Perry McCall said...

wow! I am never waiting until the end of the night before checking on this broken steeple again!!

Jason,
Bill and I are dear friends who came to know each other during our time of radical transformation after years of rebelling. I do not want to speak too much for him (Bill has never had a problem with speaking about anything:) but I would like to throw in a closing note. We were baptist boys drinking it up in bars making a killing off of baptist boys and girls. (how I wish that it had been only drinking it up) I don't think Bill was arguing that everyone who drinks abuses it. I can understand your reaction to that. However, we know by experience in the "real" world that people like you are not the norm. The issue is harder for me than it is for Bill. I don't want to say that someone can't. I do want to say that we shouldn't. I most certainly don't want preachers and convention leaders condemning people like you. I know that I am rambling and I apologize. So here it is. Bill and I were sinners of the highest order. We carry scars in our memories from the things we have done as well as the things we have seen. Esp. the things we have seen. Matt calls me an "odd duck" and I accept that. I am a Memphis boy who likes Joshua. I am not trying to give an argument. I am just trying to explain why we "know" that this stuff is so dangerous. Praise God that we are saved by grace and grace alone!

jasonk said...

Perry,
Thank you for your gracious response. I appreciate where you came from, and where you are now. I too have been saved from much, and can understand why you and Bill are so against the abuse of alcohol. I am too. Your sincerity is not in doubt, and that is a good thing!

My argument is not that people should be allowed to abuse alcohol, of course, just that drinking in and of itself is not wrong, either from a legal standpoint, or a biblical standpoint. The abusers, the partiers, the "MTV Spring Break" types get all the attention, when the fact is that the vast majority of people in the world do not abuse it.
When Bill, who is my Christian brother, said that most people who drink are abusers, it struck a nerve, because I know that to be untrue. That's it. No hard feelings.
Thanks!

Matt Snowden said...

Way to go guys. You just demonstrated Christian brotherhood of a high order. God has been really good to all of us. I hope you have a great weekend and please remember Ted Haggard and his family in your prayers.

Perry McCall said...

Jason,
To be clear, I do not consider your position or actions to be sinful. Enjoyed meeting you!

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