Psalm 119:73

Steven Wesley Snowden (Wes)

February 26, 2007

11:03 a.m.

7 lbs. 15 oz. 21 inches

The Three Amigos of the Borderland?: Al Mohler, Stan Norman, and Roger Olson

I've been preaching through the book of Romans on Sunday nights and have come to chapter 14. In light of my bible reading and Roger Moran's recent crusade, my thoughts have turned to Christian cooperation. Paul was working really hard in Romans 14 to keep Christians from acting like Baptists. My question now is, "can Baptists act like Christians?"

When I read Romans 14 I immediately think of Al Mohler's theological triage theory. Perry McCall reminded me not long ago that Stan Norman, our old professor at NOBTS, presented the same type of system in one of his passionate lectures. I am now a student at Truett Seminary/Baylor University. I've had the pleasure of being around Roger Olson. His teaching includes the categories of dogma, doctrine, and belief. Yep - the triage. This beautiful consistency has me thinking about the possibility of genuine cooperation within the Baptist community. What would it take to foster genuine missional cooperation between a diverse group of Baptist Christians? My proposal is a DMZ along the border of doctrine and belief - a kind of forth category. Let me explain.

Al Mohler is a very conservative Baptist that takes a reformed position on the doctrines of grace. Stan Norman is very similar. They both are complimentarians when it comes to gender and are supporters of the resurgence/takeover. Roger Olson is a progressive evangelical Baptist. He was raised Pentecostal and even taught at Oral Roberts Univeristy for a brief season. He is an active member of Calvary Baptist Church, Waco, TX. This church is pastored by Julie Pennington-Russel. Dr. Olson is an Arminian. Dr. Olson is a Yankee (but a nice one). These guys are different. These guys are the same.

I don't know Al Mohler. I have only been in the same room with him once. 1000 other people were in that room. I was a student of both Stan Norman and Roger Olson. I do know them. I can attest to their differences. I don't think they would attend the same church. I can also attest to their deep sameness. Each man gives every indication that he has a passionate love for Christ and His church. They share a common commitment to Baptist identity and the Baptist missionary ethos. They are both brilliant and love students. They are the same when it really counts. Can they share a denomination? I think they can.

The SBC is in a raging mess right now because an angry junta wants to treat every theological issue as a fight for dogma - first order concerns. If we create a DMZ between doctrine and belief we can expand our cooperation without grinding theological integrity to dust. Stan Norman and Roger Olson can dwell in the same Baptist denomination if the missional ethos allows some doctines to define local congregations but not denominational cooperation. There are a host of issues that divide us that could and should be placed in this borderland. Norman and Olson agree on the categories. We can agree that many issues fall between them. Only disagreements on, doctrines approaching dogma, should keep us for partnering for the mission of God.

What do you think?

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. Romans 14:10 (ESV)

A Guild of Donkeys

I just finished listening to Dr. Timothy George's talk given at the Baptist Identity Conference at Union University. It was a wonderful lecture on the current needs of our Baptist fellowship. He called us to mine the Christian heritage (retrival for renewal), to particularity in the service of unity and to humility in the presence of the holy. I think the irenic nature manifest in Dr. George and David Dockery is the only real hope for a Southern Baptist future.

Dr. George closed his lecture with a quote form the theolgian Karl Barth on the occasion of his 80th birthday celebration. He told those honoring him that he was just a donkey bearing the message of Christ. Dr. George said that we are at the core just a guild of donkeys. It's at word we need to hearken to for it is high time to tremble.

The King of Bill Carey Bible College

The Baptist Record reports that R. Thomas King has been anointed the head of William Carey Univeristy. My prayers are with Dr. King in this new position.

I was a student of Bennie Crockett (@Carey) and Argile Smith (@ NOBTS). My hopes were that one of them would be asked to take this job. I know both of them would have been increadible leaders for the university. I don't have any personal knowledge of Dr. King but wish him and Carey the best.

The Evangelist-Pastor

Several months ago my friends at the Kettering Fellowship and I had an extended discussion about the role of the "evangelist" in the NT. I read a quote from Darrell Guder today that I think profoundly impacts this discussion. Let me know what you think.

At the heart of these basic functions of the ministry of the Word stands the work of the "evangelist." For many years, I pondered the term at the center of this five-dimensional definition of the ministry of the Word that equips the saints for the church's mission. If one understands the term "evangelist" too narrowly, that is, if it is restricted only to communication of the gospel to unbelievers, then it is difficult to see how this ministry "equips to saints." If we understand the necessity of the church's continuing conversion, however, then the function of evangelist is essential to the church's missional equipping. The apostolic and prophetic ministry of the Word must constantly evangelize the community so that it can be about its work, its evangelizing witness. The community should experience the constant challenge of the gospel to our reductions and conformities. The gospel itself, through the proclamation and exposition of the Word, will uncover our need for conversion as the Spirit is faithful and makes that miracle happen.

Our congregations today urgently need to be ministered to by evangelist-pastors. That does not mean that they should hear a sermon every Sunday about accepting Christ. They should hear, instead, the constant and empowered message of good news which calls all Christians to continuing conversion, to growth and healing in the life of faith, and to greater and more radical obedience as sent-out witnesses.

Shepherds after God's own heart

And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. Jeremiah 3:12 (ESV)

I am preaching a series of messages during our mid-week services based on the confessions of Jeremiah. I love the give and take of these confessions. Jeremiah had what Dallas Willard calls, "a conversational relationship with God." During the Divine - mortal dialogues we see God conforming Jeremiah to the pattern of His heart. In the second confession (15:10-21) we see three traits emerge that are essential for servant-leaders in any era.

1. The Shepherd's identity and purpose were in God. (15:16)

2. The Shepherd ate God's word. (15:16)

3. The Shepherd was willing to sit alone. (15:17)

Have you seen the need for these traits in your life and ministry? Are they formed in hardship? What do you think?
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