Why I Cannot Support the Barber/Yarnell Resolution on Regenerate Church Membership – and Neither Should You

Tim Brister —  May 1, 2008 — 79 Comments

Tom Ascol began blogging in the summer of 2005, and one of the first things he began talking about was the need for integrity in church membership (for example, see here, here, here, here, here, and here). During this time, he drafted the first resolution regarding a call to regenerate church membership which was sent to the resolutions committee for consideration at the 2006 Annual Meeting in Greensboro (also see here). Unfortunately, It never made it out of the committee, and when asked why that was the case, the chairman said that inactive church members are the best prospects for evangelism (don’t ask me to explain that line of thinking–even Mark Dever had to chime in). Nevertheless, Tom again submitted his resolution on integrity in church membership in 2007 (San Antonio), and again it failed to make it out of the committee (also see here and here). This time the excuse was that it infringed upon the autonomy of local churches.

It is now three years later, and this year there are last least three resolutions regarding regenerate church membership being sent to the resolutions committee. Tom’s resolution again has been submitted with one addition and an update on the statistics, and his resolution has gained considerable support already (I encourage you to support this resolution should you be inclined to do so). What is different this year is that Malcolm Yarnell, together with Bart Barber, has submitted another, similar and yet distinctly different, resolution on regenerate church membership. While I appreciate the efforts and agree with what is written, I feel that it is important to make the case as to why I can NOT support this resolution, and why you should not either. Let’s begin.

1. The Yarnell/Barber resolution denies the woeful state of affairs that has brought us to this point. In neglecting to mention the current state of membership according to the Annual Church Profiles (ACP), they do not provide the rationale for even bringing this resolution about. Not addressing and owning up to the failures of our past will not help us to pursue regenerate church membership in the future. The history we are seeking to make simply will not happen unless we are accountable for the history that we have made.

2. The Yarnell/Barber resolution dismisses the call to repentance for our unfaithfulness to the gospel and unhealthiness of our churches. Apparently, Yarnell does not believe that we have lost our focus on the gospel (see comments), and the call to repentance is simply unnecessary. However, after the gauntlet was dropped last week that the SBC is in decline, many Southern Baptists have joined in the call to repent and reorient ourselves around the gospel. Simply put, the first word of the gospel (repent) should be the first word of the resolution, and a refusal to issue a call to repentance is tantamount to a refusal to call our churches back to gospel faithfulness. Fundamentally, the issue is the gospel, and our repentance in humbly returning to regenerate church membership is but one expression that we are seeking to refocus our efforts in our churches to return to the gospel. If there is no call to repent, there can be no response to return.

3. Closely related to reason #2, all those who endorse this resolution on regenerate church membership do so at no cost to themselves. So you sign on to a resolution upholding regenerate church membership–what does that mean? Is that the end-all-be-all? HOWEVER, if there is a call to repentance, humility, and return to gospel faithfulness, then it can be understood that everyone signing on to endorse the resolution would themselves commit to repentance in the practice of their own local church respectively. Yet, as the Yarnell/Barber resolution stands, the endorsements represent only a theoretical agreement with regenerate church membership.

4. Again, in concert with my previous reasons, the Yarnell/Barber resolution offers no call to taking practical steps to the practice of regenerate church membership. There is no action plan other than to pass this resolution. Some have expressed concern that they just want the discussion to be over, as it is an embarrassment and sore spot in the SBC. If the resolution is passed, and that in and of itself is the goal, then we have utterly failed. We would be better off having another failed resolution than one that is passed but with no action plan. If the discussion ends with no repentance, no change, no returning to gospel faithfulness, then all this will end up as political grandstanding and an even greater embarrassment.

5. The Yarnell/Barber resolution is being submitted by individuals whose churches themselves do not practice regenerate church membership. Methinks that if you are going to make a resolution on an issue, then it would be incumbent upon you to be resolved yourself before making the call to others. During the years 2000-2006, both churches (that is, Yarnell’s home church and the church where Barber pastors) averaged 30% of their total membership in attendance on any given Sunday (31% for Yarnell, 30% for Barber). That means 7 out of 10 who have joined in covenant membership are regularly breaking the covenant by not attending regularly in worship (much less participate in Sunday School). During those same years, Yarnell’s home church added 1,067 via baptism and “other additions” while seeing an attendance growth of only 22. Doing the math, you will find that the attendance growth represents only 2% of the total additions during the same seven years (in other words, for every 100 that joined the church in this period, only 2 are accounted for in attendance). Barber’s situation is slightly better, adding 331 via baptism and “other additions” with an attendance growth of 50 (coming to a percentage of 16%). Now, I don’t want to sound harsh, but can we really take a resolution on regenerate church membership seriously when the leaders proposing this resolution reflect more of the problem instead of a solution? I will leave that for you to ponder.

6. During recent weeks, this resolution was attempted to be reconciled with Tom’s resolution. When Tom offered his suggestions, they were not accepted. Prior to this, however, a large swath of denominational elites were in an email exchange, to the exclusion of the very person who is most responsible for bring this emphasis about in recent history. The fact that so many of these higher-ups would be jumping on the bandwagon late in the game begs one to wonder whether this is a matter of political expediency or a matter we are willing to take real action. Where was everyone in 2006? In 2007? I am not accusing Yarnell and Barber for hijacking the issue, but the fact that they have produced a soft-ball version without reference to the gospel, prescriptive steps, or a call to denominational humility forces me to question the purpose and end goal of such a resolution.

7. The prevalence of unregenerate church members reflect unhealthy churches. If we want to see the SBC grow, we need healthy churches. To get there, we must first own up to where we have been (honesty). We must then accept the fact that this is something that has happened under our watch (humility) and seek to bring about change. Perhaps the reason why repentance and humility is not considered in the Yarnell/Barber resolution is because we are pointing the finger in our own face. Are we willing to call even the most heralded denominational leaders and pastors to repentance for the sake of healthy, biblical congregations? As we continue to experience numerical decline, nominal Christianity, and disappearance of our Baptist identity, are we going to continue to deny the state of affairs that we have brought about? The vision brought about by Ascol’s resolution seeks to bring a change of course, and I do not see that in this resolution.

8. Lastly, there are those of you who have been issuing the call for a “Gospel Resurgence” in the SBC and have found this resolution worthy of your approval. Allow me to offer a caution here. If we separate the issue of regenerate church membership from the recovery of gospel faithfulness, we are only offering a band-aid cure to a much deeper problem. The gospel will not “surge” out of churches where less than 30% bear any evidence that it is “the power of God unto salvation.” The Yarnell/Barber resolution at best assumes we have no need to return to gospel faithfulness and at worst undermines it. Regenerate church membership begins with “regenerate”–and if we do not get the gospel right in our churches, we cannot expect to get church membership right either.

These are eight reasons why I cannot support the Barber/Yarnell resolution on regenerate church membership. Many have expressed their support, and I do not fault them for doing so. But let it be known that, while indeed there are some similarities in these two resolutions, there are marked and substantial differences in them as well–differences such that preclude my support and perhaps yours as well.

One of my biggest concerns is not who gets the credit for what resolution passes or whatever; we can have all the big names, websites, and amen corners to cheer on these resolutions, but if they end on the floor of Indy and not on the floor of our churches, then we have utterly failed. If we continue long after this in our denominational pride and business-as-usual mentality, then we have missed the whole point of this discussion to begin with. In the weeks leading up to Indy, things will be heating up as usual, and sides will be taken on issues. It is my hope and prayer that we will not play politics with our churches, pander to political pressure, or compromise on our commitment to be gospel-centered churches. Nowhere is the gospel more evidently seen in our churches than in the members who have “called upon the name of the Lord.”

And may they all say, “When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.”

Even so.

___________________

See also:

* Tom Ascol’s 2008 Resolution on Integrity in Church Membership
* Nathan Finn’s article, The Best Resolutions Are Worthless Without Action

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  • http://sbctoday.blogspot.com Tim G

    Could it be that we feel that it is inapropriate to ask forgiveness for something we DID NOT do? Those who have inflated the numbers should do as you suggest. Lumping everyone into that group is not only disrespectful but also futile.

    This is the big difference!

  • http://www.BaptistTheology.org MalcolmYarnell

    Timmy,

    You demonstrate a singular inability to misunderstand or misrepresent me and my theology. Of course, the fact that you have engaged in personal attacks on me in the past should have disabused me of the hope for a respectful dialogue is apparently futile. As for your second point, notice that even Tom Ascol does not consider his resolution to be a statement about the salvation that the Gospel brings. Bart Barber and I are more than willing to encourage Tom in his separate efforts for a common goal. Your efforts to create a division between brothers in Christ who have the same goal are singularly unappreciated and damaging to the efforts to help our convention of churches bring about a restoration of concern for Regenerate Church Membership. I beg you to stop your divisive work.

    In Christ,
    Malcolm Yarnell

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Malcolm,

    Personal attacks? Simply repeating what you have stated in a public forum does not a personal attack make. No divisiveness here my friend. Just simply stating the facts. Tom offered suggestions to amend your resolution, and you did not receive them. Therefore, there is two resolutions. Whatever divisiveness that might be happened long before May 1, and I am only stating the fact that many should see the differences which are worth considering.

    As I have stated elsewhere, to which you have admitted, you have an altogether different vision when it comes to the SBC–a vision that precludes the call to repentence or return to gospel faithfulness. I am willing to divide over those issues, having a vision different from yours.

    If we want to “help our convention of churches bring about a restoration of concern for regenerate church membership,” then we must first be willing to own up to our past and repent of it. Furthermore, the help we need is not merely the passing of a resolution, but change that has traction in our local churches. Your resolution offers neither, and should it passed, the churches will remain unaffected.

    Malcolm, with all due respect, if this is such an important issue to you, then why is it that the church where you place your membership have only 30% of their members showing up regularly in worship? Why is it that only 2% of those who have joined the church over a seven year period of time have been accounted for in the most basic requirements of church covenant?

  • http://www.consumingchristianity.com Yogi Taylor

    I really enjoyed this… it is one of the best (and most relative post, to me) that you have written. I thought that #5 was an extremely powerful point, and I would add that #3 & #5 are typical of the way SBC churches think (not all but most) and act… This resolution will more than likely make it, whereas Tom’s would more than likely not. Sad, but true!

    This was worth the read and I will pray that many of our SBC Pastors take serious the call for regenerate membership as we accept responsibility for our numbers driven greed in the past.

    Thank you, Yogi

  • http://www.BaptistTheology.org MalcolmYarnell

    Timmy,

    If you wish to come visit my church and talk to my pastor and me about our church, I invite you to do so. Indeed, I would welcome the opportunity to get to know you and for you to get to know me and my church. Then, perhaps then, you could speak with some sense of authority.

    Now, as to the other issue, my brother, how would you feel if somebody did this to you?

    http://timmybrister.com/2007/11/29/rounding-up-the-reformed-ragamuffins/

    Finally, please note that you have misrepresented my statement on the Gospel. Please re-read carefully all that I said in the context in which it was said.

    I bring these things to your attention, Timmy, because there are people that both of us respect that speak highly of you as a Christian gentleman. However, it is difficult to equate these testimonies on your behalf with some of your public statements. If you wish to call me and speak privately, we can certainly do so.

    In Christ,
    Malcolm

  • Matt

    Tim G,

    Were you against the SBC apologizing for slavery? That was also something that you did not personally do.

    The SBC as a whole needs to repent over the issue of integrity in church membership. Even those few churches that have not been a part of the problem should be involved in corporate repentance. If you choose to associate with a body that collectively has a problem, then it is appropriate for you to join with that body in repenting.

    Timmy,

    Could you please post the text of the back-room email exchange that led to the competing resolution by those who do not practice integrity in church membership themselves?

  • http://lesliepuryear.blogspot.com Les Puryear

    Timmy,

    I read Dr. Yarnell’s first sentence in his comment to you and went “Huh?!”. Perhaps I’m having a bad day today or Dr. Yarnell’s words are somewhat confusing. Dr. Yarnell said “You demonstrate a singular inability to misunderstand or misrepresent me and my theology.”

    So what I’m understanding Dr. Yarnell to say is that you have an “inability” to “misunderstand or misrepresent me”. In other words, you don’t have the ability to misunderstand or misrepresent him. If that’s a correct interpretation, then what’s the problem? Could it be that the problem is Dr. Yarnell’s inability to communicate clearly?

    I don’t have a dog in this hunt, but I thought Dr. Yarnell’s statement to be strange and confusing. But perhaps it’s just me. :)

    Les

  • http://www.BaptistTheology.org MalcolmYarnell

    Les,

    Sorry about that. It should have said “ability” rather than “inability.” You should be an editor.

    Dr. Yarnell

  • http://www.camelcrossing.net Camel Rider

    Can I interrupt the fist fight for a second? This is why we’re in trouble. We all know the truth. Tom Ascol presented this resolution and it was a good one. Now the BI guys have rewritten it and are wanting to push it through becuase the every day SB pastor may not like Tom and the BI are more likeable. This is called passive aggressive and is very manipulative.

    Are the churches being pastored by guys signing this resolution currently practicing regenerate membership? What the heck is it? Why don’t churches just start from scratch, each person has to give their testimony, those that are realy saved can join. So the next question is…..how we do determine if someone is truly a Christian. Are they going to have say certain key words? What if they’re Calvinist? What if they believe their saved but believe they can lose their salvation? What if they like to drink wine with dinner and speak in tongues in private? Will we deny them membership?

  • http://www.BaptistTheology.org MalcolmYarnell

    Camel Rider,

    There is no fist fight here, and no underhanded attempts of which I am aware.

    You have good questions. Ultimately, only the individual churches can answer them. Our hope is that there will be a restoration of regenerate church membership in our churches. Tom Ascol has been leading this charge for a long time. We are coming alongside him in that effort, but just riding a different horse (or, in your case, camel).

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Malcolm,

    The authority from which I speak, sir, is the facts–the same facts and authority Baptist Press uses when mentioning a church or pastor regarding denominational issues. Playing the authority card does not diminish the truth that you are pushing a resolution that is not being practiced where you live. This issue has been raised on a denominational level for at least three years. This is not something new, and there has been sufficient time where it could have been addressed at your church prior to the resolution. Imagine someone pushing a resolution on abstinence who drinks a glass of wine for dinner every night. It just doesn’t measure up.

    Furthermore, you have charged me of misunderstanding and misrepresenting your theology. I would like to know just when and where I have done what you are charging me of. If you are speaking of the post you have mentioned earlier, I would encourage folks to see what I have written, viz., a point-by-point summary of what you stated in your presentation at the Building Bridges conference. Anyone who reads my blog and listens to your message (and/or reads your paper) can discern for themselves whether what you said was entirely inappropriate and unnecessary.

    I have no problem with talking with you in person, but the resolution before us as Southern Baptists is a public matter worthy of public discussion. Therefore, I felt it was worthwhile to express my concerns and disagreements. If the broader public finds them unmerited or illegitimate, then I welcome their critique. If they find my reasoning agreeable, then I hope you welcome their critique as well.

  • gavinbrown

    Dr. Yarnell,

    I don’t understand why you don’t just support Dr. Ascol’s resolution. A non-Calvinist with your influence could finally get this thing to a vote.

    That seems the best way forward, since you both seem to be in agreemet about the importance of regenerate church membership.

  • http://www.gavinbrown.wordpress.com Gavin Brown

    Dr. Yarnell,

    One more thing…I think it would be helpful if you stated why you favor a new resolution over Dr. Ascol’s old one.

    Thanks,
    Gavin

  • http://www.BaptistTheology.org MalcolmYarnell

    Timmy,

    If you cannot see where you have been disrespectful, then there is nothing more I can say. If you cannot read what I said carefully, then there is nothing more I can say. My brother, respectful theological conversation is always helpful. Misrepresentation and personal attacks and divisiveness is simply not. I have pointed out the problem. If you do not believe it exists, then so be it. I pray that your heart will be softened. We need your keen mind, but with a soft heart.

    Gavin,

    Dr. Ascol’s resolution, as it is now, has much to merit it. At the time the new one was crafted, we were seeking a consensus statement. We moved forward on that basis.

  • http://www.BaptistTheology.org MalcolmYarnell

    I must return to my duties. Thank you for the opportunity to try to work with you, Timmy. May Christ be glorified in all of our churches, none of which are perfect … yet.

  • http://www.hereiblog.com johnMark

    Timmy,

    I will just say “Amen!” to this post. It may very good sense and you’ve stated and established your position well.

    I truly am at a loss as to what Dr. Yarnell’s objections and charges are. It would seem the proper thing to do if someone doesn’t understand why another is offended is to be very specific as to what constitutes the alleged offense(s).

    It’s amazing how your heart was judged as needing softening. Not that in our sanctification we all don’t continue that need, however, the above statement seems rather ambiguous.

    Appreciate it!

    Mark

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Malcolm,

    I have stated my case, point by point. I did not attack your character or was disrespectful to you. Time and again, you have stated that I have misunderstood you, misrepresented you, and now I have disrespected you, and not one time have you substantiated your charges against me. I disagree with your resolution and provided lengthy reasons why. You don’t like my arguments, so you offer baseless charges against me. Is that how it works?

    You state that you were seeking to craft a consensus statement. Tom’s resolution not consensus enough for you (apparently his resolution has considerable support as seen in the comments of his post)? No consensus to call for repentance? No consensus to seek correction for our dishonest reporting of statistics? No consensus on the need to take practical steps to recover regenerate church membership? What your resolution does is neuter the need for change, and should it pass, it will inoculate the convention with the satisfaction that a resolution on this issue was praised and passed.

    I don’t know how to respond to your continual charges that I fail to offer “respectful theological conversation.” I have welcomed conversation from folks of all theological stripes, backgrounds, and opinions, and those who have faithfully read my blog can bear witness to that fact. What you want is for me to capitulate to your convictions and deny my conscience, thereby calling that being respectful. I could just as well call your responses as whining in the same way you call my comments being “divisive.” What gives? The fact is, you are intolerant of anyone who disagrees with you, and a coherent, articulated position that disagrees with your resolution is prima facie deemed disrespectful and divisive. That I find disappointing.

    Now, should you take me up on the merits of my arguments, I would certainly consider your commentary, but to this point, you have failed to do so. Rather, you are trying to read the messenger without first addressing his message.

    I do thank you for taking the time to talk about this issue as I sincerely believe it is important to both of us. While we may happen to disagree on how to proceed with our convictions, I trust we can do so with a passion for the churches and a commitment to speak the truth in love to one another.

  • http://www.BaptistTheology.org MalcolmYarnell

    Timmy,

    You have apparently not followed the words carefully. However, so that you can do so, here it is again:

    1. Disrespectful. Notice the picture.

    http://timmybrister.com/2007/11/29/rounding-up-the-reformed-ragamuffins/

    2. Misrepresentation. You have drawn logical conclusions not founded in the statement you referenced.

    You said, “Apparently, Yarnell does not believe that we have lost our focus on the gospel (see comments), and the call to repentance is simply unnecessary.” You then linked to Ed Stetzer’s blog.

    3. Divisiveness.

    First, read your current blog post.

    Second, note that my complaints to you are not about your theological disagreement with me. You are welcome to disagree with me, but please do not misrepresent me. Notice, for example, that you have now accused me of being “intolerant.” Yet, all the while, I have consistently sought to help you see how we can work together.

    I am truly at a loss as to how to respond to your repeated disrespect, misrepresentation, and divisiveness.

    Does any of this make sense? If not, then perhaps this request will: Please treat me with respect as your brother in Christ, or at least, as a fellow human being made in the image of God.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Malcolm,

    We apparently are spinning the wheels here. However, I will once again attempt to address your charges.

    1. Regarding disrespect, you refuse to consider the content of the post and choose to miss the main point. Like anyone who follows words carefully, they get the main point of what the author is saying, not try to emphasize on what the author is not saying. In your attempts to state that I have been disrespectful, you have failed to judge my post in the context and spirit in which it was written.

    2. Regarding misrepresentation, the pertinent comments which speak to the fact that you have an altogether different vision–one that does not believe a need to recover gospel faithfulness–include,

    From Stetzer’s blog:

    Why should we assume that the Conservative Resurgence has not led to a Great Commission Resurgence in the hearts of conservative Southern Baptists? Perhaps there is a passion for the Great Commission that is already existing in our churches. . . . Exactly who among our churches has lost their focus upon the gospel? Is the implication that somehow our churches have forsaken the gospel?

    From Ascol’s blog:

    Yes, sir, repentance and faith are the first words in the Gospel! The SBTC resolution does not assume that the churches of Jesus Christ have lost the Gospel. Otherwise, why would we call them churches?

    Now, exactly just how and where my conclusions misrepresent your beliefs I know not. Stating your opinion without justification is not a compelling retort.

    3a. What do you mean read by current blog post? So that equates divisiveness? I can look at the sky, but that does not mean it is raining.

    3b. Yes, I do believe you are intolerant of anyone who disagrees with you. You have without justification accused me of being divisive and disrespectful. Where have you “consistently sought to help me see how we can work together?” I am looking, but perhaps in all the wrong places. You seem to think you are on higher ground, inherently deserving my allegiance, desiring to “help me see”. I honestly have not found anything you have stated as helpful to the discussion.

    Malcolm, you have now made numerous comments without once dealing with the merits of my blogpost. Instead you repeat the mantra that I am being disrespectful, misrepresenting you, and being divisive. This is getting old – fast.

    I have tried, time and again, to respond to each of your concerns and comments with due respect and fair consideration. You clearly think otherwise. At this point, I do not think we are going to agree. I am not convinced of your charges, and you have failed to address the rationale of my article. With that said, perhaps it is best to leave it there.

  • Scotty

    Timmy,

    Your post is a good one. Protests to the contrary, Dr. Yarnell’s many posts on other forums satisfy me that your conclusion regarding his views is valid, unless he has repudiated them. Further, his diversion from the issue at hand to his assertion of personal grievance at your disrespect is silly. (His outrage at “misrepresentation and divisiveness” is jaw droppingly amazing for anyone who has followed his posts over the past couple of years.) The issue remains why he and others behind this resolution didn’t get on board with Tom’s. His answer “we were seeking a consensus statement” is no answer at all and only raises more questions. What were the objections? Why was Tom not even part of the discussion? Why were his suggestions rejected? Without knowing details we are left to draw our own conclusions. One explanation that comes to mind is that the problem was supporting Tom — not his resolution. By offering another resolution the issue can be supported and Tom not — and all at the same time. A two-fer! I freely admit this is a logical conclusion drawn on my part with no substance in what Dr. Yarnell has said here, but it is one which I believe fits the facts. It can be easily refuted by some cogent explanation from the crafters which can be considered on its own merits.

    Regarding http://timmybrister.com/2007/11/29/rounding-up-the-reformed-ragamuffins/

    I want to thank Dr. Yarnell for his reference and reminder. I thought the post AND the picture were appropriate, applicable and right on given his paper and comments.

    Keep the faith brother.

  • D.L. Kane

    “I pray that your heart will be softened. We need your keen mind, but with a soft heart.” I don’t pretent to know Malcom, however based on his posts, it would appear that he is way too sensitive to open honest disagreement and criticism. It is the Truth that we should be desiring even if it stings a little.

    Hebrews 6:9-12“The writer to the Hebrews is calling us by his example to grow up and to take the risks of love. He is also calling us to be less easily offended. And less easily hurt. We have a massive foundation for our salvation in the death of the Son of God and we have an advocate in heaven more powerful and more compelling than any accuser on earth. We should be the freest of all people to listen to criticism and take it into account and not be wounded or self-pitying or resentful.” (Author unknown).

    Just listen to these lines from the Book of Proverbs:

    “Better is open rebuke from a friend than hidden love.”

    “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”

    “Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear.”

    “Rebuke a discerning man, and he will gain knowledge.

    ”“A rebuke impresses a man of discernment.”

    “He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.”

    “Rebuke a wise man and he will love you.“

    I know (from personal experience) that Timmy does not react to criticism “emotionally” but he considers everything and looks for even the smallest grain of truth from which he might grow and learn. Does that mean he has a hard heart. I think not!

  • http://www.swbts.edu/faculty/gwelty Greg Welty

    Mr. Brister,

    Your blog post against the Yarnell-Barber resolution is simply teeming with fallacies. I say that as one who wholeheartedly endorses both the Ascol resolution, and the one you critique here.

    You say:

    “1. The Yarnell/Barber resolution denies the woeful state of affairs that has brought us to this point. In neglecting to mention…”

    This is an argument from silence. You infer from the fact that the resolution “neglects to mention” X, that therefore the resolution “denies” that X is the case. But that is no better a piece of reasoning than: “Timmy neglects to mention the five points of Calvinism in this blog post. Therefore Timmy denies the five point of Calvinism.” Indeed, in this comment of mine, I shall neglect to mention that the sky is blue. Does it follow that I deny the sky is blue?

    You say:

    “2. The Yarnell/Barber resolution dismisses the call to repentance for our unfaithfulness to the gospel and unhealthiness of our churches.”

    Again, this is a fallacious inference. As you yourself note, the resolution doesn’t so much as *mention* ‘repentance’. So how could it be construed as “dismissing” the call to repentance? You have to at least comment on a subject, to be said to dismiss it.

    You say:

    “3. Closely related to reason #2, all those who endorse this resolution on regenerate church membership do so at no cost to themselves. So you sign on to a resolution upholding regenerate church membership–what does that mean? Is that the end-all-be-all? HOWEVER, if there is a call to repentance, humility, and return to gospel faithfulness, then it can be understood that everyone signing on to endorse the resolution would themselves commit to repentance in the practice of their own local church respectively. Yet, as the Yarnell/Barber resolution stands, the endorsements represent only a theoretical agreement with regenerate church membership.”

    I quote this in full because nearly the whole paragraph displays uncharitable grasping at straws that is unworthy of those who embrace the doctrines of grace. You claim those who endorse Yarnell’s resolution “do so at no cost to themselves.” Except, of course, the text of that resolution repeatedly gives a call to *action*:

    “[we] humbly urge our beloved churches to renew their commitment to regenerate church membership…”;

    “we humbly urge our churches to renew their commitment to the congregation…”;

    “we humbly urge our churches to renew the practice of redemptive church discipline, reviewing their membership rolls and kindling fraternal kinship and accountability among all members of the congregation…”;

    “we humbly urge our churches to celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a meaningful memorial celebration according to the New Testament, and develop congregants capable of responsible self-governance…”;

    “we humbly encourage all of our beloved Southern Baptist churches to seek to fulfill the New Testament ideal of regenerate church membership…”;

    How in the world can you say that “the endorsements represent only a theoretical agreement with regenerate church membership”? What about *renewing your commitment*, *renewing the practice* of church discipline, *reviewing church membership rolls*, *kindling fraternal kinship and accountability*, *celebrating the Lord’s Supper*, *developing congregants* capable of responsible self-governance, or *seeking to fulfill* the NT ideal of church membership looks remotely “theoretical” to you? These are all calls to *action*, not mere motions to embrace a theory.

    What you have written is an egregiously inaccurate representation of the Yarnell resolution.

    I too wish the concept of repentance was in the Yarnell resolution. But it’s not. Nevertheless, it’s a good resolution: the ‘whereas’ clauses of the resolution are both true and relevant to our current situation, and the ‘resolved’ clauses of the resolution are appropriate calls to *action* (not mere ‘theory’). For you to say otherwise is simply incredible.

    And then you have the gall to claim that the Ascol resolution is superior because it, unlike the Yarnell resolution, asks for repentance and therefore action. Despite the fact that the Yarnell resolution also calls for action, repeatedly.

    You say:

    “4. Again, in concert with my previous reasons, the Yarnell/Barber resolution offers no call to taking practical steps to the practice of regenerate church membership. There is no action plan other than to pass this resolution.”

    Again, incredible! Did you read the resolution? Here are the “practical steps to the practice of regenerate church membership” that it urges:

    (1) “acknowledge the necessity of spiritual regeneration and Christ’s lordship for all members of local churches.” (In case you missed it, actually acknowledging the problem is one of the most practical first steps that can be taken.)

    (2) “renew their commitment to the congregation as a covenantal assembly entered only by immersion of those who evidence a credible profession of faith in Christ.” (Again, in case you missed it, the resolution is calling for integrity in the *practice* of believer’s baptism. Our *commitment* (as the resolution puts it) must change in this area, to a commitment to baptize only upon a credible profession of faith. If you don’t think that’s a specific, “practical step to the practice of regenerate church membership,” God help you.)

    (3) “renew the practice of redemptive church discipline, reviewing their membership rolls and kindling fraternal kinship and accountability among all members of the congregation.” (The idea that *reviewing their membership rolls* isn’t a practical step toward regenerate church membership just boggles my mind.)

    (4) “develop congregants capable of responsible self-governance.” (This isn’t practical? It doesn’t say “believe that we should develop”; it says… *develop*! That’s an urging to action.)

    In short, your fourth point here gives me reason to doubt that you’ve even given the text of the resolution a cursory glance.

    You say that this resolution has “no action plan.” Please read (1)-(4) again, and tell me that that’s not an action plan. It involves acknowledging the problem, renewing commitments, renewing practices, reviewing membership rolls, kindling accountability, and developing congregants. Now, it may not have all the actions *you* want in a resolution, but no reasonable reader can conclude it’s not a plan for action.

    You say:

    “5. The Yarnell/Barber resolution is being submitted by individuals whose churches themselves do not practice regenerate church membership.”

    Let’s concede your point. This is a problem, how? Did it ever occur to you that Yarnell and Barber are taking steps *at multiple levels* to address this issue? Did it ever occur to you that perhaps they are calling their own church bodies to repentance? Did it ever occur to you that perhaps they grieve at the very statistics you cite, that they think resolutions like these can play one small part in giving this issue convention-wide visibility, and thus *aid* their own efforts at reform in their own churches? It doesn’t seem like you’ve considered these options. Rather, you’re content to jibe that the authors are part of the problem, *even though they’re clearly addressing the problem*, publicly. What, you expect Yarnell and Barber to strong-arm their congregations overnight into an “action plan”? Ever hear of Baptist polity? They can’t do this by themselves. They need help from influential young leaders like yourself, to move this issue forward with great visibility and effort, and instead you slap them in the face and imply they are hypocrites. If you want the truth, I’d die for these men. They don’t like my Calvinism, but I’d die for these men. They love the local church and are thoroughly committed to its reform. But you would know little of that.

    You say:

    “6. During recent weeks, this resolution was attempted to be reconciled with Tom’s resolution. When Tom offered his suggestions, they were not accepted. Prior to this, however, a large swath of denominational elites were in an email exchange, to the exclusion of the very person who is most responsible for bring this emphasis about in recent history. The fact that so many of these higher-ups would be jumping on the bandwagon late in the game begs one to wonder whether this is a matter of political expediency or a matter we are willing to take real action.”

    You speak more truth than you know. Let me give you some facts on the ground. Did it ever occur to you that many in the Yarnell-Barber camp just don’t think that associating their resolution with prominent figures in the Founders Movement would be “politically expedient” *for the passing of the resolution*? That’s never crossed your mind? Really?

    When I read a blog post like this one, and see the blatant twisting of the plain meaning of words, one thought springs to mind: “No way on God’s green earth would I want to tie the fate of a resolution to guys like this.” You’re virtually *lying* about the content of the resolution, and dissing Yarnell and Barber as hypocrites! Who would *want* the ‘Founders’ stamp on their work, when they’ve been given ample reason to think that that ‘group’ breeds ridiculously warped analyses and petulant personal attacks?

    I love Tom Ascol, I consider him to be a good friend, and I think his blog is solid gold. I’d die for him too. I was quite happy to sign his resolution over a month ago, and I still am. But posts written in this style, across the blogosphere, for months, by Founders-friendly individuals, on a variety of topics, make it *very* easy for me to understand the events you describe above. Stop writing inaccurate and uncharitable posts like these. Then maybe more people would want to be publicly associated with your mentor. *I* can take the negative associations, and have for years. Many others can’t. Yeah, that’s “political expediency” — of a particularly wise sort.

    To be quite frank, I’m sick and tired of my fellow five-point-Calvinists making fools of themselves on the internet by perpetually biting and devouring those who stand a fraction to their right or left on some issue-of-the-day, and do so using logical fallacies as their weapons. Every time they do this, it becomes a little harder for me to get my non-Calvinist students to consider Calvinism as a serious theological option (rather than a fringe group of angry teenagers). If you can so twist the words of your Christian brothers, why should anyone think you or those like you handle the interpretation of the Word of God any better?

    It grieves me to read your post. It really does. I once had high hopes for the Founders Movement in the convention, hopes that have endured for nearly twenty years. Now, I’m not so sure.

  • D.L. Kane

    To finish my thoughts…

    No where do I see Timmy “rebuking” anyone. He is simply pointing out facts and presenting an argument. My point is, if reactions are this strong to open honest disagreement and the pointing out of facts and differences, what might have been the reaction to strong “rebuke”?

    As an outside “spectator” (so to speak)–with no loyalty to SBC one way or the other, and therefore no “emotional” ties; it is very transparent (from the comments posted) that some people’s reactions are extremely “man-centered” and “party-centered” not “Christ-Centered”.

    All I can recommend is that everyone take time to reflect, ponder, pray and meditate before they “react”. and comment . We are to be ambassadors of Christ–in every aspect of our lives–even on this blog.

  • http://www.BaptistTheology.org MalcolmYarnell

    D.L. Kane,

    I desire truth, and I am open to disagreement. But exactly how should I interpret the claim that I am “intolerant,” a claim made above by Mr. Brister? How can I understand his past and current representations of me and my theology to be, as you claim, “open honest disagreement and criticism”? Does he know me? No. Does he see into my heart? No. What actions of mine have been intolerant? Do I show disrespect for him in how I represent him? No. Do I try to misrepresent what he has said, or take him at his word when he says something?

    Has he done these things? You look closely, and you judge based on what is shown here. There is a point where a person can be too sensitive. Look at these issues closely, and ask yourself if you would like to be treated in the same manner. It is not a matter of sensitivity when one has been hit repeatedly with disrespect, misrepresentation, and whose efforts to reach out have instead been declared “intolerant.”

    Do I resent Timmy? No. I wish the best for him, but I do wish that his heart would be softened toward me and all non-Calvinists.

    Thank you for these verses. They are great reminders.

    In Christ,
    Malcolm

  • D. Taylor Benton

    Timmy,

    I am afraid you spoke all too clearly….simply spinning wheels, I wish I could say more about this discourse…but as you know, me now being a SGM guy, it really is painful to see something as foundational as regenerate church membership draw up sooo much conflict. seriously…what other realm do people count as members of clubs, groups, or any other organization if they haven’t met the fundamental requirements?

    I’m sorry if I think of this as a simple matter but unfortunately for us all…. it is… and now it has turned into a battle for the past three years…Maybe the SBC needs to start more simplistically and define what the church is….that might help..because to me…it seems that both sides have a different opinion of what the church is…and therein comparing apples to oranges will get you now where…..

  • http://fromtheunknown.wordpress.com Terry Lange

    What I do not understand is why either of these resolutions are so important? Why can’t each church (if they are truly autonomous) choose to practice what is in the Ascol resolution without having to worry whether or not it gets voted in? If SBC churches are truly autonomous, then why all the fuss?

    Is this the ugly political side of the SBC that we should not be seeing?

  • D. Taylor Benton

    I also wanted to add…what is the downside of passing this resolution?

    and I have heard it a hundred times…having the unregenerate as members helps us evangelize… I’m sorry but I think the church should be the ones evangelizing..not being evangelized…

    how about church discipline? I’m sorry but if you are worried about hurting peoples feelings when they are in the precipice of being separated from God forever, you’ve got your objectives wrong. And is it proven and observed that when loving and biblical correct church discipline is exercised… the church grows, not diminishes…and many of those that have strayed actually were thankful that they were corrected and cared for and drawn to the Lord….

    and this doesn’t even bring into consideration the observation of the Lord’s supper and a whole other host of issues that come up with the unregenerate as members….how do you tell someone that is a member not to partake in the Lord’s supper because they aren’t saved….I’m sorry but that is just backwards…

  • http://downshoredrift.com Alan Cross

    In defense of Dr. Yarnell, I’ll give him credit for coming into the blogosphere and representing his convictions. I often disagree with him, but I do admire his desire to state and defend his ideas.

    Timmy, I am also confused as to why another resolution is needed. Southern Baptists seem to struggle with admitting that we have been wrong about things in the past. It is important to admit error because that teaches our congregants that what has happened in the past will not continue to happen. It wakes people up to the reality that we have lied about our numbers for a long time. And, I say “WE” because we have all allowed it to happen, even if we did not do it ourselves. We stood by and said nothing. So, all of us need to repent for falsley representing ourselves to a lost world for various reasons, one of which I have to believe is prestige in the eyes of men.

    There are 3 or 4 full blown arguments over this issue happening right now in the blogosphere. Why? Why are we even arguing over this? Why is this even a discussion? Why are we attacking one another over such a basic, fundamental issue as repentance and integrity in church membership? If we can’t get this simple internal issue right, it is no wonder that we cannot impact our culture with the gospel.

  • http://downshoredrift.com Alan Cross

    Dr. Yarnell,

    You said,

    “Do I resent Timmy? No. I wish the best for him, but I do wish that his heart would be softened toward me and all non-Calvinists.”

    In the past, I told Timmy that I was not a Calvinist. He was very gracious to me and has been in all of our interactions. I have never sensed a spirit of superiority or harshness towards me. But, I have a pretty good idea that if I go after Calvinists or the Doctrines of Grace, Timmy will oppose me. That would not be something that I would take personally. Defending what he believes to be an issue integral to the gospel is very important to him. I respect that as I respect him.

    It is easy, yet unnecessary to talk past each other in these discussions. Hopefully, we will one day dialogue and then cooperate in reaching the world for Christ.

  • http://twelvewitnesses.com Art Rogers

    Les,

    I caught that first line, too.

    I find it interesting that Dr. Yarnell is accusing Timmy of misrepresentation in light of the numerous times he accused folks who were trying to relate to lost people as “culture chasers.” A more grevious misrepresntation none could make.

    Now for the big question: Which resolution shall make it to the floor? The committee actually has the ability to meld the two, or even more, into one final resolution. They could, actually, change one small phrase of the YB resolution and say that it was melded with the other and thus prevent Tom from going to the microphone to read his entire resolution as orginally submitted.

    Frankly, Timmy, though you stop short of actually saying that there are politics involved, it seems abundantly clear that the Status Quo Machine has finally gotten its act together and created an opportunity to silence the originator of this call and take the teeth out of what is a real problem.

    Here’s the solution I recommend when they do this:

    Bring yet another, teeth firmly fitted, resolution to Louisville. Having passed the weaker one the previous year, it will not be likely that the momentum would produce a desire for the Status Quo Machine to submit another like this.

    Yet the reality of the SBC adhering to this reasonless resolution will not be realized, so a strong one will yet again be needed. The committee will not bring it out, for the same unspoken reasons that they have yet to bring it out previously, and Tom will get to go to the mic at the 100th anniversary of the SBC’s first Seminary and call for repentance.

    Other than that, politics shall rule the day (the election of Frank Page, the passing of the Garner Motion – still we stumble, despite what the Status Quo says about themselves), regardless of who wins, the SBC loses.

    Nevertheless, the Kingdom prevails and in that we have hope.

  • http://twelvewitnesses.com Art Rogers

    Let me add, in reference to Tim G.’s comment, that if he pastors a church, and I believe that he does, and he has not addressed the integrity of the church he pastors, and I have no idea whether he has or not, then he has participated.

  • Bart Barber

    Timmy,

    Both my email and my phone are working, and your boss knows them both. I’m available to answer any questions you might have about regenerate church membership at FBC Farmersville. Some of us, rather than running to places where the hard work of restoring regenerate church membership has already been done by others, choose to stay in existing churches and work to turn things around. At FBC Farmersville doing so has had to include the development of a Constitution and Bylaws, Church Covenant, and Statement of Faith. All of those documents are nearly ready after more than two years of work by leaders in our church and will be presented to the congregation this year.

    Perhaps it is the experience of actually working to bring these changes to a 143-year-old congregation that makes one less enthusiastic about pointing fingers of accusation at others before trying to point the way forward with humility and grace. I certainly never thought that, during the process, I would be dodging fire from people who claim to be trying to accomplish the same things.

  • http://www.BaptistTheology.org MalcolmYarnell

    Art,

    That statement was not intended personally (I have no idea what your own beliefs are in this regard), and I ask you to forgive me if it came across that way. My intent in saying that was to encourage us not to follow the culture, but to follow Christ.

    In Christ,
    Malcolm

  • http://www.BaptistTheology.org MalcolmYarnell

    Alan,

    Thanks for your kind words. If it helps you to know, I have never gone after Calvinists, whom I love and appreciate for their convictions, many with which I agree. I have, however, criticized Calvinism as a theological system. There is a distinction between a person and a system. We should criticize systems freely but be careful about criticizing persons.

    In Christ,
    Malcolm

  • http://throughtheveil.wordpress.com/ Scott

    For the record, I will not endorse either resolution nor will I decry either resolution.

    Thankfully, the successful ACB resolution thus far is a good one albeit it could be better IMO with the repentance phrase brought in. Therefore, if it were to pass on the national level I don’t think it would be a disservice.

    The Ascol resolution while strong on repentance weakens itself with too much specifics that will only tie itself to the 2007 ACP report and I don’t think will be seen as representative to future SBC failures. It is only for this time and will not be viewed as a policy effecting document.

    Both resolution sponsors are unwilling to come to real compromise. And THAT is symptomatic of why the SBC is in decline — not the membership numbers. Its the idiotic way the SBC beats each other up over issues that should not have even become issues in the first place. Closed door meetings, comment deletion…

    Agape love has left the SBC.

  • http://sbtsstudent.blogspot.com Terry Delaney

    While I agree that the issue of regenerate church membership needs to be addressed (talk about headlines for the decline of the SBC!), I wonder how much this conversation is doing to glorify God? I mean there have been accusations, unfounded and/or founded, thrown around like crazy. It seems as though the issues has once again come down to Calvin vs. non-Calvin which saddens me greatly.

    Perhaps we should take the concept behind T4G and work together in all areas. After all, we are all members of one convention–it is not like we are dealing with differing denominations or anything. We should learn from our own history of fighting and grow together. Sure, it might mean suffering a huge numerical loss at the surface, but imagine the statement it would make to the rest of the world (whether they realize it or not) about how serious we are as a denomination about the truth and veracity of the gospel.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    I haven’t had time to read all the comments, but I just wanted to say that if your comment appears that it is being moderated, it is because I am currently having a hard time with legit comments being thrown in the SPAM box. I retrieved three this morning (Scotty and Greg included). So if perchance your comment is not posted, do let me know, and I will try to retrieve it for you.

  • http://www.reformingdad.blogspot.com John Jordan

    This whole thing makes me sad.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Scotty,

    You are asking the same questions many of us have been asking. Those in the SBC who are expressing sadness and a broken heart over this, be mindful that all of this could have been prevented. The two resolutions just this past week were attempted to be merged with Tom’s suggestions–suggestions which were approved by several denominational leaders. It was rejected.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Greg,

    First let me apologize that your comment did not get posted. I went to bed early last night and did not realize it until this morning.

    1. The Yarnell/Barber resolution, failing to mention our failure in RGM does not provide the rationale behind the need for such a resolution nor does it prevent it from being a purely theoretical one either. Resolutions speak to issues–and this issue has a long, sad history in the life of the SBC (at least for the past century). Not addressing this is consonant with the fact that the language of repentance will not be included either. While that makes sense, I simply cannot agree with it.

    2. The Yarnell/Barber resolution deliberately chose to remove any language of “repentance” for pragmatic reasons. Listen to the chief advocates pushing it. They are all saying the same thing: we are supporting the Yarnell/Barber resolution because it has the best chance of getting out of the committee and getting approved. Adding the call to repent would hurt that chance. The principle is pragmatism, and I cannot agree with that either. Do we need to corporately repent or not? Have we failed in this area or not? Baptist historians are unanimous in saying that we have failed, but this resolution does not address that nor apply the appropriate “resolve” to repent in this area.

    3. Point taken.

    4. Point taken. Although if that is the case, then why isn’t this being done already among those drafting and endorsing this resolution?

    5. Greg, if you submitted a resolution on total abstinence, and you yourself drank on a regular basis, folks in the SBC would shout you down as a total hypocrite. If you said that you are a “recovering wine drinker,” they would still find your advocacy incredulous. There is no “jibing” the authors here. It is simply stating the facts. The SBC is all about telling numbers, but when I do, I am told that I am “jibing.” You state that I know little of their commitment to church reform. Are you not committing the same fallacy against me that you are accusing me of against them?

    6. While much of the private exchange of denominational leaders this past week has been divulged from other sources, I would prefer not to be “that guy” in bringing more closed door discussions to light. However, to refute your claims that would be necessary, so at this point I would rather have you spin this in your favor.

    You lump me into a group of “five point Calvinists” of which you are sicked and tired of “perpetually biting and devouring” people. Greg, where have I developed a record of doing this? I write about 400-450 blogposts a year. Provide me a list of articles where I have done what you have accused me of doing, and I will address each one of them with you. But you make generalizations and charges, and some because I write one article where I lay out my reasons for not agreeing with a resolution, and I am absorbed into your disdain. Should you apply that same standard of every other Southern Baptist writing about these issues, Calvinist or non-Calvinist, I can assure you that, where there commentary placed under the same scrutiny you provided here, you would be sick and tired of everyone in the SBC.

    You accuse me of twisting words of my Christian brothers. I have not. I have responded to what they themselves have said. There is a much broader context to this resolution, and to view this current issue in a vacuum would be naive. I am sorry that you feel the way you do about me here. I appreciate your contribution. I disagree with your assessment, but I welcome your rebuke. I have, as one Southern Baptist, sought to express my convictions and lay out for public consideration why in good conscience I cannot support the Yarnell/Barber resolution. That’s it. Obviously, you have strong disagreements and have sought to debunk each and every point. Again, I have not problem with that. The only thing I ask you to do is to apply the same standard across the board. Thanks.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    D. Taylor Benton,

    While it appears that this “conflict” is something that has just festered in recent days, let us be mindful of why Tom’s resolution was not considered in years past. Malcolm presents himself as a unifier, seeking to help us work together, but it was Malcolm last year who spoke against Tom’s resolution on the floor–publicly I might add. The conflict has been ongoing for years, and the fact that these two resolutions could not be merged this past week shows that, while the desire to come together is expressed publicly, this was not the case privately.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Terry,

    You are right to a point. The resolutions are not binding whatsoever on local churches. But having this issue being discussed and stressed will hopefully cause pastors to pause and think about this matter and implement change. But on a denominational level, we have been dishonest with our reporting of statistics, saying that we have 16 million members when we all know we don’t. To do otherwise would force us to confess that we are no longer the largest denomination in the United States, going against our denominational pride. The call for corporate humility and repentance is necessary on a denominational level as well as local churches.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Alan,

    You are right. If we cannot agree on this issue of regenerate church membership, then we are in bad shape. If this resolution goes to the floor (and most likely it will), it will be interesting to see whether an amendment will be allowed to once again try to bring the two together. If the suggestions made by Tom are rejected, then I think that will speak for itself.

    And thanks for the kind words stated earlier.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Bart,

    I understand that stating the facts can be assumed to be an “accusation”, but where did I accuse you of anything? What “fire” have I thrown at you? I stated that your church, and Malcolm’s church, currently does not practice regenerate church membership. Is that an accusation? No, it is a factual statement. Instead of making an accusation that I have been making accusations against you, would it not be better to say, “Yeah, what Timmy wrote about our stats are accurate. We don’t currently practice regenerate church membership, but we are working on it.”

    I am encouraged to hear of what your church is doing for the past two years, and I look forward to seeing how God is going to use you and the leadership to work towards the practice of RGM.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    All,

    Three questions to consider:

    1. Our denomination has passed resolutions focusing on repentance in the past. In 1995, we passed a resolution on racial reconciliation, repenting of our history of racism. In 2007, we passed a resolution on personal and corporate repentance. So why are we so reluctant to pass a resolution including a call for repentance when it comes to our churches?

    2. If someone authored and pushed a resolution who did not practice it already, then how can it be said to be authentic or credible? We would not pass a resolution against racism by someone who is a racist, nor would we pass a resolution for total abstinence by someone who has a glass of wine for dinner every night. But the moment I apply the same principle to this issue, I am told that I am being divisive, disrespectful, attacking, and on and on.

    3. The fundamental problem I have with this resolution has to do with returning to gospel faithfulness. I have heard the call for a “Gospel Resurgence” in the SBC, and I embrace that wholeheartedly. I embrace that call enough to disagree with a resolution on church membership that precludes the call to gospel faithfulness in personal and corporate repentance. It is very possible that the Yarnell/Barber resolution could be passed, the discussion ended, and nothing has changed. What reason have I or anyone else to believe that this resolution will bring about the change we need and the return to gospel faithfulness in our churches?

  • http://throughtheveil.wordpress.com/ Scott

    Timmy,

    You said, “It is very possible that the Yarnell/Barber resolution could be passed, the discussion ended, and nothing has changed. What reason have I or anyone else to believe that this resolution will bring about the change we need and the return to gospel faithfulness in our churches?”

    Same thing can actually be applied to the Ascol resolution as well…”It is very possible that the [Ascol] resolution could be passed…and nothing has changed.”

    As you said I echo…What reason have I or anyone else to believe that this — or any — resolution will bring the change we need and return to gospel faithfulness in our churches? Nobody WANTS to work with anybody else.

    Dr. Welty has been the only voice of reason (ahem, present commentator excluded lol) in this comment stream. And I am not even referring to his comments about the resolutions.

  • Matt

    I wish that Malcolm or Bart would give an open and honest account for why their resolution exists in the first place. Their refusal so far to give such an account is the cause of much of the discussion that has been going on on this blog and other blogs.

    They continually tell us that we should all just get behind regenerate church membership and focus on the similarities between the two resolutions rather than the differences. But they are the ones who are responsible for the fact that there are two resolutions rather than one.

    Malcolm and Bart, I ask you directly, and I would appreciate a full and honest answer:

    Why did you write a second resolution instead of just supporting Tom’s resolution?

  • http://www.swbts.edu/faculty/gwelty Greg Welty

    Timmy,

    Thanks for your reply to my comment above. (I’m only linking to it because it got posted above almost twelve hours after it was submitted, and so some may have missed it, and thus have no idea what we are talking about :-)

    You say:

    “1. The Yarnell/Barber resolution, failing to mention our failure in RGM does not provide the rationale behind the need for such a resolution nor does it prevent it from being a purely theoretical one either.”

    You say the resolution “fails to mention our failure in RGM”. I’m sorry, but I find this just uncharitable. Can you at least *acknowledge* that the resolution “humbly urges our beloved churches to renew their commitment to regenerate church membership”? Can you please note for your readers that the resolution “humbly urges our churches to renew their commitment to the congregation as a covenantal assembly entered only by immersion of those who evidence a credible profession of faith in Christ”? Can you note that the resolution “humbly urges our churches to renew the practice of redemptive church discipline”?

    The language of “renewal” is used not once but three times here. Clearly, the resolution is implying that various biblical practices in our convention have declined and fallen by the wayside, and therefore need to be *renewed*.

    Yes, technically you are right: the resolution doesn’t explicitly mention, in so many words, “our failure in RGM”. But I continue to think that that’s some trivial grousing on your part. Clearly, the resolution *assumes and communicates* there is such a failure; why else the repeated call to renewal? (It doesn’t say, “We’re doing a great job here; let’s keep doing it!”)

    You say:

    “2. The Yarnell/Barber resolution deliberately chose to remove any language of ‘repentance’ for pragmatic reasons.”

    I’d be interested in hearing from Yarnell or Barber themselves if that is in fact the case. (Unlike you, I’m unwilling to infer this from what some third parties are saying.)

    If what you are saying is true, then yes, I’d be disappointed. But I wouldn’t be all that outraged. It’s a commonplace that some tweaking has to be done in order to get *any* resolution to pass, based on your assessment on what is needed to get it passed. Pragmatism is built into the process, because you’re trying to get *votes*. You’re not preaching a sermon.

    As you’re probably well aware, both the 1689 LBCF and the WCF were consensus documents. Certain clauses are worded very deliberately and pragmatically, so that various theological subdivisions could sign on. (The chapter on assurance is a classic case in point.) Ditto for the BFM, for that matter: look at its language about atonement, and about free agency. There’s no shame in that. Both sides realize that the document doesn’t say everything they would want it to say. But since it says *enough* of what they want it to say, they sign on. Why this entirely natural and rational process has to be imbued with some sort of moral taint, I don’t know.

    You say:

    “4. Point taken. Although if that is the case, then why isn’t this being done already among those drafting and endorsing this resolution?”

    How do you know it’s not being done? Especially in light of Bart’s comment above?

    Think very carefully before you answer. You’re saying you *know* that Yarnell and Barber are not currently addressing this issue in their local churches? And that they haven’t done this in the past? You know this? You can infer their *lack of effort* from the statistics you’ve cited?

    You really want to construct your argument that way?

    You say:

    “5. Greg, if you submitted a resolution on total abstinence, and you yourself drank on a regular basis, folks in the SBC would shout you down as a total hypocrite.”

    Correct. Unfortunately, in order for your ‘total abstinence’ analogy to hold, it would have to be the case that both Yarnell and Barber are currently either (i) hindering efforts to restore RCM in their churches, or (ii) ignoring RCM in their churches. Are you willing to actually make that case? Or will you rest content with begging the question by substituting analogies for arguments?

    BTW, since you do think your analogy holds, thanks for admitting that you were in fact regarding Yarnell and Barber as “total hypocrites”. That was part of my point.

    You say:

    “There is no ‘jibing’ the authors here. It is simply stating the facts. The SBC is all about telling numbers, but when I do, I am told that I am ‘jibing.’”

    Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough in making my original point. What you initially did was cite your statistics and then ask a question:

    “Now, I don’t want to sound harsh, but can we really take a resolution on regenerate church membership seriously when the leaders proposing this resolution reflect more of the problem instead of a solution?”

    Therein lies the personal attack. You infer from these stats that Yarnell and Barber are “leaders” who “reflect more of the problem instead of a solution.” That is a personal attack on them. After all, how would you *show* that these stats prove that Yarnell and Barber are part of the problem? I submit that you cannot show this, except through simple prejudice. Really, Bart’s comment above says all that needs to be said on this topic. You have claimed he is part of the problem without bothering to familiarize yourself with the actual facts of his local church situation (or Yarnell’s).

    I’m not sure what to do with your point 6, so I’ll let that be. But I’m not trying to ‘spin’ anything in my favor. I’m just assessing your blog post as-is. I have no inside information that I’m trying to deftly avoid or deny by spinning other things.

    And now, for some clarification. My point at the end was not that *you* have developed some sort of ongoing record, personally. I was speaking of Founders-friendly bloggers more generally, that I have observed over a long period of time. I’m sorry if I communicated otherwise.

    But I have to disagree with your self-description of the situation: “I write one article where I lay out my reasons for not agreeing with a resolution, and I am absorbed into your disdain.” If that were all you did, I would not have a problem. After all, Tom wrote one article laying out his reasons in favor of his own resolution, and I did not complain. What drew my ire in your case were the obvious inaccuracies (which you have acknowledged in points 3 and 4 above, by far the lengthiest part of my critique), and the uncharitableness (exaggerating the differences between the resolutions; plus inferring that Yarnell and Barber are part of the problem, and doing so on the flimsiest of grounds). This Tom did not do, and thus he did not draw my ire :-)

    Finally, you are right that I could do a better job of also publicly calling out non-Calvinists when they say ill-advised, inaccurate, and uncharitable things about Calvinists. I actually do quite a bit of that behind-the-scenes, for reasons that you would probably understand, and my correspondence on that score (if printed out) would be at least an inch thick. But thanks for leading me to think about that area of my witness more. You are not the only one to raise this issue with me.

  • http://twelvewitnesses.com Art Rogers

    Timmy,

    In reference to your last pondering statement to Alan about what will come to the floor, you should read my comment.

    I know you are doing a lot and this kind of thread is high maintenance, but if you would read it carefully, you will see what is at hand for the future of this resolution.

    Further, you would see clearly that Dr. Welty is not the only voice of reason in this thread. :)

    Malcolm,

    I recall vividly when you wrote those words on a post on the old SBC Outpost, and it was very personal and derisive. Perhaps you don’t remember it.

    I do.

    Unfortunately, those comments are no longer available to the public.

    Nevertheless, I would receive your apology as an affirmation that you would not desire to do so at this point, regardless of your memory of previous events.

    Further, the quoting of statistics is not jibing. It is a double standard to live in a world where one side can relentlessly point out the weaknesses of others while crying foul when its own weakness are pointed out.

  • http://sbtsstudent.blogspot.com Terry Delaney

    I am glad this is being discussed. I am simply saying that I do not see the conversation as being as Christ honoring as all of us want it to be. There have been some unneccessary cheap shots as well as many tongue-in-cheek comments. I do want to see regenerate church membership and I do want us as a denominational whole to repent of our previous sin and idolatry. However, I think we should discuss this with our hearts broken before our Lord.

  • http://www.AChristianManifesto.com Scott Lamb

    Timmy, I know you have followed closely the Conventions via the internet feed, probably seeing more of what goes on that some of at the event, but I’m just curious to know when you last were at an annual convention? Will you be in Indy?

  • http://www.AChristianManifesto.com Scott Lamb

    And a follow-up question is this: I’d be curious to know what the membership/attendance ratio is of the church you have attended during seminary. Not the church you are moving to, but the one you have been part of. Does it model out the desired integrity in membership? If so, what would you attribute it to regarding leadership (i.e. did they talk about it during worship, business meetings, in newsletters… give folks in existing “lack-of-integrity” churches an idea of what has worked in your own church). If not, then can we assume that you have actively worked with the pastoral staff in moving them to a better position of integrity?

  • Jason

    Wow…am I the only one who finds extreme irony in Dr. Yarnell calling Timmy “disrespectful”??

    The arrogance that is continually displayed when Dr. Yarnell posts drowns out whatever meaningful thing he has to say…repeatedly. Now, I mean no disrespect by that…I say that simply to say that one must check one’s tone and words when leveling a charge of someone being disrespectful. (If you want examples…the comments by Dr. Yarnell on this thread were condescending, and evidence enough…but also his address at the Building Bridges Conference was lacking a tone of humility and came across as arrogant yet again.)

    I saw no personal attacks on this post by Timmy. Yet, someone got defensive at the fact that someone would dare level a critique at his work, and spoke down to all the peons that dare disagree. Making accusations of personal attacks. (Seems like I saw this one before with the whole Johnny Hunt deal…why can people not separate critique of ideas from attack of a person?)

    All that being said…I am not sure I agree with all of Timmy’s conclusions about the Yarnell/Barber Resolution. BUT…I think a response to his charges is necessary. To get defensive, take personal shots (that one continually breaks himself – disrespect), and then take one’s ball and go home is not furthering discussion…but just proving my above points.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Scott,

    For one, I am glad that you have chosen follow me so closely that you know how I follow the Convention so closely. :) It’s nice to know that you keep such close tabs on my day-to-day ongoings (remember Baptist Identity?).

    I will not be at Indy this year. To give you the scoop on future plans, I will be leaving Lousiville next week (Tuesday to be exact), then spending some time with the fam in Athens for two weeks. During that time, I will probably ride my bike a little bit, go down to Birmingham to hang out with some pastor friends, see my nephew born, and read some good books. After that, I will come back to Louisville, load up the truck, and move down to Florida at the end of the month, hopefully getting moved in and situated in our new home. Any more information about my life, I would be happy to send you privately in email.

    Due to the fact that I will have newly arrived in FL, and because there is much work to do at the onset, I will not be going to Indy this year. As far as my involvement in previous years, I had not been involved in SBC life until my seminary days, and given my limited vacation time and budget due to working at UPS, I have chosen to devote my free week vacationing with my family. I hope you find that a worthy investment. Apparently more and more Southern Baptists seem to be thinking along the same lines. Nevertheless, should I be given the considerable experience with SBC politics as I know you have, perhaps we shall meet up one day on the Convention floor.

    Regarding my church here, for the 100th anniversary, one of the initiatives was to revisit the church membership rolls and begin the process of addressing the issue. I do not know the latest developments, but I have every reason to believe they are committed to working on it. Thanks for your probing inquiry, and I look forward to one day writing something that provokes more engaging conversation.

  • http://www.AChristianManifesto.com Scott Lamb

    What’s with the sarcasm?

    “keeping close tabs”?? You have a blog. I read your blog.

    “Baptist Identity”???

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Scott,

    What do you mean what’s with the sarcasm? You know me, and I know you. And whatever else said after that would be off topic. Thanks for commenting.

  • Bart Barber

    Timmy,

    I should have been more precise, when I contrasted the pointing of fingers in accusation versus pointing the way forward, I meant to contrast not your statements toward me but what I take as your tone toward our churches in the manner in which you support Tom’s resolution. Not that Tom’s resolution must necessarily seem that way…you just seem pretty harsh toward the brethren. And harshness can be appropriate at some point, but I think only after gentle correction has failed.

  • http://www.AChristianManifesto.com Scott Lamb

    “the considerable experience with SBC politics as I know you have”

    Sure, I’m in the bleachers watching the game, but I’ve never been on the field.

    Does simply showing up at the annual meeting these days give one “considerable experience with SBC politics”?

    I’ve never served or been nominated to anything.
    I’ve never made a resolution,
    I’ve never made a motion, or spoken in favor or against a motion.
    I’ve never even represented a church at a meeting, hence…
    I’ve never even voted on one single thing at an annual meeting.

    I’m about as politically involved in the SBC as a 1975 Baptist Hymnal.

    But I do like to show up. I really do enjoy going. I can fully understand why guys with tight schedules and budgets would opt out, but I would encourage them to come back around whenever life gives them a little more flex time and moolah. For me, it is a once-a-year opportunity to have some great fellowship with other brothers whom I wouldn’t get a chance to see otherwise – old friends from Union, old friends from SBTS.

    Hence the reason for asking if you’ll be in Indy. Hardly a privacy-assaulting question bro’.

    Are you confusing me with the other Scott that makes comments around here?

  • http://www.AChristianManifesto.com Scott Lamb

    “You know me, and I know you.”

    If it is true that you know me, then you know I have always sought your good, both to your face and otherwise.

  • http://throughtheveil.wordpress.com/ Scott

    “Are you confusing me with the other Scott that makes comments around here?”

    That would be me I presume LOL! I’ve met Timmy once, at his well done Band of Bloggers 2008.

    But I did attend the SBC in Phoenix 2003. What a wonderful time — I heard Adrian Rogers preach!! Good fellowship. Hot as blazes though. I was serving on a committee representing Alaska. Which is the only thing I have done on a national or state level.

    As I have said before, I have no ambition to serve in that kind of public arena. I only wish for there to be true amicability among the those of different approaches so that when the convention convenes, a quick and orderly accord can be struck that can be used as a model for the member churches to execute similar devices among their autonomous memberships in their varied forms.

  • http://www.gracefellowshipgulfport.org Joe Tolin

    Timmy,

    After viewing the comments by Dr. Yarnell, especially concerning this link (http://timmybrister.com/2007/11/29/rounding-up-the-reformed-ragamuffins/), I demand that you at once issue a public apology to the family of Don Knotts and the whole cast of the Andy Griffith show. How dare you humiliate such a beloved public figure as Barney Fife.

    Joe

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Bart,

    First, I want you to know that I have been praying for you and will continue to pray for your health. Regardless of our disagreements on issues, I want to affirm my commitment to you as a brother in Christ, lifting you up to our Father.

    I realize that my comments appear harsh, and having listened to the comments of many (and I mean many) folks, I understand how it can be taken as such. My intentions are not to impugn your or Malcolm nor needlessly cause division among the two resolutions and those supporting them. My sincere concerns are not so much about what your resolution says but what it does not say, especially as it relates to the gospel and our need to repent of our failure to keep RCM as a practice in our churches. I think you agree with me on this, at least for our need for humility in contrast to our denominational pride (as worded in your resolution).

    Tom’s resolution has failed two years in a row for dubious reasons. For the majority of the time, he has stood alone in his resolution. While your resolution is new, the issue is not, and while your resolution will likely be passed, I fear that it will merely end the discussion. Of this, I hope I am wrong.

    In any case, you and I agree that RCM is important and should be discussed. I hope that, leading up to Indy, we can continue to discuss the principle more than the politics, the churches more than convention, and our repentance more than our resolutions. Grace and peace.

  • B

    Thanks for this great post, Timmy. In the post and in your comments I think you have struck a good balance of confidence and respectfulness to everyone.

    I just want to comment that Malcom’s response to you here was utterly wrong.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Scott (Hart),

    Yeah, my comments were directed to Scott Lamb. Sorry for the confusion.

    Scott (Lamb),

    From your second to last comment, I understand the purpose of your question. I took it another way, and I apologize for that. I agree that the Annual Meeting is a great time to meet up with friends from across the SBC, and I hate it that I will not be able to attend this one. Aside from the great messages at T4G, those three days were most encouraging as I was able to spend breakfast, lunch, and dinner with folks who refreshed my heart and encouraged me in the Lord.

    Nevertheless, do not underestimate your SBC credentials. ;)

    Regarding your last comment, I do believe you sincerely want to do me good; I don’t question that. One of the reasons why I seldom write about issues in the SBC anymore (and perhaps no more) is that good friends, godly mentors, and respectable leaders have disagreements. Trust me, I find no delight in what I have read and experienced in the last 48 hours as a Southern Baptist. And usually, it is in those times when tensions are high, my guard is up (against the politicization of the SBC), and I hear from those who are out to “set me straight.” Unfortunately, the times when I have hear from you most has been in such moments (thus the misunderstanding). Again, I apologize.

    I have thought often about the Clanton family, especially J.D. I will continue to keep Pearl and the entire Clanton family in my prayers. As you know, I am practically an adopted son. :)

  • Bart Barber

    Timmy,

    Good and wise words, and indeed, my greatest hope is that we as allies can, each in our own way, contribute as God has allotted to this important task. I assure you that I intend this resolution as the beginning of something, not the ending of anything. Being sick has caused unanticipated delays in the completion of our website, but if you’ll look back at Convictional Baptists you’ll see that I hope for Southern Baptists to pursue a long-term vision of biblical renewal. The resolution on RCM is only the beginning of what I would like to see accomplished with regard to this doctrine, and this doctrine is only the beginning of what I would like to see the Lord accomplish with regard to our churches.

    And there’s no coercion in the Fifth Century Initiative. My hope is that the Association of Convictional Baptists can become an online home for people to find resources to help them in the actual implementation of this kind of renewal in their churches, even and especially historic churches like mine. This is my heart, brother, and even if we have differences, I hope that they will be harmonics that resonate with one another rather than dissonant notes.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Bart,

    Amen. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I find them encouraging indeed.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Okay, time for a light-hearted anecdote. WordPress notified me of the following 30 minutes ago:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/solaluminacaptura/2459853317/

    (the days begin and end at 8:00 p.m. EST for some reason)

    Why couldn’t just one more person clicked on the page? Sheesh.

    Oh, and did you notice that before this comment there were 66 comments? Double sheesh.

    Great. Now I won’t be able to sleep at night . . .

  • http://www.AChristianManifesto.com Scott Lamb

    Sure, sure, rub it in with your, “As you know, I am practically an adopted son.”

    That makes you more than me. I’m still just the 2nd favorite son-in-law (of two). Somehow, being from Missouri makes me a Yankee, and you know how Athenian opinion lies regarding northerners. Of course, I’ve only been around the fam’ for 15 years now, so there is still hope. LOL

    I hear what you are saying about our interacting during times of stress, and I will keep that in mind so as to grab ahold of you for some fellowship during bona fide calm days.

    Love ya’ bro’,
    Scott

  • http://www.ebc-online.org Shane

    E-mail and blogs: two places where debate should never actually happen. There’s not always a reasonable expectation of seeing your opponent the next day. I must be honest. I’m 31, the worship leader at my church (SBC), a “Calvinist” and this is exactly the kind of nonsense that makes me want to flee from convention activity. If the SBC is going to be so petty, maybe it should “multiply” into two cooperating, but separate entities right now. Separation right now might avert any hard feelings between the Calvinists and non-Calvinists. Frankly, Sovereign Grace Ministries is starting to sound better and better. I’m a continuationist anyways :)

  • http://www.hereiblog.com johnMark

    You know…one thing that does bother me is that Tom has worked hard on this issue only to have his work rejected for no good reason.

    This is a great idea, but why not just get on board with what Tom has already done instead of creating a whole new “idea”? Why not show a united front, pick-up with what Tom has already started and make a website like the Convictional Baptist one?

    Want practical? Had all this work been done starting with what Tom had already started it would say much about the working relationship with the Calvinists and non-Calvinists in the SBC since many people are going to look at it in those terms anyways. We could say – look folks, here is a Calvinist who cares about our Convention let’s get on board and work together on this.

    This would say much! Now, I’m afraid, this may say much in the wrong way.

    Saddened,

    Mark

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    johnMark,

    Sadly enough, what you said speaks to why his resolution was not supported. Many non-Calvinists are afraid of being publicly aligned with Tom. It is a common understanding that, being affiliated or a supporter of Founders, causes you to be written off in certain circles of the SBC, especially in the seminary world and Nashville.

    But the fact is, the resolution Tom has submitted for the past two years is not a Calvinist issue. It is a biblical issue, and yet, because of politics, personal allegiances, and fear of being stigmatized, people have refused to get on board. Not until the “right people” present their own resolution does things “work” in the SBC.

    Lots of people are asking questions, and wanting to know why Tom and his resolution have been written off and replaced for a more denominationally convenient and correct one, and the $64,000 answer to that question precedes this issue. There have been encouraging signs of change, that is, with the cooperation and efforts of men like Danny Akin, David Dockery, and Thom Rainer, but as Southern Baptists, we have a long way to go. It would be great to see folks from SBTS step up to the plate as Drs. Akin and Dockery have, but I don’t expect that to happen anytime soon.

  • Chris Bonts

    Timmy,
    I don’t know you and I have only read your blog a couple of times. Please do not take this as a personal attack, but I think you give the appearance of hypocrisy when using the baptism statistics of Yarnell and Barber’s churches to demean their willingness to pursue RCM. I say it gives the appearance of hypocrisy because you serve in a church that is outspoken about their unwillingness to submit their baptism statistics in the Annual Church Profile. You say Barber’s and Yarnell’s churches do an inadequate of pursuing RCM because they have baptized many that apparently have slipped through the cracks. As a result, you dismiss their resolution. Perhaps if we had some information about the numbers of people that God had saved through your church’s ministry and then saw how your church guarded the principle of RCM by not letting any slip through the cracks, we might give your caustic analysis a second glance.

    Additionally, your assertions that Barber and Yarnell don’t believe in RCM because their churches don’t reflect some unpublished Brister acceptability ratio, lends at least this reader to believe that you are unaware how LONG it would take to transition an existing church that has never considered RCM to practice it consistently. To do so in many churches in the SBC would take years, unless of course you were unconcerned with church splits, etc. One sermon on RCM and church discipline will not reverse YEARS of neglect. Reform and the “unlearning” bad theology and bad praxis takes time. Remember, genuine RCM will never exist apart from good theology, committed leadership, AND authentic relationships. Authentic relationships that involve mutual accountability in the spirit of Galatians 5 and 6 do not happen over night. The larger the church, the more difficult the transition is. Perhaps in the future, you will exhibit the GRACE in which you claim to so strongly believe.

    The next time you choose to blast a brother publicly about the practice in their church, you should do more than just look at statistics. Perhaps you should give them a call and discover what is really going happening in their church.

    Chris Bonts

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Chris,

    What do you mean “appearance of hypocrisy?” Merely not reporting statistics to the ACP does not a hypocrite make, neither does it fit the appearance thereof. Regarding unwillingness to report the ACP, many churches today are refusing to do it for reasons beyond the scope of RCM. Rather, many choose not to because of what the ACP has become and what it has been used for. Have you ever considered the fact that ACP is actually used to perpetuate unregenerate church membership?

    You are drawing more conclusions that I have made in your comments, conclusions which are best considered speculations. I do not know why Yarnell’s church has 98% of their additions in church membership not reflected in their attendance growth. But somewhere in the mix are issues like church covenant, church discipline, discipleship, shepherding, etc.

    What I said, and the point I was making, was that I find it hard to take them seriously given the current state of their churches. My point was not to “demean them,” nor did I “dismiss” their resolution. To the contrary, I agree with their resolution in what it says. The fact is, it does not say enough. Furthermore, I did not “blast a brother publicly”, except perhaps you have somehow confused me with Malcolm Yarnell.

    When you saw “we,” who are you talking about? Are you representative of a caucus in the SBC?

    Chris, for future reference, it would be best to not state, “please do not take this as a personal attack” at the beginning of a comment, as though that would be a disclaimer for you doing the very thing you hope I believe you are not doing. If you can misread my post so terribly to come with your conclusions, then I don’t think we can have meaningful dialogue. I just hope that you do not read into the papers you grade as much as you have read into my article here. I am afraid that you have responded more to what you are convinced I have said than what I actually wrote, and that, I find to be a most ungracious thing.

  • http://www.adamwinters.blogspot.com Adam Winters

    “There have been encouraging signs of change, that is, with the cooperation and efforts of men like Danny Akin, David Dockery, and Thom Rainer, but as Southern Baptists, we have a long way to go. It would be great to see folks from SBTS step up to the plate as Drs. Akin and Dockery have, but I don’t expect that to happen anytime soon.”

    I haven’t followed these comments close enough to understand this reference. What do you believe SBTS folks are failing to do?

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Adam,

    SBTS folks are simply not in the discussion (except maybe private via email). Dr. Mohler started a blog dedicated to the SBC called “Conventional Thinking.” His last blogpost was almost a year ago. His focus, which I do not fault him, is in the larger evangelical life and fighting the culture war. Outside the contributions in books and occasional lectures at conferences, SBTS has a relatively minor role right now in current issues regarding SBC life. The front runner is hands down SEBTS under the leadership of Dr. Akin, followed by the work of Dr. Dockery, Tom Ascol, and Thom Rainer (along with Ed Stetzer and others in the research team).

  • http://www.swbts.edu/faculty/gwelty Greg Welty

    Timmy,

    Just to add to my preceding two comments.

    You say to johnMark:

    “Lots of people are asking questions, and wanting to know why Tom and his resolution have been written off and replaced for a more denominationally convenient and correct one, and the $64,000 answer to that question precedes this issue.”

    You act as if one side is being needlessly stubborn, and that the whole issue would go away if people would just support Ascol’s resolution.

    The problem is that your point is entirely reversible. After all, you say to Bart:

    “My sincere concerns are not so much about what your resolution says but what it does not say, especially as it relates to the gospel and our need to repent of our failure to keep RCM as a practice in our churches.”

    And you say to Chris Bonts:

    “I agree with their resolution in what it says. The fact is, it does not say enough.”

    Right. So on your view, their resolution is good as far as it goes, but it does not say everything you want it to say. And even though you agree with the resolution (there is not anything in it that you disagree with), you will not support it *until* it includes the particular issues you want it to include (repentance; ACP stats).

    Given this, why isn’t it just as acceptable to conclude that it is *you* (and those who take a similar position) who is being stubborn and unreasonable?

    You reject the Yarnell-Barber resolution because it does not contain what you want it to contain.

    Others reject the Ascol resolution because it contains what they do not want it to contain.

    This looks like perfect parity here. So why label only one side as the source of the problem?

    One could just as well say, “Ascol and those who take his view refuse to support the Barber-Yarnell resolution, even though they agree with everything in it.” I mean, one could make the case that it looks *worse* to reject a resolution even though you agree with everything in it, than to reject a resolution because it contains something you don’t want in it.

    Of course, in the end, I don’t think *either* side is necessarily being stubborn, divisive, unreasonable, etc. But my point is that your conclusion that only one side is the source of the problem looks, well, arbitrary.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Greg,

    I don’t think stubborn is the word I would use.

    As to myself, it is a matter of conviction and principle, not stubbornness. I cannot support the Yarnell/Barber resolution because it does not speak to where we have been nor does it speak the need to repent and return to gospel faithfulness. From what I understand, the Yarnell/Barber camp do not accept Tom’s resolution for pragmatic reasons and an unwillingness to include the language of repentance.

    Now, did I state that Yarnell/Barber are “the source of the problem?” Did I give them that label?

    What I did say is that there have been more than one opportunity to support Tom’s resolution in years past (2006 and 2007) and at least one opportunity to consider Tom’s resolution in concert/merging with the Barber/Yarnell resolution (last week). All three opportunities were rejected. This goes without mentioning the fact that Dr. Yarnell publicly spoke against Tom’s resolution last year. Now would you call that stubbornness?

    The principles behind my inability to support their resolution were held prior to the drafting of their resolution. Because I hold fast to what I believe to be consistent with the resolutions of the past does not equate to arbitrariness. In any case, I remain hopeful that the current discussion and emphasis on regenerate church membership will translate into the good of our churches.

  • http://www.swbts.edu/faculty/gwelty Greg Welty

    Timmy,

    As you know, we’re now discussing this via email. So I’m happy to let you have the last word here.

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