Archives For Baptist Press

This is a blogpost originally posted on February 21, 2009.  In light of the recent discussion about Acts 29 church planters in Southern Baptist life, I felt this podcast would be a constructive resource to know more about some of the A29 churches planters, what they believe, and their practices.

The Insight Podcast is hosted by Doug Baker, and recently he sat down with Acts 29 church planters J.D. Greear, Daniel Montgomery, Tyler Jones, and Sean Cordell to discuss a host of issues.  The podcast is divided into two parts.  You will certainly want to download them both.

* Part 1 *

Topics: Postmodernity – What is it?; Contextualization – What is it?; Culture and Theology; Ministry in an Urban Context; Diversity in the Local Church; Tradition and Traditionalism; The Craving for Authenticity; The Emerging Church Movement; Gospel Reductionism; The Emergent Church Movement;  Acts29 Church Planting Network; Vintage 21’s Theology and Doctrine; Tony Jones and the Gospel; The Gospel and Propositional Truth; Homosexuality and Modern Culture; Christology – Missiology – Ecclesiology.

* Part 2 *

Topics: Institutions and Denominations; Acts29 Network – Its Founding and Future; The SBC as a Missional Network; The Doctrinal Commitments of Acts29; Biblical Preaching as a Priority; Acts29 and Southern Baptists; North Carolina – Still the Bible Belt?; Requirements for an Acts29 Church Planter; Churches Planting Churches – the Biblical Model?; The SBC and Church Planting; The Future of the SBC.

I’m grateful for Doug Baker putting together an excellent podcast dealing with substantive issues that really matter to the church today. You can find previous podcasts hosted by Baker here.

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Scott Thomas, director of Acts 29, has taken the time to respond at length to the accusations and charges against Acts 29 from the guys at SBCToday and Baptist Press.  It is not fair to imply everyone at Baptist Press is carrying the anti-Acts 29 agenda, so perhaps it is best to limit the sphere of accountability to Will Hall, their executive editor.

In general, Thomas explains the nature of the fellowship with the SBC and the concerns many A29/SBC church planters feel:

We are glad to have SBC churches in our fellowship.  They give to the Cooperative Program and we are glad.  They are governed as elder-led churches (rather than elder-ruled churches).  And, they have expressed to me that they would like it if the misrepresentations would end and we could focus on the gospel, mission, and church planting.  I am assured by Southern Baptist leaders that the attacks by those in the SBC are not representative of the larger convention.

As I have stated on more than one occasion, neither SBCToday or the Baptist Press sought to attain first-hand evidence for their arguments but merely jumped to erroneous conclusions determined by their own understanding.  Thomas writes,

We are not sure why one denominational publication is obsessed with Acts 29 and continues to publish information without checking with us.  It seems odd at best, and agenda driven at worst, to publish information about what Acts 29 believes and practices without ever checking with Acts 29 leadership (emphasis mine).

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Baptist Press has continued to spread the anti-Acts 29 agenda by publishing the errors of SBCToday in the recent “first person” article entitled “Covenant or Confession” authored by Tim Rogers.

Just last week, I showed how Baptist Press has degenerated into an anti-Mark Driscoll/anti-Acts 29 campaign under the leadership and vision of Will Hall, their executive editor.  It appears that there is no level so low Baptist Press is unwilling to stoop, even publishing known errors and blatant mischaracterizations.   Baptist Press carries the subtitle “News with a Christian Perspective” and sadly enough, the news they are publishing is not fitting for the journalistic ethics of non-Christians.

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Yes, it’s all a matter of timing.

Over the course of the past six months, Baptist Press has come out with three articles besmirching Mark Driscoll and Acts 29.  But have you paid attention to the timing of their pieces and what Baptist Press is attempting to do?  I have, and here are my thoughts.

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At the SBC 2009 in Louisville, there were far more highlights than there were lowlights, as seen in my previous post.  However, there were some significant moments and observations I came away with from my first SBC Annual Meeting that were rather discouraging.  Here are some that I jotted down:

1.  Morris Chapman

What Morris Chapman did as a part of the Executive Committee report should be enough to bring about his resignation.  It was that bad.  Seriously.  Whether he claims ignorance or spoke with such ill-informed knowledge, the level of incompetence and grandstanding for political agendas as the most influential bureaucrat in the SBC is appalling. There is too much power and pulpit for one man among a convention of autonomous, local churches to continually say such things without accountability to the convention he is positioned as the Executive Committee CEO.

2.  Motions & Moralism

It has been pointed out already by several that motions can be made by any credentialed messenger at the SBC and that the motions do not necessarily represent the common voice of the SBC populace.  While that is true, I do believe the motions reveal a lot about the ongoing need for the recovery of the gospel in the SBC.  The Pastor’s Conference centered a great deal on gospel unity, passion for mission, and a commitment to seeing renewal in our local churches.  The motions, however, focused on education, boycotts, homosexuals, drinking, cussing, flags, etc., all of which leads me to the next lowlight.

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For those of you (like myself) who like to have a listing of the notable articles written over the last several days regarding Baptist Press and Mark Driscoll, here you go (will update when necessary):

Monday, February 9, 2009

* Melissa Lilley of BSCNC writes a cover story of the 20/20 Collegiate Conference at SEBTS entitled “Driscoll, Mahaney – Culture Warriors of a Different Sort

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

* SEBTS press release by Lauren Crane published, “Gospel Comes to Life, Young People to Seminary Campus

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

* Baptist Press runs hit piece on Driscoll, “Driscoll’s Vulgarity Draws Media Attention
* Timmy Brister posts an online poll where 74% voted that the BP article was shoddy journalism

Thursday, February 12, 2009

* Baptist Press revise their article by adding paragraphs 5 & 6 as an attempt to correct their errors
* SEBTS via Between the Times shares their deep disappointment in BP in “Mark Driscoll and Southeastern Seminary
* Timmy Brister writes, “My Take on Baptist Press Throwing Mark Driscoll Under the Bus
*Baptist Press publishes SEBTS’ press release previous written by Lauren Crane

Friday, February 13, 2009

* Alvin Reid writes at Between the Times, “I Have a Problem
* Ed Stetzer comes out to defend his friend, Mark Driscoll, “Friday is for Friends
* Jonathan Merritt responds to Baptist Press in The Biblical Recorder, “Unfair, Unbalanced and Unacceptable
* J.D. Greear, Acts 29 and influential young SBC pastor responds, “Baptist Press joins NYT in Driscoll Bashing
* Baptist 21 begins a multi-part article on Driscoll and the generational gap in the SBC with thoughts by Nathan Finn
* Scott Thomas, director of Acts 29, responds with an article, “Let’s Move On

Saturday, February 14, 2009

* Baptist21 continues with part 2 of the generational gap in the SBC with Nathan Finn

[Note: I recognize that there several more articles about this out there (I’ve read some 20-25 over the last couple of days), but for brevity’s sake, these I’ve determined to be most significant.]

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Alvin Reid Has a Problem

Tim Brister —  February 13, 2009 — 8 Comments

Alvin Reid, Professor of Evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, has a problem.  This is an excellent article putting the recent issue regarding Mark Driscoll in historical context.  Take a moment and read his article.  Here is his conclusion:

Finally, I have a problem with my convention.  I am a Southern Baptist. I have blogged before on why I am a Southern Baptist. But I have a problem with my convention, when we seem more intent on witch hunts than on contextualizing the gospel in our time, when we love to pick at each other’s differences than unite for the sake of the gospel, when we are more concerned about our total receipts than we are the lostness of our nation, when we continually confuse personal preferences with unchanging truth, and when we castigate younger men who love Jesus and His truth for simply doing what we taught them to do: study and honor the Word (when they come to different conclusions than some of us on secondary issues, they scratch their heads at the response they get). I was a supporter of the conservative resurgence before it was cool. But the resurgence I supported did not include a Pharisaical legalism that expects conformity in nonessentials. I supported a resurgence to stand on the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture, one that now has led me and many others to see the need for a Great Commission Resurgence to be built on the foundation laid by the conservative resurgence. I am tired of talking good younger men off the ledge from leaving the SBC.

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[Note: To read SEBTS’s response to Baptist Press, go here.]

Yesterday, Baptist Press came out with a hit piece on Mark Driscoll, preaching pastor of Mars Hills Church in Seattle, WA called “Driscoll’s Vulgarity Draws Media Attention.”  Within minutes after posting, the reaction from those on Twitter ranged everything from bewilderment to disgust to frustration.  Having been someone who has tracked and written about Mark Driscoll and the Acts 29 Network in relation to the Southern Baptist Convention, I have been asked by some to offer my take on this piece. So here are my thoughts in no particular order.

1. Baptist Press is like the Associated Baptist Press. They write what is news to them, not necessarily what is newsworthy. They have a constituency to cater to, and in the case of Baptist Press, it is largely the Executive Committee.  Baptist Press must be seen for what it is and be given credibility only when it deserves it–and in this case, it deserves none.  Furthermore, I am almost convinced that Mark Kelly did not write the article nor was David Tolliver informed that his statements were directly related to Mark Driscoll.

2. It is interesting to note who Baptist Press chose to provide the content of their critique against Driscoll.  MacArthur’s critiques are fair enough, although it should be noted that his comments were made three years ago.  But then Baptist Press borrows from Ingrid Schleuter, the noted heresy hunter and fundamentalist commentator of Slice of Laodicea.  Ironically enough, Ingrid and her writing cohorts such as Ken Silva have included the SBC in their barrage of “missives” including the “emerging church” and “contemplative spirituality.”  Does Will Hall (managing editor of BP) know they are lending credibility to the same fundy group that fiercely criticized their own?

3. Then there is David Tolliver, from the famous Missouri Baptist Convention who, under the direction of Roger Moran, de-funded all dually affiliated Acts 29/SBC churches because of their “cultural liberalism” (that is, their non-fundamentalist approach to culture).  As I stated earlier, I have no reason to believe that Tolliver’s statements were targeted at Driscoll himself but were inserted into the article to imply that to the reader.  Be that as it may, for Baptist Press to garner ammunition from the Missouri Baptist Convention against Mark Driscoll only further exacerbates the tension between Acts 29 churches and the SBC.

4. But what is disturbing the most is the timing of this piece.  Just last week, Acts 29 Network held a bootcamp where Mark Driscoll shared the platform with Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Seminary. Driscoll and Akin again spoke at the 20/20 Collegiate Conference on the campus of SEBTS.  Driscoll and Akin are continuing their shared influence as Driscoll spoke last year at the SEBTS sponsored Converge Conference addressing the emerging church.  Are we to think that this article by Baptist Press just so happened to be published one week after this conference? Are we to believe that this is not an attempt to discredit and dampen the influence of Driscoll in SBC life?  Are we not to see the implication this has on attempting to shame Danny Akin and SEBTS for their affiliation and cooperation with Driscoll?

5. There are two competing visions for the SBC going on right now: the Great Commission Resurgence under the direction of Danny Akin and David Dockery headquartered at SEBTS, and the Baptist Identity Movement under the direction of Paige Patterson and Malcolm Yarnell headquartered at Southwestern Seminary.  Prior to the Annual Meeting in Indy last year, the Baptist Identity boys were blazing the Internet with series of blogposts talking about Baptist distinctives and in particular “ecumenical compromise.”  From the Annual Meeting forward, however, the Great Commission Resurgence has won the day, leaving the Baptist Identity crowd in the wake full of a separatistic, landmarkist agenda.   Having Driscoll (and Mahaney) who do not share the same ecclesiology and distinctives lead Patterson and his camp to consider the actions of Akin and SEBTS as Baptist compromisers.   The BP article on Driscoll is an indication, in my mind, of an attempt to discredit the leadership of Akin and undermine the Great Commission Resurgence movement in the SBC.  Fortunately, most Southern Baptists are not buying it.

6. Finally, remember all the talk about reaching out to the younger generation?  Those under the age of 40 in denominational involvement are an endangered species, and articles like only work to ensure that they become extinct. Isn’t it interesting that the two biggest movements in the SBC–Calvinism and Acts 29 Network–are most often caricatured and criticized?  It is almost as though the powers that be want the SBC to fail without a future generation to consider the SBC worthy of their labors. Why would they want to stick around and continue to put up with stuff like this anyway?

I am not a Driscoll fan boy. I have not met him, nor am I a part of the Acts 29 Network.  I have great respect for him in many things he is doing, and there are things which I disagree with Driscoll about, some of which I have publicly taken issue with here on my blog.  Nevertheless, the moniker attached to Driscoll as “the cussing pastor” is long worn out, and Driscoll has repented of that.  Furthermore, those who perpetuate that perception of Driscoll are either willfully misrepresenting the truth or living at a level of ignorance that disqualifies them from writing about the subject.  Driscoll’s cussing garnered media attention – five years ago.

In any the case, the fact that articles like this can be written about a brother in Christ that is so inaccurate and uncharitable in the Baptist Press does not raise the issue of Mark Driscoll but Christian virtue. I’m tired of being embarrassed as a Southern Baptist, and I would much rather partner with those who resembles Jesus than the Sanhedrin. As for Dr. Akin, he deserves our prayers and deepest respect.  He, like others (e.g., John Piper, C.J. Mahaney, Tim Keller, etc.), has chosen to see what God is doing in the life of Mark Driscoll and encourage him.  Undoubtedly, Akin has and will continue to (as a result of this BP article) receive grief and criticism as a result. As for Mark Driscoll, I would put him up to any Southern Baptist preacher today who preaches Christ and Him crucified (and how many SBC churches can you find Jesus preached on any given Sunday?).  Baptist Press’ efforts would serve the cause of Southern Baptist life much more in the future should they highlight such preachers who are planting gospel-centered churches and reaching this younger generation whom we have all but written off.  Southern Baptists can learn from Mark Driscoll, but that can only begin when we lay down the knives.

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Update: BP has revised their article this morning, and SEBTS has written a response as well.  My thoughts are forthcoming.

Here’s the article. Read it and vote.

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[Disclaimer: If you are a Southern Baptist and cannot laugh at yourself, please read NO further. The statements below are a light-hearted attempt to satirize that thing we do as Southern Baptists, you know . . .]

Things have really been “heating up” here in SBC world. For the two of you uninformed on the matter, a significant number of leading Southern Baptists have gathered together to form what they are called “the Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative” (SBECI). Inspired by a blogger (gasp) and seminary student (double gasp), Jonathan Merritt, this initiative has sought to raise the bar when it comes to involvement in creation care and stewardship of the environment.

I first caught on to this initiative through reading Nathan Finn’s blog, and within hours, the news was being spread on the Drudge Report, New York Times, CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, and other major media outlets. The secular interest in this matter is perhaps the greatest regarding Southern Baptists since the days of the Disney boycott. Nevertheless, the official news outlet of denominational executives (X-Comm), Baptist Press, was quick to note that “the seminary student’s climate change project is not SBC’s” (note: the title was changed to leave out “seminary student’s” part in the revised version). At the point, Baptist Press began an all-out media blitz with several articles regarding the climate change initiative, certain that such a matter demanded an authorized (KJV style) version on global warming, as contrasted to that of a “seminary student” and his project. This tit-for-tat battle for who speaks for Southern Baptists raises just another issue on just where and how Southern Baptists define themselves.

So yet again, the SBC is embroiled in another battle, and in the midst of this, we are reminded of one thing that does not change-controversy. In fact, historians have filed this latest issue of climate change as the 2,356 controversy since 1845, surpassed only by the number of resolutions of the SBC.

In an effort to contribute to the media blitz, correspondents from P&P have been asking for statements and responses from leading Southern Baptists regarding this hotly debated issue. Below are the responses we have gathered thus far. As you can clearly see, the issue of climate change has divided the convention and is threatening to kill evangelism-something which neither the other “C’s” (Calvinists and charismatics) have been able to do. That alone says a lot about the power of a changing climate in the SBC atmosphere.

Frank Page: “I think what you see by the events of this week is that we are headed for ‘tumultuous days‘ in the future. In light of this, I look forward to contributing to the conversation with my new book, Trouble with the Thermometer: Taking a Closer Look at Five Tenets of Global Warming (forthcoming by Broadman & Holman).”

Frank Cox: “I have many friends who are concerned about climate change today, and I have no problem discussing these issues. However, what concerns me today is this new strain of aggressive, hyper climate change advocates who are dividing the convention today.”

Richard Land: “This climate change initiative is not the official policy of the Southern Baptist Convention. I am here to tell you that the 2007 Resolution on Global Warming is a sufficient statement for all Southern Baptists, and I am prepared to make a motion in Indianapolis to bring to the convention floor” (that is, the “Land Motion”).

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