The week began with a "debate" over Calvinism pitting Al Mohler against Paige Patterson. Doctor Mohler crowed that at least in the SBC there was debate over weighty theological matters when the issue could be the ordination of homosexuals.
So instead of a debate over homosexuality, the SBC Resolutions Committee had a knock-down fight over the ever so serious issue of...alcohol consumption. No, I'm not making this up. Here is a bit from the Baptist Press coverage:
When the back-and-forth on alcohol finally ended, the messengers passed with about a four-fifths majority a resolution not only opposing the manufacture and consumption of alcohol but urging the exclusion of Southern Baptists who drink from election to the convention’s boards, committees and entities. Like other resolutions, it is not binding on SBC churches and entities.
The resolution’s supporters contended the action was needed because some Christians believe they may drink based on a wrong interpretation of the believer’s "freedom in Christ." They said abstaining from alcohol preserves a Christian’s purity and testimony, while drinking can be a "stumbling block" for others and has destructive results.
Tom Ascol rose to remind everyone that Jesus Himself was in the wine-manufacturing business, but to no avail. Nor was there great concern that the committee was condemning activity actually condoned in Scripture. Of course, man-made additions to Holy Writ undermine our position on the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture. But never mind, alcohol is bad, bad, bad. Evidently, we're to believe in a literal hermeneutic unless it's inconvenient to do so.
Meanwhile, several other resolutions went down to defeat. The aforementioned Ascol offered a resolution urging SBC churches to practice Biblical discipline and make a reasonable effort to provide accurate membership statistics. Does that sound controversial? According to the SBC, there are 16 million born-again believers occupying the pews of our churches. It's a good thing truth in advertising laws don't apply.
The other major resolution that went down was offered by Roger Moran and Bruce Shortt, a Houston authority who is the author of "The Harsh Truth About the Public Schools," proposing an "exit strategy" from the public schools. Turning Moran and Shortt out to pasture, the Resolutions Committee instead adopted a resolution commending "the hundreds of thousands of Christian men and women who teach in our public schools" and recommending that Southern Baptists "engage the culture."
I'm not even sure what to say, so let me quote Chris Ortiz instead. "Apparently, Christian children being taught by the secular sodomites is tolerable, but a leader in the SBC that drinks wine or beer is impeding the message of Jesus Christ. This is the height of Phariseeism -- you gag on a knat while swallowing a camel. What should be an issue, isn't. What isn't an issue, you make paramount. God help us!"
Messengers also elected a "reformer" as president of the SBC. His name is Frank Page. No, no you didn't read that correctly, he's a "reformer," not Reformed. In fact, in 2000, he penned an 80-page booklet entitled, "The Trouble with the TULIP: A Closer Examination of the Five Points of Calvinism." Wow, it only took 80 pages to refute Calvin!
Among other typical mis-representations, Page offers up the old canard that Calvinism kills evangelism:
If one does follow the logic of Calvinism, then a missionary or evangelistic spirit is unnecessary. If irresistible grace is the truth, then there is no need to share Christ with anyone, since those persons whom God has elected are irristibly going to be drawn into his kingdom anyway. If one studies the pages of history, one will see that Calvinistic theology (Five Point) has encouraged a slackening of the aggressive evangelistic and missionary heartbeat of the church.
To conclude the week, messengers enthusiastically cheered on Condi Rice--Nuremburg style, with seven standing ovations and a spontaneous outburst of "God Bless America." Is that harsh? Perhaps. On the other hand, Southern Baptists have become the political shock-troops in the Bush coalition for moral imperialism and democratic crusading.
Hmm, maybe it is time to consider an "exit strategy."