If anything marked the Houston SBC of 2013, it was a desire for unity and the hope that we can out some of the tension and division if recent years behind us.
- The Calvinism Advisory Committee report set the tone, Written by Dr. Mohler, Dr Dockery and Dr. Eric Hankins, and unanimously approved by the committee, the document calls on us to put our differences in gospel perspective, treat one another with honor and partner for the sake if the Great Commission.
- Our president, Fred Luter, also set a peaceful tone, by convention theme, by his words, and by his demeanor.
- It helped that there were no major initiatives or controversial actions to be taken. There were some moments in the resolutions report, but nothing that made us choose sides – no us-vs-them moments.
The question I was asking myself, and others were discussing as well, is whether the spirit if Houston will carry forward to the Baltimore meeting in 2014.
Will we quickly revert to battle-blogging or will we find a way to permanently change the tone of our discussions?
Who will be candidates for president in Baltimore? Will the “sides” each put forward candidates or will we find a president outside the battle lines?
Will the spirit if cooperation from the advisory committee grow and spread, or will it be a brief respite only?
One member of the committee reminded me of the story of the Christmas truce in the trenches during WWI. The sides laid down their arms for a day, then went back to war the next day. Was this week a Christmas truce or an armistice?
Here are some thoughts.
1) We must guard our words and our tone.
There is a general recognitiin that the Calvinism discussion is one we must have. But we must have it in a context of respect and honor. It must be a family discussion not a blood sport.
2) Face-to-Face is essential.
Another committee member spoke to me of the powerful effect of the personal interaction with those once viewed as the opposition. It changes things when we talk to one another instead if at or about one another.
At the presentation of the advisory committee, Mohler said that if he was making a new statement on Calvinism, he would run it by Eric Hankins first, in private, to deal with issues.
That spirit must continue.
3) The presidential election next year will tell the tale.
That may be the crucial moment. Will we nominate us-vs-them candidates, or continue the string if irenic presidents? Since Greensboro in 2006, there have been 4 presidents. All have been non-Calvinists (not absolutely sure of Bryant Wright), but they have been bridge-builders not warriors.
If a warrior is nominated, there will likely be a response on the other side and tensions could escalate. Here is to hoping such does not happen.
4. We must hold ourselves accountable.
I’ve written extensively on this, so just a word now. Each position must work to hold its own side accountable. Calvinists must confront the extremist and angry Calvinist voices, and non-Calvinists must do the same on their side.
5) It’s up to me!
I don’t mean that in a fleshly way. I mean that each of us must take responsibility for our words, actions and attitudes. It matters not what others do or say, what provocation is given, I must walk in the fullness of the Spirit and exhibit his fruit in my words and actions.
No sinful acts or insulting words by another ever excuse in any way a sinful act or word on my part.
Each of us must make a decision to be a peacemaker regardless of what others do.
Much more can and should be said, but I have a busy day in the air ahead. Play nice.