Will the Houston Spirit Last?

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.

Comments

  1. says

    Regarding point 3, is it too early to start a Bart for President campaign? I’m very pleased with his election as VP and see his nomination and unanimous support as itself a good show of unity.

    • says

      Chris,

      I would work with you toward that goal. I think brother Bart’s best days are ahead. Good idea on your part.

      I suppose, at some point, someone should ask him. Maybe.

    • Bart Barber says

      Should I go with a Sherman Statement or a (Mo) Udall Statement? :-)

      But, to be serious for a moment, I have already been honored beyond what I deserve, and for that I am thankful to you all.

      • cb scott says

        Bart Barber,

        I am proud of you. I believe you will serve Jesus and the SBC well and with integrity.

        • Dwight McKissic says

          CB,

          Amen and Amen.

          Glad to spend a few moments with you in Houston. You always look better & behave better when you hang out with Bob Cleveland -:).

          Dwight

          • cb scott says

            Dwight,

            It was so good to see you and your gracious wife also. I have often wondered how guys like us were so blessed of God to be given such wonderful wives.

            In addition, you are right. Bob and Peg Cleveland have certainly been a positive influence in my life. I do so miss them here in Georgia and I was glad to see them in person again in Houston, even if Houston is in Texas where FOOTBALL has yet to be mastered as a sport. Hopefully, you all will get it right some day.

          • cb scott says

            Dave Miller,

            Dwight told me he did try to avoid you because of the way you were dressed last year in NOLA. I told him your wife made you leave the lime green suit at home this year and that you were rather well dressed this year. However, by the time I told him that the convention was over.

            I am sorry you did not get to see Dwight, especially since he bought dinner for me and about thirty other Baptist bloggers at a wonderful Tex-Mex place downtown Houston. But don’t feel too bad. He mentioned you and your clothing needs during the blessing.

          • Dwight McKissic says

            Dave,

            I am sorry that I didn’t get to see you or your namesake,volfan. I confess, spending time with my wife and friends away from the convention center, kept me from seeing several persons that I normally would see. Had a great time in Houston, though.

            I thought the convention went relatively well. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on the low attendance when you feel like addressing it. Tom Rainer’s post on the subject after interviewing younger pastors I thought was spot on.

            If Luter’s message on revival is taken seriously by all if the messengers it could certainly be a difference maker.

            Thank you for serving Southern Baptists. I’m referring to your service as 2nd Vice President and your service in hosting this blog.

            When you were recognized for your service as VP, my wife said “is that the man that preached at our church who opened up quoting all those hymns?” I said, yes. She said, “oh yeah, I remember him.” She then said “Is he one of your blogger friends?” I said, yes.

            Your message left a positive impression on her. She is not at all happy about the amount of time that I spend blogging. She doesn’t buy my argument that I don’t golf, hunt, or fish very much anymore, so I blog.

            Therefore, you may have to come back and preach for us again next February, so she will like your preaching again; and perhaps she will continue to tolerate my blogging, as long as it’s on your site.

            I’m working on a post that I hope to have done late next week. I trusts that you will like it. “Reflections and Ruminations on the Future of the SBC.”

          • Dave Miller says

            I would never tell you to ignore your wife, but we need your voice here! I look forward o your post with anticipation.

          • Dwight McKissic says

            CB,

            If the Lord will forgive you for telling that lie that I bought Tex-Mex lunches for thirty bloggers in downtown Houston, he will for give me for enjoying reading this lie. No one can tell a story quite like you CB.

            Volfan, If I’m able to make the Baltimore convention, we will simply not leave it up to chance. My friend, we will determine a meeting place and time and make it happen. Dave really ought to do what he did in Orleans; and that is designate a place and time for us to meet; and make CB pay for it to appease the wrath of God for the big fib that he told.

          • volfan007 says

            Dwight,

            I look forward to seeing you in Baltimore….the Lord willing. And, it would be great to eat with yall sometime….this past time, there was a lunch time set up for the bloggers, but once my wife saw that she was the only woman going to eat…well, I had to go with her….and, I’m glad I did….the bus ride took us 45 minutes to get back to the room…then, it took us a while to find the PF Changs that we ate at…..PF Changs was great, BTW. So, anyway, I”m glad I stayed with her…..instead of just letting her go back to the room by herself…to find something.

            Anyway, I will definitely plan on being at the next lunch…with YOU buying….if we can get enough time to make arrangements for our wives!!

            David

        • Bart Barber says

          Thanks, CB. And indeed, I will endeavor to do so for many reasons, not least among them my desire to stay on your good side.

          • cb scott says

            Thank you, Bart.

            However, I have learned during the SBC in Houston that there is something of which Dave Miller and Tim Rogers actually do agree in absolute and complete unity. That is: “cb has no good side.” They both threw stones of “vain babbling” toward me on numerous occasions while in Houston.

            I think it would be a perfect time for the two “she-bears” of 2 Kings 2 to give those boys a visit. A video of the event would be nice also.

          • says

            cb, you only tend to babble during football season.

            Heard something today that made me think of you, though:

            “What do the Moon and A&M have in common?”

            “They both control the Tide…”

          • cb scott says

            Doug Hibbard,

            Just this week I mentioned to a mutual friend that you were a top draw type of guy and I would have enjoyed meeting you in Houston.

            However, now I am crushed to the point of complete despair. It is highly possible that you have just made the most heartbreakingly cold comment to another person in all of human history.

            I just want you to know that I am heart broken and humiliated before the entire Baptist Blog World and the emotional pain is almost more than I can bear.

            However, I know that when September comes and the SABANATION rises up and stomps all comers into the earth and wins a third National Championship, I shall again hold my head up high and roar:

            ROLL TIDE ROLL!!!

          • says

            CB, had I been in Houston, I would have loved to meet you.

            And being an Arkansas fan, until we actually get back to .500, all we have is the pain of others to ease our own.

            I worry for our coach. The Head Hog has said he understands why he was brought here: to beat Bama. I fear that this is means he knows that he has walked into a trap.

            Our only hope to beat Bama is someone hacks the computers and files it as an away game, and we come to Tuscaloosa and play the non-traveling injured players. And they spot us 10 points.

          • cb scott says

            Doug Hibbard,

            The HAWG NATION is an SEC NATION. You will return to greatness. You will overcome. It is in your DNA. No SEC NATION stays down forever. Take down the TIDE? Maybe not, but you shall bring destruction upon the masses nonetheless.

          • says

            Our hope this year is that we are still playing football in December.

            And thank you for your kind words to our mutual friend. Although I scratch my head to wonder which of my 3 friends also knows you, I am grateful just the same.

  2. Scott Shaver says

    As to “point 3″ and next years “show of unity”.

    I predict Bart Barber’s election on 873 votes out of 1200 cast at a convention housed at Pro Bass Bass shop with 2300 registered messengers in attendance.

    • volfan007 says

      Scott,

      You might be aiming too high with that 2300 Messengers prediction…. if things keep going like they are….2,000 might be a good number.

      Also, I think we need to meet in a Mall food court.

      David

  3. says

    I greatly appreciated what Dr. Page said regarding those on the fringes, those ‘warriors’ as you called them. He said that they are the ones that should be marginalized.

    The bottom line of anyone who serves the convention, at any level – from president to entity head to random committee member – is: will they serve all southern baptists? The key question should not be “How many tulip petals are in your pocket,” (though transparency and integrity are vital), but the key question must be “Will you respect, represent, and serve ALL Southern Baptists?”

    If we all can model and embody the unity and respect that Drs. Page, Hankins, Mohler, Patterson, Dockery, and others exemplified on the Cooperative Program stage, we will indeed have an armistice and not just a cease fire… And that may just serve as the foundation for revival.

  4. cb scott says

    Dave Miller,

    In #3 you mentioned that you do not know where Bryant Wright is on the Calvinism issue. I do not either. I have never asked him. He did preach in chapel for us this past year and he did an excellent job relating to and sharing the gospel with our student body, staff, faculty, and administration.

    I also heard him preach at 1st Houston this past Sunday in the second service after Fred Luter preached in the early service. Bryant Wright did an excellent job conveying the Good Story of Jesus. So, I don’t know if he is a Calvinist or not, but I do know he preached the biblical gospel twice in my hearing within the past 10 months. I appreciate him for that.

    • says

      Though I’ve been in his church a number of years, I don’t remember him taking a stance on this issue in his sermons (of course, that could be a problem in my rememberer). I will say that if he had, like on any other issue where faithful Christians can differ, he probably would have given the range of beliefs on it, and then indicated where he stood. On issues like this, he doesn’t seem to be one who insists that you *must* agree with him. The church membership reflects this, as you have members who range from 5-point Calvinists to full-blown Arminians.

    • Dave Miller says

      It is not a significant point to me. I just wasn’t sure, my point is that we have elected non-Calvinist and non-combative presidents. I just hope we will seek out non-combative candidates next yer.

  5. Greg Harvey says

    If the same Spirit indwells all of us, then the same spirit that prevailed this year can be continued. May we pray that the first thing happens and that it leads–in precisely that order–to the second thing?

  6. Ron West says

    I was not able to attend the convention this year because I was in the process of moving to Little Rock and could not get away. I also had a new grandson that needed my attention. I would like to have been there and had an opportunity to meet some of you face to face. I was very pleased with the convention. I think Fred Luter has been and will continue to be a great president. I was the most pleased with the appointments from my state that I have been in 30 years. Again, I think that was because of Fred Luter’s leadership. I applaud the calls for unity that were made and pray they will be followed up by action. I do not believe there will be true unity until there is repentance, confession of sin and a true II Chronicles 7:14 seeking God’s face.

    I want to congratulate Bart Barber on his election. Serving in a convention office is an honor but it also brings with it responsibility. You are serving as VP of the entire convention, not just one faction. David Miller has done an excellent job serving as an SBC VP. His would be worthy example for Bart and Jerod to follow. Of course the main obligation is to not do anything to embarrass the convention. Consider Wiley Drake.

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