At 10a.m. I thought chaos would rule the day. At 3p.m. I was even more sure of it. But by 11p.m., in a room full of cheerful brethren and exhausted, honorable leaders, I was more firm in my Southern Baptist devotion than ever. This was the first day of the 2009 SBC Annual Meeting.
The day started with two motions: one in favor of the infamous Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) and one against (in so many words) Acts 29 and Mark Driscoll. An interesting start. As one SBC Tweeter (Alvin Reid) put it, “Will we be about the world evangelism or witch hunts?”
For the next several hours it seemed like witch hunts was the path we had chosen. Between Morris Chapman butchering the Reformed perspective on soteriology while attacking the GCR and unending motions about banning Mark Driscoll’s books from LifeWay or not associating with those who happen to be Mark Driscoll, it got kind of rough. There was even a point at which a motion was made to investigate Ed Stetzer, Danny Akin, and Alvin Reid for their cooperation/involvement with Mark Driscoll (which, by the way, is still on the docket for Wednesday’s meeting).
However, calm and steady leadership began to prevail. At lunch, 600 fiery, angry young leaders were met by Johnny Hunt, Danny Akin, Al Mohler and others at the baptist21 panel at Sojourn Community Church and reassured that everything would turn out alright. And even as I was walking through the LifeWay exhibit finding other authors I think we should ban before Mark Driscoll, Dr. Mohler offered words of advice through the fabulous world of Twitter saying, “I beseech ye brethren, do not respond with anger to these motions. Give time and let us reason together. Trust the trustee system.” When we reconvened for the final round of motions, you could feel the turn. Some motions were made firing back at the ridiculousness of the day’s earlier proceedings, and one even drew a chuckle from Dr. Hunt as a kind messenger made a motion extending an invitation to “that Driscoll feller” to defend himself before the SBC at next year’s meeting.
This all led into the big resolution on the GCR. However, as we awaited that confrontation, the Committee on Order of Business made us aware that several of the more antagonistic motions were being discarded without discussion for being out of order with the business of the SBC. Welcome news.
Finally, Dr. Mohler spoke, and following a few more unintelligible attacks against Calvinism and a proposed amendment to complete replace the original resolution, the hall finally got to vote, and approve at about a 90-10 margin, the GCR.
This of course is only a synopsis, as today also saw Dr. Hunt reelected as SBC President and Danny Akin deliver at least three powerful messages over a 17 hour span, but I hope it captures the essence of what was a wild and exhausting day.
Going forth from here I have two observations I want to make. First, I think it is disappointing that so many theological caricatures still exist in our convention and are creating animosity between brothers. There is certainly much need for education in both the beliefs of those who don’t agree with us and, in some cases, just plain biblical theology. This should certainly be done in love and grace, but needs to be done nonetheless.
Secondly, I was a little disappointed to find slim-to-no representation from dual affiliated Acts 29/SBC churches. I love these guys at The Village and Journey and The Summit and wherever else. However, if you are going to go through the trouble of being SBC to begin with, please get involved here. There are men like Danny Akin, Mark Dever, Al Mohler, and Johnny Hunt who are making a stand on wanting to empower the next generation of leaders in the SBC. That should be you (and hopefully me too!). Please, don’t be apathetic and don’t be turned off by the politics. We fight and dumb resolutions about Pepsi and Mark Driscoll make the floor. But at the end of the day, men with great biblical vision are taking the reins and will corral this all together to complete God’s purpose here. And from all I’ve seen today, these men are ready and willing to hand it off if only theologically-sound young men will stand up to take it!
Thank God for a wonderful first day of our convention and may he bless our work as we go out from here!