Sunday, February 18, 2007

Reflections on the Baptist Identity Conference, pt. 1

After a few days to ruminate on the recent conference held at Union University, I am prepared to start offering some of my reflections. Audio recordings are available. First and foremost, I am greatly appreciative of Dr. David Dockery and the faculty and staff of Union University for sponsoring this conference. It is a reflection of the keen insight that Dr. Dockery and those who serve with him have into the current concerns and great needs of the Southern Baptist Convention. If we are going to see the SBC move forward without coming apart at the seams then we will need much more of the kind of wisdom that organized and planned this event.

The contrast between the sessions at the identity conference and the all-too-typical-fare that is regularly served up by various Southern Baptist leaders and spokesmen is stark. That is true in both spirit and content. Most of the speakers that I heard communicated with a contagious humility. That in no way suggests that they were convictionless. Quite the opposite was the case. All of the speakers addressed their subjects without the kind of arrogance and triumphalism that has become standard for denominational meetings. It was refreshing and very helpful in promoting genuine dialogue about important issues.

Each talk was also thoughtful. Though no one was called on to exposit Scripture (though Frank Page did draw his points from Philippians 1), each speaker used Scripture to direct and challenge our thinking, even when the main subject at hand was historical (Patterson and Dockery) and biographical (Moore). More than one speaker emphasized the importance of exercising care in not making secondary and tertiary issues primary concerns. And more than one warned against trying to impose personal preferences on others as if they were binding biblical commandments. That is a quite a contrast from the kind of legalism and unfounded castigations that are being championed from certain sectors of denomational life.

Thoughtful humility and humble thoughtfulness. We need huge doses of both injected into the life of the Southern Baptist Convention if it is to retain its viability in this post-denominational world.

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