I apologize in advance. I have little time to write. Know, however, it takes only a little time to assess the guffawed views of some otherwise intelligent people.
Two such views come from Ed Stetzer, the neo-numbers guru of those who appear to think culture should be the conscience of the church rather than the church the conscience of the culture, and IMonk, A.K.A., Michael Spencer, the exclusive, independent voice among bloggers who possesses no bias, no agenda, and no monkey business. In other words, "Imonk says it, I believe it, and that settles it!"
Of the exchanges yesterday on the floor of the convention and on the woes of the SBC at large, Stetzer told the Courier Journal, "The question, Stetzer said, is whether 'we can have similar beliefs but simultaneously have, within certain parameters, different ways to engage culture, different ways to worship on Sunday morning...I think we can.'"
Eureka! Stetzer has just articulated all the woes among Southern Baptists today! It's about "similar beliefs" and "different worship" styles. Who would have thought some of us in the SBC could not have seen what is so very plain?
My, oh my, Dr. Stetzer.
Let me get this straight: folk like me want to dictate the way other Baptists worship.
I challenge you, Dr. Stetzer. You're the numbers guy. Where is the research for such an irresponsible assertion?
If you cannot produce the data, I suggest you stop pulling rabbits out of the hat.
Nor is your assertion any more profound which states, "The question...is whether 'we can have similar beliefs but simultaneously have, within certain parameters, different ways to engage culture." The question begs to be answered is, what is the content of the "similar beliefs" and "certain parameters'?
If one is speaking about working interdenominationally, I think that's a pliable principle by which to operate. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has for years used a principle close to that one in partnering with various denominations to get the gospel out . However, planting churches proves far too demanding for such a loosey goosey maxim.
And, as far as "engaging culture," I think you mean, "accepting culture" do you not? You know, a Driscollian Paradigm where we "Puff, Preach and Partake," or "Who's 4 Brews?" or "Sexcapades," etc. etc. Well, brother, I don't think you'll get too many Southern Baptists agreeing with your idea of "engaging culture."
As for Imonk, what can one say? He says "The younger leaders of the SBC are taking on power in a denomination that has been, for the most part, attempting to lock the doors and hope they would go away. Well, they didn’t" (//link). Uh, excuse me. No one said they needed to go away, Michael. Get you facts straight. We said they needed to grow up. There is a difference, you know.
And, may I ask just what you mean by "the Jerry Vines version of the SBC"? You failed to say. You assumed everyone knows. Perhaps you do not like Vines because he built a successful, mega-church in Jax, Florida. But that can't be it because you probably cite building a mega-church as a reason to embrace Driscollian vulgarity. Oh, but wait: Driscoll engages culture but Vines did not. How stupid of me.
You further state: 'This is now a denomination that has given itself clear and simple instructions: Get to the task of world missions, not the task of building a denominational culture." Uh, I don't think that's what we voted on yesterday, Imonk (I was there and I *voted for* the President to appoint a task committee). We voted to "study" ourselves...to become official and duly elected navel-gazers for an entire year...to add another piece of bureaucratic armor to study whether we need our present bureaucratic armor for future bureaucratic endeavors. Any other time, we'd be plastered to the wall by 'objective' critics like yourself for wasting time with study committees while the world needs the gospel.
I guess you were probably thinking we could live awhile off the fruit of Founders** since Founders has been so successful with their "patient teaching of the Gospel and church-centered theology." Absolutely!
And I bet those innumerable churches who've been decimated because of Founders' "quiet revolution" in transforming Southern Baptist churches into "Reformed" fellowships promoting "the doctrines of grace" stand as further evidence of their "patient teaching." Of course, I'm unsure many of those churches who've been the receiving end of their "fruit" would agree with you on precisely what constitutes "patient teaching of the gospel." One can surely sympathize with them since their church was gutted of its leadership, however. Surely.
Also, know we are impressed, Michael. Your prediction that "Thousands of churches will die in the next 2-4 decades" is reminiscent of another Michael, Michel de Nostredame, (A.K.A., Nostradamus) who continues to dazzle modern culture with his pinpoint prophecy! Perhaps somehow his 17th C prophecies can be incorporated into Stetzer's "similar beliefs" within "certain parameters" so that we can "engage" modern culture. I'll see if I can make something work.
Finally--and it really saddens me because I want to go on but don't have time--you assert "Johnny Hunt has chosen to support the future of the SBC and the Gospel. He has laid aside the questions of style, culture and methodology- even the questions of Calvinism- and chosen to side with those who want the Gospel itself to be our unity." Really? Really?
Not only is this statement amazingly ignorant of the issues surrounding the divide, it is amazingly ignorant of who Johnny Hunt is. If you think Johnny Hunt will sell his birthright for a bowl of emergent-like stew, you may be two quarts lower than some people think you are.
Got to go.
With that, I am...
**Imonk also cites 9Marks about which I have no workable knowledge