The Southern Baptist Convention 2012 Annual Meeting (SBC12) in New Orleans, Louisiana was my first experience with the yearly gathering of Southern Baptists from around the United States. The experience was overall a joy and blessing as I was able to meet many brothers in the Lord and take part in Southern Baptist history. If you have not attended a SBC Annual Meeting, make plans to do so next year in Houston, Texas.
I could write thousands of words on all the happenings at SBC12 but instead will travel along the perceived “mountain peaks” of goings on during the event.
1. Pastors’ Conference
The Pastors’ Conference was, for me, all about David Platt’s sermon titled, “Spiritual Deception, Biblical Conversion, and Global Mission.” I did not foresee Platt addressing the brouhaha over his previous “Sinner’s Prayer” comments but Platt came out directly addressing the issue. I was thankful for Platt’s humility displayed in his sermon and his affirmation of using prayer during acts of repentance and faith. He also clarified his concerns with the use of the “Sinner’s Prayer”:
“Scores of people—some of whom attend our churches and others of whom are far away from our churches—who today assume that they are saved simply because of a prayer they prayed or a decision they made however many years ago.
…In a day of rampant easy-believism that creates cultural Christians who do not know Christ, who have never counted the cost of following Christ, we must be biblically clear about saving faith, lest any of us lead people down a very dangerous and potentially damning road of spiritual deception.”
Two Resolutions that will receive much attention in the months to come are the “Sinner’s Prayer” resolution and the “Unity” resolution.
The “Sinner’s Prayer” resolution was originally submitted by “Traditionalist Statement” (TS) author Eric Hankins and, similar to the TS, employed language aimed at Southern Baptist Calvinists. Thankfully, the resolution was essentially rewritten (both language and Scripture citations removed/replaced) by the Resolutions Committee before being presented for a vote. See “Which Sinner’s Prayer Resolution Passed?” for a comparison of the resolutions.
After the revision of the resolution, many Calvinists supported and voted for it. I voted against it as I believe almost all Southern Baptists are in agreement with a biblical use of prayer during acts of repentance and faith. To approve a resolution that has been, and is currently, generally agreed on seems like a waste of time and ink.
The “Unity” resolution submitted by my friend and fellow blogger Pastor Chris Roberts passed with hardly any opposition. This was encouraging and helped to set the tone for the coming year of business in the SBC and what most of us desire in the Convention.
I am thankful that my first SBC Annual Meeting involved the election of the SBC’s first African-American President, Fred Luter. This is an historic event that I will always remember. I am excited for the leadership and tact of Fred Luter. His dedication to unity among Calvinists and non-Calvinists in the SBC is refreshing and needed.
I know it is the concern for some that Fred Luter should not be seen as the “black SBC President.” Though, I’m not sure this is possible or it is necessarily a negative thing. Fred Luter’s skin color, regardless of personal significance, is of much significance in an organization that was founded on the right to own black slaves. Luter’s qualities and gifts surely eclipse the significance of his skin color, however, I believe Luter will be seen first and foremost, both presently and historically, as the SBC’s first black president. This is not to say he will not have a legacy that involves more than his skin color, but the reality will not simply be ignored.
Nathan Lino was elected to the office First Vice President and is, from all accounts I have heard, a dedicated Gospel minister who loves the church and the Southern Baptist Convention.
Dave Miller was elected to the office of Second Vice President, defeating both Brad Atkins and Eric Hankins. Miller’s election was quite a surprise to many as his candidacy consisted of only a few days. I believe Miller’s election over Hankins in a runoff vote spoke of unity over division. I am thankful and excited for Dave’s coming ministry as 2nd VP and his message of unity and charity in the midst of increasing division and hostility.
4. Name Change
The official unofficial “nick-name” name change of the SBC to Great Commission Baptists was in my mind, as was the “Sinner’s Prayer” resolution, needless. Any SBC church can already use any name they desire to use. The name change essentially gave churches the “ok” to do what they already had the “ok” to do. I’m still perplexed by the whole issue.
The 2012 SBC Annual Meeting was full of interesting moments. Tribble became a star, Twitter was credited with heavily influencing the 2nd VP election, and the Trads Document gained little, if any, steam at the event. Overall, the Annual Meeting was an encouraging and joyous event, to which I am now officially hooked. I look forward to Houston and the fellowship and business to come. May the Lord continue to bless the Southern Baptist Convention and guide her path.