Headlines from First Thoughts

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Does a New President of the SBC Really Matter?

Amidst all the things going on in our world today: a new hurricane season, ministering to immigrants, and handling the Iraq issues, the Southern Baptists made headlines again.

In our annual 2nd week in June pilgrimage to a Civic Center near you, the SBC voted for a hometown guy to be the president. A native of Greensboro, Frank Page squeaked by with some home cookin' and some local voters.

What made this so interesting to the New York Times and even local news here in Knoxville is this guy is not one of "the boys." He wasn't hand-picked in a back room. He was voted on by the people.

Here's the real story. Dr. Frank Page is the SBC's first blogging president. A pastor in Oklahoma used his blog to run Frank Page's campaign. The big stink over Dr. Page among the other candidates is not only his age (he's a young buck-- 51), but also he supports only the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. This is the new document voted on by the SBC to replace their old confession of 1963. (My church still adheres to the 1963 document, not the 2000.) But the 2000 is the criteria for hiring in the new SBC. Lately, the International Mission Board has been in a tailspin because some of their missionaries who want to pray as they feel led. The International Mission Board trustees have been debating whether or not it's ok for their missionaries to pray in tongues. I'm not kidding; this is the stuff they debate in board rooms. And of course, prayer or the said language in which one prays is not covered in the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. So.... Dr. Page is in the camp of "let 'em pray as they feel led." Or in other words, don't go beyond the hiring document that they already have.

If this is confusing to you, it should be. While the rest of the South waits for more hurricanes, we're debating who and how people should be praying. Baptists are fiercely independent, and they really don't like to be told how to pray.

So...good luck to Dr. Page as he sorts things out in the prayer closet. As for me, I'm going to try to stay focused on sharing Christ's love with the people affected by paragraph 1. I'm sure we don't need a vote or a blog to do it. And these are the things that really matter.

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