Thursday, June 14, 2007

REFLECTIONS OF THE 2007 SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION

I might be a simple person, [see last post] but I'm sure not a political person. This was only my second Convention in the last twenty years basically because I'm not a political animal. I have some grief over the atmosphere created along with the good that may have transpired over those years, but, for obvious reasons, these last two years have been especially significant to me personally.

That said, I must confess, I don't hold out much hope for change. I'm related to one who is far more optomistic than am I and I hope he is right. We shall see.

Following are some random thoughts in no particlar order of importance. Something more definitive will come later...perhaps. By the way, if you're not into reading personal stuff, you may wish to skip down to the paragraph entitled Bloggers.


Reuniting----The Convention proved itself to again be a wonderful tool for reconnecting with people not seen in years, some in many years. To see people I pastored years ago at Southcliff Baptist Church in Ft. Worth, Texas while they were in Seminary was beyond good, it was a hoot. They are all over the world in ministry and business and you will be hearing from one I've asked to document his journey that will appear on this blog soon.

Family----I have been married to the greatest gal alive for forty eight years and to have been with her these days was incredible. She is now in Austin on business and I am in Angleton Texas in a three day meeting. I will pick her up Saturday morning for a trip to Arlington Texas where I will speak all services on Father's day at Cornerstone Baptist for Pastor Dwight McKissic and then home to Norman which will have made for quite a week for this couple. Add to that blessing the ability to hang out with a daughter-in-law and son in an important event like we experienced and it has been some Convention for a portion of the Burleson family.

Bloggers----I've met some new ones like Les and Debbie Puryear, a great couple and one Mary and I could hang out with, and have seen others I'd gotten to know quite well before the Convention this year, people like the Littletons, Todd and Paul, Marty, Ben, Lee, Alyce, Micah, Dwight, Clif, Bob, Alan, Art, and my goodness the list could go on. I say without reservation that the major reason for any hope reborn in my old by-passed heart for the SBC has been directly connected to the willingness I've seen on their part to speak the truth in love. Sometimes the truth is stark on blogs because of the inadequecy of printed words to convey true emotions and personhood, and sometimes passion can cross the line to hurtful words. I've always taken it upon myself to e-mail someone when I believe that has happened and I had been personally offended by it and have done so numerous times. I don't broadcast that fact and don't intend to start now, but, with that said, there is much good being done as light is cast into dark corners of kingdoms being established within our Convention that need to be seen for what they really are, by all of us IMHO.

I am saddened but understanding of some of my favorites bloggers deciding to go on to other things and issues of life. They will be a part of my walk with the Lord from now on and that fact is, for me, worth the journey of the past couple of years.

The Southern Baptist Convention----I'm reminded of 11 Kings 18 where the King told the Prophet to go down and destroy the brass serpent. We all know it had been a gift that God had given for the good of the people but because they had eyes for and were now worshipping it, instead of the God who gave it, God removed it. I'm not saying our Convention IS like that brass serpent. I'm saying our Convention COULD BE like that brass serpent, the object of our affections and commitment, instead of our being committed to the God who gave it.

I do know that the atmosphere I experienced at the Convention itself, while much more thoughtful and prayerful for the most part under President Frank Page's capable leadership, still had a rigid and exclusionary bent to it. This was seen clearly by the trumpeting of a refusal to respect and hear motions passed by the Convention which, by the way, are far different than resolutions. There is a top down control issue being addressed in our Convention and the heat is increasing. The outcome is up for grabs in my opinion. I understand the disillusionment and tiredness admitted to by many.

I'm not sure what the future holds for the SBC but I do know our future in Kingdom work is NOT dependent upon her but upon the God who gave her to the Kingdom. Were she ever to be the object of our affections and commitment I would expect God to act. He loves us too much to allow us to have any idols. He has shown that before.

Spin----I know all the above is only my spin/opinion. I remember a time when some words had a different meaning to them. "Gay" is an example. I used to have a gay old time on occasion, but no longer refer to any time in that fashion for obvious reasons. "Spin" is such a word. I used to say "that's my spin on it." I meant my personal opinion. Now spin has come to mean changing the facts or distorting reality.

I think Bill O'what's his name may have started this. His "no spin zone" really means "no spin except mine zone". Everyone's opinion is just their spin on things. Don't get me wrong, I like some of the positions Bill takes on some issues. I don't particularly like his personality but he probably wouldn't like mine either. But it IS his "spin zone" and that's alright.

Editorials are placed on the Spin/Editorial page for good reason. Journalism is reporting facts, events, situations with as little spin/personal opinion as possible. That's ethical journalism. It's a relic in our day. Blogging is NOT journalism basically. It is that person's spin zone. And that's alright too.

This definition change was aided perhaps by our inerrancy controversy. I certainly hold to the inerrancy of the original autographs but do NOT hold to the inerrancy of the thoughts of people about what our present day scriptures are saying on every minor issue. Whether a woman's income must not be seen as the primary income of a household can be a viewpoint of a family if desired. but for a Seminary to adopt that as a view that must be embraced/taught is beyond the pale. I think it is just their spin/opinion on such an issue. Someone may say "where is that being taught?" If it isn't it is just around the corner if what IS being taught is any indication. That's my spin on it, I could be wrong.

My point is that civility has been lost partly because we have adopted the new definiton for "spin." Thus, my view is right and your's is wrong and when you speak on a subject you're just spinning it. [Using the new definition.]

I think it would be helpful for all of us to remember our view of an issue is just that...our spin/opinion...and can be placed along side other's and let the Convention decide which we will hold to for the moment which is what our BF@M does. ONLY the essentials of the Faith, those salvific in nature and uniquely Baptist, are convictional enough to address as a Convention it would seem to me. Lesser doctrinal matters are to be left to all of us to have our "spin" on. If this kind of civility had been in practice pre-ppl/baptism by those who hold to eternal security days we wouldn't be faced with the heat that is being generated by Conventions such as the 2007 in San Antonio. That's my spin and I'm sticking to it. As I said...more later...perhaps.

Paul Burleson

16 comments:

Kevin Bussey said...

Paul,

The only thing I missed about going to SA was seeing guys like you. I don't have much hope right now. I do look forward to seeing you in October.

Paul Burleson said...

Kevin,

YOU were missed. I'll bet I was asked by a dozen people about Kevin Bussey. They had heard of my being with you and are certainly your fans.

I'll be there with bells on. My schedule at www.paulburleson.com reflects the meeting. Stay in touch.

Les Puryear said...

Paul,

Debbie and I enjoyed meeting you and Mary. When we net I felt like I was meeting an old friend. Thanks for the fellowship.

Les

Paul Burleson said...

Les,

It WAS a delight to meet you and Debbie. You and I both married above ourselves. That was apparent to everyone there. :)

Seriously, it is funny how our words have given us a connection even before we meet. I felt the same way.

If we are ever out that way we'll give you a call and share a meal. Do the same if you are ever in Oklahoma.

bryan riley said...

For those who have little hope right now it is because you shouldn't have hope for the SBC; our hope must be in God alone. God is always faithful. God is always True. God is always going to see that His word does not go out void. God is sure, loving, merciful, and He will see His purposes through until the end. So, when we say we don't have much hope it is only because our hope is in the wrong thing.

Sonya D said...

Paul,
I've always found your "spin" to be very insightful. Great words.

Bob Cleveland said...

Paul: It was good to see you and Mary, but that was partially offset by the normalcy of my being the oldest person in view. Well, that's life. As to the convention, take heart in the fact that you're a whole lot more optimistic than I am.

I'm beginning to think there's room for a non-denominational non-associational missions entity to address national and international concerns, free-standing and formed according to BF&M principles. Sort of a voluntary CP which would depend on God's provision to receive funding and send missionaries.

Or not. Just a thought.

CB Scott said...

Paul,

It was good to meet you, sir.

cb

Paul Burleson said...

Bryan,

I understand what you are saying. I agree.

I think when you hear me say I don't have much hope for the Convention it might be more that I'm addressing a hope "for" something than a hope "in" something.

I'm long past placing hope "in" anything or even anyone but the Lord alone. I've had to learn that the hard way generally, but learn it I have.

I still have hope "for" people and things. It's part of my optimism in the character of God that He is so willing and able and, in fact, is wooing us to trust Him and serve Him only, which is, as you've so well stated, the only wise and sensible thing to for anyone of us to do. But many may be choosing not to from my perspective..

While I am a strong believer in the total Sovereignty of God, I still see those passages where Jesus said.."oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered you unto myself..." and you know the rest of it. I think of Him as having a longing [hope?] that they would. But they didn't.

How this meshes together with the total Sovereignty of God I hold to I haven't figured out yet but choose to let this antinomy remain. He'll explain it all some day.

It is THAT "hope" or "longing" that is beginning to diminish a bit as I see some in the SBC who might be choosing to say no to serving God alone. Remember this is only my view of things. I can certainly be misreading things. But I don't THINK I am.

Please be aware I'm not attempting to categorize anyone or, more especially, the SBC as "Jerusalem." That is just illustrative of my hope for her. [The Convention]


Sonya,

Thanks. Next to my wife, your opinion of things means more to me than any or all of the other bloggers. [Maybe all of them put together.] :) Keep dropping by.


Bob,

Don't forget your my Senior by less than a year. Come to think of it, that makes me second-in-command. Next year you tellem [the bloggers or the Convention] what to say and do and I'll be the enforcer. We'll get this show back on track. ;)


CB,

You are part of the reason [new friends] I have loved returning to attending the Convention. It was good to get aquainted with you and sharing a meal with you.

I can see why Ben is so appreciative of your friendship, as is Wade and so many others. I'm glad to be counted as part of that group now.

Paul Burleson said...

AND, for all you out there who are versed in the English language, rest assured that, while slipping once in a while, I am aware of the fact that "You're" is the proper use of language when refering to one who is something like a little less than a year older than is the one typing.

For the saving of my reputation concerning the use of the English language, I want it known that NO ONE pointed this out to me. Not even my wife who is Supervising Editor with a major publishing company. I FOUND it when reading the automatic e-mail sent to my computer of all comments sent to my blog, even my own...go figure. :)

Dorcas Hawker said...

Paul -

If you and Bob did get to take charge as first and second in command, then I am sure my hope for the convention would be strengthened. I value both of your wisdom and friendship. Though admitting that may ruin my "rep" with my generation of independent thinkers. I don't think we're supposed to listen to our elders ... or something like that. :)

It was good to see you at the Convention for a short while and I am sorry we did not get a chance to chat longer.

Dorcas

Paul Burleson said...

Dorcas,

I enjoyed our all too brief time also.

I appreciate your willingness to hear guys like Bob and me. We really do have some solid answers for the issues we face. [I wish I could remember what they are..the answers OR the issues.] :)

Bob Cleveland said...

Paul: That no one pointed out your your-you're thing is probably deference to the elderly......

Like senior-citizen discounts, I'll take'em any way I can get'em.

Paul Burleson said...

Bob,

Ahh life is good. I totally agree, we have earned whatever deference we can come by. discounts, lower prices, closer parking spaces, as I said, life is good. :)

Lee said...

I don't like to be cynical, and I'm certainly no prophet, either, but it seems to me that messenger registration is one of the vital signs of the health of the convention. The low totals in recent years tell me that something is wrong. This convention, billed as a showdown of sorts, held in a popular convention city in Texas, the state with more Southern Baptists than any other, should have drawn well over 15,000 messengers. Well, I doubt if anyone from the convention will come to ask me my opinion.

My pastor came this year for the first time in maybe a decade. His comment was similar to yours regarding the restrictive, exclusionary attitude, noting that things haven't changed since the last time he went.

It was great running into you in the hallway. Running into other bloggers made the whole meeting worth attending.

Paul Burleson said...

Lee,

I know I've said it before, but I say it again anyway, you are one of the more sane voices I'm reading in the blogging world right now. Your last two posts have been great. I'm glad you're a friend.