Thursday, June 21, 2007


I've read many reports on the SBC meeting in SA so I won't clog cyberspace with yet another one. I will address only one thing I heard while there as a messenger from our church. It was the SWBTS report by it's President Dr. Paige Patterson.

Let me begin by saying I love that Seminary. I graduated from it and pastored several fruitful years three minutes from the oval. I spoke seven years in succession in chapel in September of each of those years. SWBTS is my heritage.

I love Dr. Patterson. I knew his dad better than I know him but I did hear him preach recently at First Baptist Church of Moore Oklahoma and was impressed with his communication skills. He is my brother in Christ and I will always be mindful of that overriding fact.

I do however, want to address what was said in his report at the Convention. It will simply serve to launch me into what I desire all of us to remember, myself first and foremost.

It was in his report that he used the now well known analogy of all of us in Baptist life being in a river. If I remember correctly, he informed us that some were drifting downstream near the shore of liberalism but the resurgence challenged that drift and won the day, though diligence is always our calling.

Others are now, he said, drifting downstream near the shore of neo-orthodoxy and even, perhaps, in the middle drifting to ecumenicism or words to that effect. But according to his statement, SWBTS is leading the way upstream as true baptist separatists fighting against the current of culture. The idea seemed to be if we join with SWBTS in their journey we will be truly Baptist.

Some have written to refute his analogy. I read one who said that they [SWBTS] had struck a sandbar and trustees were rowing hard doing nothing worthwhile. Another said they [SWBTS] had really sunk and they just weren't aware of that fact. There were several others.

A person may agree or disagree with anyone or all of these responses mentioned of course. But I simply want to add my response to his words. My response is simply...there is another river.

In John 7:37-39 Jesus spoke of the Spirit when He said, "If any man thirst let him come to me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." The next phrase shows He was referencing of the Holy Spirit. In Ezekial 47 the Spirit is seen also as being something like a river. Israel was given, by the prophet, who had been given by the Lord, a vision of hope and restoration for a people in captivity. What we must never do is find ourselves as a people or denomination paddling upstream against His flow.

I've noticed a few things about this "river". [The Holy Spirit] He doesn't follow someone's preconceived or predetermined banks. He cuts His own path. What He seems to do is, having overflowed anyone's idea of river banks, he takes His people His direction and they wind up being where He wants them to be. No one should doubt His faithfulness to the text of scripture but, it will be as it was intended to be understood, not mixed with the traditions or additions of men.

I've also noticed that He moves those in His flow toward people, not away from them, especially those who are dirty, doubting, despicable, and generally in a mess. He makes His message of GRACE more powerful by creating a graciousness in His people toward those three D kind of folks. He is always, in His flow, honoring the uniqueness of Christ as exclusively God's answer to the sin problem and seeking to fulfill the Father's purpose of calling to Himself those three D kind of people. It is how He does it that amazes me.

He seems to delight in choosing the very tools many would discard as worthless and un-useable. He seems to delight in taking the meaningless and making something meaningful of it like the jawbone of an ass. He takes a non-descript shepherd boy and makes him a king, a wine-press treader and makes him a soldier, an insignificant nation and makes her a blessing to ALL nations. He takes the gore of a crucifixion and makes a message of life of it. I even understand why and how He takes a group of people meeting in a pub or brewery and makes a voice for the gospel out of it. No riverbanks you see.

I guess what I'm hoping is that, in our desire to paddle hard up river and to separate ourselves from wrong kinds of people and influences, we don't wind up having made the saddest mistake that I believe could ever befall us as the people of God or as a denomination for that matter.... navigating life in the wrong river.

Paul Burleson


My brother-in-law and I are leaving on a ten day motorcycle trip to the Blueridge Parkway next monday and I will not, for obvious reasons, have my laptop with me. I will ask Mary to read me comments by phone as she will not be going this trip. I'll post again when I return, the Lord willing.


I've just discovered I've been tagged by Paul Littleton. That means I'm to say 5 things I dig about Jesus and tag 5 more bloggers and link to them. The only links I can do are the sausage kind in my refrigerator with my skillet. Sorry Paul. I'll do the five things after my trip. Am I a party pooper or what. :)


Gary Snowden said...


Great food for thought. I deeply appreciate the wisdom of your words.

Paul Burleson said...


Thanks, I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and read.

Wade Burleson said...


Great post!!

Your insight, as Guy says, is 'dead on.'

Our folks are looking forward hearing you Sunday.

Have a great motorcycle trip!


Art Rogers said...

Wow, Paul. One of your best articles.

This river stands in stark contrast to the one described during the SWBTS report.

Be careful on your trip.


Paul Burleson said...


Thanks Wade. I'm looking forward to the services Sunday. I enjoy speaking to your congregation. They have a way of really hearing what's said.

Do you recall that last time I spoke to them I asked them to vote to extend your vacation several weeks so I could return several times in a row to finish my series. They voted overwhelming to do so, but you called long distance to raise a point of order. You said I had not declared the congregation to be in business session so the vote was null and void. Do you remember that? :) [It's way too early to try to be funny. Sorry Wade.]


I was REALLY serious minded when I wrote it because I believe it so much and I wanted to communicate it without judgment of anyone else.

Then I added those two PSs because I won't be posting anymore before I leave and kinda took the serious edge of the post. I was afraid I diminished it by doing so. But my goodness life is serious enough...we better add a few laughs when we can I guess. [see above] Thanks for commenting.

bryan riley said...

Wow. Fantastic. Dead on. Spot on. On and on may He flow.

We are leaving for Mindanao in four days. Keep praying!

Paul Burleson said...


Thanks. We will be praying for you. Fill us all in later.

By the way, some of your comments on other blogs I've read lately have really been on target too. Thanks for that also.

Bob Cleveland said...

You sure say some smart stuff, for a biker.

Paul said...


If your sausage links are as good as this post then you must be one heck of a cook!

Paul Burleson said...


Thanks guys.

I'm literally pulling out of the driveway on the way to the BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY in 30 minutes, so I'm locking down my computer and it won't see the light of day for about ten of them.

Pray for Fred [my motorcycling buddy and brother-in-law] and me and I will post pictures after it's all over. I just got a new digital camera and all necessary equipment to do that. Isn't this fun or what.

Lee said...

There was a little preview of Dr. Patterson's statements at the SBC in Malcolm Yarnell's discussion of the Baptist Renaissance at Southwestern a few months back. That was where Dr. Yarnell drew the conclusion that Baptists were closest to the Bible, and that a simple, pure exegesis of scripture would lead one to become a Baptist.

Maybe that's what you would be if you simply relied on your own intellectual ability in exegesis of the scripture, though the fact that many Christian intellectuals have given the scripture a thorough going over and didn't arrive at the Baptist or Anabaptist, conclusion. Perhaps that's because all of those boats are still floating in the wrong river.