The final part of the interview with the LifeWay trio deals with issues of the Emerging Church, Calvinism, challenges for the SBC in the 21st Century, and parting advice for young ministers. The ideas shared by Dr.’s Rainer, Stetzer, and Waggoner are thought provoking and pertinent for young SBC ministers.[podcast]http://www.baptisttwentyone.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/baptist-21_stetzer-rainer-waggpt3a.mp3[/podcast]
Some Quotes from their Interview, part 3:
On the Emerging Church:
Stetzer: Evangelicals are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the theological direction of Emergent. We are seeing a reordering of the Emergent Church movement and will see changes over the coming months…
We need to avoid making broad sweeping generalizations, which cause young leaders to leave or we will drive out another generation. I want biblically faithful BFM affirming emerging churches, traditional churches and contemporary churches on mission together, and stop bombing each other and find ways to work together as the body of Christ.
Rainer: There have been a lot of shrill voices on both sides of the Calvinism debate. There are extreme forms of Calvinism that are anti-evangelism and anti-missions, but this is not the norm… We are spending a lot of energy focusing on areas that I do not think are very constructive. I wish we could get about the business of getting all of our collective energy and resources together to be the evangelistic Great Commission missional denomination that we can be.
Stetzer: I cannot get excited about any theological system without real world ministry leading to conversions and church plants. Theology should be measured by its fruit. I am not worried about evangelistic, church planting Calvinism. I am worried about Calvinism that does not reach lost people. That kind of Calvinism will end up dividing our convention because we are passionate about missions and evangelism.
On the future of the SBC:
Stetzer: I think the challenge will be that we do not know how to cooperate when we don’t look alike. The collapse of the methodological consensus will cause us to cooperate not on a paradigm of ministry but on a common confession and a common mission…If current trends continue, the SBC will be smaller, leaner and more focused on God’s global mission.
Waggoner: In our current fragmentation, there are a few things that will hold us together even if our churches look different. These issues are maintaining commitment to Authority of God’s Word and maintaining a commitment to the Great Commission. We can remain cohesive and can continue to cooperate together. Diversity is here permanently in terms of how we look and how we structure our ministries. We will never look as monolithic as we once did. The question is can we maintain unity on the core doctrinal convictions; this will determine what we look like in the future.
Rainer: Words that Louis Drummond said to me, “Stay godly.” We must be the kind of men that have spiritual leadership at the core of who we are. Nothing else matters if that is not set in stone first. If we focus on the spiritual disciplines we would see a lot of the things that seem important are not important, and we would get the focus that we need.
Waggoner: Have a passionate devotion to God and be faithful in your heart and motives for what you do. And then truly love others; invest in their lives and care for them. You must be in the Word and be engaged with people.
It is our hope that you will give a hearing to these men and that the ideas they express will help us all think through how to be Baptist in the 21st century. We hope that through interviews and ideas with men like this, you will join with us in thinking through how we can:
“continue to cooperate together in the cause of the Gospel. We believe the Gospel is relevant to every man and woman in every culture, as it calls all to repentance of sin and faith in Jesus. Our goal is to bring the gospel to bear on contemporary issues in the church and the world. This will mean engaging culture, using culture, rebuking culture and redeeming culture… Believing that Jesus is the only way to the Father (Jn 14:6), we pray that everything that is done here would ultimately be useful for the exalting of King Jesus so that He might gather all the peoples of the earth into His body, the Church.” (From Baptist21 Purpose Statement)
Make sure to check out:
Part 1: dealing with issues of denominating, young leaders, and church planting
Part 2: which gives advice for church planters and speaks to future books that will be influential
Check out past interviews at the Baptist21 Podcast
Ed said: “The collapse of the methodological consensus will cause us to cooperate not on a paradigm of ministry but on a common confession and a common mission…If current trends continue, the SBC will be smaller, leaner and more focused on God’s global mission.” Stellar. And correct. If the 1950s return, with a Southern colloquial culture and a Southern gospel viewpoint, we are ready to take the nation for Christ. But that is not likely. What is more likely is a confessional consensus like Ed says. I pray we will unite on things that matter, which would not include our personal preferences.