Generational Issues and the SBC: Panel Q&A (video)

SEBTS-logo-001-150x150Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary recently held a panel discussion on the topic of the Generational Divide in the SBC. The panel consisted of Danny Akin, JD Greear, David Nelson, and Nathan Finn. This panel discussion covers some very important topics. This panel discussion may be seen as quite controversial, but it is a must view.

Some of the topics included:

    • Alcohol
    • Generational thoughts on worship
    • Two diverging visions for the SBC
    • The importance of theological triage, and the foolishness of saying it doesn’t exist
    • Calvinism
    • Acts29, why young guys should stay even though church planting through the SBC is sometimes frustrating
    • The future of the SBC
    • How some in SBC pulpits misunderstand the gospel
    • The Great Commission Resurgence
    • Why Summit chose Acts29
    • Why JD Greear gets excited about planting with SBC’ers and not just Acts29
    • The unfortunate reality that some want to separate over issues that should be second and third tier
    • How rhetoric will cause further harm, on both sides of the Calvinism argument, such as, statements like, “a move toward a 5th point of Calvinism is a move from the gospel.”
    • JD Greear covers what he labels good parachurchism and bad parachurchism and how it affects the SBC

Some of the questions posed:

1. How can young SBC’ers pursue holiness, while abstaining from alcohol, but at the same time not being legalists?

2. Why should young SBC’ers stay in the SBC, especially when it is frustrating to plant churches because of the red tape at the state and with NAMB, and there is less with an organization like Acts29?

3. What can young Calvinists in the SBC do when so many are being passed over by local churches because of their Calvinism, should they really commit to the SBC if they do not feel a part of the family?

4. What does the bible really say about homosexuality and how do we respond in a pastoral way?

5. What do you think is the heart of the issue of this intergenerational challenge, who are the stakeholders and what is at stake?

Comments 0

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  2. There are regional issues that some of us don’t even deal with. I’ve been church planting (three successful works) since 1995… we never had worship wars. We started singing music written primarily in our era and kept it up. The fact that other areas of the country struggle with this and act like we who don’t even care or want to fight is a big problem. That is an example of a lot of our problems.

    The SBC is still fighting wars that are over for many of us, or better yet, that we never had any interest in. Theologians think these are sport and want us to be their baseball teams. We don’t want to play. Those are your games. We want to save, deliver and heal. And frankly, the board’s protectionism and lack of trust in the young leaders makes it hard for us even though we believe we are Gospel centered, we are not yet Jesus centered, trust centered, love centered.

    And God help the patronizing view that the panel takes of the young. Calvin and Spurgeon, and Wesley and Whitfield etc. were changing the world and framing the theology that you now teach, in their twenties! Goodness gracious, stop acting so fearful and insecure. These guys love you and respect you and may be smarter and even wiser than you.
    So what? Jesus and his discples were some young bucks also.

    PS I’m 50 this year.

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    Mr. Capps,

    I am confused, I am not sure what your first paragraph is talking about. Could you help?

    Also, not sure what you are getting at with your second paragraph, I hope you are not saying that the men in this panel are more concerned with arguing as a “sport” than they are about the lost. That is untrue. And I am not sure what you mean by the board’s “protectionism” making it difficult on you…

    The panel makes the point that many of those that do great things are young. They are not at all patronizing to the young. In fact, they say they need their energy and two of them are right around 30.

    so again I may be misunderstanding what you are getting at even in the 3rd paragraph.


  4. Nathan,

    They don’t make it difficult on me… they make it difficult on those young pastors and ‘would be’ church planters (the reason they asked the question)to want to hang around to see if the Convention can or will keep up, that’s all.

    Let me say it more simply… I thought if this panel was supposed to be representative of the ‘big issues’ …they made the point in abstencia (by what they didn’t address).

    The issues are not beloved Calvinism or music styles or whether or not drinking is Biblical… ask any healthy church how much of their time they spend on those issues.

    The issues are how can we better collaborate for the sake of reaching our cities for Christ and are the systems we are using lean enough and effective enough to do it in a increasingly secularized culture.

    Least that’s my issues.

    Didn’t mean to offend.

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    Mr. Capps,

    You did not offend me at all, i just didnt understand what you were talking about. Part of what the panel covered was the difficulty North American church planting among baptists. So i am not sure they are sayin in the panel what you think they are.

    Also, this panel never said it was goin to answer the “big issues”, however the issues they did answer are important issues in the SBC. I would disagree with what you say on that.

    This group of men absolutely agrees that there needs to be structural change, look at the Great Commission Declaration they have just signed. That declaration also addresses the need to reach the cities… including the need for various methods, etc. So, again i am unsure what your problem with this panel is.

    in my opinion this panel is discussing many topics that are important, and I think they did so in a way that needs to be heard.


  6. Is it a little self serving for the employees of an SBC funded seminary to talk about the preservation of the SBC? Isnt there an inherent conflict of interest that would prevent a subjective view of the SBC?

    I was disappointed that Akin did not address the subject of the statement made at the woefully divisive John 3:16 conference regarding the statement made at the conference, “a move to 5 point Calvinism is a move away from the Gospel”. With the rise of the numbers of young people that hold to reformed theology, this is a major issue as why some are moving away from the SBC. Yes, they will get educated at an SBC seminary because of monetary discounts but then will move away from the SBC when they graduate seminary.

    AND speaking on the issue of diversity within the SBC, it is a crying shame that Voddie Baucham has also weighed in on his own experience of coming out of the “Cavinist closet” and how he has no plans on “considering a future of any significance in the Convention” see:

    Lastly, I found it very condescending of Akin to imply that a young calvnist had a hard time finding a job within an SBC local church may just be suffering from a bad attitude rather than Akin addressing the reality that there is much ignorance within MANY of the local SBC churches today that leads to younger pastors leave the SBC and turn to other networks such as Acts 29 and Sovereign Grace. Most times, it is the non-calvinist is the local churches that make an issue out of Calvinism.

    The SBC has run its course. The 2 year running decline in numbers is just foreshadowing of what is to come. And now the GCR is the great hope of the SBC? Something that they should have been focused on all along. Maybe if the SBC had been more proactive for a change instead of reactive and reactionary then this current decline could have been prevented. The SBC is not a needed nor necessary entity for the spread of the Gospel.

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    I am going to respond to your comment, and I hope it will be helpful, though you seem very turned off by the SBC.

    In this panel they were discussing specific questions, however, in a recent address Dr. Akin made it clear that if shutting down SEBTS were best for the SBC to be effective then he would hope it would be done. That is not self-serving.

    Thought Dr. Akin did not address the poor comment about the 5th point of Calvinism, his academic Vice President did. In fact he made a very strong statement about it.

    Voddie’s problem is not his Calvinism with most SBC’ers, it is his other views. I am not saying that is right or wrong, but I think it is wrong to say it is all about Calvinism.

    You are right that it is non-calvinists that make the issue of Calvinism and unfairly. I think Dr. Akin addressed this a little in the panel. However, you are unaware of the many stories that he has of Young Calvinist acting irresponsibly and arrogant in churches. That is what he is upset about. He is not upset at all about Calvinism. He was the driving force behind “building bridges” a conference dedicated to helping Cal. and non-Cal. cooperate together in the SBC. He has hired Calvinists at SEBTS.

    I think you make a good point about wishing that the SBC had been more proactive. However, I do not think the SBC has run its course as you say. But for change to occur it means men like you, who have a different opinion of what the SBC should be, need to be involved and show up at meetings. Otherwise it gets tiresome when they continue to criticize but refuse to be part of the solution.


  8. Nathan,
    Thank you for responding. I was, at the Building Bridges Conference and as a 40 year old Calvinist, I was very encouraged by Akin and Ascol putting the conference together for a much needed dialogue between Calvinists and non-calvinists. And a much needed call for unity around the Gospel. My joy was short lived though upon hearing about the plans for the John 3:16 conference that was put on by prominent leaders including Johnny Hunt. The John 3:16 conference just put more wedges between the two sides and caused more division whereas the Building Bridges conference was about unity. My question is this, Where were the SBC leaders that sponsored and supported the Building Bridges Conference? Why didnt they denounce the John 3:16 conference and divisive statements as mentioned about 5 point Calvinism?
    I do realize that Voddie has other views that he is in disagreement with the majority of the SBC but his post clearly states that he has love for the SBC and that he was saddened by his treatment within the SBC once he was “outed”. Calvinism may not be Voddie’s only concern with the SBC but you can clearly see that it appears to be a major concern.
    And there are equal numbers of non-calvinist pastor search committees out there in SBC churches that are woefully unqualified and sadly uneducated in order to hire a pastor. And there are the constant hyperbole and strawman arguments that get exaggerated and downrighted fabricated. Akin surely can not believe every story that he hears about the “angry and arrogant young calvinists”. I am not saying that there are not irresponsible young calvnists out there as Akin so wisely stated about young people operating without wisdom. But there are also older rabid anti-calvinists out there that report these stories and label younger guys as arrogant and angry when that charge is unwarranted and unfounded. I know of a youth pastor that used John Piper’s “Dont Waste your life” in a youth bible study to be labeled as a militant calvinist that was trying to indoctrinate the youth into calvinism. I would warn you and Akin not to believe every story that is told in regards to this.

    My point in the SBC being proactive is that instead of passing resolutions at the national conference from every thing from boycotting Disney to requiring total abstinence from alcohol for SBC leaders, they should have had their thumb on the pulse of the rising wave of post modernism and trends within the church that the SBC has been slow to react to. Yes, they believe in inerrancy now within the SBC but what about sufficiency? For instance, why is every student at SEBTS required to sign a document that includes that they abstain from alcohol? Why? Because of Akin’s convictions? What about caffeine addictions? Food addictions? Are those OK as long as no one touches a drop of alcohol? Why is the bible not sufficient for students to follow at SEBTS? Just more symptoms of the larger problems within the SBC. Change is more easily talked about than trying to turn the SBC battleship around in the proverbial bathtub.

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    This will be the last time I respond on this, because it again, it seems as though you have quite a chip toward the SBC, so I am not sure what good pursuing this conversation will help.

    I already stated that Dr. Nelson slammed the poor statement from John 3:16 conference. I do not think SBC leadership need to respond to everything in the SBC that is poor. Or else they will really have trouble doing their real jobs.

    I have already mentioned Voddie’s issues, and they are more than Calvinism.

    Thanks for being willing to point out to Dr. Akin that he must be discerning in the stories he hears. And thanks for your warning to me. I appreciate your willingness to point that out to the both of us.

    I do not want to making drinking alcohol a big issue like you do. I believe it can be done without it being a sin. But I believe your comments on sufficiency are a bit irresponsible. All of the SBC’s seminaries carry a non-drinking policy for their students, so it is hardly Akin’s convictions. Dr. Mohler, a Calvinist, has it as a policy at his school and has even addressed why that is so in a forum on campus. I cannot find it on their site right now, but I have it on my I-Tunes. And you know that abusing food, caffeine, and other things that are sinful do not carry the potential damage that the abuse of alcohol does. That is why guys who believe in the sufficiency of Scripture, like John Piper for instance, who you named early, believe that it is unwise for you to drink alcohol. That does not mean that they do not believe in the sufficiency of Scripture, unless maybe you also want to warn John Piper on this issue, like you have Dr. Akin on discernment. I do not at all want to make alcohol the ISSUE that unfortunately some do. I think you are free to partake, but the argument that means that you do not believe the bible is enough is weak.

    And agreed, it is easier to talk about change in the SBC than it is to accomplish it. And it also easier to critique than to be a part.


  10. I think that David demonstrated a great deal of insight in his comments. I was impressed.

    I would have described it as the difference between those who would sell our Baptist birthright of obedience to the commands of Scripture for a bowl of ecumenical porridge versus those who wish to fulfill the Great Commission in its entirety (including the teaching to follow all that Christ has commanded), and would have been no more slanted to one side than he was to the other.

    But even though we look at the matter from apparently different sides of the aisle, I thought that his observations about how these really are NOT generational issues so much as they are ideological issues…well…he was astute there.

    Thanks for posting the video.

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    Pastor Barber,

    Thank you for taking the time to comment on our blog and I agree with you and Dr. Nelson that this is not a generational divide. This is something I hope will become more clear through future conversations.

    However, are you being serious with the Ecumenical porridge comment? Are you implying those in the stream that Dr. Nelson would represent do not care about fulfilling the entire command of the Great Commission and that they do not care about teaching the commands of Christ?

    So, who are you labeling as believing this? I genuinely would like to know who you have in mind.

    That is baffling to me, as was Brad Reynolds comments that labeled this stream as hoping for a Presbyterian/Charismatic flair to Baptist Life and also his comment about adding a the 3rd office to the church. Again, who do you know has this vision for the SBC? As a student at SEBTS, I know of no one espousing such a vision, but then maybe I have not read or listened widely enough.

    So, please help me (and others) out because I am not seeing what you are concerned about. Thanks. Nathan

  12. Pingback: Reflections on the “Generational Issues and the SBC” « A-dub’s Weblog

  13. Nathan,

    I tried to cobble together a comment that would be the opposite slant of Dr. Nelson. He characterized the convention as being at a crossroads between (bad) people who are sectarian and (good) people who are ecumenical.

    It was a lopsided and inaccurate characterization. I was illustrating that by reflecting back another lopsided and inaccurate characterization, but from the other direction. Thus, my words: “I would have described it. . . and would have been no more slanted to one side than he was to the other.” Please note the subjunctive.

  14. Nathan,

    I am quite impressed with your writing skills and patience. You will make a great pastor/teacher since you already possess the most necessary skills.

    Also, I compliment you and others for dialoguing about some very important issues in the SBC.

    I have discovered that Dr. Bart Barber, Dr. Brad Reynolds and others of their ideological persuasions have the habit of portraying those who disagree with them as “not caring” about the commandments of Jesus Christ, or worse, not being “true” Baptists (ie. “you are Presbyterian, Charismatic, etc” . . .).

    From one who has been the recepient of mutliple dispersions from these men, yet loving them both and desiring fellowship with them in the SBC, I have discovered it is best to simply remind these men that their Bapist Identity radicalism and fundamentalism is not either biblical, SBC mainstream, or gospel oriented.

    The constant, concise and direct rebuttals to the Brads and Barts in the SBC will successfully awaken the slumbering populace of the Southern Baptist Convention that the rift in the SBC is ideological, not generational.

    May God deliver us to a Great Commission Resurgence.

    In His Grace,

    Wade Burleson

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