Thursday, September 28, 2006

Majors, Minors, and Inconsequentials

Lately the debates have intensified about the issues in and surrounding the Memphis Declaration and the Joshua Convergence. I myself have contributed to, and approved of these debates. I've seen a lot of agreement and even some persuasion come about as a result of these debates. However, I've also seen these debates used to revisit some of the same issues that have been debated ad nauseum. One might almost think that some people just like to argue.

In large measure the debates of this past week have been interesting and, at times, even productive. They have caused me to think. As I engaged in this sometimes dangerous practice (thinking), I wondered what we might accomplish if we ever were to shift our focus.

At the risk of sounding like a “can’t we all just get along” post, here’s what I’ve been thinking. This week Kevin Bussey has repeatedly asked “why must there always be a battle?” I submit that we live in a constant state of war whether we know it or not. The key is that the battle is NOT against one another, but against a real enemy. There are culture wars and battles of ideas going on constantly today. Ultimately the root ideologies are either from God or they are not. This may seem like an oversimplification, but it seems appropriate if the goal is to encourage us to look at the big picture.

I’ve recently been reading a book by Robert Greene entitled The 33 Strategies of War. It’s been an interesting read and it talks about historical warfare strategies that the author encourages readers to apply to everyday conflicts. He’s not a Christian and that comes across in the book, but this is not my point. One of the first strategies he discusses is recognizing the enemy. Once we know who is and is not the enemy then, and not before then, we can begin to wage an effective war.

Recently there have been quarrels over issues such as private prayer languages and alcohol. These are issues that need to be addressed for sure, but they are not and should not be the issue concerning whether or not we will band together. Make no mistake, we are in a fight.

Greene tells a the story from The Anabasis, of Xenophon and his band of Greeks who, after a series of events ended up deep in the Persian Empire and betrayed by the Persians. They quarreled among themselves for a while and some were killed by the Persians as a result. Once they realized that they were in a fight for their lives and their fellow Greeks were not the enemy, they managed to band together to flee back to Greece. Working together, many survived.

The point is that our fellow Christians are not the enemy. Those who hold to the principles of orthodoxy are on the same side as we are. The principles I refer to are often called the “Fundamentals of the Faith.” These basic principles include:
1) The verbal plenary inspiration of the Bible.
2) The deity of Christ (I think many of us would hold that the doctrine of the Trinity is a matter of orthodoxy.)
3) The Virgin Birth of Christ.
4) The Substitutionary Atonement (Christ, though He was man was sinless and did in fact die for our sins and was raised from the dead on the third day).
5) The imminent return of Christ (He is coming back, and although we don’t know when we are looking forward to it).

Most churches that agree with these are churches that we can work with. I would be even more comfortable (usually) working with churches who subscribe to the teachings of the Baptist Faith and Message. These are the doctrines that we hold to as Christians and as Baptist. Beyond this, we can only get closer. And don’t mistake me, I believe that while we are here on earth there will be disagreements. We cannot know everything about God or our faith in this life, but we strive together to understand our faith and to be better Christians.

One professor I know routinely instructs his classes that they must “major in the majors” and “minor in the minors.” Too often we find ourselves getting bogged down in the small things when we end up “majoring in the minors.” Once we come together and recognize the major issues then we can confront those as well. These are issues such as fulfilling the Great Commission and raising up a generation for Christ.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Dueling Confessions

Yes friends, we have a new hot-button issue in the Baptist blogosphere. To be honest I'm not sure whether to be happy about it or not.

In the past two days I have read both the Memphis Declaration and the Joshua Convergence's Affirmation. While I wasn't blogging earlier this year when the Memphis meeting was held, I do know that the Joshua Convergence has set off quite a brouhaha in the blogosphere. I think I am beginning to understand why this is.

It seems to me that there is an escalating "discussion" that is being continued through these confessions. Or perhaps the confessions are being used as fuel for the fire by those who are spoiling for a fight. Is this the intent of or simply a reaction to these confessions? I would suggest that the latter is true -- this view being in keeping with my desire to believe the best about people. One cannot, however overlook the fact that, intentional or not, these debates are continuing.

As Baptists, we have a history of confessionalism. At times these confessions have served to unite us, at other times they have divided us. We've seen confessions such as the London Confessions (1644, 1646, 1689), the Philadelphia Confession (1742), the Sandy Creek Confession (1758),the New Hampshire Confession (1833), BFM (1925, 1963, 2000), and many others.

In recent years confessions have been something that we Baptists seem to have avoided for whatever reason. I personally believe that confessionalism can be a healthy thing. It can be good and healthy for us to articulate our beliefs. I read earlier today on Wade Burleson's blog some that have negative feelings toward the BFM 2000. While I can understand that some might not be completely satisfied with the BFM 2000, I don't believe that it was ever intended to satisfy everyone, simply to articulate the umbrella under which those who call ourselves "Southern Baptist" may gather. In my opinion the simplicity of the BFM is its beauty, and the 2000 version seems to have maintained a simplicity while addressing some of the critical issues of our time.

As I said before, I read both the Memphis Declaration and the statement of the Joshua Convergence as well. And while these two statements seem reasonable in and of themselves, I find them hardly sufficient to address the full range of issues that are swirling about today. I doubt that that was ever their intention. A confession simply articulates our views or beliefs, confessions do not have the power to change hearts on their own. They don’t even have to be comprehensive, but regardless, they will tell others a little bit about who we are and what we believe.

Let us all try our best to live our lives according to God’s word, but also recognize that we and our best views and efforts are tainted by sin—this is an obstacle that will never be overcome in this life. We are to honor God, study and obey his word, and once Christ comes again we will be finally sanctified (note: this is “final sanctification” as opposed to the sanctification that comes through salvation and progressively through righteous living).

As I said on Jeremy Roberts’s blog, I’ll take a “wait and see” approach to see how the signatories and adherents of these confessions live them out – then perhaps we can decide if they have lasting merits or not. Will we see that either of these confessions brings a recipe for success or unity to our convention? The proof, as they say, “is in the pudding.”

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Anonymity, Pseudonymity, and Reality

I posted a comment on this topic on Marty Duren's blog last week and it got me thinking about these issues.

The internet is an amazing thing. It allows dialogue on a scale that has never been accomplished before. In fact, through the internet now everyone can have a say about anything--and quite often they do. All of us have seen the results of this new freedom. People get to express their thoughts, opinions, and feelings on a myriad of issues with or without their true identity being known.

The problem with this is that often too many hide behind the mask of anonymity (being anonymous) or pseudonymity (using a fake name) as they say things which may or may not be true or good. Kevin Bussey posted a great example of this in his discussion of the Frank Vance vs. Ligonier Ministries case.

In the years that I've been using the internet I've discovered an intriguing phenomenon. Whether they be bloggers, internet gamers, or anyone else--people often become who they really are, or wish they were, when they interact with others via the internet. Here's what I mean: If an introverted person has thoughts and opinions that they would not or could not share in real life, they can be heard and even become influential via the internet. Conversely, if a person seems quiet or non-confrontational in real life, they might take on an assertive or belligerent persona on the internet. I've seen many so-called "computer geeks" become many different things within the guise their internet persona. I believe that this can be a good thing or a bad thing, but it depends on the character of the individual.

The blogosphere is an excellent showcase for this principle. There are some who are the same in real life and on their blog--I try to be one of these people. There are others who say things on their blog that they would never dream of saying in real life--some of these things may be good ideas, but others should never be said anywhere.

As I've said before there is a responsibility that comes with the anonymity or pseudonymity that we have on the internet. We have a responsibility to speak (or write) words that uplift and build up the body of Christ. Sometimes these words may be criticisms, but they are never lies, never malicious rumors, never personal attacks. Paul gives good advice for sound thinking, and I would add, sound speech when he says: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Philippians 4:8, ESV).

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Southern Baptists in the News

At the moment things seem fairly quiet on the Southern Baptist Political front. Perhaps this is simply the calm on the surface that disguises the turmoil beneath, but I think everyone seems to be settling into the new year with a new president and some are still sizing one another up.

Thinking of this I decided that I wanted to know the public perception of Southern Baptists in the news. My question is this: can good come from Baptists being in the news or is negative controversy all that gets reported?

A brief Nexis search surprised me. I searched the term "Southern Baptist" throughout the major news outlets in the last six months. I found that the bulk of the reporting centered around the convention (naturally). However, I was surprised by the positive tone of many of the articles. I did also note that there seems to be a lack of depth to a number of the articles as well, this I attribute to the fact that some of these articles are written by people who don't understand the nature of the Christian faith experientially.

I expected to find that the major news outlets mirrored the local baptist news entities in that they captured a lot of dissention and controversy. It seems, however, that they just aren't interested in our squabbles. Generally, they could care less about Paige Patterson, Wade Burleson, and our inter-denominational politics; although the do enjoy gaping at our stances on alcohol, abstinence, and public education.

So, are we better off quietly "doing our thing" and ministering without the attention of the news? Does the attention of the media help advance our cause? Or does it simply hinder us? Or there's the related question of "are we doing anything newsworthy?" Think about this--the early church caused such a stir that they were accused of turning the world upside down! (Acts 17:6 ESV)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Was the Pope Wrong?

Today I am reading several headlines about the Pope's recent remarks. It seems that he angered some muslims. Headlines might well read: "Muslims claim their religion is not one of violence, threaten to kill the Pope." Ok, so that's not a real headline, but it seems to be what is going on. Anybody else recognize the blatant contradition?
First off, let me say that I am a Southern Baptist, not a Catholic. I do not believe that the Pope speaks for God, but that doesn't mean that I think he's always wrong. On issues of faith and morality it can be important for all who call themselves Christians (including Catholics) to stand together to advocate for what is right. In doctrinal issues, we often disagree.
Recently Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech in which he read a 14th Century text written by a Byzantine Emperor. It charged that the teachings of Muhammed were "evil and inhuman" and that its followers used the sword to spread their religion. Many Muslims found the Pope's remarks insulting and offensive. They claim that Islam is a religion of peace, and that the Pope should die for his remarks. Obviously he was WAY off base. If you think Islam is a religion of peace, you should ask Ergun Caner or his brother Emir. So there you have it, and now perhaps my life is in jeopardy. Don't dis the peaceful religion of Islam or yours could be too!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Oh My Gado!

Ok, I just had to say it! (I know I've lost some of my readers now forever, but perhaps they weren't really interested in what I had to say anyway. I hope you'll stick around to see what I do next.)
Fellow Liberty grad Samkon Gado is moving to Texas. He was just traded from the Green Bay Packers to the Houston Texans on wednesday. As a native Mississippian living in Texas, I had no real ties to the Cowboys anyway, so I'll probably be cheering for Houston while Gado's there.

Despite the (questionable?) catch phrase that's become associated with him, I can personally vouch for the genuineness of Sam's faith. He is truly a man of God and I have to give him all the more respect because of that.

So Sam, Have a great Season in Houston!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dr. Page visits SWBTS

First off let me say that I'm not a reporter. Sometime I'll write a post about the good or ills of the 24hour news cycle, but that's for another day.

Today was an important day for SWBTS. I, being merely an uninformed observer probably did not grasp the full import of today's events, but I shall recount to you what I saw.

I had the privilege of hearing our SBC President, Dr. Frank Page today. You too can hear his message by visiting the SWBTS website. Dr. Page spoke on what he claimed to be "his favorite verse" (noting that he makes the claim of every verse or passage he preaches): John 10:10. He warned Christians against underestimating our enemy (Satan). He said that Satan has stolen the church's power, effectiveness, and most importantly our unity.
Dr. Page exhorts Southern Baptists to continue to fight for inerrancy, but also to fight, with the same vigor, for relevancy. He stressed the need for the church to be relevant to today's culture, warning that "the early church was met with persecution, but the modern church is met with a yawn."

He exhorts Christians to find strength in the Holy Spirit to continue this fight and will guide us as we do so.
I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed with Dr. Page himself. He seems to have a heart to unify the SBC and to truly honor God.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Unwanted Wedding Gifts

And now for something different...
I've been married for a brief six weeks and in that time my wife and I have managed to settle into our little home, thanks in part to those who so kindly gave us a myriad of wedding gifts. But, as every one of the married people reading this knows, while many gifts we receive are great and useful, there are also those that make us scratch our heads in puzzlement.

My wife and I now have a small pile of gifts that we did not ask for and don't quite know where to return. I'll not name these gifts, as one of the givers might chance upon my blog and take offence (you DID get a thank you note even though I didn't like your gift.)

I've heard some interesting stories about what people have done with their unwanted wedding gifts. I've heard of them being re-gifted (as some of mine obviously were), or becoming part of a garden, or even being used as "perennial gifts" at Christmas parties. So what kind of things do people do with their unwanted wedding gifts? I'm curious (and I know there are stories out there).

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Once it was one of the Seven Deadly Sins but now it's everywhere but nobody talks about it (except to say that they don't talk about it).

Perhaps it's time to renew not only our condemnation of it, but also our help for those who suffer from gluttony. So to start, let's make sure we all know what this word means (let's face it; it's been ignored so long in Baptist circles that many have forgotten what it means). defines gluttony as "excessive eating." It seems that with the rise of obesity in America we should open our eyes. If this is an issue with which people struggle, the Church should be on the front lines of the fight.

Now to establish my own credibility here I'll say (as my friends may be tired of hearing me say) that in order to join the Air Force I had to lose 40 pounds last year. I did that by making some hard decisions and being disciplined about my eating and exercise.

Gluttony is a sin. If we've ever said after a meal "I shouldn't have eaten that" or "I shouldn't have eaten all of that" then we're guilty. James 4:17 (NASB)says "Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin." The right thing is "stop eating so much" or "don't eat certain things." Hey if it was easy we wouldn't have so many fat people.
(Yeah I said Fat).

If our bodies are the Lord's Temple, what are we saying about our Lord?
Food for thought:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Cor 4:19-20 NASB

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Problem of Postmodernism in Apologetics

Today I was involved in a discussion regarding apologetics, particularly the task of contending against a postmodern viewpoint. The discussion revolved mainly around the difficulty of pinning down a postmodern to a single set of beliefs.

If you ask any number of so called "experts" for a definition of postmodernism, you will likely get as many different answers as respondants. This in itself seems to be indicative of the postmodern worldview -- it seems tailor-made by an individual to fit his or her own felt needs.

In such a worldview, truth(s) must be "relevant" (or meaningful) to the hearer in order to be accepted as true (i.e. "if you say the moon is made of cheese, the statement may in fact be true, but I do not have to accept it as truth because it has no relevance to my own life"). The converse seems to be true also; a claim may be false, but I may accept it because it has particular meaning to me, or I may affirm you're right to believe it even if I do not. Herein lies the difficulty of establishing truth with a postmodernist.

During today's discussion Aristotle's three forms of rhetoric were mentioned:
1)Logos is the appeal to reason, this is what we typically thing of when we think of debates: one offers reasons and evidence to persuade others.
2)Ethos is an appeal based upon the character of the speaker. This argument seems to have great potential in speaking to those who will not be swayed by the logical arguments.
3)Pathos is an appeal to the emotions of the audience. This form certainly has its merits, but to me it seems somewhat empty. I can be pursuasive and passionate, and can appeal to your emotions, but there must be more if my audience is to "stay convinced."

In light of the onset and spread of the postmodern worldview, what options should we pursue as we contend for the faith?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Slumbering Giant -or- Seeking Expectancy

I went to Faith Night at the Texas Rangers game tonight. According to commentators there were over 40,000 in attendence. I was impressed. I'm terrible at guessing how many people are in a crowd. So I could not tell you just how many people attended the pre-game MercyMe concert.

The concert was great. It's a pity that many know MercyMe just as the band who sings "I Can Only Imagine." They're quite talented. There were several thousand in attendence at the concert. My wife and I were sitting on the hillside among the masses and I began to muse as we listened to the music.

I would assume that most of the attendees at the MercyMe concert were believers. With so many believers (mainly from the DFW area) gathered in one place I could not help but ask what we are accomplishing for the Kingdom of God. I don't mean that gathering at the concert to enjoy music and worship together was in any way wrong. What I do mean to say is that I believe we are somewhat complacent as a church.

The book of Acts records a fantastic revival taking place at pentecost. Acts 2 gives details of what happened when the Holy Spirit moved upon a few hundred believers (the previous chapter recounts that there were 120 disciples present for the election of Matthias as the replacement for Judas.

Now setting aside the issues of charismata and cessationism (and the like), I feel that one may rightly ask why about 15M Southern Baptists in over 40,000 churches are not shaking the world for Christ(Frank Mead, Handbook of Denominations 11th Ed., 2001). To be honest I don't expect an answer. No one of us can assume responsibility for the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of our denomination in reaching the world-- we are responsible to God for ourselves and those that we lead.

Sitting amid thousands of my fellow believers I recognize that most of them genuinely do love the Lord and desire to serve him. Perhaps many are in fact serving. Suddenly the moment turns to introspection. I realize that I am not responsible to God for the effectiveness of the other concert attendees, but I am accountable for how faithfully (or unfaithfully) I obey the word of God.

Why blog about this? None of us needs another guilt trip or accusation that we are not doing enough for God. We do not need for me to state the obvious simply for the purpose of filling space on another webpage. The thing is this: God has worked in powerful ways during different times in history. We call these movements of God "Revival." It begins when God moves in the hearts of a few individuals. During times when the church had grown complacent or had been marginalized, God selected a few available vessels and poured his spirit out upon them, using them in a very powerful way.

There are many believers, or perhaps "church people" is a better term, who go about their daily lives in a state of complacency. Maybe it isn't that they mean to be complacent, but they have lost a sense of anticipation that God wants to do something spectacular around, in, or perhaps through them. My exhortation is for us to pray and encourage one another toward that end.

Perhaps the words of William Carey convey the message better than my own could: "Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God." My closing thought is this: I think that too often my expectations and attempts are often smaller than God is capable of. The greater my expectancations are of God (and thus my dependence upon Him), the greater the my works will be for His kingdom.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Setting the Tone

I've said already that I'm new to the blog scene. I've also expressed a hope that at some point people will read what I have to say (hopefully because it will be worth your time).

As I begin I believe it is appropriate for me to "lay my cards out." Readers of my new blog might want to know who I am and what I stand for, and the better question is why should you read my blog? The last question will hopefully answered as I continue to post and to interact with the issues of our day.

First, I am Matt Knight -- this is my blog. Now that that's clear, (because you can read it on the "about me" portion) I want to let you know a little about where the words you're reading are coming from. I've been a believer since I was a boy, growing up in a Southern Baptist church in Clinton, Mississippi (that would be Morrison Heights Baptist Church). I am 23 years old, a graduate of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Currently, I'm a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I would consider myself and conservative among conservatives. I believe there is a lot to be learned from the traditions of the Baptist Church (and no I'm not a landmarkist). Still, as part of a new and young generation I think that we must continue to change to survive and be effective.

So now I'm into my second "card." What am I all about? As a Christian, I hold firmly to the message of the Cross. When I speak of change, I never mean that we should change the message (i.e. the Gospel), although we surely can (and sometimes need to) change the way we present or live the message.

As a Chaplain Candidate I have a keen interest in issues concerning the military and the government. I am interested in the changes that are taking place both in the military and in NAMB, as they will directly impact me and the ways in which I will serve in a military context as a Southern Baptist Chaplain.

I am a husband -- I've been married for five weeks and am learning about what it means to be a husband, and what it means to be a picture of Christ and the church in my marriage. That's a challenge, but one that I am willing to accept.

I've not been involved much in Baptist politics, but I know I'm in for a heavy dose of it since I've chosen to inject myself into this realm. It is important to have the exchange of fresh ideas, and the blogosphere is fluid and a place for new ideas that will have a real impact on the real world, Lord willing.

This is who I am, and I hope that I've set the tone for a readable and meaningful blog.