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.”

1 comment:

Kevin Bussey said...

Well said Matt!