John 3:16 Conference, Together for the Gospel and Poor Arguments

One of the concerns raised by Steve Lemke at the John 3:16 Conference (J316C) is the current trend of baptists organizing conferences with Presbyterians.  As I lived blogged, Dr. Lemke mentioned that when baptists team up with Presbyterians is causes confusion.  As Lemke explained in an email to Ed Stetzer one aim of this conference was to respond to the Building BRidges conference and the Together for the Gospel (T4G) conference.  My understanding is that the remark about baptists and Presbyterians working together and causing confusion is a reference to T4G.  Lemke’s remark about confusion over who is baptist vs. Presbyterian is the first I’ve heard publicly about anyone being confused in such a manner.

A Poor Argument Against T4G

Maybe this is a personal preference that Lemke holds and I understand that to a point.  However, to single out T4G on this issue is not only a poor argument, but it goes against the encouragement to work together with other denominations as stated in the Baptist Faith and Message (BFM).

Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ’s Kingdom. Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ’s people. Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament. (XIV. Cooperation: BFM)

Those Southern Baptists who attened T4G were perfectly with in the BFM to attend.  Just as Dr. Lemke was perfectly in his right not to attend and to even disagree with such cooperation.  However, the BFM does not speak against such desirable cooperation, but actually encourages it if no violation of conscience is involved.  Is this the only inter-denominiational cooperation going on today?

Other Cooperation

How about the recent event that took place in Campbellsville, KY?

Churches from such denominations as Southern Baptist, Methodist, Church of God and Presbyterian were among the 25 sponsors of Gage’s Sept. 14-17 crusade, according to crusade chairman James Jones. (Source)

How about organizing for world hunger?

For 15 years, Bostick has headed up the Heart of Texas Good Samaritan Ministry…is a North American Mission Board missionary. Most of her financial support for the food ministry comes from domestic World Hunger Funds via area Southern Baptist churches…the Brownwood food pantry and warehouse also is an inter-denominational effort that involves about 200 Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Nazarene and Assembly of God volunteers. (Source)

How about Bobby Welch’s recent visit to South Korea?

[Welch] visited South Korea in his role as Strategist for Global Evangelical Relations with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee…He also preached at First Glory Presbyterian Church…the first Baptist ever to preach at the church in northwest Seoul…Invited guests included representatives from the IMB, the Korea Baptist Convention, Korean Baptist churches and the BWA (Source)

Given the above examples of Southern Baptist cooperation with other denominations why the argument against such cooperation when it comes to T4G?  Is it because of Calvinism?  I don’t know exactly, but that would be one guess.  Given what some of the other denominations are in the above examples, I’d much rather align myself with conservative Presbyterians.

A very good response from the past to Dr. Steve Lemke comes from another baptist, Dr. James Galyon.  Galyon’s entry is worth reading again since it’s from March 2008: The Lemke Invitation and a Response.  It’s interesting to see if any progress was made from Galyon’s response up to conference time and then to now.

For what it’s worth…

Mark

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jerry December 2, 2008 at 9:53 am

It is not hard to understand, just so long as you understand one simple principle:”If you are against something, one reason is as good as another.”Calvinistic Baptists partnering with non-Baptists is bad because they don’t like Calvinism.  Non-Calvinistic Baptists partnering with non-Baptists is good because they like non-Calvinism.

2 Mark December 2, 2008 at 11:05 am

Jerry,

I agree. This is what is seemingly actually being said though it would be denied.

Mark

3 ABClay December 2, 2008 at 11:15 am

Rick Warren, to the best of my knowlege (limited as it is) is a southern baptist.

Is there an outcry from the leadership about his partnering , not with other denominations mind you, but with the world.

ABClay

4 Thomas Twitchell December 2, 2008 at 7:30 pm

It makes you wonder, doesn’t AB, that if others were generating as much money and press, would there be any outcry from the ANAL Baptists (Arminian/non-Calvinist/anti-Calvinist/Libertarian Free-will Baptists)?

5 Darrin December 3, 2008 at 2:24 pm

Mark, Thanks for bringing this out. To raise a red flag about Baptists and conservative Presbyterians partnering is ridiculous. The unity expressed among the men in T4G has been very encouraging.

Surely the opponents take issue because of doctrine. They don’t care who we join in feeding the hungry, but if our alignments actually address right and wrong interpretations of scripture, watch out.

I just find it ironic that the modern Baptist tendency toward Methodist doctrine is rarely taken issue with, yet this open, respectful joining of reformed believers from two denominations is nearly considered apostasy.

In the Appendix to the Second London Baptist Confession, the writers make it clear that they disagree with their paedobaptist brothers on the subject of baptism, and extensively describe why, yet in the whole confession they are clearly attempting to show their unity in more crucial matters (such as the doctrines of grace).

At the end of the Appendix they state, essentially as Baptists toward Presbyterians, “inasmuch as these things are not of the essence of Christianity, but that we agree in the fundamental doctrines thereof, we do apprehend, there is sufficient ground to lay aside all bitterness and prejudice, and in the spirit of love and meekness to embrace and own each other therein, leaving each other at liberty to perform such other services (wherein we cannot concur) apart unto God, according to the best of our understanding.”

6 ABClay December 5, 2008 at 8:56 pm

I found another one. I don’t believe that Warren understands what the biggest need that people have truly is. How can he share the gospel with these people he is trying to help without creating division within this group that he has joined?

Where’s the outcry against Warren joining hands with those who hate God like there is about Ascol’s alleged sharing of communion with our Presbyterian brothers and sisters?

Oh, I forgot…Warren isn’t reformed in his anthology theology.

Is this hypocritical behavior by the anti-calvinists non-calvinists in the SBC?

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