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October 2000 Issue

The faithfulness and generosity of Southern Baptists have resulted in an astounding increase in giving to the Cooperative Program during the months of June through August, according to Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the SBC Executive Committee.

For the year to date, total CP and designated gifts are up an impressive 6.34 percent above the same period last year. At the end of August, a total of $323,022,987.57 had been received, compared to last year's mark of $303,767,494.38.

June receipts of the Cooperative Program, however, were up 32.41 percent and July receipts were up 11.2 percent compared to the same months a year ago, Chapman said, attributing the increase in part to the Partners in the Harvest campaign.

As a result of Southern Baptist cooperation, more than 94 percent of all national CP mission gifts go directly to sending and supporting missionaries and training ministry leaders.

The remaining 6 ...

Reactions to the Baptist Faith and Message Committee report to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Orlando were of two very distinct kinds. The first was an overwhelming affirmation and approval by Southern Baptists. The other was another kind altogether - suspicious, resentful, and hostile.

A particularly egregious example of this hostility is seen in the assertion that revisions to the Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M) have placed the Bible over Jesus. Detractors erroneously accuse Southern Baptists of being worshippers of the Bible - that we are "bibliolaters." If that were true, every Southern Baptist ought to rise up as one man and repudiate it! But that, in fact, is not the case.

What is behind this accusation? Is it just an expression of anti-SBC sentiment, a ploy in which theological garb is draped over what is in reality a political objection to the SBC and its statement? The duplicity behind such a charge would be bad enough. But the...

Baptists are people of a remarkable history, a resilient spirit, and a responsible commitment. Many things have been written and spoken in recent years about these people called Baptists. But what is a Baptist? What essentials define the individual and the corporate body of Baptists? Let me suggest some characteristics of a Baptist in today's world that are consistent with what a Baptist has been historically.

1 A Baptist is an individual who has experienced salvation through personal faith in Jesus Christ. Baptists do not believe in proxy faith, where a priest or any other person mediates between the individual and God (1 Tim. 2:5). Every individual must come to the time in life when he/she receives Jesus Christ as personal Savior. This is the basic building block in the making of a Baptist.

2 A Baptist is one who acknowledges the sufficiency of Scripture. Such an individual believes the B...

A Correspondent's Opinion & Observations from the CBF General Assembly

During the SBC's Orlando meeting, CBF ethicist Robert Parham penned a column in the local newspaper warning Floridians that two very different kinds of Baptists would be converging on their city that month. After having been at the Orange County Convention Center for the SBC meeting in early June, I returned to the same meeting hall two weeks later, not as a church-sent messenger, but a Baptist Press correspondent covering the annual meeting of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

I knew Parham was right when I asked directions to the registration table from an elderly woman in Walt Disney World mouse ears. But within fifteen minutes, I realized just how right Parham was. These meetings did indeed represent two very different kinds of Baptists.

The Bible. While reading Parham's editorial during the SBC meeting, I grimaced at what I believed to be an error in the column. "SBC clergy will wear suits and carry big copies of the K...

Comprehensive Report Does Not Sustain Inflated Statistics

Fewer than one-tenth of one percent of the 41,099 Southern Baptist churches have a woman serving as senior pastor, according to a study by Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Messengers to this year's convention in Orlando revised the denomination's statement of beliefs to specify a conviction that the office of pastor is to be held by a male. In reality, that is the practice of 99.92 percent of the local congregations.

Citing I Timothy 2:9-14, among other Bible passages, the new Baptist Faith and Message states, "While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture."

"This study confirms what we have known both by intuition and experience," stated Bill Merrell, vice president for convention relations with the SBC Executive Committee and editor of SBC LIFE. "There are no surprises in it whatsoever."

Merrell emphasized the commitmen...

Chief Channel for Tribal Evangelism

The old chief's thick glasses do more to magnify the filmy cataracts covering his eyes than aid his vision. But the joy and welcome in his smile shine.

"Lynn is like my daughter," he declares, clasping missionary Lynn Kennedy's hand between his. "Pray God will keep her here a long time - and me, too!"

Ever since Kennedy met Some (so-MAY) Emmanuel, a chief of great importance among Burkina Faso's Dagaari (Dah-GAH-rah) people, she's been accepted as a member of his family. When she requested his permission to share truth about God with the Dagaari, he agreed and lives began to change.

More than 500 Dagaari - half of them adult men - made public professions of faith recently as a result of newly established preaching points. And that would not have been possible without the prayers of 1,200-plus Christians who intercede every day for the Da...

Evangelism: Putting It On the Line

Christians who want to share their faith can now do it without ever leaving their own homes.

"I have been amazed at the response I've received," said Sergio Arce of Fort Worth, Texas, a volunteer phone "encourager" for NAMB's evangelism response center (ERC). "I would get fifteen to twenty-five calls, and about 80 percent made decisions for Christ."

Through the Evangelism Response Center, callers to a toll-free number often linked to the Celebrate Jesus 2000 evangelistic effort are routed to trained volunteers like Arce who answer the calls from their home.

"The Holy Spirit has already been at work in these people's lives, and it's up to you to tell them about Christ," he said.

One afternoon Arce received a call from a man in the Midwest. After beginning the conversation with, 'Thank you for calling Jesus...

Taking Care of Our Own

Mention the Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and what comes to mind?

• LifePartnerTM

• Financial stability

• Retirement and insurance products

• Investment services

The Annuity Board is all of the above but this does not tell the whole picture. Interwoven in this picture of financial security is one of compassion and trust, and the Annuity Board's ongoing commitment to provide help and hope to thousands of retired ministers and their widows in need.

Since 1918, the Annuity Board has depended on Convention-wide resources to meet the needs of aged ministers and their widows. When the Cooperative Program began in 1925, the Board's allocation was divided on the basis of 55 percent for relief assistance and 45 percent to fund the obligations of its newly-developed annuity retirement plans.

Beginning in 1930, all Cooperative Program receipts were utilized for relief assistance. This commitment continues today as every penny of Cooperative Program funds is pai...

Raising the Standard
Helping People Come to Christ and Become More Like Him

James T. Draper, Jr., president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, often says the standard for LifeWay's resources must be: Does this point non-believers to Christ and does it help Christians become more like Jesus? Are lives being changed?

Out of this concern, LifeWay's vision for ministry and its commitment to Southern Baptists is: "As God works through us, we will help people and churches know Jesus Christ and seek His Kingdom by providing biblical solutions that spiritually transform individuals and cultures."

A few examples illustrate how resources from LifeWay have provided biblical solutions for specific individuals:

Andy Lanford is an eighth grader who is in his fourth semester of FAITH, Southern Baptists' Sunday Scho...

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
Building a New Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is best known as an architectural wonder crossing a magnificent expanse of water, but some recent graduates and current students of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary are building a new bridge to help the city get to God.

"We want the church to be a natural fit for someone from the area and still be true to God's Word and Jesus Christ," said James Atherton, founding pastor of The Bridge, a Southern Baptist church plant in the city.

The church offers ministries that speak to the needs of a wealthy, multicultural city population. Atherton started pastoring the church as part of his "field education" requirements at seminary.

While many "ethnic" Baptist churches are booming in the Bay Area, Southern Baptists have had little success ...

Shining the Light in a Dark World

Christians have been wrestling with difficult social and moral issues - matters of life and death, of hope and despair - for the past two thousand years, all the time seeking to impact the culture for good and for God.

He calls Christians to bring the light and the truth of Scripture into the darkness of society. History records the names of thousands upon thousands of men and women who were ordinary in stature, but extraordinary in their faith in accomplishing much for God.

There are Southern Baptists across our nation who selflessly refuse to turn their backs on a culture in disrepair. And in taking a stand, speaking the truth, and making a difference, they are part of a legacy of godly servants who have lived out the purifying and preserving power of God's Word as salt in a fallen world.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the agency of the Southern Baptist Convention responsible for addressing ethical, moral, and public policy issues, supports Southern Baptists in bringing the light and truth of Scripture to bear on critical cul...

I am indebted to Timothy George, my colleague (and boss) for much that I understand about the Reformation. I have listened to his lectures and read his books to my great profit. Dr. George reminds me that all of us are the legacy of some very brave men and women who surfaced in the sixteenth century. Martin Luther was one of those who set the church of the middle ages on a course back toward the book of Acts. Sola Scriptura was to be one of his challenges to call us all back to the Bible. He didn't actually nail his ninety-five theses to the door until Halloween 1517, but as early as 1515 he had written:

"He who would read the Bible must simply take heed that he does not err, for the Scripture may permit itself to be stretched and led, but let no one lead it according to his own inclinations, but let him lead it to the source, that is, the cross of Christ. Then he will surely strike the center." Luther saw the church as having been created by the Word and not...

Teen Regrets over Sex

A new survey shows nearly two-thirds of American teenagers who have had sex wish they had waited. According to the poll done by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 55 percent of boys and 72 percent of girls said they regretted their decision. Reuters News reports that 37 percent of those surveyed felt their parents played the most important role in their decisions about sexual activity. Only 11 percent cited their religious communities as exerting the greatest influence.

AFA, July, 7, 2000

Sidestepping the System

"Spontaneous" prayer at high school football games may serve as a legal alternative to the traditional opening prayer, recently banned by the Supreme Court.

The organization promoting such an alternative, "We Still Pray," was formed in respo...

How many of you get too much encouragement? Do people tell you how wonderful you are everywhere you go? When you get to work does everyone stop and clap for you? When you arrive home do you get a standing ovation? Do your kids carry around pictures of you in their wallet and show it to everyone saying, "These are my parents, aren't they wonderful?" Do you get so much encouragement that you have to get away from it? Do you drive off and get pulled over by a policeman and he says, "I just want to encourage you for driving so well. Here take this money." Your life is probably not like that. As a matter of fact, all of us need encouragement. A good rule to remember is that if people are breathing, they need some encouragement.

Most of us probably feel like the traveling salesman who once walked into a restaurant and said to the waitress, "Bring me some burnt toast, watered down scrambled eggs, and some weak, cold coffee." The waitress said with some do...