I just returned from the annual Southern Baptist convention, which was held in San Antonio. Each year I take several students from Criswell College to the convention site to do evangelism. This year was no exception. Our team shared the gospel at a block party, in the park, door-to-door, on the streets, in front of the Alamo and at the Henry C. Gonzalez Convention Center. We handed out hundreds of tracts and spoke to scores of people about eternal matters. In all 18 people made professions of faith. One was an 82 year old Hispanic lady who came to Christ in her living room. When we did a follow-up visit we told her how happy we were for her, and she replied, "But not as happy as I am." A 50 year old man brought his son to the Saturday block party. Both came to Christ. Afterward, the father told us that he was an alcoholic, but had been dry for two months. Then he added, "I was contemplating going on a binge tonight. Now I have been delivered!" On our last day of witnessing one of our students led a 67 year old tourist to Christ in front of the Alamo. We shared the gospel with street people, security guards, concession and maintenance workers at the Convention Center, a few were up-and-outers, an atheist and several cops. Our students did a great job!
Back at the convention two opposing factions presented their understanding of the relationship between the various SBC agencies and the "Baptist Faith and Message 2000" (BF&M), the official doctrinal statement of the Southern Baptist Convention. The main question was, "How should one view the BF&M -- as a minimalist or maximalist statement? The former means that the BF&M is the "least" one must believe to be a Southern Baptist; the latter means it is the "most" one must believe. . The minimalist position allows for SBC agencies to add requirements, to which their employees must adhere, like abstaining from alcohol or abstaining from the practice of speaking in tongues. The maximalist position declares that the BF&M is all one must believe to be hired by an SBC agency. The latter position won the day in a motion presented by Missouri pastor Rick Garner. It received a 57% favorable vote from the floor. This surprise outcome will lead to heated debate in the months ahead. Stay tuned.