The four stakes of a big-tent convention

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Tent-stakeHaving spent many a night in a tent, I recognize that any tent needs corner stakes to keep from being blown away by the least gust of wind. Likewise, to avoid being “blown here and there by every wind of teaching” (Ephesians 4:14), I believe the big tent of the Kentucky Baptist Convention must be anchored by our commitment to these four things: the truthfulness of God’s Word, our Lord’s Great Commission, cooperation, and the beliefs summarized in our historic Baptist confessions of faith, namely the Baptist Faith and Message.

First and foremost is a high view of Scripture. Kentucky Baptists affirm that the Bible is authoritative for faith and practice, trustworthy in all that it teaches, and truth without any mixture of error. We submit ourselves to God’s rule over our lives by submitting ourselves to the teachings of God’s Word. “The word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Peter 1:25).

Second, we are committed to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus says we must make disciples of all people groups. Thus, we believe that every church is responsible to share the gospel in its community and to the very ends of the earth. KBC churches share that belief.

Third, Kentucky Baptists are committed to cooperation. As is often said, we can do more together than apart. Could any one church care for 500 victimized children, start 18 new churches in Kentucky, 1,000 in North America, or 6,000 overseas? Could any one church support 4,800 missionaries in 150 countries or educate 16,000 seminary students? Could any one church host 12,000 children and teenagers for summer camp? Working together, every Kentucky Baptist church giving through the Cooperative Program can do all of these things and many, many more.

Fourth, the Baptist Faith and Message reflects our common confessional beliefs as Kentucky Baptists. The river of Baptist doctrine is fed by more than one theological stream. Some of our churches are passionate about a particular stream while others maintain room for diversity. At the convention level, our churches choose to partner together for the sake of the gospel, focusing on the river rather than any certain stream.

To exclude any Kentucky Baptist church sharing these four commitments is, in my opinion, a grave mistake. Churches, however, that abandon the truthfulness of God’s Word, the Great Commission, a commitment to cooperation, or Baptist beliefs are a poor fit for the KBC, because they jeopardize the identity and the precious unity God has assigned to the Baptist family. While we grieve any church that departs, we rejoice over every church that remains steadfast in its commitments to God’s Word, the gospel, cooperation, and its Baptist doctrine. I thank God for Kentucky Baptists!

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Same-sex marriage: A slippery slope toward moral chaos

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Marriage-Man-WomanLast week brought the disappointing news that the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear appeals from states that have had their constitutional definition of marriage undermined by federal judges. While the sin of homosexuality may be no more offensive to God than other sexual sins, for a society to be forced to endorse it through the sacred institution of marriage is both objectionable and dangerous, moving us further down the slippery slope toward moral chaos.

Now is a good time to revisit some of the reasons gay marriage is wrong.

First, gay marriage is wrong because it defies the Bible’s teaching. Biblical morality is not fuzzy when it comes to homosexuality. Both testaments unequivocally condemn it. For example, Leviticus 18:22 prohibits homosexual sin, referring to it as detestable. Romans 1 refers to it as shameful and debased and as something that should never be done. As Jesus taught about marriage in Matthew 19, He defined it exclusively in heterosexual terms, being perfectly consistent with Genesis 2.

Second, gay marriage denies the natural order. Whether one is a Bible-believing creationist or a secular evolutionist, any rational observer of our world must admit that the survival of any and every species on the planet depends upon a natural order that includes reproduction. Homosexuality perverts the natural order and homosexual marriage cheapens the institution of marriage by removing from it the essence of its purpose – producing and parenting children.

Third, state-endorsed homosexual marriage falsely legitimizes homosexual couples as parents. Thus, the state tragically endorses depriving children of their innate need of both a father and a mother. With regard to a mommy and a daddy, children raised by homosexual couples have either/or, not both/and. While many life circumstances other than gay marriage can result in children not having a mother and a father in their lives, gay marriage seems to celebrate the denial of this intrinsic need of children.

Fourth, in states all across the country, homosexual marriage is being forced upon the citizens by liberal judges, even though most states, like Kentucky, have overwhelmingly voted to refuse it. These judges are wrongly subverting the democratic process in tyrannical fashion.

Fifth, homosexual marriage is a headlong leap down the slippery slope toward moral chaos. If the mere profession of an individual’s love for someone or something else were to become the new standard for marriage, gay marriage clearly opens the doorway to bigamy and polygamy and at least cracks the doorway of state-sanctioned childhood brides and even bestiality. This type of government-sanctioned perversion has teenage girls in locker rooms at Louisville’s Atherton High School being required to undress in front of teenage boys pretending to be girls. That kind of moral outrage denies the rights of children to be protected.

Sixth, gay marriage rejects basic sexual morality and is a departure from the entire scope of civilized human history. It turns a blind eye to the historic teachings of every major religion in the world. Determined to alter our society, gay marriage proponents have thrown nature, the needs of children, and the rights of voters to the wind and cast marriage to the moral gutter.

Posted in Culture, Family, Gay Marriage | Leave a comment

KBC committee votes to sever ties with Louisville church that ordains gay clergy, performs same-sex marriages

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This is a news post from the Kentucky Baptist Convention website.

LOUISVILLE – A Kentucky Baptist Convention committee has voted to sever ties with a Louisville church that voted to ordain people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and to perform same-sex marriages.

The Committee on Credentials took the action Thursday against Crescent Hill Baptist Church.

“We’re grieved by Crescent Hill’s departure from biblical teaching and Baptist beliefs,” KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood said. “We’re prayerful that they will return to the truth of Scripture on this issue and seek to be restored. We’re thankful that Kentucky Baptists remain grounded in the Bible as our culture continues to rush headlong toward chaos with regard to human sexuality and gay marriage. Our love for all people, including those who practice homosexuality, requires us to speak the truth about sin even when we are speaking it to one another.”

KBC leaders were alerted to Crescent Hill’s decision by a statement on its website, which reads: “The congregation overwhelmingly voted to be open to grant ordination, hire, or perform wedding ceremonies for LGBTQ individuals. In other words, sexual identity or orientation will not be a factor in determining whether the church will ordain, hire or perform a wedding ceremony.”

Chairman Kevin Smith said credentials committee members found Crescent Hill is no longer “in friendly cooperation” with Kentucky Baptists. That, he said, led to Thursday’s action, which was taken only after a series of private discussions between leaders of the KBC and Crescent Hill.

KBC President Chip Hutcheson said the decision to disassociate Crescent Hill will be presented for a vote at the annual meeting in Bowling Green Nov. 11.

“People will be allowed to speak for and against it, and then there will be a vote of the convention messengers,” he said.

Hutcheson called it “incredibly sad” that Crescent Hill has abandoned scriptural guidance on sexuality.

“For those of us who consider biblical teaching quite clear on this issue, for any church to, in essence, declare that teaching null and void, it breaks your heart, as it would any doctrine of Scripture,” he said.

 

 

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Baptist Fellowship Center: Celebrating 100 years of racial partnership

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The Western Recorder recently reported that two Baptist church buildings in Louisville are now mosques and another is a Sikh temple. One way to turn that tide and begin to see crosses over former mosques rather than baptist fellowship centerminarets over former churches is to invest in ministries that are sharing the gospel in Louisville. Through the Cooperative Program, every Kentucky Baptist Convention church has that opportunity.

Michelle and I recently attended the centennial anniversary celebration of the Baptist Fellowship Center. Located in Louisville’s west end, the BFC is a much-needed ministry in Kentucky’s largest city.

Anyone with exposure to Louisville’s news outlets knows that the west end gets a lot of negative attention. To quote Matthew Smyzer, the BFC director, reporting from the west end follows the old adage, “If it bleeds it leads.” But Smyzer is quick to point out the west end has produced many beautiful people and positive stories, even though those aren’t the stories that typically make it into the Courier-Journal newspaper.

One of the best stories from the west end is the story of how God is using Southern Baptists through the Baptist Fellowship Center. A child care center, counseling services, a truancy-prevention program, feeding programs, and a crisis-intervention ministry are just some of the BFC’s many offerings as it seeks to fulfill its vision: “To be a transforming agent to the great Louisville community in reflecting the nature of Christ.”

The BFC began in 1914 as a ministry partnership between churches of the Central District Baptist Association and Long Run Baptist Association. The Central District’s website recounts the BFC’s historical launch when it states, “Representatives of both the negro and white Baptist state boards envisioned a missionary work.” Partnering together, that missionary work became the BFC.

One hundred years later, the BFC still represents a partnership bridging the racial divide and sharing Christ with hurting people. While some of the churches of the Central District and Long Run associations have become multi-ethnic, most can still be characterized as predominantly African-American or predominantly white. For these churches to have modeled partnership for 100 years is a beautiful testimony to the unifying power of the gospel. In Galatians 3:28, Paul writes, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Since the BFC is supported not only by Central District and Long Run, but also by the Kentucky Baptist Convention and North American Mission Board, every KBC church doing mission work through the Cooperative Program is part of this partnership, as well as a vast array of gospel work spanning from Kentucky to the ends of the earth.

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Sunrise revival

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sunrise logoMichelle and I are nearing the halfway mark in our training to become foster parents through Sunrise Children’s Services, a Kentucky Baptist Convention agency. We are also encouraging other families to join us in this journey as a part of the “Be the One” campaign. At any given time, approximately 300 children who are victims of abuse and neglect don’t have a family willing to take them in. I believe 2,400 churches and 750,000 Kentucky Baptists can solve that problem! Call Sunrise today at (800) 456-1386, or visit www.sunrise.org/surroundtheone to learn more.

Reflecting upon Sunrise’s recent history, I stand in awe of what God has done. One year ago, the ministry was embroiled in controversy over hiring persons with alternative lifestyles as caregivers for children. In a dramatic turn of events, new trustees appointed by messengers during the 2013 KBC Annual Meeting immediately charted a new course for Sunrise. Leadership changes and a clear affirmation of biblical values quickly restored Kentucky Baptists’ confidence in Sunrise.

The Sunrise controversy was a great reminder of the vital importance of the theological convictions of those who lead. The intense social and political pressures to abandon biblical morals can only be withstood by those who not only sing the words of Rhea Miller’s old gospel hymn, “I’d Rather Have Jesus,” but those who really had rather have Jesus “than men’s applause … rather be faithful to His dear cause … rather have Jesus than worldwide fame … rather be true to His holy name.”

We were also reminded of the importance of trusting in God’s sovereignty. Doomsday scenarios and conspiracy theories don’t require much imagination for the leader of a Christian ministry or institution these days. We don’t have to look far into the future to see genuine threats to the very existence of a ministry like Sunrise, a Baptist college, or even a local church. Thus, leadership is daily faced with a choice: Will we abandon our Christian distinctives to preserve our livelihood and our institution, or will we stand on the Word of God, trust in the God of the Word, and accept whatever fate He has willed?

Finally, we were reminded of the importance of Baptist polity and process. Over the years, Kentucky Baptists chose to elect leaders who were men and women of conviction. Those leaders appointed committees that acted with conviction. And Kentucky Baptists showed up at the Annual Meeting to vote with conviction.

The end result of a long process was that a historic ministry began by a group of laywomen from Walnut Street Baptist Church in Louisville in 1869 and supported by countless millions of dollars given by Kentucky Baptists over a century and a half was not left to become just another secular foster care agency. Rather, Sunrise remains a ministry through which Kentucky Baptists provide excellent care to hurting kids in the name of Jesus.

Posted in Family, Sunrise Children's Services | Tagged , , | Leave a comment
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