Saturday, June 14, 2008

Somewhere Between Jesus and John Wayne (Part 3): On the SBC Resolutions

I’m not a big fan of resolutions passed by associations of churches. More often than not, I think they do more harm than good, and they often give the impression of having accomplished something when they’re really nothing more than spitting in the wind.

From time to time there are exceptions. For example, I think the SBC resolution from several years ago expressing corporate repudiation of and repentance for its slave-holding, racist origins and long-standing culture was worthwhile. This year’s SBC resolutions contained at least one of that helpful variety and a few that were unwise and counter-productive.

Just as food for thought, here’s my take on each of the resolutions that passed last week:
  • #1 on appreciation for the fine hosts in Indianapolis: FOR. Pretty much a no-brainer. Indy’s got a nice downtown. Someone should clue in the chamber of commerce to encourage restaurants besides Chick-fil-A to serve sweet tea when the SBC comes to town though. And even CfA’s was noticeably sub-par.
  • #2 on celebrating the growing ethnic diversity of the SBC: FOR. A fine thing to do even if it’s never noticed.
  • #3 in celebration of Israel’s 60th anniversary: AGAINST. I think the vote was about 7,214-3 in favor of this one. Not even any of the amillennial and similarly prickly people from my church voted with me here. It’s not that I have anything against Israel. I’m a big fan, though not for theological reasons. I just think the resolution is unhelpful, and I say that from the perspective of a person in a church in a city where we regularly have opportunities to evangelize Muslims. Though I agree with the words of the resolution, I don’t like the idea of making such a statement one of our priorities.
  • #4 on affirming the use of the term “Christmas” in public life: ABSTAIN. I can see arguments for and against. Again, I’m not sure it should be a priority, but I’m not going to gripe that it passed.
  • #5 on political engagement: AGAINST. Like the Israel resolution, I agree with the words and think it was surprisingly innocuous. I just don’t think this is the kind of thing pastors should be prioritizing. It further politicizes evangelicalism and the SBC in particular, advancing the perception that Christians are about political power, particularly Republican political power. This is the kind of resolution that the secular media picks up on. It’s difficult for me to see how this is consistent with the consensus calls for a “Great Commission Resurgence.”
  • #6 on regenerate church membership and church member restoration: FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR FOR!!!. This was a decent resolution as reported by the committee, and a stellar resolution after it was twice amended. But it’s just a resolution. Why does it matter? As a pastor friend told me, this resolution gives him the opportunity to go back to his church and use the resolution as a tool to teach his skeptical church the importance and validity of church discipline and removing non-attending members from membership rolls.
  • #7 on the California Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex marriage: FOR. I’m skeptical about speaking to specific legislation or court decisions, but I think it’s appropriate to address this kind of issue directly.
  • #8 on Planned Parenthood: FOR. See #7.
  • #9 in recognition of the centennial of Royal Ambassadors: ABSTAIN. I hear this is basically the SBC version Boy Scouts. I imagine they’re fine folks, but I just know nothing about them.

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