Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis

The annual meeting of the SBC this year appears to be heading for a lot of excitement, and debate.  Excitement if you like those types of things.  There are six men who are “running” for the office of President of our Convention.  They may be good, evangelical, and Christian men, but how strong are they about our Baptist heritage, and doctrines of Scripture, concerning baptism.  I am going to let Ben Stratton give you the word on this matter.  There appears to be only one man who stands by the decisions of the International Missions Board concerning Baptism and private prayer languages.

On June 10-11, 2008 the Southern Baptist Convention will meet in Indianapolis, Indiana and elect a new president. It is an unusual year as there are six men running for this office. They are Frank Cox, Wiley Drake, Johnny Hunt, Les Puryear, Bill Wagner, and Avery Willis. To help messengers to the annual meeting evaluate the candidates, Baptist Press www.bpnews.net recently asked each candidate eight questions. One of the questions read, “The IMB trustee guidelines governing baptism and private prayer language in appointing missionaries: Do you think their action was needed and appropriate?”. As our readers know in 2005 the SBC International Mission Board passed a guideline saying that potential missionaries can not have received alien immersion. It was very interesting to read the responses of the presidential candidates to the question about this guideline.

Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Georgia and one who many consider to be the front runner in the SBC presidential race said, “I am not sure that I fully understand all that the IMB trustee guidelines have said, however, if a person has received Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, and has been baptized by a minister who embraces the Gospel and the Scriptures as we do, their baptism should count in our churches. If James Dobson desired to become part of First Baptist Church Woodstock, I would not require him to be re-baptized.” Yet James Dobson is associated with the Evangelical Free denomination which recognizes infant baptism and sprinkling as valid baptism.

Les Puryear, pastor of Lewisville Baptist Church in North Carolina and one who many consider to be the favorite of less conservative Southern Baptists said, “I do not agree with the implementation of these policies. The SBC as a whole has not stated a position on these doctrines, therefore I view these as non-essential doctrines and as such, should not be used as doctrinal policy for any SBC board or agency. This is not surprising as earlier this year Puryear said that theologically he was somewhere “between Baptist and Presbyterian”.

Frank Cox, pastor of North Metro First Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia said, “The trustees have a fiduciary responsibility to see that the board’s objectives are being met in concert as to who we are as Southern Baptists. At any time issues arise that would be contrary or questionable to the doctrine and practice of Southern Baptists as stated through our Baptist Faith and Message 2000 or contrary to Holy Scripture, they must as trustees deal with these concerns. Therefore, I believe the trustees acted in line with their responsibility, and their action on the issues of baptism and private prayer language was appropriate in keeping with the doctrinal integrity as to who we are as Southern Baptists.”

 The office of the president of the Southern Baptist Convention is a very important position because of the political appointments he makes. In light of the above statements I believe that only Frank Cox will appoint conservative sound Southern Baptists to positions of leadership in the convention. Therefore I am endorsing Frank Cox for president of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention and I encourage all Southern Baptists going to Indianapolis to vote for him.

By Ben Stratton

For further reading on Frank Cox you may go to Frank Cox .  The sad thing about this is that I am unable to attend this meeting.  I pray God will have His way in the hearts of Christian Baptists as the meeting progresses for His glory.

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