Yes, I've blogged and tweeted a lot about this today. I've done other things, but I committed a good portion of my day to this because I believe that this story is important to tell and in many ways, it will affect the future ministry of many of our churches. I believe that God is answering prayers and as I keep thinking about what might be taking place, I am getting excited. For all of my cynicism and frustration with the SBC, something significant has happened. The conversation in the SBC has changed. Earlier in the day, I said that there were 3 camps in the SBC: The Baptist Identity camp led by Paige Patterson and SWBTS, the Institutional Traditionalists led by Morris Chapman and the leadership of the state conventions, and the Great Commission Resurgence group led by Drs. Akin, Rainer, Mohler, Stetzer, and Hunt.
The future belongs to the Great Commission Resurgence group. That is obvious at this point. With this dramatic sea change in the SBC from 2006 till now, we now are talking about different things. The days of the culture war are over. The days of denial over our current situation are over. Michael Spencer (iMonk) waxes hopeful:
The younger leaders of the SBC are taking on power in a denomination that has been, for the most part, attempting to lock the doors and hope they would go away. Well, they didn’t. They came to the convention and voted in a mechanism to take an urgent look at what we are doing for the one thing that holds us together: a commitment to carry out the Great Commission. What you saw today was a serious changing of the power grid in the SBC. The vast numbers of obedient old-guard messengers are never again going to show up and make the SBC into a wholly owned subsidiary of the culture war or the Jerry Vines version of the SBC. This is now a denomination that has given itself clear and simple instructions: Get to the task of world missions, not the task of building a denominational culture.
I remember going to the Baptist Identity conference at Union University in Tennessee in 2007. I left demoralized because it seemed like a huge victory if anyone would even admit that we were struggling. After the convention in San Antonio in 2007, I pretty much decided that the establishment was so entrenched that they did not want change - they would rather die than change. But, God's Spirit has moved and something has broken loose. The old conversations pre-2006 don't matter anymore. The landscape has changed. Spencer goes on to say,
Changes in the SBC will happen quickly. Seminary education is changing before our eyes. Finances are going to change. Cooperative models are going to change. Relationships with the local and state conventions will change. A lot of people are going to find that the old rallying cries- be they rhetorical, cultural or denominational- are not going to get the same response. The younger generation SIMPLY ISN’T GOING TO BUY THE OLD SBC MYTHOLOGY. The sooner leaders come to grips with that, the better things will be. It is ridiculous to lecture the audience about Calvinism or throw fits about teetotalism or books in the bookstore. The number of people who care, who are being told by ANY pastor or leader they respect that these things matter, is small and growing smaller.
Maybe we won't be talking about Mark Driscoll, alcohol, Ed Stetzer (in a negative way), and the culture wars as much in the future. Maybe we won't be bringing up silly resolutions and wasting time on what does not really matter. Maybe we will talk about what is important.
After today we will be talking about different things in the SBC, most notably the gospel and our daily devotion to Christ instead of denominational structures. I hope I'm right. It depends on a lot of things happening. As I said earlier, the way forward is fraught with danger, but there is at least a way forward and someone is pointing the way. It's time to get up and start walking. As the day has gone on, I have become more hopeful that even though nothing tangible has changed on the one hand, on the other, everything has potentially changed. I hope I'm right.