Guilt by Association

One man has created a lot of unnecessary drama in the Missouri Baptist Convention recently, taking issue with The Journey's culture and theology dialogue ministry held at a local pub. Yesterday at the SBC's Executive Committee meeting in Nashville, TN the same guy made a motion that now calls called into question Ed Stetzer. "Whaaa?" you say? That's what I said. This appears to be a case of guilt by association. The gist of this man's argument is that when we work with other evangelical bodies outside of the SBC we are endorsing everything anyone does or thinks who is also a part of that organization. Were this true it would create serious problems for many of our best leaders and professors who work with other groups who differ from the SBC but remain evangelical. The whole thing would be funny if this guy wasn't serious, and wasting everyone else's time. You can read what he said here. Looks like thus guy is good at stirring things up and creating drama (try google), and I fear that people will be led to believe things about Ed that are not true.

I do not have the time to set fire to every straw man he has built, so let me just say a few things about Ed Stetzer, and quote him on related issues.

First, I can't tell you how many younger leaders in the SBC have been encouraged to stay in the convention because of Ed. His commitment to truth, mission and cooperation is exemplary and encouraging. When I have felt that there was little hope for our future, he is one of the few men I could point to knowing that he sees a future for us that is built on a confessional/biblical theology and united in mission. Simply put, Ed Stetzer is one of the most articulate voices we have addressing the issue of mission and cooperation.

Ed on cooperating with different kinds of churches in the SBC, and on being baptist.

Does that mean any and every theological position or practice can and should be part of the SBC? No, certainly not! I am a Baptist, not because I was reared or redeemed at a Baptist church, because I was not. I am a Baptist because I [am] a Biblicist. Based on my best understanding of scripture, “Baptist” and “biblical” are, and should be, synonyms. Problems come when we place history, tradition, or even consensus over the authority of scripture (something which I believe the BFM2000 adeptly avoided). But the Southern Baptist Convention is a convention with which we joyfully affiliate and partner for a cooperative mission from a common theological persuasion (the current Baptist Faith and Message). - pp. 34, 35 Toward a Missional Convention (PDF)

Ed on his association with "emerging" churches.

It is not a big secret that I have written some things that well-known emergent leaders do not like. I have the unfortunate distinction of having been called "unhelpful" by the head of Emergent (link). However, there are also some who think that anyone who says something kind about some emerging church leaders must be apostate. My hope is that we can be discerning enough to see the good as well as the bad, and to know the difference.

...

I do think that there is some serious theological error in part of the “emerging church” and I have written about it (see below). We need to speak clearly when the clear teaching of scripture is disregarded or misunderstood. Furthermore, there are some emerging churches where there is solid theology but an unhealthy emphasis on Christian liberty (language, alcohol, etc.). We need to speak honestly about the need for discernment and maturity in such contexts. - Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry Blog

Ed on alcohol.

First, my view on alcohol is pretty simple. My dad is a recovered alcoholic, so I was raised around the devastation of alcohol. I would not promote a product that causes over 75,000 deaths per year. So, the churches I planted always had a policy that our pastors did not drink alcohol. It is a witness issue for us.

Second, there is not a Southern Baptist Church, but it is rather a convention of autonomous churches. The SBC has passed about a bazillion resolutions against alcohol so the convention would be solidly in the anti-alcohol camp.

I, personally, do help Christians who differ with me on the issue. But, that does not mean I endorse everything they do any more than I am endorsing everything that the Assemblies of God believes when I teach there.

I think we can help and encourage others to do biblical ministry and reach the lost without endorsing everything they do.

- Comment at the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry Blog

In the end this isn't even about Ed. It's about the future of our Convention. Can we unite around the gospel and mission for the glory of God? I was encouraged to think "yes" after the Baptist ID Conference. But this kind of unnecessary drama makes me ask the question all over again.