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Monday, December 31, 2007

A New Year’s Thought

We are not our own: let not our reason nor our will, therefore, sway our plans and deeds. We are not our own: let us therefore not set it as our goal to seek what is expedient for us according to the flesh. We are not our own: in so far as we can, let us therefore forget ourselves and all that is ours. Conversely, we are God's: let us therefore live for him and die for him. We are God's: let his wisdom and will therefore rule all our actions. We are God's: let all the parts of our life accordingly strive toward him as our only lawful goal (Rom. 14:8; cf. 1 Cor. 6:19).... – John Calvin

Grace Always and Best Wishes for the New Year,

Greg Alford

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Beliefs that Kill

Do one’s personal beliefs actually matter to the Society in which he lives? As the following quote shows, for a nation founded upon the core principle of Religious Freedom this is a key question for all of us.

Associated Press reports:

OMAHA, Neb. — The teen gunman who killed eight people and himself in a mall this month once told social workers he was satanic and acknowledged that he often acted before thinking of the consequences, according to newly released court records.

Robert Hawkins' file includes hundreds of pages of court transcripts, drug tests and letters from caseworkers, therapists and family members. They give the clearest picture yet of a young man who told a therapist in April 2005 that "he is not sure if there is a God or life after death and that when he dies, he'll probably go to hell."

More than two years later, on Dec. 5, the 19-year-old Hawkins walked into a department store in the Westroads Mall and shot 11 people, then committed suicide.

That one’s beliefs affects one’s behavior is a fact that even the most ardent atheist will readily admit, yet time and time again after one of these tragic events in which a young member of today American society goes on a killing spree at the local mall or school house the only possible solution the liberal politicians can come up with is another gun control law.

At the risk of sounding trite “Guns don’t kill people, Beliefs kill people”. In the case of the self proclaimed “Satanic” mass murderer Robert Hawkins (who according to his own words was “not sure if their was a God or life after death…”) his beliefs cost eight members of this society their lives.

And one need not be Satanic in order to have beliefs that lead them to kill or murder members of their own society. In today’s headlines is the assassination of Former Prime Minister of Pakistani Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated by a man who shot her in the neck and chest at the end of a campaign rally and then set off a bomb, blowing himself up and killing at least 20 others. Exactly what this man’s beliefs were are at the present unknown, but it is clear from his actions that mass murder was acceptable conduct according to his beliefs.

The connection between beliefs and conduct are all too obvious… just follow the trail of blood and dead bodies. And with the rabid secularist passion for the removal of all traces of Christian beliefs and morals from our public schools, and the open door policy of this nation to the importation of any belief, no matter how violent, does anyone actually think that things will improve?

Grace Always,

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Woe unto Those who say Good is Evil…

“Woe unto them that say concerning evil, it is good, and say concerning good, that it is evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)

“Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight.” (Isaiah 5:21)

God and God alone is the only being qualified to determine what is good and what is evil; what is righteous and what in unrighteous. God does not merely know right from wrong and thereby he is qualified to judge what is right and what is wrong, No that’s not it at all… God does not simply know right from wrong, but He determines what is right and what is wrong. There is a big difference as… There is but one Law Giver… God and God Alone! A sinful act is wrong simply because God has said so and on the other hand a good thing is right and acceptable simply because God has said so.

This truth is foundational to the Christian Faith;
The Word of God is Our Only Rule of Faith! Those who forget this truth will slide into one or the other of the deep ditches that run along each side of the straight and narrow path.

On the left hand side of the straight and narrow path is the deep ditch of Religious Liberalism; and those who fall into this ditch are those who “say concerning evil, it is good… that put darkness for light… that put bitter for sweet”.

Writing on the Religious Liberalism of the Sadducees J.C. Ryle says “The doctrine of the Sadducees may be summed up in three words: free-thinking, skepticism, and rationalism. So far as we can judge from the New Testament, they appear to have held the doctrine of degrees of inspiration… They believed that there was no resurrection, no angels, and no spirits, and tried to laugh men out of their belief in these things, by bringing forward difficult questions. And in this way they probably hoped, by rendering religion absurd, and its chief doctrines ridiculous, to make men altogether give up the faith they had received from the Scriptures. The practical effect of their teaching was to shake men's faith in any revelation, and to throw a cloud of doubt over men's minds, which was only one degree better than infidelity. And of all such kind of doctrine: free thinking, skepticism, rationalism, our Lord says, "Be careful and be on your guard."

On the right hand side of the straight and narrow path is the deep ditch of Religious Legalism; and those who fall into this ditch are those who “say concerning good, that it is evil… that put light for darkness… and sweet for bitter”.

Writing on the Religious Legalism of the Pharisees J.C. Ryle says “The doctrine of the Pharisees may be summed up in three words: they were formalists, tradition-worshippers, and self-righteous. They attached such weight to the traditions of men that they practically regarded them of more importance than the inspired writings of the Old Testament… they did not formally deny any part of the Old Testament Scripture. But they brought in, over and above it, so much of human invention, that they virtually put Scripture aside, and buried it under their own traditions. This is the sort of religion, of which our Lord says to the Apostles, "Be careful and be on your guard."

Both the “Religious Liberal” and the “Religious Legalist” are guilty of the same sin. Although they may detest one another, actually they are both in the same camp in that they are both guilty of being “wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sigh.” Both the Religious Liberal and the Religious Legalist are guilty of attempting to replace the Wisdom, Will, and Word of God, with the wisdom, will, and words of mere men… And let us not mince words here; the Bible pronounces a “Woe” (that is a curse) upon them both!

In light of the recent actions of the Florida Baptist Conventions total alcohol abstinence policy and the Missouri Baptist Conventions axing the ACTS 29 churches it would do all Southern Baptist well to remember that those who set themselves up as the Law Givers, be they the much hated Baptist Liberal of the pre-Conservative Resurgence, or the much loved Baptist Legalist of the post-Conservative Resurgence, they are both alike “Cursed by God”.

There is but one Law Giver… God and God Alone! This is the meaning behind the Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura and the Southern Baptist principle of the Inerrancy of the Scriptures:

Sola Scriptura

We reaffirm the inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian's conscience… (from the Cambridge Declaration)

I. The Scriptures

The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation. (BFM2000)

Grace Always,

Monday, December 17, 2007

Poisoning the SBC Well

Tim Powell, over on Timmy Brister’s blog comments “Southern (Seminary) is churning out Calvinists left and right” he then adds “The church where I grew up… would NOT hire a Calvinist pastor, no matter what.” Tim then asks the question “do you think the churches that are out there will be able to take the pastors that their seminaries are putting out?”

Some are accusing our Seminaries of
“Indoctrinating” the next generation of Baptist Pastors with Calvinism… that our Seminaries are taking the non-Calvinist students that our Southern Baptist Churches are sending them and turning them into Calvinist. It may be true that some non-Calvinist students become Calvinist while at Seminary, but I imagine this has always been the case whenever young men are exposed to the serious study of the Scriptures. However, it is probably closer to the truth that a greater percent of Calvinist students from this generation are committing themselves to the ministry than in the previous generations, and therefore a greater percent of Calvinist are attending and graduating from our Seminaries than in the previous generations.

This fact should not, and would not, be an issue except for the fact that sadly many Anti-Calvinist in the SBC are guilty of “Poisoning the Well” that all Southern Baptist must drink from… by their false accusations and malice against Calvinist they have created a conundrum for themselves and all Southern Baptist in which the Churches of the previous generation of Southern Baptist will not have the current generation of Baptist Pastors, and the current generation of Baptist Pastors will not have the Baptist Churches of the previous generation.

Here is Wikipedia’s definition of the term “Poisoning the well”.

Poisoning the well is a
logical fallacy where adverse information about someone is pre-emptively presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing everything that person is about to say. Poisoning the well is a special case of argumentum ad hominem. The term was first used with this sense [1] by John Henry Newman in his Apologia Pro Vita Sua [2].

This "argument" has the following form:

1. Unfavorable information (be it true or false) about person A is presented.
2. Therefore any claims person A makes will be false.


Before you listen to my opponent, may I remind you that he has been in jail.
Don't listen to what he says, he's a lawyer.
This is an argument between science and religion.

In general usage, poisoning the well is the provision of any information that may produce a biased result. For example, if a woman tells her friend, "I think I might buy this beautiful dress", then asks how it looks, she has "poisoned the well", as her previous comment could affect her friend's response.

Similarly, in written work, an inappropriate heading to a section or chapter can create pre-bias.

As an example:

The so-called "
Theory" of Relativity
We now examine the theory of relativity...

which has already "poisoned the well" to a balanced argument.

If, as a result of the poisoning of the well by the Anti-Calvinist within the SBC, a substantial number of our Southern Baptist Churches will not take the Calvinist Pastors that are graduating form our Seminaries (Southern is not the only Seminary that Calvinist are graduating from) then where will they go? And with many churches already having such a hard time finding well qualified Pastors where will they turn to in their search to fill their empty pulpits?

I believe I can answer the first question by saying that the next generation of Calvinistic Pastors, for the most part, have no desire to go to a church that does not want them… Instead what I see in these Pastors is a singular commitment, which is unmatched in church history, to planting new Churches that are both “Calvinistic” and “Baptist”. Did the Anti-Calvinist really think that when these young reformed Pastors (who are Passionate about the Sovereignty of God, Committed to the Sufficiency of the Scriptures and Unafraid of the Consequences) were rejected by these churches, where the water has been poisoned against Calvinist, that they were just going to walk away from their calling and go sell used cars?

As to the question of where those churches who reject these Pastors because they are Calvinist will find men to fill their empty pulpits in the years to come? I really have no idea… :-)

Grace Always,

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Is Alcohol the Real Issue?

Timmy Brister reports in an article titled When I Am Ashamed to be a Southern Baptist

The Missouri’s state paper The Pathway, has reported that members of the Executive Board presented and passed a motion (28-10) during the miscellaneous business session that sets down a “no-partnership with Acts 29″ rule for MBC church plants. Here is the motion:

Effective Jan 1, The Acts 29 Network is an
organization which the MBC Exec Bd. Staff will not be working with, supporting, or endorsing in any manner at anytime.
It was amended with the following statement:

While recognizing the autonomous nature of all areas of MBC life beyond that of the Executive Board Staff, the MBC Executive Board directs the Church Planting Department and other ministry departments to not provide CP dollars toward those affiliated with the Acts 29 Network.

What this means is that dually affiliated churches (Acts 29 and SBC) will not be able to receive church planting funds from the
Missouri Baptist Convention.

Many on the Blogs are asking the question is this action by the Missouri Baptist Convention solely due to the fact that Acts 29 refuses to take a blanket anti-alcohol stand, preferring to let each local church determine for itself what it’s policy will be on alcohol? See Scott Thomas response to the Missouri Baptist Convention here:

I do not for one minuet believe that this issue is over alcohol. Alcohol may be the spark that started this firestorm in MO… but it is no more the main issue than “Inerrancy” was the real issue behind the Conservative Resurgence… and for the record I supported the Conservative Resurgence.

The SBC is just now beginning to reap the fruit of preaching “Inerrancy” to an entire generation; and Many in the “Old Guard” are slowly waking up to the fact that these young reformed pastors (which are the product of Inerrancy) are passionate about the Sovereignty of God, absolutely committed to the Sufficiency of the Scriptures, and Unafraid of the Consequences…

And if these young reformed Pastors are convinced that the Holy Scriptures do not condemn the moderate consumption of alcohol as a sin; then they are not going to be “Cowed” by the SBC Denominational Leadership into supporting a blanket anti-alcohol policy…

That my Friends is the main issue…

Grace Always

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Two Edged Sword of Biblical Inerrancy

Biblical Inerrancy is the doctrinal position that in its original form the Bible is totally without error and free from all contradiction; "referring to the complete accuracy of Scripture, including the historical and scientific parts". Wikipedia

Wayne Grudem defines biblical inerrancy in the following way:

"The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact."

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy produced at an international Summit Conference of evangelical leaders, held at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Chicago in the fall of 1978 and signed by nearly 300 noted evangelical scholars, including James Boice, Norman L. Geisler, John Gerstner, Carl F. H. Henry, Kenneth Kantzer, Harold Lindsell, John Warwick Montgomery, Roger Nicole, J. I. Packer, Robert Preus, Earl Radmacher, Francis Schaeffer, R. C. Sproul, and John Wenham says:

“The authority of Scripture is a key issue for the Christian church in this and every age. Those who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are called to show the reality of their discipleship by humbly and faithfully obeying God's written Word. To stray from Scripture in faith or conduct is disloyalty to our Master. Recognition of the total truth and trustworthiness of Holy Scripture is essential to a full grasp and adequate confession of its authority.”

Biblical Inerrantists are said to have “a high view of Scripture”. That is an eloquent way of saying that the Biblical Inerrantists are those Christians who humbly submit to the authority and sufficiency of God’s written Word to govern their opinions and practice of the Christian faith. Addressing the charge made by some that Biblical Inerrantists have too high a view of Scripture and are actually guilty of worshiping the Bible, Ray Van Neste writes:

“The first question that always comes to my mind (which I always pose to those who bring this charge to me in person), is 'Have you ever really encountered an actual pastoral problem where the people had too high a view of Scripture?' I certainly have not. Never in my pastoral experience have I been burdened with the need to go into the pulpit and admonish my people to calm down in their affection for the Bible, to pull back from so much study of it, or to stop talking about it so much, lest perhaps people think we worshipped it. Of course not! Rather the problem I have seen in the pastorate is precisely the opposite- people failing to take seriously the teaching of Scripture when it cuts across their plans or current cultural norms, failing to esteem the Scripture enough to read it daily, etc.”

Biblical Inerrancy is a two edged sword, as some of the current leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention are just now learning. For years now they have used the sword of Biblical Inerrancy to great effect in purging the SBC of the leaven of liberal opinions and doctrine, but now the sword of Biblical Inerrancy is swinging the other way and in its path are the Baptist Traditions and Personal Opinions of those very men who first thrust the sword of Biblical Inerrancy into the heart of their adversaries.

There is a new generation of Baptist Pastors out there who esteem the Word of God far above the opinions of the current Baptist Leadership and if you wish to persuade them of any truth you hade better bring your Bible, and you had better be prepared to defend your position from the Word of God alone. To many of the “Old Guard” in the Southern Baptist Convention these “Young Punks” are a serious threat to their view of the Southern Baptist Convention…

The “Old Guard” is just now waking up to the fact that these young pastors are passionate about the Sovereignty of God, absolutely committed to the Sufficiency of the Scriptures, and Unafraid of the Consequences.

I close with these additional words of Ray Van Neste:

“I love the Bible, delight in it, rejoice in it, cling to it, and esteem it. And all of this is entirely right as it is the words of God Himself given as a gift to his beloved people and as such is the only reliable witness to him we have and is the foundation for our contact with Him. Is it not right for the beloved to cherish a gift from the Lover? It is in this book that we see the image of Christ. To fail to esteem and cherish the Bible then would be a slap in God's face.”
Grace Always,

Monday, November 26, 2007

Did Jesus and his Disciples use Recreational Drugs?

According to the new bylaw change championed by John Sullivan and adopted by the Messengers at the 146th annual meeting of the Florida Baptist State Convention; the answer is YES!

The Following is an excerpt from a Baptist Press article posted on Nov 15, 2007 by Barbara Denman & Joni B. Hannigan

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (BP)--Messengers at the 146th Florida Baptist State Convention annual meeting overwhelmingly approved a bylaw revision requiring all trustee nominees to "agree to abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages and using any other recreational drugs."

According to Florida Baptist Convention Wine which almost everyone agrees, except Fundamentalist and those who cannot read their Bibles, that Jesus and his Disciples drank apparently quite often (see Luke 7:33-34) is a “Recreational Drug”.

In their lust for total control the leadership of the Florida Baptist Convention have imposed upon the Baptist Churches of Florida an odious infringement upon the cherished Baptist Principles of Religious Freedom and Personal Responsibility before God that have stood for one hundred and forty-five years! Not even at the height of the Prohibition Movement were any such draconian measures conceived in order to “Purge” the Convention of undesirables.

There is a good reason why such measures have never before been enacted by any Body of Baptist Believers… which is if Jesus Christ and his Disciples were alive today they would be found “Unworthy” to serve with the Florida Baptist Convention… Nice!

And according to this new interpretation of the Florida Baptist Convention which classifies Wine as a “Recreational Drug” Jesus is guilty of the manufacture and distribution of “Recreational Drugs”.

1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 3 And when they wanted "Recreational Drugs", the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no "Recreational Drugs". 4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. 5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. 6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made "Recreational Drugs", and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good "Recreational Drugs"; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good "Recreational Drugs" until now. 11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him. (John 2:1-11) – FBT (Florida Baptist Translation)

Far-out man! I guess those “Long haired Friends of Jesus” back in the 60 were right after all… Does anyone know where I can get my hands on a Chartreuse Mini-Bus?

This might have played well to the “Gray-haired” messengers (no disrespect intended) who attended the 146th annual meeting of the Florida Baptist State Convention, but to the next generation of young Southern Baptist who grew up under the banner of “Biblical Inerrancy”, and who trust their Bibles over the feeble attempts of the current leadership to justify these actions, it simply smells of “Sour Grapes”.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Florida Baptists Convention ‘We are Better Off Without Them’?

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (FBC/FBW) - At the 146th Florida Baptist State Convention annual meeting Nov. 12-13 in Daytona Beach, Fla., 1,258 messengers and 736 visitors rallied around the theme, “We Are Better Together.”

So begins an article on the Florida Baptist Convention website reporting the events and actions of the 146th Florida Baptist State Convention.

For the most part I could care less what the Florida Baptist Convention does. Following the actions of John Sullivan and his Cronies in Jacksonville over the last few years which include the firing of Bill Lollar, banning anyone from serving in any position within the State Convention who does not think (as Sullivan does) that drinking a class of wine is the unforgivable sin, and the recent Statewide attack on Calvinism sponsored by (that's right) the Good Old Baptist Boys... my church no longer supports, nor consider ourselves a part of the Florida Baptist Convention.

In fact I had decided to leave off blogging about the actions of the Florida Baptist Convention several months ago when it became ever so clear that “no one was listening” however, I just could not pass up a few words about the theme for this years convention “We are Better Together”.

I find it just a little... actually I find it a lot... HYPOCRITICAL that in the same year that John Sullivan sends a state wide mailing to every Baptist church in the state attacking Calvinist, and the very year he imposes a ban on anyone from serving in the State Convention who happens to drink a glass of wine from time to time that the theme of this years convention is “We are Better Together”.

Are we suppose to believe that John Sullivan believes “We are Better Together”? Yea Right! And the Easter Bunny is real...

I think someone must have gotten the memo wrong from Sullivan's office... the theme was supposed to be “We are Better Off Without Them!”

If my numbers are correct (and they are) less than 25% of the eligible messengers from the Florida Baptist Churches bothered to attend this years convention... I guess they got the message John, .....Did You?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Peoples Republic of Georgia bans Blogging

It’s true; the Georgia Baptist Convention has passed a resolution against blogging.

One Blogger has titled his article about this action of the Georgia Baptist Convention
Dumber than Dirt

If this were not so sad it would be funny… But this is not funny… this is not funny at all because what is behind this resolution, and the recent censure of Wade Burleson by the Board of Trustees of the IMB, is nothing less than a raw attempt of the current leadership of the SBC to silence all dissent and opposing voices to their ever narrowing view of the SBC.

This is not funny… this is an outrage to Baptist principles!

Hey Guys… whoever you are that actually drew up this resolution… I have a quote for you; see if you can figure out where it comes from.

"A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power."

Concerning and the Doctrine of Free Will

A faithful member of my congregation sent me an email today asking me to explain 2 Timothy 2:24-26 as it relates to the doctrine of “Free Will”. This being one of my favorite doctrines to discuss, and as my new job (yes, I am bi-vocational) has taken up so much of my former writing time that I have not written an article for my Blog in over four months I thought I would post my response.


The doctrine of “The Will of Man” is much misunderstood by the vast majority of Christians today, and sadly this includes most pastors as well.

So you must take much of what you hear from different sources with this in mind… when it comes to this doctrine be very careful who you listen to... men can be very passionate about their beliefs, even when they are wrong. We must always make sure that our opinions concerning any doctrine are grounded in the Word of God and not our own wisdom and understanding.

You give some very interesting verses with which to approach this topic…

1st - Let’s start with a look at what (2 Timothy 2:24-26) is actually saying.

(24) The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,

(25) with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,

(26) and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

Observation #1 – What is the state of an unregenerate (lost) man’s will? This verse is telling us that the will of an unregenerate man is “held captive… of the devil… to do his will”.

Observation #2 – If the will of an unregenerate man is held captive of the devil then it cannot be free. This is absolutely true. But how can this be right you might ask? I have been making choices all my life. And that also is absolutely true. Notice however that the text did not say that you made no choices as a lost man, what it said is that your will, and therefore your choices, were held captive by the devil to do his will.

Observation #3 – So we must come to the conclusion that while we mistakenly believe that our choices as a lost person are all our own and not influenced by the devil, the truth is far different. The truth is that the choices of an unregenerate man are greatly influenced by the devil. So much so that when the Lord does intervene (v.25) “granting them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” they are then said to “come to their senses”.
No, the unregenerate man may make many choices in this life, but until the Lord grants him repentance by the opening of his eyes that he may come to the knowledge of the truth, his will is firmly held captive of the devil. He is a slave to sin and unless the Lord set him free thus he will remain.

This teaching does not come naturally to the mind of man. And the church of the last century has been greatly negligent in their teaching of the “captivity” of the unregenerate will. Therefore, in the church today we have an entire generation that does not understand, nor fully appreciate, the plight and devastating condition of the lost. Furthermore, because this current generation does not understand the condition of the lost man, they also do not correctly understand salvation.

The lost are not so merely because they have chosen to be so. They are lost because they are “held captive… of the devil… to do his will”. They are prisoners, born into captivity and have never known freedom. Thus salvation is correctly understood as “Deliverance from the power and bondage of sin”… this brings new meaning to the words of John 8:36 “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

Grace Always,

Monday, June 11, 2007

Narrowing the Parameters of Cooperation

“The slippery slope of Coerced Conformity”

An open letter to the Pastors and Churches of the Holmes Baptist Association.

(For the full story of what necessitated this letter click here)

May 31, 2007

Dear Brothers,

I am writing to you concerning what I believe to be a grave danger to the future of our association: The attempt by some powerful individuals in our state convention to narrow the long established and historic Southern Baptist parameters of cooperation.

For over eighty years the Baptist Faith and Message (1925, 1963, 2000) has been the one document that has defined, not only for ourselves but for the world as well, what it means to be a Southern Baptist. The Preamble to the BFM2000 says:

Baptists are a people of deep beliefs and cherished doctrines. Throughout our history we have been a confessional people, adopting statements of faith as a witness to our beliefs and a pledge of our faithfulness to the doctrines revealed in Holy Scripture.

Baptist churches, associations, and general bodies have adopted confessions of faith as a witness to the world, and as instruments of doctrinal accountability. We are not embarrassed to state before the world that these are doctrines we hold precious and as essential to the Baptist tradition of faith and practice.

The Baptist Faith and Message is the exclusive “Doctrinal Contract” adopted by the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1925, 1963, and 2000 to be used as an instrument of doctrinal accountability. Yet increasingly we have powerful individuals in our state convention who desire to “discipline” or “exclude from service or membership” individuals or churches who do not agree with them on doctrines and issues not addressed in the Baptist Faith and Message.

This attitude of intolerance toward their fellow Southern Baptist who do not believe precisely as they believe on every doctrine is a deadly and infectious disease that if left unchecked will cripple cooperation between our Churches. As Southern Baptist we must be clear in our understanding that Coerced Conformity is not Cooperation.

The narrowing of the parameters of cooperation to discipline or exclude fellow Southern Baptist based upon the personal opinions of a few powerful individuals in the state convention is slap in the face to the Baptist doctrines expressed in our statement of faith; the Baptist Faith and Message:

XIV. Cooperation

Christ's people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and conventions as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. They are voluntary and advisory bodies designed to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of our people in the most effective manner. Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ's Kingdom. Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ's people. Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament.

XVII. Religious Liberty

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it…

When the Southern Baptist Convention meet to consider the adoption of the 1925 Baptist Faith and Message it was not a sure thing that it would pass. Some considered it to broad and moderate a statement to be used as a document of doctrinal accountability. Southern Baptist statesman, theologian and President of the SBC, E.Y. Mullins address the convention with these words that still ring with great wisdom for all Southern Baptist some eighty years latter:

Members of the Convention:--

There is one thing that I believe a man can always do with safety, and without disappointment, and that is to appeal to the sense of fair play of a Baptist body. Now there are individual Baptists to whom you can not make that appeal, but there are now present a great body of Baptist people, and down in the bottom of their hearts there is honesty and there is common sense, and there is a spirit of fairness; and I come to you this afternoon simply and solely with a plea for Christ and his truth, for the work of his Kingdom, and for fair play with all the brethren.

I hope to make good the basis of that plea for fair play in a few moments, and I believe that this great body of splendid Baptists will respond to that appeal, and that is all I ask…

Now, brethren, I might say this, although I don’t suppose it is necessary to dwell on it, if we were to undertake to put our personal preferences in the doctrinal statement and insist upon our personal group preferences being put in the confession of faith, for Baptists covering eighteen states like this, where would we ‘fetch up at’ I can just think of things I know some men would put in. Some people would want to insist on a twenty-four hour day in Genesis, and some a period day. Some people would insist on post-millennialism, and some people on premillenialism. Some people would insist on church succession and some on anti-church succession. Some would insist on a universal church and some would oppose the universal church.

Why, there is no end to where we would go… Brethren, I appeal to you for fair play. I don’t believe it is fair play for a group of brethren who are particularly committed to this standpoint, to come here and inist that everybody in the conference confrom to that standpoint.

…I believe that one thing about the Baptist conscience is fair play. One thing about the Baptist conscience is straight-forwardness. One thing about the Baptist conscience is its willingness to recognize the opinions of other people and rights of other people, within gospel limits.

(The above quotes were barrowed from Wade Burleson blog: here)

Any call to “discipline” or “exclude from service or membership” any individual or church is a grave and serious matter among Southern Baptist and should not be entered into lightly.

Cooperation is at the heart of who we are as Southern Baptist and in the end if we only cooperate with those who agree with us 100% of the time on every doctrine and every issue we would soon be pretty lonely.

I close with these previous words; “Coerced Conformity is not Cooperation.”


Greg Alford
Senior Pastor

First Baptist Church
2877 Highway 81 N.
Ponce de Leon, Florida 32455

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Is the Convention System Outdated?

The SBC claims to be the world’s largest protestant denomination with some 16 million members and 45,000 churches. Yet it was reported that only 9,000 messengers representing 2,000 SBC churches were present at last year’s 2006 Southern Baptist Convention.

Here are some statistics worth considering:

(2,000 / 45,000 = 4.44%) That means that less than 4½ percent of all Southern Baptist Churches were represented at last year’s convention… Ouch!

When you reverse that statement it becomes even clearer: Over 95.5 % of all Southern Baptist churches were not represented at last year’s convention… Again OUCH!

Regardless of how you run the numbers… it is a sad indictment on our claims of being a Democratic Convention, and for anything coming out of any convention as being a representation of the will of all Southern Baptist or what all Southern Baptist believe.

Do you believe the Convention System is representing you?

Friday, June 01, 2007

Question on Salvation

I had the wonderful privilege this week of witnessing to an eighty three year old man in the hospital with massive heart failure and seeing him respond to the gospel in brokenness and repentance. To see someone who had walked in darkness for eighty three years come to saving faith in Christ Jesus was to say the least an awesome moment!

Therefore the doctrine of salvation has been on my mind a lot this week and I would like to pose a question concerning the salvation of sinners.

When a person is saved:
· Is it the case that God is at that particular moment intervening in their life?
· Or is it just that they have wised up and made the correct choice?

What do you say?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

Wade Burleson writes on his blog: Has the Gospel's Power Been Lost in the SBC?

...Though we say with our lips salvation is by grace through the work of Christ, we sometimes broadcast with our lives that salvation is really only found in our church, our message, and our baptism.

…Recently the new (IMB) policy on baptism was shown to Ray Hugget, High Priest of the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints and a direct descendent of Joseph Smith, and asked him what he thought of it. Ray read it carefully and then proclaimed that the policy is just like his church's view on baptism. I asked him to clarify and he said, "A legitimate baptism is one performed only in our church, because we are the true church of Jesus Christ on earth, and we would not accept any other baptism."

I have documented my strong opposition to these new and unauthorized (extra-BFM2000) doctrines/guidlines that have been adopted by the IMB here: The IMB “Canonizes” its policy on Baptism and Tongues

The Board of Trustees of the IMB have had over a year to correct these new policies and have decided instead to simply restate them as “guidelines”, which in effect leaves them in place unchanged. This means that according to these new (narrow) parameters of cooperation certain members of FBC Ponce de Leon, which were before these new guidelines were adopted qualified for service with the IMB, are now considered unqualified to serve as a missionary with the IMB.

Therefore, I have drawn up the following new guideline for FBC Ponce de Leon when considering cooperation with any International Missions Agency:

Guideline on International Missions Agencies

If an International Missions Agency “narrows the parameters of cooperation” beyond the doctrines expressed in our Statement of Faith (BFM2000), without satisfactory scriptural support, to such a degree that the members of this Southern Baptist church are no longer qualified to serve, the International Missions Agency has eliminated itself from being a representative of this church.

It is with great regret and the deep emotions associated with loosing an old friend that the Executive Committee of FBC Ponce de Leon, meeting at our regular monthly time, reached the decision that the IMB has “eliminated itself from being a representative of this church” and will no longer receive financial support from this congregation.

Grace to all,

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cautious Cooperating Southern Baptist

I have noticed that many bloggers have started identified themselves as “Cautious Cessationist” when stating their position on miraculous works of the Holy Spirit in our day. On this same subject others have identified themselves as “Cautious Continuationist”.

I have no problem with these definitions and I fully understand the need to be cautious… for I have learned that in this current political climate of “ever narrowing parameters of cooperation”, and increasing “Landmark influence” throughout much of the convention, that one needs to be “Cautious” in order to survive in the SBC today.

So I guess you could call me a “Cautious Cooperating Southern Baptist”. And if I were a Missionary with the IMB I would be very cautious! It is a sad day when Missionaries have to be protected from the very ones who sent them… from hostility in the field and at home.

“Cautious” is indeed the word that best describes life the SBC today…

Grace to all,

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Before I formed you in the womb

My wife and I were discussing (Jeremiah 1:5) last night.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

(I love having a wife that I can discuss theology with…) During this discussion the thought occurred to us that throughout our lives we are in the constant process of learning who we really are, and who others really are. But not God... He already knows who we really are… to such an extent that “God never learns anything new about us”.

He is never surprised by our sin or our actions. His love is not conditioned upon His foreknowledge of our right behavior. Quite the opposite, His foreknowledge revealed our sinfulness while we were yet “in the womb”... and still He says “before you were born I set you apart”…

Our lives are novels upon the shelves of His personal library. Each day is a page in the novel of our life, and the pages that lay ahead are utterly unknown unto us. But not God... He has read every word of the novel that is our life, even before we turned the first page. And having read this novel, that at times filled his heart with joy and at other times caused him to weep with sadness, God placed us in His basket to take home… to treasure us forever…

This is a wonderful thought; it is too high for me…

Overcome by Grace,

Monday, May 14, 2007

Calvinism and mental health: have you been exposed?

Bill Lollar has written a rather humorous article on Calvinism that is also very true.

Check it out: Calvinism and mental health: have you been exposed?

Grace to all,

Friday, May 11, 2007

The IMB “Canonizes” its policy on Baptism and Tongues

Here is the full report…

Report of the Mission Personnel Ad Hoc CommitteeMay 2007

In March of 2006 an ad hoc committee of Mission Personnel Committee received the charge to revisit the approved board policy on tongues and prayer language and the approved board guideline on baptism, both adopted in November 2005. The ad hoc committee has met over the past year during board meetings as well as a two-day special meeting to consider the vast amount of material gathered from leaders, scholars, and pastors across our denomination. The committee solicited this material in an attempt to be faithful to its task. The committee has also spent considerable time praying, fasting, and seeking God’s heart on these issues. The committee has no desire to create further controversy. Rather, our desire is to bring this study to completion and allow the board to maintain its focus upon our world mission task.

The ad hoc committee has concluded that even though field related data and consultation with regional leaders has not indicated a systemic problem with charismatic practices among field personnel, the rapid spread of neo-pentecostalism and its pressure exacted on the new churches in various regions of the world warrants a concern for the clear Baptist identity of our missionary candidates. Furthermore, the diversity of denominational backgrounds among missionary candidates requires a clear baptism guideline to guide the work of our candidate consultants as they consider the qualifications of candidates.

Therefore, we recommend that the full board adopt the following two guidelines to replace Policy 200-15 and Guideline 200-3a. The Mission Personnel Committee approved this recommendation on March 20, 2007 by a three-fourths majority.

Guideline on Tongues and Prayer Language

1. The New Testament speaks of a gift of glossolalia that generally is considered to be a legitimate language.
2. The New Testament expression of glossolalia as a gift had specific uses and conditions for its exercise in public worship.
3. In terms of worship practices, if glossolalia is a public part of the candidate’s current practice and it does not fall within the definitions of Parts 1 & 2 above, the candidate has eliminated himself or herself from being a representative of the IMB of the SBC.

1. Any spiritual experience must be tested by Scriptures.
2. New Testament teaching is that prayer is to be made with understanding.
3. The board is not persuaded that ecstatic utterance as a prayer language is a valid expression of the New Testament teaching on prayer.
4. Therefore, if an “ecstatic utterances as a prayer language” is a part of the candidate’s current practice, the candidate has eliminated himself or herself from being a representative of the IMB of the SBC.

1. This guideline is not retroactive.
2. Any exceptions to the above guideline must be reviewed by the staff and the Mission
Personnel Committee.

Proposed Guideline on Baptism

THAT each candidate’s baptismal experience be examined, during the application process, in light of the Baptist Faith and Message statement and the points listed below:

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper. 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, Article VII


1. The individual

(a.) Believer’s baptism by immersion. Baptism by immersion follows salvation.
(b.) Baptism is symbolic, picturing the experience of the believer’s death to sin and resurrection to a new life in Christ.Baptism does not regenerate.

2. The Church

(a.) Baptism is a church ordinance.Baptism must take place under the authority of a local church that practices believer’s baptism alone, embraces the doctrine of the security of a believer’s salvation and does not view baptism as sacramental, regenerative or essential to salvation.
(b.) A candidate who has not been baptized under the authority of a local church which meets the standards listed above is expected to request baptism in his or her Southern Bapist church.

3. The Candidate

The candidate is responsible for requesting their home church to assist them in meeting this doctrinal commitment to the above points.

4. The Consultant

While the candidate consultant should have a working knowledge of many denominational groups, he or she is not expected to investigate every church.


1. The guideline is not retroactive. Any exception to the above guideline must be reviewed by staff and the Mission Personnel Committee.

(End of committee report)

My Commentary on this issue:

This is not a trivial matter!

The Board of Trusties of the IMB has taken it upon themselves to define for the Southern Baptist Convention what is acceptable doctrine and practice in the areas of Tongues and Baptism. Others like Wade have posted a great deal on the issue of Tongues so I will concentrate specifically on the doctrine of Baptism. I have made a few comments on Wade’s blog that I need to bring over here for discussion.

Here are my post on Wade’s blog:

I am a life long Southern Baptist Pastor who, in the past, has ALWAYS supported the various agencies of the Southern Baptist Convention. I have consistently motivated each church I have pastured to greater support of our Southern Baptist Mission efforts through increased giving.

A few years ago (due to what we felt were inappropriate actions by certain Florida Baptist Officials) the Leadership of my current church decided by unanimous consent to stop funding the C.P. and send our support directly to NAMB and IMB.

We have continued to support both NAMB and IMB as they faced controversy these last couple of years. I can honestly say that I was impressed and yes even PROUD of the way that NAMB responded to their difficult situation and because of their willingness to address each and every concern that was raised, I have even more confidence in NAMB today than I did before. I regret that I cannot say the same of IMB.

Because of NAMB’s willingness to address, and yes make the proper corrections, NAMB will continue to receive my full support. Because the IMB has refused to follow the example set by NAMB (see the comments by Micah Fries above) I can no longer recommend that my church send support to IMB until these guidelines/policies (there is no difference) are changed.

Why would any Southern Baptist Church send its missions support to any agency that would not accept its own Pastor or Members? There are options…Grace to all,

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Thank you for the compliment… I do “immature” quite well don’t you think? Kind of like the IMB BOT saying to “All” Southern Baptist “if you don’t play by our rules you don’t get to play at all”… sounds a little immature on their part if you ask me.

Notice, I did not say I was no longer going to support Southern Baptist Missionaries… “There are options…”

Beth, just what would you suggest would be an appropriate response to this decision of the IMB BOT (not unanimous I am sure) to force their Neo-Landmark doctrines upon all Southern Baptist? Just what is a local church pastor to do? I am really open to other ideas as to how to respond to all of this… if someone can come up with a better solution than pulling our support for IMB I would like to hear it?

Perhaps the IMB could come up with a “Two Track” system where those who wish to serve under their new Landmark rules can apply, and those churches who wish to support Landmark missionaries can support them… And another of us who were very satisfied and happy under the old system can still serve as missionaries and send support also? I suppose that is asking too much though… for a Southern Baptist Church to be able to send a missionary through the Southern Baptist IMB that reflects its own beliefs instead of those of others.


Thank you so much for the compliment, you are too kind… Not sure I am ready for the BOT yet; I have a long way to go before I learn to handle myself with the grace and gentleness that you show in the face of such difficult issues…

But, thanks for the encouragement and you can be sure that I will ALWAYS support Southern Baptist Missionaries… where there is a will, there is always a way.Grace to all,

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


I have not broken fellowship with the IMB, the IMB has broken fellowship with me.

In following the language of the International Mission Board I have drafted a new “guideline” for my church when considering International Missions Agencies.

Guideline on International Missions Agencies

If an International Missions Agency “narrows the parameters of cooperation” beyond the doctrines expressed in our Statement of Faith (BFM2000), without satisfactory scriptural support, to such a degree that the members of this Southern Baptist church are no longer qualified to serve, the International Missions Agency has eliminated itself from being a representative of this church.

I hope this clears up any misunderstanding on who has initiated this breach of fellowship… it was not I!

Grace to all,
Thursday, May 10, 2007


I have only one, perhaps two, members in my church of whom I am aware that have a “private” prayer language…

On the other hand, I have many members who have come to us from different denominational backgrounds (Presbyterian, Assembly of God, Independent Baptist, etc.) all of whom were Baptized by immersion following their conversion. In other words their Baptism is (according to the N.T.) “PROPER”. Yet, according to the BOT of the IMB their Baptism in “unacceptable”…

The IMB BOT writes:

A candidate who has not been baptized under the authority of a local church which meets the standards listed above is expected to request baptism in his or her Southern Bapist church.

“There is one Baptism…” only one! Putting someone who has been properly Baptized according to the Scripture through the “ritual” of re-baptizing them is in fact not Baptism. It is a “MAN MADE RITUAL”. A person may submit to, or “request” that his or her Southern Baptist church perform as many “rituals” upon them as they wish… It is not Baptism.

As a Pastor called by God, not the IMB, I will not even one time stand guilty before my God for doing such a thing to one of his children.

Grace to all,
Friday, May 11, 2007

What do you think? Am I off base in my assessment and response to this move by the BOT of the IMB?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Avoiding the Ditches of Liberalism & Legalism

Rodney Albert over on SBC OUTPOST ask “Is it that parameters are being narrowed, or is it that they’re being widened?”

There are some pretty deep ditches on both sides of the strait and narrow way… Turn to the left and you fall into Liberalism, turn to the right and you fall into Legalism. Both are deadly…

Both must be avoided… “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt.7:14)

So, how can we (the SBC) keep on the narrow way and avoid ditches? How can one guard against both Liberalism and Legalism?

Psalms 119:11 gives us the answer ” Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.”

Note, that Liberalism and Legalism are both unbiblical. One takes away from what the Bible teaches and the other adds to what the Bible teaches.

The SBC has (on paper at least) won the battle over the “Inerrancy of Scripture” that was necessary to keep us from slipping into the left hand ditch of Liberalism…

Now the SBC is facing the battle over the “Sufficiency of Scripture” that is necessary to keep us from slipping into the right hand ditch of Legalism…

Grace to all

Friday, February 16, 2007

Coerced Conformity – Sullivan’s Legacy?

What is taking place in the Florida Baptist Convention; "the narrowing of the parameters of cooperation" to include only Baptist who “hold to a total abstinence form alcohol conviction” has occupied quite a bit of my thoughts lately. There are several reasons why this has so captured my attention and caused me such concern.

#1. The concentration of “unquestionable power" is always dangerous, deadly, and unbiblical for any man to possess. History has proven this to be true over and over. That one man, the Executive Director/Treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, (Dr. John Sullivan) has been given such power to enact his will upon the Baptist of the State of Florida is undeniable. Yes, he will go through the proper channels to enact his will, but can anyone deny that in all but an extreme request whoever holds this powerful position in the State of Florida will get whatsoever he ask for? However, in asking that the parameters of cooperation be narrowed based upon his personal convictions a very “dangerous precedent” has now been established whereas the Executive Director/Treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, and not our confession of faith, is looked to for guidance on matters of what constitutes appropriate doctrine for cooperation among the individuals and churches that make up the Florida Baptist Convention. Future Executive Director/Treasurers will exercise this “new authority” to mold and shape the Florida Baptist Convention in ways that cannot now be predicted or known.

#2. The Executive Director/Treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention is using the power of his position to “deny equal opportunity for employment or service” with the Florida Baptist Convention to all Baptist of the State of Florida who do not share his personal convictions on total abstinence from alcohol, instead of using the power of his position to educate and convince fellow Florida Baptist of the wisdom of his convictions. Once again a “dangerous precedent” is being established whereby Florida Baptist are being excluded, or denied opportunity of employment and service, based not upon some conflict with the doctrines contained in our Confession of Faith, but upon one man’s “personal convictions” which cannot be fully known at the time of his hiring. That one agrees or does not agree with the motivation for Dr. Sullivan’s actions is not the issue here. The issue is - if this “dangerous precedent” is allowed to stand, the seeds of future instability will have been planted within the Florida Baptist Convention. This is because the personal convictions of the Executive Director/Treasurer have now become the standard for acceptance and service within the Florida Baptist Convention, and his convictions on any and all matters of faith can never be fully known at any given time or can change at any given time. If this “dangerous precedent” becomes the foundation upon which cooperation is built within the Florida Baptist Convention it is not a matter of “IF” but “WHEN” an Executive Director/Treasurer will make a decision that will split or severely damage the Florida Baptist Convention.

#3. For the Florida Baptist Convention to elevate the position of total abstinence from alcohol to a “first level doctrine" of such importance as to break fellowship with all who do not agree is a “clear violation” of our own confession of faith as expressed in article XVII on Religious Liberty. This article reads – “God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it.” Unless it can be proven Holy Scripture commands total abstinence from alcohol (which no honest person will say) then I do not see how the Florida Baptist Convention can maintain its position on total abstinence and not be in “violation of its own confession of faith.”

#4. It is inconsistent for the Florida Baptist Convention to maintain that it holds to the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scriptures and yet adopt a policy that denies the undisputed truth that wine (even if it was watered down, which is a point I do not concede) is one of the two “Holy Elements of Communion” and as such is most proper to partake. Either the policy is in error, or the Scriptures are not inerrant. Both cannot be true.

#5. For the Florida Baptist Convention to maintain that the ordinance of Baptism is to be according to the “literal example” of full immersion in water as found in the scriptures and that no substitutes for this example (sprinkling or pouring) is proper, and yet demand that the “literal example” contained in the scriptures for the ordinance of the Lords Supper consisting of the two elements of unleavened bread and wine are “NOT acceptable" is to be again inconsistent. If the “literal example” is true of one Holy ordinance instituted by Jesus Christ, then the “literal example” is true of the second Holy ordinance instituted by Jesus Christ as well. In other words, by what principle of interpretation can the Florida Baptist Convention insist on Baptism by full immersion and at the same time forbid the Lords Supper to be observed with wine? If a substitute is acceptable, yea even demanded, in the one then why is it not acceptable in the other?

#6. After having considered all the above, what troubles me the most about this new policy is it’s none too subtle attempt at “Coerced Conformity”. This, “tow the line or else”, mindset is very dangerous because it places the Florida Baptist Convention on the slippery slope of dictating to the Baptist Churches of the State of Florida “extra-biblical terms for cooperation.” I am deeply disappointed in the Executive Director/Treasures of the Florida Baptist Convention; that with all the resources at his disposal to battle the dangers of alcohol abuse in our society he has chosen “Coercion”.

Respectfully, Greg Alford

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sullivan's Law is "Rubber Stamped"

Brothers pray for the State of Florida…

The Florida Baptist Witness is reporting that the 99-member State Board of Missions during its Jan. 26 meeting at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center approves alcohol abstinence bylaw revision… (Read the full article here)

The Florida Baptist Witness reports -

"The abstinence commitment will be added to a written questionnaire currently in place that asks potential nominees a series of other questions, such as: if they have “received Jesus Christ as savior;” have been a member of a cooperating Florida Baptist church for a year; are in good standing in their local congregation; tithe; and support the Baptist Faith and Message. Nominees must record positive responses and a signature of affirmation to the written questionnaire to be considered for service."

This is truly a sad day in Florida, when abstinence from alcohol is considered as important a doctrinal question as ones salvation, and the doctrines contained in the BFM. But what strikes me as even more sad is the fact that “No opposition to the bylaw revision was expressed by any board member.”

Not one of the 99 board members of the State of Florida found any cause for concern in this at all… Not one of the 99 board members found any reason to stand up and defend the life of Jesus Christ and his witness… Not one of the 99 board members found it within themselves to ask does this now mean that Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and the vast majority of Christians who have lived throughout history can not serve in the Florida Convention… Not one of the 99 board members stopped to consider the implications this action will have on the Baptist doctrine of Christian Liberty… Not one of these 99 board members stopped to consider the implications of this action on our understanding of the doctrine of the Lords Supper… Not one of the 99 board members found the courage to ask where this will all end… Not one… Not one… Not one…

Friends, I know some of these men… and I am stunned!

I am stunned by the lack of consideration for the convictions of other Baptist by the action of the Florida State Board of Missions in their reckless hast to adopt Sullivan’s proposal on total abstinence from alcohol.

Everyone agrees that alcohol abuse needs to be addressed and confronted, however this is not the way to do so. This will not prevent one young person from taking their first drink, and it will not prevent one family from being destroyed from alcohol abuse… If anyone thinks otherwise they are just kidding themselves. What it will do is cause those who do not hold to this position to never be involved with the Florida Baptist Convention at all… is that what Dr. Sullivan wants, less participation from other Baptist who do not hold to his personal convictions?

This may come as a total shock to the 99 members of the State Board of Missions but there are Southern Baptist who never take a drink socially or in private (so in practice they are teetotalers) but who also have deeply held convictions that the Lord’s Supper must be observed with the proper elements of unleavened bread and wine (most often just touched to the lips), as was the example and commandment of Jesus Christ.

What you are now asking these very conservative men and women of God to do is choose between their convictions and conformity to this doctrine of man in order to be considered for service in the State of Florida… Shame on you!

– Greg Alford

Follow-up on Sullivan’s Law

For those who think that what John Sullivan has done to all Baptist of the state of Florida is really not a “Hill on which to die”… let me frame the issue in a little different light.

It’s not about alcohol; it’s about an abuse of power and of trust broken.

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in any thing contrary to his word, or not contained in it. (The Baptist Faith and Message 2000, The Baptist Confession of Faith 1689)

John Sullivan and all those who are imposing their beliefs (commandments of men) upon the Baptist of Florida are most certainly violating the principle of Religious Liberty expressed in our Baptist Confessions.

But it goes far beyond that!

The supper of the Lord Jesus was instituted by him the same night wherein he was betrayed, to be observed in his churches, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance, and showing forth the sacrifice of himself in his death, confirmation of the faith of believers in all the benefits thereof, their spiritual nourishment, and growth in him, their further engagement in, and to all duties which they owe to him; and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other… The Lord Jesus hath, in this ordinance, appointed his ministers to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine, and thereby to set them apart from a common to a holy use,… (The Baptist Confession of Faith 1689)

Can anyone deny that the Lord Jesus Christ instituted the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper with the two elements of bread and wine? Can anyone deny that there in that upper room Christ and his blessed Apostles each partook of the bread and the wine? And has it not been true that down throughout Christian history that believers have maintained the practice, received by example from Christ himself, of observing the Lord’s Supper by partaking of the bread and wine without altering or substituting either of these two “blessed elements”?

And now John Sullivan, having placed himself in the position to speak for God on this matter, is telling all Florida Baptist that he is the proper authority on the ordnance of the Lord’s Supper, and that they no longer have the Christian Liberty to follow the example set by Jesus Christ, His blessed Apostles, Christian History, or our Baptist Confessions of Faith.

If this does not frighten anyone then I do not know what will…

Grace to all,

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sullivans Law

Over on Wade Burleson’s blog, Stephen Pruett wrote -

The trend seems very obvious to me. Interpretations that are biblically disputable, even among true conservative inerrantists, have now become the basis for exclusion from service and the pace of this exclusion and the reasons for it have increased rather than decreased… Now that several precedents have been set, the only limitation on which new criteria will be used for exclusion is the opinions of those in positions of power.

For those of us who now server in Florida this is fast becoming a reality… John Sullivan, the Executive Director/Treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention has put forth a “Decree” saying:

"We are not going to have people on our boards of trustees that do not believe in total abstinence."

In an email exchange with Tom Ascol, Executive Director of Founders Ministries, John Sullivan went on to explain he actually meant that it would not be enough if a trustee abstained from drinking alcohol, but that he or she would also have to hold to a total abstinence conviction. He also pledged to pursue action within the Florida Baptist Convention to assure this. (read more here)

Of course Dr. Sullivan believing in Southern Baptist principles will go through the proper channels (just as any local Baptist Pastor may---yea right!) to assure his new proposal/decree is enacted with all due process… However, in a stunning display of arrogance Sullivan went on to say in an article written for the Florida Baptist Witness “Please understand, I am not taking a poll on this matter.”

The trend toward excluding livelong Southern Baptist from service based upon the opinions of those in power is growing at a truly frightening pace. It is almost as if those in positions of power throughout the Convention, as they are approaching the end of their careers and seeing a new generation that does not share their personal convictions on secondary matters of the faith, have cast caution to the wind in their attempts to mold the future of the SBC in their own image while they still can.

If this dangerous and very Un-Baptist trend toward “Fundamentalism” and the unrestrained exercise of power to excluded fellow Baptist from service is not corrected soon… I fear we may not even recognize the SBC in few years. I hate to sound so negative, but “one man” just excluded me from cooperate service in any capacity in the State of Florida.

Grace to all,

Friday, February 02, 2007

The IMB to Dictate Baptist Doctrine

Feb.1st, 2007 BP article “IMB trustees hear challenge to expand missionary force, respond to Burleson SBC motion”

-- Regarding “new doctrinal requisites for eligibility to serve as employees or missionaries of the IMB beyond the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message,” trustees maintained that “(w)hile the Baptist Faith and Message represents a general confession of Southern Baptist beliefs related to Biblical teachings on primary doctrinal and social issues, the IMB retains the prerogative and responsibility of further defining the parameters of doctrinal beliefs and practices of its missionaries who serve Southern Baptists with accountability to this board.”

So now according to the current IMB trustees they, and they alone, have the “PREROGATIVE” of “FURTHER DEFINEING THE PARAMETERS OF DOCTRINAL BELIEFS AND PRACTICES” for Southern Baptist Missionaries ----- I THINK NOT!

So why do we even have the BFM if the trustees of our agencies are free to do whatever they wish anyway? Did not the BFM2000 receive an “overwhelming” vote of approval from the messengers of the Southern Baptist Churches? Are the trustees now telling the Southern Baptist Churches “We don’t care what you think or what you have approved as our doctrinal standard”? That is sure what it sounds like to me.

I happen to notice that the IMB referred to our Southern Baptist Missionaries as “ITS - Missionaries”… Excuse me good sirs but these Missionaries are not YOURS they are OURS! I think the IMB has forgotten who is the finial authority in the SBC and to whom all SBC employees are ultimately accountable?

So what will the IMB do next? Who knows, but since the BFM is only a “general confession suggestion” it is anyone’s guess. It pains me to say this but the IMB is operating like a rogue agency… what will they do next; change their bylaws to give themselves the authority to select their own trustees?

This is not a good day in the SBC!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Third Annual Florida Founders Conference

I have just returned from the Third Annual Florida Founders Conference held this year at Grace Covenant Church in Lake City, Florida. (The weather in Florida is just amazing this time of the year!) Once again Russell Taylor and Aaron Turner put together an excellent regional Founders Conference!

This year’s speakers were Mike Davis, Dr. Phil Newton, Jay Letey, and Justin Erickson.

These men did a wonderful job of feeding our souls richly from God’s word, and the ladies of our host church did a wonderful job of feeding us as well (if you left hungry for either food for the soul or the body it was your own fault).

The sermons from this year’s Florida Founders Conference will soon be posted for downloaded at

Next years conference will be held at Southside Baptist Church in Live Oak, Florida during the third week in January. Check the Founders Ministry web site for upcomming announcements and details on next year's conference as the time draws nearer.

I hope you will mark your calendars and make plans to be with the Founders in Florida next January... I know I will!

Grace to all,

Monday, January 22, 2007

Religious Liberty or Legalism at SWBTS?

Let me be very clear on something before you go read theses articles – the controversy surrounding the firing of Dr. Sheri Klouda is NOT about 'women pastors', which would violate the Southern Baptist convention's official confession of faith, the BFM2000. Dr. Sheri Klouda is not ordained. Dr. Sheri Klouda is not a pastor. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is not a church, it is an institution of higher learning, and Dr. Sheri Klouda was trained by SWBTS and hired by SWBTS to teach Hebrew and not theology.

SBC Outpost has put up a post concerning this very sad event at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary… Click and read the post “Would you hire this person?”

Wade Burleson has also commented about this on his blog, see: "Sheri Klouda: Gender Discrimination, Federal Law and the Law of Christ in the SBC and SWBTS" and "The Strange Belief that a Woman Cannot Teach a Man the Bible" and "The Sheri Klouda Issue Will Not Go Away Quietly"

Also the BP News has posted an article "Newspaper reports tenure refusal for Southwestern woman prof"

Grace to All...

Me in my Study

There really is no point to this post other than I needed a picture to put with my blog...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Turning church history on its head

In their article “Why We Left the Episcopal Church”, which appeared in the January 8, 2007 edition of the Washington Post, the Rev. John Yates and Os Guinness write:

“Fundamental to a liberal view of freedom is the right of a person or group to define themselves, to speak for themselves and to not be dehumanized by the definitions and distortions of others. This right we request even of those who differ from us.”

Yikes, talk about turning church history on its head… The Episcopal brethren have become the champions of religious freedom while we Baptist are busy meeting behind closed doors to see who we need to investigate next (the impact of Calvinism), bar from serving on our committees (anyone who drinks a class of wine with their evening meals), or reject as a missionary (anyone who speaks in a private prayer language).

Regardless of your position on any or all of the above mentioned issues it is clear that many in the Southern Baptist Convention are just fine with the loss of religious freedom… as long as it is the loss of someone else’s religious freedom.