With the upcoming Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting mere days away – June 14-15 – and since more, shall we say, “conventional” leaning websites have generated their own “Ask The Nominee” queries, I thought perhaps a similar list would be useful from a more discerning source, such as Pulpit & Pen.
Here are a few things that seem worthy to have answered. In fact, I don’t even care if the answers are forthcoming from the nominees, though I think that would be critical. I’d be pleased just to see them spur a healthy, “examine yourself” dialogue within the convention itself, from the uppity-up intelligentsia, to the average Bible reading, Bible believing pew sitter in the church.
In no particular order, here is some querying fodder.
*SBC Presidential Candidate Seth Dunn has submitted his answers to these question below. Submitted answers from other candidates will be accepted and published as well.
Q. How is it possible to interpret Scriptural commands to be separate from the world and yet maintain an agency – the ERLC – that, despite it’s mission statement to be a teaching resource for churches – spends the bulk of its time, energy, and “tithes & offerings” resources by intentionally embedding itself WITH the world? Simply asked, shouldn’t we disband this agency
Seth Dunn: Simply answered, yes. When I consider Ephesians 6:12, 2 Corinthians 2:4:4, and John 15:18, the political activities of the ERLC seem utterly befuddling. As Christians, we can be set apart and still engage in activities such as running for office and voting. In a republic which is populated by many Christians, Christian politicians do have a chance to win elections. However, Christian politicians, being under the authority and care of their local churches, shouldn’t need to be lobbied by the ERLC. Lost politicians are enemies of God and can’t reasonably be expected to look out for the interests of the church.
Q. Given the fact that we have, collectively, over 51,000 member churches in North America, does it not seem ludicrous to dole over $40m per year to an agency – NAMB – that is tasked to do what those churches themselves are commissioned by Christ to do? Consider the allegations that NAMB is strong-arming churches and associations to play ball with their Gospel contextualization endeavors or go home.
Seth Dunn: Certainly it seems ludicrous. Not only do we have thousands of domestic churches, we have a Baptist convention for nearly every state. When I consider the strong arm allegations leveled against NAMB, I think of the way oppressive federal government strong-arm state governments. Sadly, it’s usually local governments that best know how to govern their local turf and their local people. I think the same goes for stateside missions. I just don’t think state associations, county associations, and local churches need NAMB. To the contrary, NAMB needs those local churches to give it $40M. I don’t see how NAMB justifies its existence. Big government, I think, tends to hand out jobs for the sake of keeping its well-connected bureaucrats busy. When I look at NAMB, I think along the same lines.
Q. Have you walked in a LifeWay store or browsed the LifeWay website lately and not been convicted by the Holy Spirit over the presence of blatant false teaching being sold for profit?
Seth Dunn: LifeWay exploits the spiritually ignorant the same way lotteries tax the poor. Ripping off the less fortunate for profit, even if they want to be ripped off, doesn’t seem very Christian to me. I wouldn’t want to be the person who answers for managing LifeWay on the Day of Judgment.
Q. Please explain the Scriptural basis for the overwhelming SBC emphasis for ecumenism. You may not use John 17 as a citation since that clearly exhibits a Trinitarian promise of unity, not a command for believers to pursue.
Seth Dunn: You might as well ask me how long the four sides of a circle are. It’s impossible for me to provide proper scriptural support for participating in events with IHOP and the like. I can see economic basis for ecumenism. As the professing Christian population shrinks in the US, there are less solid Christians to sell books to and speak at conferences with; maybe the professional booksellers and conference speakers don’t want to turn away potential customers. We know LifeWay doesn’t like to do so.
Q. Though it seems a rarely practiced duty, except in the most egregious of circumstances, should church discipline be expanded in a greater capacity with denominational discipline? For example, should a church that lets women preach be allowed to cooperate with the SBC? Should a church that utilizes the unbiblical model of multi-site broadcast locations be retained within the SBC? Should a church unaware of the BF&M 2000, or failing to recognize it as a foundational statement, be allowed to participate as a cooperating member?
Seth Dunn: The denomination has no biblical authority to “discipline” a local church. At the same time, local churches don’t have any special right to participate in a specific convention. The SBC is no place for non-complemenatrians. Nor should it be a place for multi-site churches, which operate in clear opposition of Article VI of the BF&M 2000. Local associations, state associations, and the SBC should disfellowship churches that do not operate within the framework of the BF&M 2000. Unfortunately, the various associations are economically disincentivized to disfellowship member churches. Those churches will leave and take their Cooperative Program giving with them. I say missions is greater than mammon, send them away.
Q. Similar to the question above, should high-profile SBC leaders, including, and perhaps especially, the President, be allowed to operate in a manner inconsistent both with Scripture and our Statement of Faith by allying with representatives of other false teaching faiths? In the event of say, an SBC President participating actively with, say, an NAR Apostle in a prayer meeting, should not the convention severely chasten, rebuke, and perhaps remove that President?
Seth Dunn: Allowed to operate by whom? The SBC? It has no ecclesiastical authority. However, local churches do. When a pastor partners with NAR Apostles or other such theological scalawags, he should be rebuked or even disciplined by his own church. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to happen. Megachurch pastors, the type who are typically elected to the office of SBC President, are almost untouchable at their local churches. They are financial rainmakers and/or “cult of personality” type “vision casters”. Their churches, unfortunately, just aren’t going to call them to account. If there is a recall process for SBC presidents, it should be exercised when necessary.
Q. Do we or do we not support complementarianism as our basis for understanding providentially assigned gender roles? Then, do we agree that women, such as Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, and others, may actively be being promoted as “official” SBC teachers in defiance to Biblically-prescribed gender roles?
Seth Dunn: They aren’t officially promoted as such. However, they are effectively promoted as such by LifeWay. Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer are to LifeWay what Ninja Turtles are to Playmates Toys Inc. They are products and they can help sell books and movies. That’s why LifeWay needs to be spun-off from the SBC.
Q. If an unnecessary split were precipitated along theological lines of Arminianism and Calvinism, on what side would you end up? It’s a one-word answer, please.
Seth Dunn: Neither
What is the single greatest problem AMONG members sitting in average SBC pews today?
Seth Dunn: Apathy, it seems like many just to care enough to evangelize, read scripture outside of church on a regular basis, and steward their giving (by paying more attention to where it goes and what it pays for).
How serious is the problem of false converts within the average SBC church today? Why are they there?
Seth Dunn: I think it’s not very serious in the average church. Our average church is a 70-member country church. These are not seeker-sensitive rock and roll churches. So, I don’t know that the average church makes a lot of false converts, at least not ones who stay. At rock and roll seeker-sensitive mega churches, the pews might be full of them. That’s not the average church, though. Where there are lost people in the congregation, I think they are there to have their itching ears tickled.
Have you ever received a vision from God and cast that vision to others? Did you subsequently add that vision, in writing, behind Revelation and before the maps, in your Bible?
Seth Dunn: No.
What comes first – church planting or evangelism?
Seth Dunn: Evangelism. It’s not incumbent on all local congregations to plant new churches. The numbers too successfully do so might never materialize. It is, however, incumbent on all local congregations to evangelize.
Q. Do you think we are in a “downgrade?” Please describe what that means?
Seth Dunn: Yes. I think a downgrade is a relaxing of biblical standards. I think we are in that. It’s like no one is minding the store. That’s a recipe for disaster. I feel like there may be foxes in the hen house.
Q. Is a 6 year old too young to be baptized? A 5 year old? A 4 year old?
Seth Dunn: It depends on the child. I think many children that age are too young to understand salvation and thus shouldn’t be baptized. Some Doogie Howser types are out there, though. If they can understand salvation then they can be baptized if the show evidence of conversion.
Q. What makes someone a Christian?
Seth Dunn: Anyone under the Lordship of Jesus Christ is a Christian. To be under that Lordship, one must have repented of his sins. To be under that Lordship, one must have saving faith in the resurrection and finished work of Christ on the cross. To be under that Lordship, one must not have a counterfeit Jesus. Of course, such a person will be indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
[Contributed by: Bud Ahlheim]
As a matter of full disclosure, candidate Seth Dunn is an Editor at Pulpit & Pen. Other candidates can email their answers to Jeff@pulpitandpen.org.