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    Friday, June 02, 2006

    This is from the Arkansas Baptist News. It is written by David Sanders, who is one of the Arkansas signers of the Memphis Declaration. Sanders usually comments on politics and government for the Stephens Media Group.
    VIEWPOINT: Concerned and called to action

    David J. Sanders, columnist

    A few weeks ago, a small group of concerned Southern Baptists gathered in Memphis to plan a new path for our denomination. Born out of their meeting was a document of confession and repentance, aptly named the Memphis Declaration. After reading the document and visiting with individuals who were involved in writing it and others who were supportive of their efforts,

    I signed my name to it. As a political columnist and commentator, I spend most of my time writing and talking about the ins-and-outs of partisan contests and policy matters. While I am rooted in Southern Baptist life, I have shied away from denominational politics.

    My father is a Southern Baptist minister. While growing up in churches across our convention, I enjoyed many of the wonderful programs and events sponsored for children and youth.

    I am a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University. I teach Sunday school. I am a former trustee of this fine publication. I'm a deacon and now a pastor-search committee member. Having benefited from Baptist life, I realized that being a passive observer was no longer an option. I love being a Baptist and am proud to be part of a denomination that focused so much energy and effort on sharing the gospel.

    This June, I will join many other Arkansans who will be making the trek to Greensboro, N.C., as messengers to our annual meeting. Our denomination has a rich heritage of accomplishing great things through cooperative efforts. That heritage must be preserved and enhanced.

    Recent policies and actions adopted by the International Mission Board (IMB) serve as a glaring reminder that we must be vigilant in defending that heritage. The IMB's new policies regarding baptism and a private prayer language, in effect, are narrowing the parameters of service for our new missionaries.

    The trustees' actions essentially move one of our denominational agencies down a path away from doctrinal integrity to one of doctrinal rigidity on theological matters that are unessential for salvation. These new policies would limit the service of good Baptist men and women who are called to the mission field.

    The IMB tried to silence Wade Burleson, a trustee and pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church of Enid, Okla., after he aired his opposition to the new policies on his Web blog. A majority of trustees approved a motion to recommend his removal from the board - a motion they later rescinded. They then passed a measure prohibiting any trustee from criticizing an official action of the board.

    The episode involving the IMB and Burleson is a direction that we as Baptists should not travel. Historically, Baptists have disagreed on matters of nonessential doctrines, while rallying around the gospel. We have maintained a culture of principled dissent that is not bitter, but grounded in our love for each other and for our Lord.

    As I prepare to go to Greensboro, I pray Southern Baptists will support polices that broaden our influence by unifying us on essential doctrines of our faith and promoting our traditions of principled dissent.

    posted by Arkansas Razorbaptist at 6/02/2006 03:14:00 PM


    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    ARB- Sanders is a very wise man. Southern Baptist should never have divided over this issue. Men have sinned on both sides. Wouldn't it be great if the Lord would bring us all to repentance. God is truly good!

    Friday, June 02, 2006 6:24:00 PM  

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