Revolutionary president

"Revolutionary president" Continued...

Issue: "Rethinking divorce," June 13, 1998

Not surprisingly, there are now more missionary candidates preparing for Great Commission service than at any previous time in the convention's history. The churches have responded with increased support for the convention's unified budget, and total church membership stands at nearly 16 million.

The real question for Southern Baptists is whether the churches will seize the moment, maintain the focus, and keep the denominational ship firmly on course. One danger is the institutionalization of the conservative movement into nothing more than a new Baptist bureaucracy. Perhaps an even greater danger is seduction by America's marketplace Christianity and its lowest-common-denominator approach to doctrine. Pragmatism and postmodernism both stalk Southern Baptists, and the gains of the last two decades can be wiped away in less than a generation.

What happened in the SBC must be set against the trends in other major denominations. Although pockets of evangelical resistance still remain within the so-called "mainline" Protestant denominations, all remain firmly in liberal control. At best, evangelicals have been able to delay what seems to be the inevitable slide of these historic denominations into complete doctrinal dissolution. With each new theological outrage the evangelicals are forced to retreat, and the membership losses continue to mount.

Thus, a remarkable and symbolic event will take place as Southern Baptists meet June 9-11 in Salt Lake City. The election of Paige Patterson as president of the convention brings one of the most unlikely stories of American Christianity full circle. Southern Baptists are poised to elect a leader of the revolution as president of the convention. A gifted theologian and passionate evangelist, Mr. Patterson is certain to provide strong leadership as the denomination enters the 21st century. Somewhere in that great host of heavenly witnesses, Harold Lindsell must be smiling.

R. Albert Mohler Jr.
R. Albert Mohler Jr.


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