NEW ORLEANS – The outgoing president of the Southern Baptist Convention took the opportunity on Tuesday to rebuke pastors over the infighting on Calvinism and to call for more humility in the ongoing debate.
In his last message as SBC president, Bryant Wright denounced the pride that was creeping in as Southern Baptists debate the doctrine of salvation and election.
"If we pride ourselves more on being a traditional Southern Baptist or more on being a Calvinist or a Reformed theologian than we are thankful that we are Christ-centered and biblically-based, then it is time to repent of theological idolatry." more >>
NEW ORLEANS – Southern Baptists made history on Tuesday by electing their first African-American president. Some 7,700 messengers unanimously and enthusiastically supported the vote for Fred Luter, Jr., to lead the predominantly white denomination.
"To God be the glory for the things that He has done," Luter said as he wiped away his tears.
Luter was the sole nominee for president. In such a situation, it is custom for the secretary to cast the ballot for the one nominee. more >>
Membership in the Southern Baptist Convention dropped again over the last year, according to a new report. The largest Protestant denomination in the country now counts less than 16 million members.
This marks the fifth straight year the SBC has lost members. Primary worship attendance has also dropped by 0.65 percent to around 6.16 million.
One Southern Baptist and researcher lamented that the denomination is not only experiencing decline but an acceleration of decline. more >>
Contrary to the recent recommendation by a Southern Baptist Convention task force that the denomination introduce an "informal" optional title – "Great Commission Baptists" – more than half of SBC pastors say they would not like to use the tagline.
LifeWay Research released on Friday the results of a random survey of more than 1,000 SBC pastors conducted in April and May 2012, showing that 54 percent say they will not use the non-legal moniker, although more than 35 percent have not discussed it.
Only 4 percent say they will use both Southern Baptist Convention and Great Commission Baptists in their descriptors, and 2 percent indicated they will use Great Commission Baptists exclusively in their church identification, found the survey conducted in light of the task force appointed by SBC President Bryant Wright to study a possible name change for the 167-year-old convention. more >>
The recent death of a Christian minister from West Virginia who believed that the Bible instructs the faithful to handle snakes and drink poison has put into question a doctrine many believe is unbiblical and dangerous but that its adherents, biblical literalists, say they are compelled to obey.
To outsiders, mainstream Christians included, snake handling seems foolhardy at best and deadly at worst. And despite commending their desire to be obedient to Scripture, Christians have argued that snake handlers are wrong to take Jesus' words in Mark 16:17-18 literally. His statement, they argue, is not a commandment and, what's more, intentionally putting oneself in danger is tantamount to tempting God.
Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., suggested in a Facebook response to a reader doubtful that God "would agree with this practice," that the passage in Mark is to be interpreted spiritually and not literally, as it "means that we as Christians are indestructible until God is done with us." more >>
A snake-handling Pentecostal preacher who witnessed his father die in a similar fashion, passed away Sunday after he was bitten by a poisonous snake he had owned for years. Mark Randall "Mack" Wolford, 44, was reportedly one of the few pastors who openly shared his beliefs about Christians being commanded by Jesus in the Bible to take up serpents without fear of death.
Wolford, pastor of House of the Lord Jesus in Matoaka, W. Va., died at a relative's home May 27 after he sat down next to a yellow timber rattlesnake and was bitten in the thigh. The incident occurred during an afternoon service at the Panther Wildlife Management Area.
According to The Washington Post, the service soon came to a halt and Wolford was taken to his relative's home to recover from the poisonous bite -- a common occurrence for the charismatic Christian who grew up with a father who also preached snake-handling during his ministry. Wolford died about 10 p.m., according to a statement from his church. more >>