NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Newly elected Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page begins a regular series of columns in Baptist Press today, July 5, accompanying a webpage recently launched for him at the Southern Baptist Convention's Internet site.
The Baptist Press column will focus on issues of cooperation within the SBC and ways in which God is at work in the denomination.
"Let us repent of thinking that we have actually done anything good as a result of our own power and strength," he writes in his inaugural BP column. "Let us seek forgiveness from God for our selfishness and our lack of cooperation. Let us ask Him to cleanse us for actually thinking that we have done a great job when, in reality, we have failed in so many crucial ways."
A website dedicated to Page's thoughts about the Southern Baptist Convention also has been launched. The address is www.sbc.net/PresidentsPage
. The website will be updated regularly to include Page's speaking schedule as well as his thoughts on issues.
"I do not believe this election was about personality or even about theology," Page, commenting on his election as SBC president at the annual meeting in Greensboro, N.C., writes in his SBC.net column. "I believe it was truly about methodology. How are we going to do Convention work and mission support in the days ahead? We live in a time when Cooperative Program support has been declining precipitously.
"Was my election a signal that the Cooperative Program does count? I believe that it was. Was my election a statement that this Convention does not belong to any one particular group of people? I believe that it was. Was my election a statement that God's people in our Convention want a choice and the ability to dialogue about important issues? I believe the answer is yes."
Page also said he would "challenge the denominational structure to be more value focused and mission centered."
"I will continue to challenge power groups within the Southern Baptist Convention to know that they do not own this Convention, but are here to serve this Convention," he writes. "I will continue to challenge churches to adopt a selfless, cooperative mindset. I will continue to challenge all of us to love the Lord Jesus with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. I will continue the focus of Dr. Bobby Welch to emphasize the prime activity and issue of soul-winning and evangelism."
At SBC.net, Page also gives his thoughts on several issues:
-- Cooperative Program.
"There are many reasons for this lack of support [for CP]," he writes. "However, I believe that it is time to restore our hearts and minds to the cause of cooperating together to do the work of God.... I encourage all churches to give sacrificially an amount that shows a serious commitment to the Great Commission and to supporting the work which we have voted to do. Does your church's giving pattern show selflessness? Are you supporting the belief that we can do more together than we can do separately? I urge each of you to restore to your own heart and to your church's mission methodology a belief that the Cooperative Program is an object of great value."
-- "Ownership" within the SBC.
"For many years, I have heard people complain that they have lost control of their denomination," he writes. "I have heard yet others rejoice that they have finally taken control of their denomination. I know of many groups within our Convention now that are seeking control of their denomination. I think it is extremely important to realize that the Southern Baptist Convention belongs to the Lord! It belongs to no group. We must confess our sin of presuming ownership. Matthew 16:18 is clear about who owns the church. Our Convention is a part of God's church and we must confess His ownership, His leadership, and His agenda."
"I have made it abundantly clear that I believe that this argument is a family argument," he writes, making clear that he himself is not a Calvinist. "In fact, almost every Calvinist with whom I have spoken has a high belief in the integrity of Scripture. Therefore, I have stated clearly that I will open the table of participation to anyone who (1) has a sweet spirit and (2) who has an evangelistic heart, (3) has a belief in the inerrant word of God, and (4) has strong belief and support in the Cooperative Program."
-- Charismatic doctrine.
"Churches must deal with charismatic issues and theology as a part of their own autonomous structure. I think that many charismatics function well within traditional Southern Baptist churches. In fact, we have several in our church. Some are more vocal and sometimes disruptive. Churches must deal with those kinds of attitudes on a case by case basis. Trustee bodies must do the same."
-- Generational divisions.
"We must ... encourage our churches to reach out to all generations. We must come to understand who they are, why they react the way they do, and provide ministries and opportunities for service for all of them. Our nation is changing, and our churches must do the same. While the precious message of Christ and His precious infallible Word will never change, if we do not find new methodologies to reach new groups, then we are doomed to become a convention full of churches who were rooted in the past and will die."
-- Women in ministry.
"I certainly affirm that God does call and utilize women in His service," he writes. "My belief about women in ministry is consistent with that which is found in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, in Article VI, The Church. This document states, 'that while both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of Pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.' I concur with that statement. This does not mean that women cannot serve in a variety of capacities and roles. I believe that all God's people should affirm this with joy."
"As a member of the Resolutions Committee, I was a part of the unanimous vote to encourage Southern Baptists in this stance on alcohol," he writes. "I have stood against the use, as well as misuse of alcohol, my entire ministry. Having seen its impact in my family as a young man, I decided that was something that would lead only to ruin and hurt. Even if I felt a scriptural freedom to partake in alcoholic beverages, I still feel that it would be highly inadvisable for any person to become involved in the use of alcohol simply for testimony’s sake. While I know many in our modern day culture do not agree with that, it is clearly where I have stood for thirty years of being a pastor.
"I am unapologetically pro-life in my stance. Our church heavily supports several local ministries to young women who have found themselves in the difficult position of having an unwanted pregnancy. We help counsel them, encourage them to give birth to their child, and then allow us to help them from that point on whether it is through adoption or parenting assistance. I believe the Scripture which prohibits the taking of life includes the innocent unborn."
To read Page's entire SBC.net column, visit www.sbc.net/PresidentsPage
. To read his entire Baptist Press column, click here