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2023 resolutions point Southern Baptists ‘to who they are becoming,’ Sons says

(Left to right) Brent Leatherwood, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Kristen Ferguson, vice chair of the SBC Resolutions Committee; David Sons, chair of the Resolutions Committee; and Jason Thacker, a research fellow at the ERLC and professor at Boyce College, speak during the Resolutions Committee press conference June 14 during the SBC annual meeting. Photo by Luc Stringer

NEW ORLEANS (BP) — SBC Resolutions Committee Chair David Sons believes the nine resolutions messengers passed at the 2023 SBC annual meeting say much about who Southern Baptists are and their message to the world.

Although the resolutions addressed diverse topics, such as artificial intelligence, immigration and the Great Commission impact of women, Sons told a press conference at the conclusion of the annual meeting that committee members wanted the resolutions to affirm human dignity and the truth that all people are made in the image of God.

Resolutions approved by SBC messengers are not binding on individual churches. Sons noted that they only express the collective will of the messengers at the annual meeting, during June 13-14, 2023.

“But I also think that resolutions have an incredible opportunity to help Southern Baptists think not only about the present moment, but about the future, not about who we’ve been or who we are, but about who are we going to be,” said Sons, the lead pastor of Lake Murray Baptist Church in Lexington, S.C. “I hope that these resolutions would help Southern Baptists think clearly about not only who we were, but who are we becoming and how we actually work together through our cooperative mission.”

Sons said he hopes these nine resolutions point toward a brighter future for Southern Baptists.

Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Brent Leatherwood described the resolutions as helpful to the ERLC’s work of engaging policymakers on issues that matter to Southern Baptists.

“To use that analogy from my political days, the resolutions, as they are passed, they’re like a poll,” Leatherwood said. “They provide a snapshot of the sense of the SBC for that moment in time. And that’s very helpful for us. We get back this feedback directly from messengers who are representing our churches, and we can take that to public policymakers.”

During the press conference, committee members fielded questions about four of the resolutions passed during the annual meeting. Sons noted how resolutions five and six complement each other. Resolution five specifically celebrated the importance of Southern Baptist women in fulfilling the Great Commission. Resolution six urged churches to uphold all the biblical requirements for the church’s two biblical offices, pastor and elder.

“With resolution five and resolution number six, we were trying to say that we can hold these two truths in tension and that we don’t believe that they contradict one another,” Sons said. “We see them grounded in the Scriptures, and we also see them historically confirmed within our confessions of faith and also historically confirmed within the historical work of Southern Baptists.”

Sons specifically recognized the work of Kristen Ferguson, the committee’s vice chair, on drafting resolution five on the “Legacy and Responsibility of Women Fulfilling the Great Commission.”

“The crafting of this resolution was an incredible honor as a woman in SBC life, that this committee affirmed women in really incredible ways as they wrote,” said Ferguson, chair of educational leadership at Gateway Seminary and a member of 11th Street Baptist Church in Upland, Calif.  “I thought that was a real honor that I got to be a part of. I also think that, as we consider this resolution and the impact of this on our SBC women, I hope they hear very clearly that there is tons of work to be done, and that work is worth our lives. It’s worth laying down our lives. It’s not second-class. There’s tons to be done. And so, let’s go get it done.”

Earlier in the day, Southern Baptist messengers approved the final three resolutions sent to them by the SBC Resolutions Committee.

  • Resolution 7, On Christ’s Sole Lordship Over Human Conscience: Southern Baptists affirmed the “unqualified, undiminished Lordship of Jesus Christ over every human conscience.”

    Messengers emphasized the historical Baptist belief of the priesthood of the believer in the resolution. They also stressed the Convention’s historical commitment to religious freedom, opposing any efforts to confuse “the separate covenants and responsibilities of the church and state” and the right of every person to have access to God and form their own religious opinions without interference by civil authorities.

    An amendment that sought to qualify this affirmation only as it “aligns in obedience to the scriptures” failed to pass.
  • Resolution 8, On Opposing “Gender Transition: Southern Baptists overwhelmingly affirmed a resolution condemning “gender-affirming care” and all forms of “gender transition interventions.” The resolution called these activities “an assault on God’s created order.”

    Southern Baptists also called on legislatures to reverse laws that support “gender transition” and affirmed legislatures that have taken action to protect children from these procedures. They also reaffirmed the rights of parents to “direct the upbringing of their children.”

    An amendment to broaden some of the resolution’s wording beyond children in places did not pass.
  • Resolution 9, On Appreciation for the City of New Orleans: Southern Baptists acknowledged the hospitality of the city of New Orleans and thanked the local association, state convention, and volunteers for their efforts in the annual meeting.

    The resolution also expressed appreciation to the SBC president, officers, committees, musicians, and others who conducted the business of the convention during the annual meeting in New Orleans.

On Tuesday, Southern Baptists passed six other resolutions, including ones on the importance of replanting and revitalization, the care of pastors, and artificial intelligence.

All nine of the resolutions the SBC Resolutions Committee recommended to the convention during the annual meeting passed.

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  • Tobin Perry