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Akin defines ‘a convergent Christian’

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Daniel Akin said his goal was to put everything in a package, place a ribbon on and attempt to tie an appropriate bow around the messages presented during Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s “Convergent” conference Sept. 21-22.

The bow came in the form of a message about how to determine the traits of a convergent Christian while practicing wise decision-making. Akin, Southeastern’s president, followed several speakers’ messages on issues relating to the emerging church movement during the conference’s opening day.

Akin spoke from 1 Corinthians, detailing what a church and believers look like who keep the Gospel central to the message of the church, especially in relation to being a culturally savvy Christian.

“A convergent Christian, in many ways, is what [theologian] Don Carson calls a world Christian,” Akin said, citing four traits that characterize such a person.

“Their allegiance to Jesus Christ and His Kingdom is self-consciously set above all national, cultural, linguistic and racial allegiances,” Akin said. Their commitment to the church and messianic community is a commitment to churches everywhere, not only to its manifestation on their “home turf,” he said.

“They see themselves first and foremost as citizens of a heavenly Kingdom and therefore consider all other citizenships a secondary matter. As a result, they are single-minded and sacrificial when it comes to the paramount mandate to evangelize and make disciples,” Akin said.

Reaching the world will take “a number of different strategies,” Akin said. “On the one hand, it requires wisdom, and it requires a winsomeness. It requires conviction … and at the same time, a heart of deep compassion. It requires a man or women whose feet are planted in Scripture while they keep a watchful eye on culture.”

To win people and act as world Christians, Akin said people must ask several questions and then build a platform of biblical principles regarding behavior and actions.

Referencing 1 Cornithians, Akin compared today’s culture to the “radically secular, radically immoral and radically non-Christian, but very spiritual” culture the Apostle Paul experienced in Corinth. Just as Paul had to ask himself questions to determine what was best for the church, Akin said modern convergent Christians must question whether their actions are helpful to them, would potentially enslave them, would encourage fellow believers and whether they would help or hinder the spread of the Gospel, among other considerations.

Finally, Akin said convergent Christians must ask whether their actions will honor God.

“Whatever God demands of him [Paul] as a … Christian, binds him. There is, then, a rigid limit to his flexibility as he seeks to win the lost from different cultural and religious groups. He must not do anything forbidden to a Christian, but he must do everything mandated of the Christian,” Akin said.

“If we could put these things together, I have a suspicion that we will get a long ways down the road in fleshing out with better clarity, with great clarity, the Gospel to a cynical, skeptical culture that really is looking for something that is genuine, real and authentic,” Akin said.

In reference to Southeastern hosting the Convergent conference, Akin said, “I wanted to be able to make a statement that I hope will begin to permeate and work its way out among Southern Baptists, and that is this: We do have some bedrock, non-negotiables in terms of our doctrinal commitments that we will not compromise no matter what, and I thank God that that is where we are.

“At the same time, we recognize that there are many different ways to live that out for the glory of God and the good of the men and women God brings into our lives,” Akin said.
Lauren Crane is a writer at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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