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ERLC trustees underscore wisdom of God’s view of the family

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Trustees of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission reiterated their commitment to the preservation of the biblical model of the family during their Sept. 10-12 annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

“The biblical model of the family is under attack today like never before,” ERLC President Richard Land told the trustees. “As Christians and as parents, we need to be concerned about the America that our children will inherit.”

A statement approved by the trustees puts the ERLC on record as committing to help churches in teaching “clearly defined purposes, roles, and responsibilities for the family from a biblical perspective.” The ERLC also renewed its commitment to “provide families with the information they need to understand the times in which we live and the tools they need to engage the culture.”

Land promised the ERLC would remain aggressive in its efforts to preserve and protect the traditional family in its work in Washington, D.C., and across the country.

“It is hard to imagine how this family-unfriendly culture can be turned around without Southern Baptists playing an integral role,” he said, singling out Tom Elliff, former SBC president and pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, Okla., and SBC Executive Committee President Morris H. Chapman for their work in establishing the SBC Council on Family Life.

“We face a daunting challenge,” Land said, noting that a recent survey by George Barna revealed 69 percent of Americans give “intellectual assent” to the notion that God is all-powerful and all-knowing. Given the state of our culture, “you would never know it,” Land said.

While 40 percent of those surveyed described themselves as “born-again,” only 14 percent of these adults said they base their moral and ethical choices on principles drawn from the Bible, Land continued. “We have our work cut out for us,” he said, with these statistics proving that “we must start with believers.”

“We live in Corinth,” he said, referring to the debauched city of biblical times. “The culture today more closely resembles Corinth than any society since the fall of the Roman Empire,” he said, bemoaning the fact that in many areas of life the culture is having a greater impact on Christians than the Christians are having on the culture.

“Far too many Christians don’t understand what they know to be true from God’s Word is to be applied to their life,” Land said. “Just as God held Israel to a higher standard than Babylon, God holds Christians to a higher standard than non-believers.”

God has called the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission to awaken Christians to the demands God has placed on their life and to aid them in jumpstarting the biblical transformation of families, communities and the United States, Land said.

“If America is going to have a future that honors God, it must start with God’s people getting right with God,” he said. “He is not going to bless a nation where only 14 percent of his followers acknowledge his lordship over their life.”

In other business, trustees:

— awarded the ERLC’s 2002 John Leland Religious Liberty Award to Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Liberty and a member of the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom. Land said Shea has been consistent in offering a bold and vigorous voice for those around the world who are persecuted for their faith.

— named Gary Frost, vice president of the strategic partnerships group at the SBC’s North American Mission Board, as the recipient of the ERLC’s 2002 Distinguished Service Award. Land said Frost is a most appropriate selection for the award, noting Frost’s preeminent role in the SBC’s 1995 resolution calling for racial reconciliation and his ongoing work to reach the nation for Christ. Prior to coming to NAMB, Frost was pastor of Rising Star Baptist Church in Youngstown, Ohio.

— approved the naming of Malcolm Yarnell, dean of the faculty and associate professor of historical theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Craig Blaising, executive vice president and provost at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, as fellows to the ERLC’s Research Institute.

— approved an operating budget of $3.36 million for the ERLC, down three percent from last year’s budget.

— affirmed the ERLC’s decision to develop an online bookstore that will be located at www.familybookstore.net.

— elected Dale Wallace of Birmingham, Ala., as chairman; Bruce Crawford of Clearwater, Fla., as vice chairman; and Karen Cruikshank of Bel Air Maryland as secretary.

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  • Dwayne Hastings