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Jerry Vines to stay on the go after 23-year Fla. pastorate

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–Jerry Vines still will be busy after he retires from First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., next February.

Vines, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, will preach in churches and conferences across the country; speak in seminary chapels and classrooms; extend a helping hand to pastors; and write a book on the biblical account of creation.

Wherever he goes, Vines said he intends to be “one Baptist preacher who’s thankful to God that I was born, bred and have lived my ministry in the fellowship of Southern Baptists.”

Since announcing his retirement May 1 at the 28,000-member church, Vines said people “have been very kind and very gracious … they have said they’re sad yet they understand” God’s timing as he leaves the pulpit one of the Southern Baptist Convention’s largest churches, where he has preached since 1982.

“And I have been very pleased with the local media coverage,” Vines said in an interview with Baptist Press.

The Florida Times-Union, in two articles on May 8, described Vines, 67, as “reminiscent of the old-time preachers who reached the lost through radio and country fairs. At other times, he sounds more like a well-heeled homilist who reads Greek and Latin.”

Jerry Falwell was quoted as saying that Vines is “one of the three or four best preachers in America.” The pastor/televangelist/college founder Falwell said Vines is an “old-time orator who carefully measures every word and sentence,” but one who doesn’t spew “hellfire and brimstone.”

Paige Patterson, one of the key architects of the conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention, told the Times-Union, “I wouldn’t hesitate to say that Dr. Vines and Dr. Adrian Rogers [also a former SBC president] were the two most important figures in the conservative movement.” Patterson now is president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas.

And the newspaper recounted Vines’ most visible moment in the national spotlight –- when he included a reference to the Muslim prophet Muhammad as a “demon-possessed pedophile” -– drawn directly from Islamic writings –- in his sermon at the SBC’s 2002 Pastors’ Conference.

Vines, speaking with Baptist Press, said his church and conference engagements and his seminary visits will reflect his long-held conviction for “a strong emphasis on expository preaching in our pulpits.”

He will have preached through the entire Bible verse by verse by the end of the year during his 23 years at the church.

A “book by book expository approach,” Vines noted, “gives a congregation a balanced, well-rounded menu of Bible truth, which in a postmodern era … is more vital than ever before.”

Concerning the help he intends to provide pastors, Vines said he has launched a website, www.jerryvines.com, offering a variety of resources. Via a subscriber-based weekly “VinesLines” newsletter, the website notes that Vines will relay his “views of the news, with special attention to news information specifically useful in sermon preparation,” along with a full sermon outline, various statistics and sermon illustrations.

As an author, Vines hopes to add a book on the Genesis 1 creation account to his list of titles that includes “Power in the Pulpit” and three books on the Holy Spirit — “Spirit Life,” “Spirit Works” and “Spirit Fruit.”

“In a Christian worldview, versus the secular worldview, you have to begin where the Bible begins,” Vines said of the future book. “And that’s creation. And then you move on to what the Bible teaches about sin and what the Bible teaches about redemption. But you start a Christian worldview with a biblical view of creation.”

Asked about the future of the SBC, Vines said, “Though in some senses the battle for the Bible is over in SBC life, in another sense the battle for the Bible is never over, in that every generation has to affirm a biblical position on the nature of Scripture.

“Southern Baptists have settled pretty much that we believe in the full authority and inerrancy of Scripture,” Vines said. “Now the assignment is to apply that Scripture as a sufficient guide to daily life and its decisions … [to] carry Scripture on to its biblical imperatives, such as evangelism and missions, the Christian life, the family.”