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Messengers OK resolution on ‘Sinner’s Prayer’

EDITOR’S NOTE: An updated story on resolutions adopted at the SBC annual meeting in New Orleans will be posted in Baptist Press on Thursday (June 21).

NEW ORLEANS (BP) — Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention approved Wednesday morning June 20 at their annual meeting a resolution identifying what is frequently described as a “Sinner’s Prayer” as a biblical way of expressing repentance and faith.

Debate on the resolution consumed much of the 30 minutes allotted for the first resolutions report scheduled for the day. As a result, messengers were able to consider only three of nine resolutions reported to the convention by the Resolutions Committee.

In addition to the resolution on a “Sinner’s Prayer,” messengers also approved resolutions:

— Celebrating the 200th anniversary this year of Baptist work in Louisiana.

— Expressing appreciation to God and all those who helped with this year’s annual meeting.

The committee was scheduled to give its final report Wednesday afternoon when resolutions on the following subjects will be up for consideration by messengers:

— Cooperation and the doctrine of salvation, which appears to be a response to differences between Calvinists and non-Calvinists in the convention.

— Defending religious freedom.

— “Same-sex marriage” as a civil rights issue.

— The inerrancy of the Bible and the historicity of Adam and Eve.

— Affirming community and human needs ministries by churches.

— Acknowledgment of the role of African Americans in Baptist work in the United States.

With an estimated 80 percent majority, messengers approved the resolution on a “Sinner’s Prayer” with some careful descriptions. The resolution reiterated the belief that “repentance from sin and personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are necessary for salvation” and said such a “crying out for mercy and a calling on the Lord,” which constitute what is often described as a “sinner’s prayer,” are a “biblical expression of repentance and faith.”

The resolution also said “a ‘sinner’s prayer’ is not an incantation that results in salvation merely by its recitation and should never be manipulatively employed or utilized apart from a clear articulation of the Gospel.”

It also urged Southern Baptists to continue to take the Gospel to sinners of “every tribe, tongue, and language.”

Messengers defeated two efforts to amend the resolution. One called for removal of the words “a ‘Sinner’s Prayer'” from the resolution’s title and a paragraph. That amendment failed by what appeared to be a comfortable though not overwhelming margin.

Jimmy Scroggins, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., is chairman of the Resolutions Committee. Other members of the Resolutions Committee are Stephen Farish, senior pastor of Crossroads Church, Grayslake, Ill.; Cheri Jimenez, pastor’s wife and member of Taylors First Baptist Church, Greer, S.C.; Manpoong Dennis Kim, pastor of Global Mission Church, Silver Spring, Md.; Gary Lowe, member of Alta Canyon Baptist Church, Sandy, Utah; Tim Ohls, senior pastor of Believers Southern Baptist Church, Wichita, Kan.; Kevin Smith, pastor of Watson Memorial Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky., and assistant professor of Christian preaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Kevin Ueckert, senior pastor of South Side Baptist Church, Abilene, Texas; Stephen Douglas Wilson, member of First Baptist Church, Lone Oak, Ky., and dean emeritus and chair of the social studies/history department at Mid-Continent University, Mayfield, Ky., and Joe Wright, director of missions for Dyer Baptist Association, Dyersburg, Tenn.
Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.