PHOENIX (BP)–Messengers approved a resolution affirming the Bible’s teaching on hell during the June 15 morning session of the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix.
The resolution on hell, which urges faithful proclamation of the Gospel to those who face eternal suffering, was one of six passed by unanimous or nearly unanimous votes upon recommendation of the Resolutions Committee.
A resolution on immigration received messenger action in the afternoon session (see separate Baptist Press story Thursday).
The resolution on hell came as part of an ongoing response to the publication earlier this year of Michigan pastor Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins.” Bell’s controversial book “called into question the church’s historic teaching on the doctrine of eternal punishment of the unregenerate,” as the resolution described it.
In adopting the resolution, messengers affirmed “our belief in the biblical teaching on eternal, conscious punishment of the unregenerate in Hell.” The resolution also urged Southern Baptists “to proclaim faithfully the depth and gravity of sin against a holy God, the reality of Hell, and the salvation of sinners by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.”
The other resolutions approved in the morning session:
— reaffirmed the convention’s belief that all people — as made in the image of God — have religious freedom, meaning they possess the liberty “to convert to another religion or to no religion, to seek to persuade others of the claims of one’s religion, and to worship without harassment or impediment from the state.” It also called for prayer for persecuted Christians throughout the world.
— urged President Obama to reverse course by ordering the Department of Justice to defend fully the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in federal court. The resolution also renewed the convention’s call for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman. DOMA is a 1996 law that defines marriage federally as exclusively between a man and a woman and protects states from having to recognize “same-sex marriages” performed in states where such unions are legal.
— called for corporate repentance and prayer, urging Southern Baptists to seek “a life of genuine repentance, Kingdom-focused prayer times for sweeping revival and spiritual awakening, and consistent prayer for specific lost people, missions, and ministry.”
— encouraged civility in the public discussion of controversial issues and denounced “the speech or activities of any individual or group that brings shame upon the name of Christ and His gospel.” It urged Southern Baptists “to speak biblically and authoritatively with conviction, kindness, and gentleness.”
— thanked God and those He used in planning and conducting the SBC annual meeting.
Ten resolutions were submitted for this year’s meeting. The committee declined to act on some but addressed others in the final resolutions recommended to the messengers.
The chairman of the Resolution Committee was Paul Jimenez, pastor of Taylors First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C.
In addition to Jimenez, the other members of the committee were: Linda Clark, member, Graceland Baptist Church, New Albany, Ind.; Stephen Farish, senior pastor, Crossroads Church, Grayslake, Ill.; Mark Howell, senior pastor, Houston Northwest Church, Houston; Tim McCoy, senior pastor, Ingleside Baptist Church, Macon, Ga.; Russell Moore, dean of the school of theology and senior vice president for academic administration at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and teaching pastor for Highview Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky.; Michael Pigg, senior pastor, Philadelphia Baptist Church, Lithonia, Ga.; Jimmy Scroggins, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, West Palm Beach, Fla.; Jamie Work, pastor, Candies Creek Baptist Church, Charleston, Tenn., and Carol Yarber, member, First Baptist Church, Malakoff, Texas.
Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.