By Erin Roach
ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Morris H. Chapman delivered his last address to the Southern Baptist Convention as president of the Executive Committee June 15 in Orlando, Fla., standing on his conviction that the convention’s greatest needs are spiritual.
“As you may know, I do differ with the last five recommendations that shall be recommended by the Great Commission Task Force,” Chapman said. “My heart is heavy because these recommendations do not challenge us spiritually and shall never bring us to our knees, much less take us to the ends of the earth.
“We can accomplish all of these recommendations without the power of God and the moving of God’s Holy Spirit,” Chapman said. “The recommendations are about moving the chairs on the deck of the Titanic while the ship goes down into an icy, watery grave.
“This old ship Zion, the Southern Baptist Convention, is not as seaworthy as once she was. We are doomed to a watery grave should we continue to exact our revenge, bow down to the emperors who have no clothes, turn our swords upon our own and reward ourselves for so gallantly riding to the rescue,” Chapman added. “We need to be called to repentance.”
A resurgence, Chapman said, “must be ignited by the Holy Spirit of God and stoked by faithful people in the pulpits and pews of this land.”
The Conservative Resurgence within the Southern Baptist Convention lasted 25 years as a crusade before anyone dared to call it a resurgence, Chapman noted. A resurgence is not manmade and cannot be packaged but comes down from the Father above and is to be experienced, he said.
Southern Baptists, Chapman said, must examine themselves spiritually and allow God to change their hearts and prepare them for reaching a lost world with the Gospel.
“Failure to fulfill the Great Commission is not a structural problem and cannot be accomplished by structural solutions,” he said. “It is not a funding problem and cannot be accomplished with funding solutions. It is a heart problem, a spiritual problem, a stewardship problem, thus a problem of failing to obey God’s holy Word.
“Until we get our hearts in tune with our Lord Jesus Christ in church after church, pew after pew and pulpit after pulpit, all of the structural and funding changes that can be envisioned in the minds of men will be meaningless,” Chapman said.
The surge of God’s power will enter Southern Baptist churches when God’s people obey 2 Chronicles 7:14, Chapman said, rather than reading it over and over without living it.
“Folks, we have problems in Southern Baptist life. Any body of people as large as we are will have hurdles and problems and obstacles to overcome,” he said. “But I believe the last five recommendations will bring more confusion, more chaos and less effectiveness to our convention. I believe our convention is the last hope for a great spiritual awakening in America.”
God did the impossible in many situations recorded throughout the Bible, Chapman said, and He can do the impossible within the Southern Baptist Convention today.
The seven recommendations presented by the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force June 15 after Chapman’s address require more study, more thought, more prayer and wider participation if any of them will stir souls, Chapman said.
“I am confident the SBC entities have been challenged by this report. I am confident that our SBC leaders will be challenged to examine their own hearts and exert more energy and thought into cooperating with each other as our forefathers envisioned and as God’s Word teaches,” Chapman said. “But I believe we have only one course that may bring us together and keep us together. That is, by the common consent of the task force, if it were to consider recommending two sections only of the full report for adoption by the convention.”
Chapman commended the section of the report’s preamble with the subtitle “Urgency: A World of Lostness,” which noted that more than 6 billion people are lost without Christ, and the part of the conclusion that issued challenges for each segment of Southern Baptist life.
“If the task force were not to believe this to be a foundation for the future that would help us all be together in where we need to go, perhaps someone will move to amend the report by adopting these two sections only as the full report,” Chapman said.
“Why? Because the urgency written about will keep before us the urgency of being spiritually prepared to follow the leading of God’s Spirit, and the closing section entitled ‘challenges,’ if faithfully incorporated into our lives, will empower us, our churches, our entities to a higher calling, a greater vision and less of self and more of Christ.
“These two sections can form the foundation of where God wants us to go together if we trust Him and work together for God’s glory, not caring who gets the credit,” Chapman said. “I believe God will lead, bless and strengthen us for the beginning of an exciting journey, a journey that shall lead to revival in our churches, spiritual awakening in our nation and a witness to the ends of the earth like the world has not seen since Pentecost. I have a vision for the impossibilities, and I believe you do too.”
Earlier in his report, Chapman emphasized Cooperative Program giving as the only financial method that has made Southern Baptists unique in their ability to fund missions endeavors on a large scale.
“The Cooperative Program has survived many years of tough times and brought us through every time,” Chapman said. “The Cooperative Program has never given any entity all the money that the entity would need under visionary leadership, but at the same time the Cooperative Program has always provided some for every entity that Southern Baptists supported to do their work for the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Our Conservative Resurgence voted to go back to our roots theologically, but as I read the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report, it is as if we are voting to go away from our roots methodologically,” Chapman said. “We are who we are because of our theology and our methodology.
“If we abandon the methodology of cooperation, we shall be independent Baptists, not autonomous, cooperating Baptists,” Chapman said. “And so I agree with those who said this may be the most historic meeting the Southern Baptist Convention has had at least in the last 20 or more years, because we shall continue to march as God has blessed us through the years or we shall march in a different direction.”
[The full text of Chapman’s message can be found at www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=33152.]
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.