Standing on Convictions
by Tom Daniel
USURP NOT THE ROLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT TO INTERPRET AND APPLY SCRIPTURE!
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (II Corinthians 3:17)
LEARN FROM THE PERSECUTED CHURCH!
“Stand therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. . . For you have been called unto liberty.” (Galatians 5: 1, 13)
The registered Baptists of Uzbekistan are still paying the price for compromising in order to maintain the status quo. Soviet Union government leaders in 1961 pressured the Union of Evangelical Christian - Baptists to register with the enticement of open worship only in exchange for government censureship on leaders, activities, and contents of messages. A minority refused to compromise with political organizations and began meeting secretly in the area around Maxim Gorky Metro (subway) station. For 40+ years they suffered persecution and oppression, but remained faithful to their convictions. The Lord put a hedge of protection about this community while city government, for almost a decade after the fall of the Soviet Union, would allow no churches to register or buy property in other neighborhoods. 5+ churches in this neighborhood were the city’s first to be allowed to register, buy property, and build worship centers. Christians from all over the capital Tashkent travel to Maxim Gorky to worship openly in churches which happen to be located in the area of highest concentration of unregistered Baptists. Unregistered Baptists in Uzbekistan have blessed the generations following by refusing to bow to the political pressure of the Communist Party or their Baptist brothers.
LEARN FROM CHURCH HISTORY!
“Why is my liberty judged of another mans’ conscience?” ( I Corinthians 10:29)
“The basic problem which we face today has to do with knowledge and truth. . . . There are three possibilities: human reason or rationalism, ecclesiastical authority, and divine reason. . . The second basic possibility for determining what is true is ecclesiastical authority. . . Regardless of whether I think something is right or not, if the church says it is right, then it is right for me. . . The classic example would be the Roman Catholic Church. . . Even Scripture is subservient to ecclesiastical authority. . . so ultimately and finally, what is right and wrong, what is true and false, is determined by what the church has determined through its pronouncements,” James T. Draper, Jr. Authority: The Critical Issue for Southern Baptists (pp. 16 –17, Fleming H. Revell Co. Old Tappan, NJ, 1984) The president of Lifeway (formerly Baptist Sunday School Board) implied the Southern Baptist Convention should accept divine reason as truth, but the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 revised edition could be interpreted as mandating we accept truth according to ecclesiastical authority. However, the Baptist Faith and Message is not a creed to be signed, as clearly enunciated in its preamble from 1925, 1964, and 1999 editions.
HONOR PAST COVENANTS!
“So speak and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” (James 2:12)
Public statements explaining the requirement for International Mission Board (IMB) personnel to affirm the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message (BFM 2000)have cast aspersions on the theology and the ministry of those 80+ missionaries who did not sign. Many others have been negatively impacted by this issue. To sign the Baptist Faith and Message is to give up the inherent right to allow the Holy Spirit to interpret scripture and apply it to one’s life. When a believer compromises his convictions, he loses his effectiveness in spiritual ministry. While he may satisfy human overseers, he does not please his Lord. Relationship with God or employer is a covenant which cannot legitimately be changed by a third party. Missionaries entered a covenant with those who appointed them. The present requirement to sign the revised BFM2000 changes the covenant the author has cherished for 25 years. Efforts to compel personnel to sign the BFM2000 (or a statement affirming complicity with it) reduces the effectiveness to work with Baptists from other cultures and traditions who previously ratified covenants with IMB for joint work. There are few Baptist groups worldwide that would agree to the limitations of the BFM2000. Thus partnership with them is limited. The Baptist Faith and Message MUST NOT BECOME a creed to be signed, as clearly enunciated in its preamble from 1925, 1964, and 1998 editions.
“For this is commendable, if because of conscience towards God, one endures grief, suffering, wrongfully.”( I Peter 2:19 NKJV).
Robertson’s Word Pictures reminds us a man endures griefs . . . for conscience toward God. Suffering is not a blessing in and of itself, but, if one's duty to God is involved, then one can meet it with gladness of heart.(Ac 23:1; 1Pe 3:16) It is with firm assurance, conviction and a clear conscience, that Tom and Becky Daniel refuse to sign the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. They have submitted faithfully to IMB authority and leadership for 25 years: 12 years with Korea Baptist Mission as Church planter/ developers, 5 years in Uzbekistan with Cooperative Services International partnering to start 8 Baptist churches and training indigenous church leaders, 3 years as Strategy Coordinator for sub-continental Muslims, and returning to Korea Baptist Mission for 3 years to found and lead the Mobilization and Training Team. SBC has supported in prayer, financing, and educating their children through these 25 years. Below are two graphic explanations of their position not to allow the IMB or SBC to usurp the role of the Holy Spirit to interpret and apply scripture to their lives.
“Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.” (Hebrews 13:18)
In His name,
Thomas D. and Rebecca B. Daniel
Korea Baptist Mission
Note: Diagrams will be posted in regard to the following as soon as they become available.
JOURNEY TO HIGH PLACES!
“I will keep your law continually for ever and ever. I will walk at liberty; for I seek your precepts.” (Psalm 119:44-45 )
An analogy of Mount Everest explains the decision not to sign the BFM2000. Climbing Everest represents living in a higher dimension that will conform only to the Kingdom of God. The base camp of Mount Everest divides the two dimensions of life. The lower mountains represent the comforts of a secure future supported by a Southern Baptist agency until retirement. Not signing the BFM2000 ends life in this comfort zone. God is calling to go further with Him and move to the higher mountains. This is life completely dependent upon God to provide as He has promised. We choose the high path.
“But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.” (I Peter 3:15-16 NKJV)
In the spring of 2002, the International Mission Board asked personnel to respond to 2 related issues: belief consistent with the Baptist Faith and Message; and signing an affidavit binding one's future ministry to its contents. The issues differ, as one is related to content of BFM and the other is related to freedom to interpret the leadership of the Holy Spirit (whether according to the whole counsel of God or the SBC-approved statement of faith).
IMB correspondence has called for 2 delineated responses, though there really are 4 possible responses: 2 responses concerning belief (or not) of the BFM content; an additional 2 responses of binding oneself by signing (or not) the affidavit. I have diagrammed these responses in the attached powerpoint file entitled BFMGrid. The following analysis does not agree with the assumptions made by the request for one of 2 delineated responses, which are represented in the BFMGrid by quadrants 2 and 3 (between 3 and 9 O'clock positions). Quadrant 1, beginning at 12 o'clock and running clockwise, is the response I have chosen in order to be true to my Baptist convictions.
The 4 possible responses noted below will result in ascending fruitfulness on the mission field.(The lower the number, the more fruitful in working due to cross-cultural differences with SBC.) Quadrant 4 responder refuses to sign or work by BFM due to disagreement of principles. Quadrant 3 responder agrees to work by BFM despite noted disagreements. Quadrant 2 responder signs affidavit binding self to work by BFM which he believes 100%. Quadrant 1 responder believes the BFM 100% but prefers the whole counsel of God & refuses to sign.
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